Session Recap week 14: Bound Together

The fighting on the deck of the Majestic Gryphon was dying down. Mister Lagraa had just sent a poor sod over the gunwale, causing Trucco to make a mental note to strongly consider and then reconsider again crossing her in the future. Torlan, on the poop deck, surveyed the unconscious sailors he’d barreled through, while Ruskel on the quarterdeck with Daina began to separate the surrendered sailors from their dropped weapons.

The thing on Daina’s face was still glowing.

Torlan asked what they should do now, and in looking for answers, came to the forward edge of the poop deck overlooking Ruskel and Daina and saw the blue stamp near her eye. His jaw dropped.

“By the gods, it’s a Dragonmark!!”

Daina scolded him, but Ruskel confirmed the dwarf’s analysis as he busied himself by checking the surrendered sailors for hidden weapons. There was still a boarding action going on, after all, manifesting Dragonmark or no.

What the former skyknight didn’t see then, was, coming up through the smoke on the starboard side, three more armed sailors from the Gryphon’s crew. But as they began to emerge onto the quarterdeck with weapons raised, knives hailed down on them from the rigging above! Trucco, on watch from ropes overhead, got the drop on the new assailants, and each of his knives found their marks. One, two, three sailors crumpled to the deck atop one another, groaning from the pains of the losing melee. The shifter dropped from the rigging finally to land in a graceful three-point stance beside Ruskel and Daina as Torlan joined them from the poop deck.

Daina ordered Trucco to stand down, saying these men had surrendered. Mistaking her order for the three that had just been coming up the stairs, he remarked that it was a little too late before that, before noticing something strange.

“Daina, look out!” Trucco suddenly cried. “You have a jellyfish on your face!” Daina went to stop him, but the shifter’s hand was too fast, and he smacked Daina right across the face where her mark was glowing.

At this point, Daina could do nothing but laugh at the absurdity of it all.

The last of the fighting was brought to a close when Prince Mika Rockface herself returned to the main deck with a severed head in her hands, ominously looked to and fro at the assembled sailors and captives, and tossed the head to the ground at her feet. Howls of victory and triumph erupted from the Storm Reaver’s crew.

But on the quarterdeck, where our heroes stood side-by-side, it was silent.

The sun was already low in the sky as the survivors of the Majestic Gryphon were disarmed and escorted to the Storm Reaver’s bilge, where Trucco and Ruskel had found themselves waking up barely over two weeks earlier. Torlan was approached by Riaris Krine, the gunner, and told that, due to his participation in boarding action, he wouldn’t be keel-hauled as was the initial plan for his sentencing. Instead, he was to be given a mere six lashes at Bloody Hour, with the captain’s unspoken thanks.

Cargo transfer began from the captured ship to the Storm Reaver. Back slaps and cheerful whoops were exchanged between the pirates as crates and people were transferred from ship to ship. The process carried late into the evening, when the grog casks were opened to flow freely. Singing and merriment filled all but the lowest, most forlorn decks of the Storm Reaver.

Before the festivities really kicked off, Torlan and Trucco found themselves conspiring amidst the commotion. Torlan wanted to know if Scourge indeed had sent his sycophants to kill him down in the bilge and perhaps make it look like an unfortunate accident. Trucco simply didn’t like Scourge and wanted dirt. Torlan proposed enlisting Conchobhar’s help, as the two of them were now quite conspicuous.

The scurrilous pair found the playboy gnome on the gun deck a couple cups of grog in already, retelling the story of his fight on the Gryphon, perhaps with advantages, though the fresh wound he bore over his forehead looked real enough. Torlan told Conchobhar that he’d cast a spell with his bardic music over some members of the boarding party, Conchobhar included, and maybe he could repay the favor in turn…

“Well?! Out with it then!” snapped Conchobhar, slamming his mug on the table.

Torlan laid it out plainly: he wanted Conchobhar to find out if indeed Scourge had sent forces into the bilge to kill him. Conchobhar laughed at Torlan and said he’s not going to talk to Scourge, because that would be silly. You don’t go to the lion’s den to check its teeth–you talk to the cubs first! Torlan threw up his arms and said he didn’t give a bilge rat’s ass how it gets done; he just needed to know.

Conchobhar assured them he could find out.

They toast.

Festivities were in full swing across both ships when Ruskel approached Sandara Quinn on the exterior main deck of the Storm Reaver. He expressed his surprise that she wasn’t busier, patching up hurt and all.

Sandara reminded Rus that she’s not officially a medic, though Ruskel countered that she’s helped out a lot in that regard, and that it seemed strange to send someone as valuable as her to a crew over in boarding action. But then he revealed that the real reason he wanted to check up on her. As a fisherman’s daughter, he reckoned this might have been her first encounter with fighting on this scale.

Sandara puffed up, perhaps pridefully. “Lhazaar is a dangerous place! It’s not the first time I’ve seen something like this. …Though, I never imagined myself sailing with pirates.”

“Oh, that’s–that’s good!” Rus replied, unable to mask his surprise at being caught in an assumption. “Piracy is…it’s bad, and people shouldn’t aspire to that life!”

Sandara chuckled. “I’m sure half the Principalities would disagree with your assessment.”

Ruskel felt himself turning pale. He stammered out a line about how, where he is from, that’s uncommon. But with no way to recover his graces from the embarassing exchange, Rus fumbled his farewells and walked on, woefully reminded how the values of these people differed so greatly from the expectations he’d espoused as a Cyran Skyknight.

…And how far from home he truly was.

Trucco somehow found Owlbear amidst the revelry. The massive mountain of a man had been integral in moving the larger cargo from ship to ship. “CAT FRIEND!” Owlbear cried when he saw Trucco, wrapping the shifter up in a hug that lifted him off his feet. The two caught up quickly and traded stories as best they could of their fighting on the Gryphon.

Meanwhile, Daina was feeling the grog go to her cheeks and forehead. Torlan approached her, his beard in his cup, wet. He was three (four? several?) drinks in and his cheeks were already quite rosy. Daina smiled at him, flipping his beard out of the cup.

“Oh, thank you!” the dwarf shouted, musing about the wonder of a nice, wet beard from drink and asking if Daina had ever had that pleasure. Daina pointed out that that isn’t a “problem” humans face, to which Torlan replied that they’ll work on getting some hair on her chin yet!

“…How drunk are you right now?” she wondered.

“I’m a pretty good listener, aren’t I?” Torlan responded, with a slight sway mismatching the rock of the ship that better answered the question.

Oh, the face Daina made, before clapping her godfather on the shoulder and saying, “Let’s have a song, shall we?”

“Oh! Shall I improvise?” Torlan perked up. “I was thinking up something about Stormbeard and the new Sir Wizard!”

“The what?”

“The new Sir Wizard!” Torlan repeated, referring to Ruskel after having seen the skynight’s evocation powers. Though, after Daina’s pensive look, he frowned, “Ah…It still needs some work.”

Torlan and Daina returned to the galley, Torlan launching into a tale instead about an independent Dwarven ship that was constantly giving the slip to the Five Nations and likening it to the freedom and spirit of the Lhazaar peoples.

“Join me in the chorus, Daina, it goes something like this!” Torlan went into it…but the words kept evading him. The song was supposed to be about freedom, but as he recalled it, the tale was about a free ship’s assimilation into the Cyran navy. That wouldn’t do. Torlan had to stop to rethink the lyrics. He emptied his tankard and found another. He started again. He stopped again…no, the lyrics still weren’t right. He drained the next tankard. He tried to go into the chorus, but his spirit was flagging, as was the mood in the room.

…The room which had begun spinning.

Torlan ultimately yielded his consciousness to the table before him.

Daina stepped forward to try to cover for her godfather’s collapse, but it was barely enough to salvage the hour. Whoops and hollers went up all around as Rosie Cusswell took to the clearing that passed for a stage…

It was who knows what hour at this point. Through the scattered cloud cover, the Ring of Siberys was hanging resplendent. 8 moons stood crescent, one full, the rest at least visible, and still a field full of stars twinkled beyond them. Daina found Ruskel towards the bow of the Gryphon, looking out over the ocean. He stood alone, holding an empty cup like it was an obligation to keep it visible lest he get the lash.

“You’re pretty good in a melee,” Daina offered on her approach, so as to not startle him. “Wasn’t expecting that from a flyer. So, cheers!”

Ruskel mentioned that he’d been trained in Close-Quarters Combat as part of his skyknight training.

Daina asked about the Wall of Fire that sprang up next to the Gryphon’s dinghy, which Ruskel confirmed was also him, though he surmised he wouldn’t be able to use that spell again for some time, without elaborating why. That same spell that saved her husband five years earlier had prevented the Gryphon’s sailors from taking the lifeboat and fleeing.

From the same person, no less.

“Why didn’t you let them go?” Daina asked, pointedly. “We didn’t have any quarrel with them.”

The skyknight icily replied. “Captain’s orders. She said stop them from leaving.” He checked his cup. Still empty. “I stopped them from leaving.”

Daina told Rus about how she decidedly wasn’t a Deneith because she refused to blindly follow orders. She knew a lot about people “just following orders”. Sometimes orders were bad, and shouldn’t be followed.

“I saved those people’s lives!” Rus suddenly whirled on Daina. “How’s a dinghy like that going to get away from an operational Cloudreaver ship? No sails, just oar power. Huh? That main cannon would’ve been on them before they got halfway out its range! They woulda been shark food! I did anyone trying to flee a favor!”

The Reaver and the Gryphon, lashed together, rose and fell with the waves, at a pace not unlike breathing. Waves lapped noisily at their hulls. “…You’re right,” Daina finally acquiesced. “I can’t argue with that.”

She reached for more words beneath the moons. “I didn’t come here to scold you,” she reached. Here was a fellow Cyran, another war veteran, standing mere feet from her. And yet at that moment, it seemed Ruskel couldn’t have been farther away. She looked at the bottom of her own empty cup. “Just…it’s been a hell of a day.”

“I’d drink to that, but…” the skyknight drawled, displaying his empty tankard. “You have a good night, Miss Daina.” And then he turned his back to her to stare out at the ocean by himself some more.

“It’s just Daina,” she chuckled, looking back to him from the stairs on her return to the Storm Reaver.

Back on the Cloudreaver flagship, people were getting drunk and sloppy. Trucco had, during his time in the rigging, seen that the Captain’s cabin was right below the poop deck, with an exterior balcony on the stern. While the Captain would already have recorded and stowed the best loot, and thus would notice it missing, maybe there was some juicy information he could get access to! And what better time than now, when all were in their cups and merry?

The shifter clung to the hull of the ship and climbed around the side. He tensed, waiting for the ship to fall off a wave just right, and leapt…landing flawlessly on the balcony! And who would lock a door no one has access to? No one!

He’d just begun to open the balcony door when the other door, the one coming in from the deck, began to open as well! Startled, Trucco pushed himself from the door just as the Storm Reaver sank on the tail end of another swell, and, unbalanced, over the balcony went the shifter, and down he fell into the sea with an unceremonious “bloop!”

Fortunately for him, the two ships weren’t under any sail. It costed him nothing but his own embarrassment to climb back onto the deck of the Storm Reaver.

Clandestine information would have to wait for another night.

The 7th of Olarune passed through morning and afternoon with more celebration. In the evening, Torlan received the promised six lashes at Bloody Hour for the reduced sentence of his triple murder. Afterwards, Conchobhar pulled him aside and said that he suspected–but couldn’t confirm–that Scourge had indeed sent his lackeys down to kill the dwarf. Furthermore, the rumor mill had it that Prince Mika Rockface intended to give Mister Lagraa the captaincy of the Majestic Gryphon, and split the Storm Reaver’s crew…tomorrow morning.

Torlan immediately gathered the other Mourners–Daina, Trucco, and Ruskel. They wondered if they’re going to be split between the ships’ crews, and if so, how would they try to reunite and all get on the same vessel when the ships parted? Daina began to hatch a plan, but Trucco suggested they wait to see what fate offered them. Regardless, everyone seemed committed to staying together.

Torlan and Ruskel turned in early for the night. Daina found Fishguts in the galley. She thanked the cook and said she’d try to leverage what power she had to get him assigned to the Gryphon. Fishguts howled with laughter and told Daina that she overestimated how much power and pull she had. They talked late into the night.

Trucco found Owlbear back in his chained up position in the hold. The shifter had to conspire quietly, for Owlbear was shackled very near the door leading to where the officers gathered. Trucco tried to illustrate with words a plan to the burly but very simple man while he set about picking the locks to the shackles binding him, and to his credit, Owlbear tried his darndest to comprehend it. Trucco explained that, if there’s any commotion or smell of fire, he’s to get off the shift.

“Owlbear!” said Owlbear. It sounded like an affirmation. “Stay here, guard door! If fire, Owlbear fight!”

It would have to do.

The 8th of Olarune began. The Cloudreavers and their newly-press ganged crew were joined by the survivors of the Majestic Gryphon. Conchobhar’s tip had been correct–on the Captain’s orders, Mister Lagraa was being given the Gryphon, with orders to sail to Port Krez. The Storm Reaver had other business, and would reunite with them soon. Master Scourge would join Lagraa as First Mate. While normally shares would be distributed at shore, the extenuating circumstance of splitting the crew to a second ship demanded their being doled out now.

For their securing of the Gryphon’s quarterdeck, two Potions of Health were given to the Mourners, as well as a Potion of Invisibility, which Ruskel took and secured away. Each were doled out 225 galifars after all of their rewards.

Master Scourge stepped forward to name the members of the Majestic Gryphon’s new crew. All four of our heroes are named, as well as a handful of their newfound friends among the Storm Reaver. Fishguts, Owlbear, Conchobar, Sandara Quinn, Aretta, Rosie Cusswell, all included.

They were given ten minutes to get their gear before the ships were to be parted. In the process of moving their gear over to the other ship, Daina met eyes with a sailor from the Gryphon named Unnao, whom she recognized from Port Verge; they both frequented a bar called the Silver Eel.

Mister Lagraa informed Daina that Fishguts would be manning the galley alone; they don’t have enough crew for a cook’s mate. She herself was to join the swabs. Aretta was named Gunner, Patch “Salty” Kolkrinun was named bosun, Slippery Syl was named Quartermaster. Fishguts was to be confined to the galley. Displeased with Mika Rockface’s slacking discipline, Mister Lagraa announced that all crimes were to be punished with the cat-o-nine. All crew would be working double duty due to low crew numbers. Going on the deck at night without express permission would be punished. No grog was to be rationed in the evenings. At all.

Mister Lagraa stood in front of Torlan, but looked to Daina, “And while this is a new ship…murder is still not to be tolerated. To ensure compliance…” she slapped a manacle on Torlan’s wrist and ordered him to walk to the main mast. Torlan felt the shackle shrink around his arm, and a magical compulsion washed over him to walk to the mast.

Magical, he thinks to himself. But how to tell the others?

“You’re going to just leave him chained there all day while we’re shorthanded?” Daina called after them.

Mister Lagraa turned back to Daina, smiling wickedly. “That’ll be three lashes from the cat at Bloody Hour for talking back to the Captain. Now get to work, all of you!”

The ropes binding the two ships were released, and the Majestic Gryphon rocked hard to starboard as her sails unfurled, beginning her journey towards Port Krez…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the Week: Where is the one place in the world you want to visit before you die?  What is the reason for that place? Sharn came up more than once, because of course it did. The Face of Mror was mentioned, and you can guess who might want to go there. Ruskel was the odd one out, with no stomach for tourism–he wants to get back to Metrol. Oh that tragedian!
  • We have a saying at our table: Fishing for Critical Failures. And boy did Michael carry that standard this week, where he threw benny after benny at Torlan’s Performance roll during celebrations only to wind up with the dreaded snake eyes! He had a success, you see, but he wanted to get a raise. Sometimes we be like that. Sometimes we think just a success..? Nah! Unfortunately, not only did he drop most of his bennies, but it came with one of the two critical fails of the night, which of course you cannot spend a benny to reroll!
  • Remember last week, when Ernesto blew all his bennies joker-fishing, even going so far as to play the adventure card Betrayed! to get even more bennies (at a steep cost), and yet no joker ever came? Well, Phil never shuffled the deck, so Round 1 of the combat carrying over into this session, here comes the joker he’d been hoping for! He turned the joker’s +2 on all trait/damage rolls into a 3-action turn that let Trucco single-handedly wipe out the adds before anyone else had a chance to act! I’ll let you decide whether or not you think it was worth it! But you can’t deny it looked cool.
  • Much like the dramatic task to save Giffer Tibbs episodes earlier, though, Ernesto’s luck was all over the place, as it was a Notice roll during Trucco’s sneak action that gave our table the second critical fail of the night. That one wasn’t fished for. Just kinda…hopped up in his lap, like, “Hello!”
  • Elly decided to subtly alter the story at the cost of one benny so one of the Gryphon‘s sailors and her had something of a shared connection. Where will she go with this, who knows? Maybe we’ll find out in the next episode!
  • Daina’s performance confidence was a result of the Epiphany Adventure Card, granting her a d6 in any skill of her choosing for the remainder of the session. This is something I’ve really been enjoying about Savage Worlds–getting the right adventure card can sometimes shape the direction I take a character, in unique ways that I hadn’t even planned for. It can even have an effect on their attitude in really cool synergistic ways. Remember when Ruskel lied to the Quartermaster about being a worshipper of the Devourer? I would never have attempted that had I not been dealt the Ace! Adventure Card at the start of that session. I’ve noticed that when I get cards with direct mechanical benefits for combat specifically, I’m often “looking” for a fight, or certainly Ruskel wakes up ready for one!

Session Recap week 13: Red Line Overload

As the Storm Reaver gave chase to the ship that had emerged from the other side of the island they were moored off of, Trucco clambered up into the crow’s nest to see what they were up against.  His keen eyes picked out the three-masted vessel flying the flags of the Direshark Principality…and Breland.  Outfitted like a cargo ship and sitting low in the water to suggest that it was laden with goods, the Majestic Gryphon seemed like quite a prize.  Turning to Conchobar in the rigging beside him, Trucco asked the foppish gnome if he was as good with a sword as he was with a deck of cards, and Conchobar’s eyes gleamed as he rubbed his hands together and declared that the Gryphon was in for a surprise.

While the ship continued to bear down on its prey, Mika Rockface summoned Fishguts to the quarterdeck, and the cook returned to Daina with orders to butcher a pig.  She stared at him with angry disbelief.  She had bigger problems than the captain’s dinner, and Fishguts laughed at that.  The pig wasn’t for eating — it was for baiting sharks to deal with anyone who fell overboard during the attack.  Fisghuts seemed fairly alert and active, a far cry from his inebriated state just a few hours earlier.  Unable to contain herself as her unreliable companion made an easy target for the stress and anxiety over Torlan’s fate that had reached a boiling point, the care and pity she had for Fishguts turned to anger as she snapped at him.  No matter what the pig was for, she still had bigger problems than the Captain’s whims, and more importantly, he hadn’t been there when she needed him, when she’d come to the galley seeking his help in the wake of the slaughter in the bilge only to find his incoherently drunk again.  He shrugged it off.  The promise of taking a prize seemed to have sparked life in him for the first time in their acquaintance, and he seemed undeterred by her harsh words.

The large siege staff mounted in the Storm Reaver’s bow went off as they closed with the Majestic Gryphon, shaking the ship as its shot went wide.  Drawing closer, they fired again, finding a target as its shot ripped into the Gryphon, taking down some of its sails.  From his perch, Trucco could see his fellow crewmates jumping to action as they began to push ballistas into place, and as Daina and Fishguts appeared on deck with buckets of chum, the ship’s gunner Master Crines called her, Trucco, and Rus onto the quarterdeck.  Sneering at Torlan in his cage, Crines informed the prisoner that if he joined the boarding party and survived the fight, the Captain would show him some leniency.  Torlan grinned and replied that this was the easiest deal he’d ever taken, and that he didn’t know Mika Rockface was so soft — she must be sweet on him.  Letting a toothy smile slip in spite of his best efforts, Crines unlocked the cage and Torlan crawled out.  Unable to contain herself, Daina quickly grabbed him to herself in a fierce hug as Crines watched, and the gunner gave his orders: the four of them were to storm the Majestic Gryphon’s pilothouse, take the wheel, and ensure that no one escaped in the longboats.  A grim smile came over Daina’s face as she promised Crines that she would take the wheel and stay there.  Her thoughts began to percolate as she wondered what kind of opportunity had just dropped into her lap.

The cannon continued its volley as the Storm Reaver took down more and more of the Gryphon’s rigging, systematically crippling its escape.  They were closing in fast.  With little time left before the boarding began, Trucco hurried down to his locker to retrieve the jar of Alchemist’s Fire he’d looted from the quartermaster while Torlan joined him to take up his halberd.  Daina wondered if that was another opportunity — what if they used that jar of fire on the Storm Reaver instead of the Majestic Gryphon?  Crines wanted them to take the pilothouse, and if they could prevent the Reaver from following them, that could be their ticket to escape at last, but the sabotage would need to be quite severe in order for that plan to succeed.  Trucco was excited by the prospect, but wondered what would happen to the people they’d befriended if the ship was damaged that badly.  Daina agreed that they should keep an eye out, and their attention turned to the boarding action as the entire crew amassed on deck and the captain announced that there would be an extra share of the prize for the first person to make it across.

The sun was low on the horizon as the Storm Reaver drew up alongside the Majestic Gryphon, and crossbow bolts began flying across the deck in an attempt to repel the boarders as Torlan began to sing.  As his voice rose above the fray, his friends felt their resolve grow, and new strength flowed through them.  All of a sudden, a huge cloud of fog began to billow out from the center of the Gryphon’s deck, and the fight was on.  The horrible but familiar sound of wood wrenching and groaning under stress rose from the hull as the ships collided.  

With a well-placed throw of a grappling hook to secure a line to the Gryphon’s sterncastle, Daina ordered anyone within earshot to pull as a shout came back across the gap to cut the same line.  As two sailors advanced on it, cutlasses drawn, Rus pulled his own weapon from the holster under his coat.  Aiming his wand across the gap and speaking a command word, six prismatic darts flew out towards the sailors as tendrils of electricity began to pop and swirl around his head and shoulders.  The first one he caught square in the chest, and she dropped to the deck, smoke rising from her corpse.  The second sailor caught a couple of darts himself, but managed to stay on his feet as it seemed the bulk of the devastation had been unleashed on his comrade.

More concerned with meeting Prince Mika’s challenge to be the first one across, Trucco easily scrambled into Storm Reaver’s rigging and swung into what was left of the Gryphon’s as his hair and claws began to grow.  Torlan moved up behind Daina and took hold of the rope, urging her to knock out as many of the Gryphon’s crew as she could instead of putting them down and promising that he would do the same as a ball of lightning came flying over his shoulder and smoke and lightning erupted in the middle of the Gyphon’s main deck. As his added strength to the grappling line helped Daina pull them in close enough to the sterncastle to lay down a plank he could run across, Torlan led the charge straight to where Trucco was alone in the thick of things.  Clearing his path with the flat of his blade, he sent the nearest sailor flying over the rail and into a longboat.  The rogue, meanwhile, sent one of his knives straight into the back of the pilot’s skull, killing him instantly.

Still on the Storm Reaver next to Daina, the arcing electricity surrounding his head and shoulders beginning to dissipate, Rus exchanged a nod as she called to him to cross over to the Gryphon — once he was safely over there with Torlan and Trucco, she’d be right behind him.  Holstering his wand, he drew his tago knife from his sheath.  His knife shared some similarities to hers, but was distinctly different for the foot-and-a-half long chain hanging off its pommel.  Clipping the chain to a ring on the wrist of his glove, he took up the knife in a practiced motion and held it at the ready.  As Daina raised her eyebrow at the sight of Rus taking his tago knife into battle, the skyknight ran across the plank Torlan had used and lashed out at the sailor who met him on the other side.  Easily ducking under a wild swing, the man dropped his crossbow and drew his cutlass.  Rus’ attack had left him open, and his opponent raised his sword to bear down on him, grinning as he had Rus dead to rights.

True to her word, Daina was right behind him.

Running across the thin plank to the Majestic Gryphon at full tilt, she made it to Rus’ side just as his opponent began to swing, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to bring her own sword up in time to block the blow.  Throwing her other arm out across Rus’ chest in a protective stance, all of the stress, desperation, and rage that had been building in her these past three weeks and this day in particular boiled to the surface.  She held no ill will towards the crew of the Majestic Gryphon, and she didn’t want to kill this sailor for being as much a victim of Mika Rockface as she was — but she was damned if she was going to let him cut Rus down right in front of her.  Not him, not after all they’d been through in their short time together, the kindness he’s shown her, and everything she now knew they’d been through together in the war, all those years before.  

“Back DOWN!!!”

As Daina screamed in the man’s face, Rus saw the air around her begin to distort and turn blue, dancing like sparks coming off a fire.  As her arm pressed defensively against his chest, he felt the sensation of something wrapping around his own body, not uncomfortable, but secure.  The sailor continued his attack, bringing his sword down to catch Rus square across the chest, and his eyes widened in confusion as his blade glanced off to the side.  Looking down at his own body, Rus could see the blue glow that had come off of Daina now sparking and dancing around himself.

A short distance down the deck, Torlan heard Daina’s scream of rage and he turned to find her in the fray.  Their eyes met, and his widened a little as caught sight of the blue tendrils that now wrapped around her left eye and extended back across her temple.  It was the unmistakable imprint of a dragonmark.

There was no time to think about it.  A break appeared in the fog cloud covering the center of the deck, and Trucco could clearly see Mika Rockface run a sailor through with her sword.  As she turned to follow Master Crines down into the Gryphon’s hold, another one of her foes appeared from the fog, charging with a spear as her back was turned.  After a brief moment of hesitation, Trucco swung out of his perch and across the deck, landing in the rigging behind Prince Mika’s assailant.  Driving his claws into the sail, he rode it down to the deck and threw a knife square into the man’s chest.  Spun around by the force of the blow, the man dropped his spear, sending it tumbling across the deck to land at Mika’s feet.  She looked at the corpse, looked up to see Trucco, made a small gesture with her chin, and continued down into the hold as if nothing had happened.

Rus took no time to think about it either.  Dialed into combat mode, his instincts and training took over, and the only thing on his mind was finishing the fight.  Brushing shoulders with Daina, he sidestepped to wordlessly indicate a position switch as he delivered a swift blow to their opponents kidneys, stunning the man and juggling him towards Daina.  She immediately picked up what Rus was doing and moved into the opening he had created for her, bringing her sword up and bashing its pommel across their opponent’s jaw.  He dropped to the ground, and didn’t get back up.

As one of Torlan’s opponents sliced her blade across the dwarfs arm, Torlan felt his blood rage began to rise but quickly tamped it down as he remembered his declaration and promise to not kill any of the Majestic Gryphon’s crew.  He slammed the blunt end of his halberd into the sailors chest, sending her slumping against the gunwales.  With his immediate problem solved, Rus looked up to see three more sailors emerge from belowdecks and make a break for a longboat.  Remembering Master Crines orders to let no one escape, he leveled his wand and called out words he hadn’t spoken since that day five years ago in Karrnath, when he and his squadron had rescued Daina’s unit from certain death.

“Kídù, Éste, Fôh”

A wall of fire erupted around the longboat, hugging around it and cutting off the escape.  Memories clawed at Daina as the flames appeared, but she pushed them down for another time.  Back in his perch, Trucco watched over the melee happening in full force in the center of the deck, and through the fog he caught sight of his prize — Master Scourge had joined the fray.  The rogue had been chafing against unwelcome and uncharacteristic patience while he plotted his revenge on the Storm Reaver’s sadistic taskmaster, and as he swung in closer, he pulled the flask of Alchemist’s Fire off his belt and threw it down into the fog.  He could hear Scourge yelling below, but it didn’t sound like he’d been hit, and Trucco high-tailed it back up to the mast.

Eager to finish the fight, Torlan shifted his halberd into one hand as another sailor bore down on him, cutlass in hand.  As the man closed in, Torlan was faster, and a swift uppercut claimed yet another victim as he heard Daina call out that she and Rus had taken the pilothouse.  Claiming her place at the wheel, Daina yelled down to the sailors who had been cut off by Rus’ fire.  She declared that it was over,that there was no need for them to die, and she ordered them to stand down.  They obeyed her command.  Moving to where Daina stood at the wheel with Rus still on alert beside her, the sailors threw down their weapons and dropped to their knees, surrendering.  As some sounds of battle continued through the fog, Daina rested one hand on the wheel and brought the other up to rub at her face.  The skin around her eye had been burning ever since she’d joined the fight, and she wondered if she’d been hit without realizing it.  She frowned.  She couldn’t feel a wound, and saw no blood or ash on her fingers, and yet the sensation wasn’t going away.  It was concerning, but like the memories, it would have to wait for later.  For now, Torlan was free, Rus was safe, and she was at the helm of a ship — a ship that could mean freedom for all of them.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: which country was in the greatest wrong during the Last War? You can bet we all had a different answer for this one, but in case you were wondering, the correct answer is Karrnath.
  • Torlan sung us into battle with four raises on his Serenade to bump up the entire party’s Fighting die by two sizes, and spent extra power points to extend that buff to Sandar, Owlbear, and Rosie.  Michael had perhaps his best night ever in terms of good rolls — he didn’t roll lower than a 15 on damage for the entire session.
  •  Kevin is a big believer in slow burns, and waiting for the right moment to present itself.  This session provided the opportunity he’s been waiting thirteen weeks for to unleash Rus’ power at last, and the dice rewarded his patience — he rolled an 11 to hit on his first shot, granting a success with a raise…and followed it up with 29 on the damage roll.  I don’t know the exact stats in play, but most Extras like the ones we encountered here typically enjoy 4-6 Parry and similar toughness.  There’s no kill like overkill!
  • Unfortunately, it may be a while before you see him cast a wall of fire again, because he does not actually have access to that power yet — but he did have the Arcane Spike adventure card, which granted him the one-time use of any available power regardless of rank!  It wasn’t only the luck of the dice that rewarded his patience, but the luck of the cards as well.  He’s been waiting thirteen weeks to go big, and when the time finally came he went big and it was fantastic.
  • Ernesto is a hardcore joker fisher.  He regularly spends a bennie or two on a new card over the course of any given combat, but this one took the cake.  On the fourth round of the encounter, on a nearly fresh deck after Daina and Torlan drew both jokers at the start of round two, he had Scourge in his sights and wanted a joker badly.  He spent all his remaining bennies coming up empty, but he had an adventure card to play as well: Betrayed!  Previously used by Ernesto for amazing narrative impact in Seekers of the Ashen Crown, playing this card causes a trusted ally to turn against the party — but the carrot that comes with the stick is that playing it refreshes your bennies to the starting maximum of three.  This happened at the end of the session, and last time this card was playing it took six weeks for the payoff and reveal, so who knows when this particular chicken will come home to roost, and which knife Phil will decide to twist…and Ernesto still didn’t get his joker.
  • Speaking of waiting for the right moment for your character to shine, my favourite panel at PAX Unplugged this year was the one hosted by Twogether Studios exploring how to make the most of drama in your tabletop games.  The remarks that stuck with me the most from that panel were when B. Dave Walters spoke about how, as much as it is the DMs responsibility to create memorable moments for their players to shine, it’s also the players responsibility to create those moments for each other.  Now, I am fairly certain that Kevin would have found a moment for Rus to unleash his powers in this session no matter what, but the way we both inadvertently created a moment for each other in that regard was extremely satisfying.  Neither of us knew that the immediate result of Daina attaching a line to the Majestic Gryphon would be two sailors moving to cut it — but Rus was next in initiative and had her back, and that was the moment he chose.  And neither of us could have planned the situation in which Kevin spent four bennies trying and failing to attack the enemy that then, as Phil narrated it for my benefit, had Rus dead to rights — and since Trucco was up in the rigging, and Torlan’s luck was overflowing, that was more than likely the only opportunity I’d have had in this session to manifest Daina’s dragonmark, and it made a lot of narrative sense to take it.  Her casting Deflection on Rus then, again unplanned, set him up for another moment he’d been looking for, that being falling into old patterns of fighting side by side with a fellow soldier and bouncing off each other in perfect harmony.  A fantastic roll on Rus’ Fighting test allowed Daina to down the enemy who had caused all this drama in the first place, and it was a wonderful sequence of events to play out.
  • Kevin also took advantage of an often overlooked game mechanic to create another moment for himself! Players can spend bennies to influence the story at the GMs discretion, and Kevin spent one of his to say that there were several sailors making a break for the longboat. The gave him a good narrative opening to use his adventure card to cast a spell which Rus, in terms of backstory, has made much use of in the past, but mechanically is unable to access at our current character rank.
  • If you’ve listened to our most recent Gold Dragon Fireside, you may remember that my original character concept for Daina was to blatantly rip off Singe from Don Bassingthwaite’s Dragon Below trilogy and build an unmarked Deneith spellsword with a blade in one hand and a fireball in the other.  However, something the table voted on during character creation meant that I couldn’t squeeze everything I wanted for such a build into my planned advances in a satisfying way — Savage Worlds maxes out at twenty advances, and that may sound like a big number but it can actually involve a lot of hard decisions.  I didn’t want to play another purely martial character two campaigns in a row, but I didn’t want to play a full caster either, and was struggling to find a build to match the story I had formulated. I can’t remember if it was myself or Phil who first proposed a Fighter with a dragonmark as an alternative, but we spent several weeks in July and August going back and forth over which one I might take, what it would look like mechanically, and how it could best serve the story.  I settled on the Mark of the Sentinel as being the most logical for telling Daina’s story and fulfilling the role I wanted for her in this campaign, and have been waiting for a situation in which it could manifest ever since.  
  • Let’s talk about dragonmarks!  Dragonmarks are an unescapable part of life in Eberron. The twelve Houses comprised of bloodlines in which these magical “tattoos” of sorts naturally occur form the backbone of industry on the continent of Khorvaire by virtue of the powers granted by dragonmarks allowing them to hold a monopoly over things like manufacturing, animal husbandry, healthcare, agriculture, and military subcontracting. Their power lies in not just scope, but consistency — products and services provided by dragonmarked Houses and the indivduals who work for them guarantee a standard of quality that you won’t get from Farvath’s Discount Tinkering down the street for half the cost. In Eberron’s canon lore, dragonmarks manifest under situations of extreme stress.  99% of the time, this happens when Dragonmarked Houses put their adolescent children through what’s called the “Test of Siberys,” and the exact nature of the test varies depending on the mark trying to be forced to appear, but all of them involve deliberately putting the child in a situation that creates stress, fear, desperation, etc. until their mark manifests or they need to be pulled out after it becomes abundantly clear that they have failed the test.  However, dragonmarks have also been known to manifest later in life on individuals who are not part of a House and have not undergone such a test, which is what happened to Daina.  These people are referred to by the Houses as “foundlings,” and while they cannot (legally) be forced into the service of a House, things can get complicated if they capture the House’s attention.  Out here in the Lhazaar Principalities, that might not be too big of a concern for Daina…but on the other hand, she has a dragonmark on her face now. 
  • Let’s talk about Daina’s dragonmark in particular!  There was some discussion behind the scenes about what would provoke hers, and I really liked the opportunity that presented itself in this session.  Her mark manifesting in defense of Torlan would have been too cliched of a narrative choice in my opinion.  But her stress levels and desire to protect her friends being as high as they were because of Torlan’s recent actions made a wonderful set-up for her to let loose.  Phillip was also curious to know beforehand where I wanted Daina’s mark to manifest, because they can appear literally anywhere on the body.  I originally intended for Daina’s to appear on the inside of her left forearm.  She’s a lefty like me and, narratively, I liked the idea that she could casually roll up her sleeves to display the mark during a conversation as needed in order to make a point, and I also liked the idea of the Mark of the Sentinel being on her sword arm, and thus any melee opponents would get a front row view of having picked the wrong fight.  Then, just a few days prior to this session, Phillip mentioned how he’d always wanted to see one of his players have their dragonmark on their face where it couldn’t be hidden, and all the roleplaying opportunities that could provide. And he made a compelling argument, but I’m not a particularly bold player and love being in control of situations as much as possible, and a permanently visible dragonmark would throw all that out the window.  But the bug was in my ear.  I thought about it, and ultimately decided that I would decide in the moment.  The catchphrase we’ve come to associate with Kevin at the table is “let’s be bold”…and hey, it’s a pretty good one as far as catchphrases go.  So now Daina has a dragonmark that both brings a decent amount of personal baggage with it, and is also on her face.  This is going to be fun!
  • This week’s episode title comes courtesy of the Danger Zone. Rus burned hot, Daina went into overdrive, and there’s no putting the lid back on this box!

Session Recap Week 12: Three Kinds of People

The way I see it, there’s only three kinds of people in this world. Bad ones, ones you follow, and ones you need to protect.”

Waving Daina over to join him along with Rus and Torlan, Trucco leaned forward in his seat and told them that he had a fantastic story to tell.  He’d had a great idea, a wonderful idea — one he came up with all by himself, he declared, winking at Rus — and it had led him to sneak into the quartermaster’s stores while Grok was away.   It had been an extraordinarily challenging task.  There had been a lock — no, five locks, one of which was a magical lock that had summoned a manticore — and after he chased the beast all around the hold and ended it, it disappeared as the chest it had been guarding opened in a burst of light.  It was there, inside, that he saw a knife — the most beautiful knife that, he believed from what he had heard, belonged to someone here?

Throughout Trucco’s wild tale of fighting a manticore in the quartermaster’s, Daina listened with a bemused expression, not entirely sure where the incorrigible rogue’s epic bullshit was going…and as he drew her tago knife out of his jacket, everything changed.  She froze, her eyes grew wide, and she intoned in a quiet and solemn voice, “that belongs to me.”

Trucco’s grin grew wider as he spoke of how he had heard that Daina and the others had been trying to gather enough money to trade for the knife.  He did not wish to diminish their previous investment, for it must feel awful for someone else who was much better than them to come along and get the job done right under their noses and —

“How much do you want?” Rus interrupted, his voice hard.  Trucco shrugged with a sly smile. “Ehhh, there is something —”  “How much do you want?” Rus repeated, his eyes matching his voice now.  The rogue’s grin grew wider.  “I will give it for free…but there is one condition.”  Daina stared at him, saying nothing.  He continued.  “When there is a moment, when we get around to it, of sweet, sweet revenge…I want to take Scourge.  I want him all to me.”  Daina’s face remained expressionless.  “All you want is first crack at Scourge?”  “Yes,” Trucco replied, his eyes gleaming with anticipation of all the ways he’d been dreaming of taking down the Storm Reaver’s sadistic taskmaster.  “Well,” Daina replied, “have fun.”  With those words, she held out her hand, and Trucco placed the knife in it.

Cradling the ornate hilt of her tago knife in one hand and its long, delicate blade in the other, she forced herself to look back up at Trucco and asked him how he’d known to look for it.  Trucco sighed.  He had, he grudgingly admitted, had some help.  Tossing one of the bottles of acid he’d plundered over to Rus, he thanked Daina’s fellow soldier for the information.  Attaching her tago knife to her belt where it belonged, Daina glanced over at Rus.  She was, it went without saying, fairly certain that Trucco had not in fact had to fight a manticore to win this prize.  But if the way in which he had acquired it came back to bite either Rus or the rogue, she wanted to know about it.  Daina had, she observed, been told many times on the Storm Reaver that property was only considered someones so long as they were able to keep it.  And perhaps Grok considered herself protected from that custom, but if she couldn’t keep that knife, it wasn’t Daina’s problem.  Trucco agreed that the quartermaster clearly didn’t take her responsibilities seriously, and insisted that he had done a clean job and left no trace.  Daina replied that she wasn’t implying anything about Trucco’s skills, but merely that she wouldn’t want to see him get in trouble for doing her this service.  Rus wondered if there had been any traps on the locks he’d opened.  No, Trucco replied, not aside from the manticore.  Rus humored him as the rogue continued to expand on his story, speaking of how the manticore had spoken to him and tested him with riddles.  “Well, that was different from the ones I practiced with, with the Ghorad’in” he drawled.  Trucco insisted that the one he’d fought was very chatty, eliciting a laugh from Daina — the two of them had something in common, then.  Rus explained that the reason he’d asked was because he’d noticed that there were many locked and trapped doors on the ship after hours, including the map room beneath the forecastle, which might be worth a look.  “I knew you were a clever guy!” Trucco declared.  “I knew it from the moment I saw you!”

“Yes,” Daina interjected quietly, “it seems he is.”  Turning her full attention to Trucco, she remarked that it seemed to her that the reason he did what he did was because he enjoyed doing it.  She didn’t think he’d had any idea what he’d actually done that night other than have fun going through Grok’s stuff, but that was alright.  He had her most sincere thanks.  Trucco agreed that it had been fun, but had he known how important this knife was to her, perhaps he should have asked for more.  Daina’s face went dark as Khyber at that as her hand dropped to the hilt of her newly returned knife and her fingers began to run across it.  Trucco immediately began to backpedal as he held up his hands and insisted that he had just done his good deed for the day and excused himself from the table.  Daina glanced over her shoulder at Torlan quizzically.  “I think I scared him off.”

Holding out a hand to catch Trucco as he began to leave, Torlan — who had been quietly standing behind Daina’s chair throughout the conversation — commended him on being an excellent storyteller.  Perhaps, as a payment, the old talespinner could assist the young rogue in giving a proper performance?  He also remarked that he had come into some money of his own recently, and if Trucco ever had need of it, he should come to Torlan for help.  Trucco wondered aloud if this is what co-operation was.  He’d done something for Daina, asking little in return, and now Torlan was offering something to him freely as thanks.  This was different, and nice, and unexpected!  “It’s traditionally what happens when someone has a friend” Daina replied with a smile.  She explained that she and Torlan had always looked after their own, and while she reiterated that she didn’t reckon he knew what he’d done aside from have a little fun, he could now consider himself under Daina’s protection.  “With how you treat that knife,” the rogue replied, side-eyeing her hand casually playing over its hilt again “that would be a benefit for me!”  Daina chuckled.  This knife, she replied, wasn’t for fighting.  

Trucco raised an eyebrow at that.  It was a beautiful knife, very well-made and well-designed, seemingly with good balance like the ones he preferred to throw.  No, Daina replied, hers wasn’t balanced for throwing.  This knife wasn’t meant for violence.  Trucco was Cyran — had he never seen a tago knife before?  He pursed his lips.  He hadn’t spent his life in the nicest parts of Metrol, though perhaps he remembered seeing one such knife at a party.  Daina smiled again and told him that she herself hadn’t seen Metrol until she was sixteen.  This knife, she explained, was something that folks used to dance with each other when they wanted to court with each other.  “Or make war” Rus piped up.  “Excuse me?” Daina raised an eyebrow at that.  “Or make war” Rus repeated.  No one talked as much about the moments in the dance where you were supposed to let your knives clash.  It was a fight, and you weren’t supposed to let your hands touch.  But when folks did, Rus mused, well, that was when stories got told.  Daina shrugged.  She hadn’t known that about the tago; she herself had only danced it the one time.  Turning back to Trucco, she told him that this knife of hers was a gift from someone who was long gone and, as she had said, he was under her protection now.  She would prefer if he did not do anything excessively stupid to make that protection harder to give, and she would give it all the same to the best of her ability, but he needed to understand that there was only so much she could do on board the Storm Reaver to guarantee his safety.  But he had her word that she would try.  “Of course!” Trucco replied.  “But when we get more power, there will be opportunities to be even more stupid!”  Shaking her head with a smile as her hand idly began to play with the handle of her knife again, she mused that she was never one to back down for a challenge and clearly neither was he, but…nevermind that.  They’d be together come what may.  

As Trucco excused himself at last to get more grog and mull over this new, unfamiliar, and somewhat uncomfortable circumstance of what appeared to be genuine friendship, Daina looked over at Rus with a small smile.  “Well, Rus of the Northern Cross” she said, “it seems that you have attained your goal too.”  “I can’t possibly know what you mean by that, Miss Daina” he replied.  She shook her head and chuckled.  “It’s just Daina.  Or, if you’re feeling extremely fancy, Sergeant ir’Lizani.  But she’s back in Cyre.”  Torlan gave the two of them a sidelong glance and excused himself to go work on the tale of Trucco’s duel with the manticore, but Rus kept any further thoughts to himself, and he and Daina finished their drinks in silence.

The remainder of the evening came and went as usual, and over the next couple of days the Storm Reaver was noticeably limping as it approached a small, isolated island where the ship’s artificer Hakrili Quarn saw to some more repairs.  Though Master Scourge and Mister Lagraa’s cruelty towards Daina and her friends had ramped up, she had found herself largely insulated from their attention working down in the galley under Fishguts’ command.  Things did not go as well for the others.  Over the following few days, Rus, Torlan, and Trucco found themselves assigned to nothing but the duties they hated the most, something Master Scourge was clearly taking pleasure in.  Trucco was confined to line work, a job which had him working the sails but not allowed to climb into the rigging where he so loved to be.  Rus did nothing but swab the main deck, Torlan found himself down in the bilge on rat catching duty, and the old dwarf couldn’t help but shake the feeling that Scourge was deliberately making an effort to isolate them from each other.  It was becoming obvious to all four of them that firm lines had been drawn within the crew, and that those who cozied up to Scourge and Lagraa and had become more hostile towards the newcomers than they even had before while those who had been agreeable towards them seemed even more at odds with Scourge and Lagraa’s sycophants.  Down in the galley, Daina decided it was time to broach the subject to Fishguts.  Where exactly were these lines being drawn, and which side of them was he on?  

He growled at that.  He’d told her many times that this ship was poison, a cancer for the soul.  And who said he was on anyone’s side?  “Everyone’s on a side, Fishguts” Daina replied.  “What do you think will happen if you try to stay in the middle?”  He snapped back that everyone had to eat.  She frowned, frustrated.  If he was suggesting that he’d be on whichever side wound up on top, she couldn’t help him with that.  But as she’d said before, if he wanted her help, she’d have it, and when she got off the Storm Reaver, she’d take him with her.  He reminded her that Prince Mika owned him, having won his life as a stake in a game of cards, and she repeated the lesson she was now taking to heart that on this ship that something was yours only so long as you could keep it.  The Captain might own Fishguts for now, and Daina didn’t intend to own any man, but she might be able to take from the Captain something that was hers.  Fishguts laughed in her face.  There seemed to be no breaking the hopelessness that held sway over his soul, but as she returned to her work, Daina made a small prayer to any Sovereigns who were listening that one day, she might be able to help the incorrigible dwarf she’d found herself looking on more and more not only with pity, but with fondness.

For his own part, Trucco had been consoling himself after three miserable days of line work by regularly sneaking down to have dinner with Owlbear in the cargo hold.  He found the big, simple, genial man an easy person to unburden himself to.  Owlbear didn’t ask the kinds of uncomfortable questions that Daina and the others did, and seemed to have no expectations of him either beyond the occasional happy interjection that rarely had anything to do with what Trucco was talking about.  It was a pleasant arrangement for both of them as Owlbear enjoyed the company of another person, and Trucco found a way to express the not unpleasant but thoroughly foreign emotions he’d been finding start to take hold in him.

The next morning, Torlan and Daina found themselves increasingly on edge as the tension they could feel in the air continued to simmer just below boiling.  Up on deck, Rus tried to approach Aretta again in hopes of hearing her commit to being on his side, but she had become rather standoffish and cold towards him.  It was the 6th of Olarune, and after putting Trucco on his hated line work once again and informing Rus in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t have trouble finding a reason to beat him that night, Master Scourge ordered Torlan down into the bilge with Sador, Arzak, and Jaundiced Sudak to pump out more water that had found its way in during the last storm.  Torlan recognized Sador as one of the ones who had jumped him and the others on their second day aboard along with Sudak, the mute orc who had clearly taken a special hatred of him ever since.  Ducking into the crew quarters on the way down, he took his harp from his footlocker and consulted its auguries.  As his fingers danced over its strings, the notes came back to him jarring and dissonant.  Glancing over at Tamroth Scrimshaw, who was minding her own business from a distance, he was yelled at to keep moving.  Seeing no other choice, he made his way down to the bilge with the others.

Back on the main deck, it was business as usual.  Rus was scrubbing, Trucco was coiling ropes, and Daina was for once out of the galley and fishing.  As Rus worked, keeping to himself after his failed attempt to win over Aretta, Tamroth Scrimshaw approached him.  Leaning down and lowering her voice, she told Rus that there was a major problem.  Torlan had killed three members of the crew.

“Oh, Khyber” Rus breathed, his eyes widening.  “Okay, where?  We gotta hide the bodies.  Show me.  Take me to him.”  As he began to follow Tamroth back towards the stairs, Master Scourge appeared and barked at him to get back to work, and that he’d be getting three lashes for laziness.  From her spot at the rail where she was fishing, Daina could see and hear Scourge preventing Rus from leaving the deck, and she knew that the former skyknight wasn’t one to tempt fate by shirking his duties.  Loudly announcing to anyone in earshot that she’d better get her catch down to Fishguts before it began to stink as badly as he did, she made her way over to Rus and whispered, “going somewhere?”  He whispered back that he’d better go check on her godfather — Torlan had been sent to catch rats in the blige, and it seemed he’d killed some folk.

“Well to Khyber with you, asshole!” Daina yelled in Rus’ face, putting on a show for Scourge.  “I’m a way better chef than Fishguts will ever be!”  Making her way down into the hold, trying to hurry without looking like it, she tossed her fish aside into a corner and carefully opened the hatch down the ladder to the bilge, steeling herself for what she might find.

Hearing the creaking of the planks above him, Torlan startled as he saw his goddaughter appear.  “Oh, Daina” he gasped, his voice quavering.  “Listen, you don’t want to come down here.  You don’t want to see what’s happened down here.”  Ice clenched at Daina’s guts.  “I think I do,” she replied, her words slow and cautious as she began climbing down the ladder to see him slumped against the hull, covered in blood, tired, hunched, and — for the first time in her life — scared.  She dropped down, water sloshing around her ankles, and knelt down beside him, placing her hands on his shoulders and trying to meet his eyes.  “Uncle…what’s wrong?”

Ten minutes earlier…

Dropping down into the bilge, the clear signs of danger Torlan’s augury had given him were confirmed by his eyes as he took note of the knife tucked into the hobgoblin Arzak’s boot.  The signs had been clear, and even if they hadn’t, Torlan was no fool.  They’d attacked him and the others on their second day aboard, they’d never forgotten how he’d turned the tables on them that day, and now, with the storm that had been brewing for nearly a week as Scourge and Lagraa and their lackeys had ramped up their attention and cruelty towards Torlan, Daina, and their new friends, he could see the writing on the wall.  He’d been forced down into the bilge this day with three cruel, angry pirates who hated him.  He saw no other choice than to act before they did.
As he joined Sador in the work at one of the pumps, going through the motions of working, he waited for the right moment until the large orc’s back was turned…and then everything went red.  With a wordless, guttural cry, he launched himself at the pirate, slitting his throat with the knife that had been hidden in his own boot, killing the man instantly.  Whipping around, Arzak slashed his knife across Torlan’s chest as the old dwarf, now thoroughly in the throes of a blood rage, shrugged off the attack and rushed Jaundiced Sudak — and stumbled on something below the water line, falling backwards.  Windmilling his arms to try to catch his balance, his wild flailing caught Arzak right in the eye as Torlan’s knife drove home, dropping the hobgoblin where he stood.  Falling with him, Torlan lost his grip on the knife now firmly lodged in the dead man’s skull as Arzak’s body rolled away from him.  As Sudak, undeterred, moved in to finish the job with her trademark leering grin, Torlan rolled out of the way of her blade and retrieved his knife from Arzak as he got to his feet.  Backing up towards the ladder, he demanded to know who else was involved, and if he was their only target.  What of his friends?  She responded with nothing but a sneer and continued moving in, but Torlan was faster, and his blade angled up beneath his nemesis’ arm and into her vitals.  It was over.  
He had no time to think before Tamroth Scrimshaw appeared at the opposite hatch.  She’d heard a commotion.  What was going on?  He shouted back that he’d been attacked, and slain them all, but there was no time — he had to get to the others.  
“Oi, lad” Tamroth breathed, “I think you’re in big trouble.”  “I think we’re all in trouble,” Torlan insisted, and he asked her to go find out if the others were in trouble themselves.  Torlan asked her if there were any other witnesses, and she shook her head and replied that he’d be getting keelhauled.  Torlan interrupted. “Will you help me or not?” She agreed to check, and he told her to make haste.
A few minutes later, Tamroth returned.  It was business as usual up on deck.  Daina and the others were fine.  “Ohhh shit,” the old dwarf sighed.  “Well, are you still willing to help me?”  Tamroth just stared at him.  What did he mean?  There were three bodies here in the bilge.  He insisted that he wasn’t asking her to put herself at risk, but Daina, Ruskel, and Trucco needed to know the situation — they’d know what to do.  He was exhausted.  His rage fled his body, and he slumped against one of the gunwales as Tamroth left him again…

“They were going to try and do for me” Torlan insisted, looking up at Daina with frightened desperation.  “I had no choice.”  She closed her eyes.  How many were there?  He told her it had been two orcs and the hobgoblin.  They’d been armed.  And he’d killed them all? “Aye,” Torlan replied.  “Aye, I did.”  Daina steeled herself.  It was time for her to be strong for the one who had been strong for her all these years.  Tightening her grip on his shoulders, she leaned in even closer.

“Torlan, listen to me.  There’s no way we’re sneaking those bodies out of here, so we need to do one of two things.  First thing, this morning Trucco tossed our friend in the blue coat a bottle of acid.  I don’t know how well we can do that with all the water down here, but it might do the trick—” Torlan cut her off.  Had there really been no one making a move against her or the others?  It had been a strange few days… “No!” Daina shouted, fear rising in her throat.  “I’ve been in the kitchen this whole time!  Torlan, we need to get off this ship.  We need to get off this ship right now.”  There were longboats, and they’d have to take their chances.  They couldn’t stay on the Storm Reaver anymore.  “But the signs, Daina!” the old dwarf protested.  “The omens!  They weren’t good! I did what I had to.”  Daina’s eyes grew even wider.  He’d had a sign, and he’d come down here anyways?  “What else was I supposed to do?” he asked.  “Shirk my duties, not come down here, get whipped again?”  “Yes!!!” Daina cried, panic creeping into her voice.  “Yes, that would have been better!  It would have been much, much better!”  Gathering herself, she started thinking out loud.  No one else would be down to the bilge for a while, except for anyone who knew that Torlan and the others had been down there.  Who else knew?  Torlan shook his head.  The assignments had been called out by Master Scourge in front of the entire crew that morning — everyone knew.  Maybe Daina was right; maybe they should steal a longboat and try to get him off the ship.

“Get us off the ship” Daina corrected him. Torlan shook his head again.  “What are you saying?” she demanded.  “Of course I’m coming with you.”  “You can’t, Daina!” he protested.  It had to just be him who took the fall, when they came after him.  “Do you think I’d do any better if I stayed behind?” she retorted.  “No,” she said, quiet and sad, “you’re not leaving me behind.”  Desperately searching for a plan, she noted that it was late morning, and no one was likely to come down to the bilge for some time unless Tamroth had raised an alarm, and she hadn’t last Daina saw.  “No, she’s a good lass” Torlan murmured.  If she hadn’t raised an alarm yet, she wasn’t likely to betray him.  

Daina got down to business.  First, she was going to clean him up, because he was a mess.  Next, they were going to walk out of the bilge like there was nothing to hide.  They would find Rus and Trucco, figure out their next move, and if she and him were going to leave that night, they were going to leave that night.  Cradling the back of Torlan’s head with one hand, she dipped her handkerchief into the water and began wiping the blood from his face.  It was dark, filthy bilge water, but for once, he didn’t protest, and they sat in silence as Daina worked.

Satisfied that she’d washed away the blood as best she could, Daina ordered Torlan to go to the cargo hold where it was quiet.  He was to do nothing, speak with no one, and draw no attention to himself, and she’d be back soon.  “Okay” he replied, his voice quavering again.  “I’ll do what you say.  Be careful.”  “I will” she promised.  Clutching Torlan to herself in a quick, fierce hug, she hurried back to the main deck to seek out Rus.

The work day was in full swing and the deck was bustling.  With a private conversation out of the question, she decided to keep up her ruse, announcing that Fishguts was flat on his ass drunk again, and she needed Rus’ help carrying a barrel.  He declared that if that was what the galley needed, then he’d certainly help, but as he began to follow her, Scourge appeared behind him again.  “That’s another three lashes for laziness!” the taskmaster yelled.  “Get back on the deck!”  Daina stared Scourge down.  She only needed Rus for a moment .  Fishguts was hammered again, and she couldn’t carry that barrel on her own.  Getting up in Daina’s face, Scourge sneered that neither Fishguts nor her held any authority on the deck — he did.  So she should go take care of her own problems.  “Go,” Rus said quietly, and not seeing any other choice, she returned belowdecks alone.

Making a beeline for the galley, Daina found Fishguts completely incapacitated from his drinking again.  Reaching down, she squeezed his hand.  “I’m sorry” she whispered, and left him behind, expecting that this would be their last meeting in spite of the promise she’d made.

From his hiding place in the cargo hold, Torlan heard footsteps approaching.  He could see Master Scourge’s mate Salty making his way towards the bilge, and the ship’s gunner Master Crines — with a swab named Gragoth in tow — entered the hold and came straight for him.  “You stay right there” Crines ordered, as he and Gragoth moved to box Torlan in.  As Daina came down the ladder to the hold, she heard a call go out.  “We’ve got some bodies down here!  He’s killed them!”

Drawing his sword on Torlan, Master Crines ordered the dwarf to disarm himself.  “They attacked me first” Torlan insisted.  “It was self-defense.”  Master Crines repeated his order,  his voice growing harder, and Torlan threw down his knife.  As she made her way down the stairs, Daina met a swab named Patchy going in the opposite direction.  He looked at her sideways and told her she didn’t want to get involved.  “What happened?” she asked, feigning ignorance.  He informed her that Torlan had killed a few crew members, and had to answer to Prince Mika Rockface for his crimes.  “Bullshit” Daina declared.  “Even if he did kill anyone, do you think they wouldn’t have started it?”  Patchy sneered that killing anyone on the Storm Reaver was a punishable offense, and Daina retorted that if that were the case, why was Lagraa still here?  Patchy had no reply other than to tell Daina to go back to the galley.  Out of the corner of her eye, Daina saw Torlan shaking his head.  Nodding back at him, she began making her way topside as she desperately tried to figure out how to get him out of this mess.

There was no time to do so.  Torlan was immediately brought up before the quarterdeck, where Mister Lagraa and Prince Rockface herself held court as Salty announced that Torlan had killed Sardor, Jaundiced Sudak, and Arzak.  The Prince looked directly at Torlan and demanded to know what he had to say for himself.  “Aye, I killed them” he admitted, “but it was in self-defense.”  He insisted that the three of them had had it out for him ever since jumping him on his second day aboard, and that they must have conspired with Scourge to corner him in the bilge alone — but they had underestimated him.  What, he asked, would she have had him do?  Her response came fast and swift.  She ordered Mister Lagraa to put Torlan in the sweatbox — a small, solid metal box with nothing more than a few holes for air — and she’d keelhaul him tomorrow.

Turning to Rus and Trucco, Daina whispered that she had to get Torlan off the ship.  Trucco asked if Torlan had done what he was accused of — not that they didn’t have it coming — and she replied that he had.  She only saw two possible outcomes for her and her old godfather: one being to fight her way out of the situation, which she couldn’t do alone, and the other being to escape.  Torlan had made a few friends, and so had she, and so had Rus and Trucco, and the latter nodded that they had a few cards up their sleeves.  Meanwhile, some of Scourge’s lackeys were trying to cram Torlan into the sweatbox.  It was so small that even a dwarf had a hard time fitting in it, and his captors were not gentle.  As they shoved at him, the rusty hinges of the door began to creak and pop, and it was clear that they would not be able to confine him in it.  Dragging him over to a slightly larger cage on the poop deck, they tossed out the skeleton that had been occupying it and shoved Torlan inside as the parrot perched on top began to caw.  He was still trapped, but perhaps he wouldn’t suffer as badly.

Returning her attention to Rus and Trucco, Daina whispered that if the keelhauling was going to happen at the usual time, she had twenty-four hours.  Torlan had twenty-four hours.  And she couldn’t save him alone.

All of a sudden, a loud shout went out from the crow’s nest.  “Ships ahoy!”  Looking up, Daina spotted a large, three-masted ship emerging from the far side of the island the Storm Reaver had been skirting as Mister Lagraa ordered the crew into action, Torlan’s crimes forgotten for the moment.  It seemed that the Prince would have her prize at last.  The hunt was on. 

Behind the Scenes

  • The quote at the top of this week’s recap is a line uttered by Amos Burton in The Expanse, and I could think of no more appropriate summary for this week’s adventures.
  • Question of the week: What is your greatest fear, or worst recurring nightmare? It turned out to be a rather spectacular coincidence that Daina’s greatest fear is that she will outlive Torlan. The question wasn’t planned (Phillip rolls on a table at the start of the session to see which question comes up that week), and us players certainly had no idea what kind of events this session would hold, but I absolutely made a sarcastic remark during the bilge scene that this is why you should always lie through your teeth when the spicy questions come up. 😉 (Don’t do that. Seriously, don’t do that.)
  • Trucco’s return of Daina’s tago knife meant that I finally got to bust out the one Hindrance I haven’t been able to play to yet in this campaign: her Quirk.  When she is concentrating, or otherwise lost in thought, her hand idly plays with the hilt of her tago knife — which can, as we saw in this session in which Ernesto had no idea about her Quirk in or out of character — be easily misinterpreted as hostility, or a threat, if someone doesn’t recognize this particular knife’s purpose.  Quirk is one of my favourite Hindrances because it is so personal.  It’s described in the rules as a minor foible that can occasionally cause the hero real trouble, and it’s easy to get a lot of mileage out of — in fact, Daina’s not the first character of mine who’s had a Quirk, but hers is completely unique to her.  It’s an unconscious fidget that I maintain she doesn’t even realize that she does, which is why she was puzzled when Trucco hastily turned tail and tried to run after they were just having a very friendly conversation!
  • So…how about Torlan, eh? 😀  Real talk, Michael was faced with an incredibly difficult situation that he had to solo, and how he chose to play out the bilge encounter was in my opinion a fantastic character and story moment that then set me up for a fantastic moment of my own as we shared our scene of Daina dealing with the aftermath.  But we’re talking about Torlan here, so here are a few notable notes from that fight:
    • In the second round, Torlan — with his Hesitant hindrance that requires him to draw two action cards and take the lower — drew a ten of clubs and still came out at the top of the initiative order…and that was when he critically failed his attack on Sudak.  And you might be wondering why a critical fail resulted in him being able to instantly kill Arzak on his way down, because that kind of boon is not a typical outcome, but what happened was that he was finally able to use the new Edge he took in our first advance, which was…
    • Berserk!  This is an edge with quite a few moving parts, so let’s break it down from the top:
      • Berserk kicks in immediately after the character becomes either Shaken or Wounded, at which point they must make a Smarts roll or enter a blood rage.  They can choose to voluntarily fail this roll.
      • Once berserked, Torlan’s Strength die increases by 1, his Toughness increases by 2, and he can ignore 1 point of wound penalties (which stacks with any other edge that reduced wound penalties) — but all of his melee attacks must be Wild Attacks, which give him a +2 to hit at the cost of making him Vulnerable (giving his enemies +2 on their rolls against him).
      • Which brings us back to, why did Phillip allow Torlan to have a free attack on a critical failure?  That’s weird, right?  The final piece of the Berserk edge is that rolling a critical failure on Fighting attack while berserked results in the hero attacking a randomly determined foe — or friend — within their range.  In this particular encounter, Torlan was only surrounded by enemies, and that’s why despite falling prone and temporarily losing his knife, he was able to take Arzak down with him.
      • Those of you familiar with Savage Pathfinder may have noticed that this is one of the ways in which we’ve deviated from its rules regarding class edges.  In Savage Pathfinder, Berserk is removed from the general Edges pool and restricted to being a class feature of the Barbarian.  We said “no thank you” to that at our table — Torlan actually has a Bardic arcane background — and so Torlan is now a talespinning, harp-playing old dwarf who might occasionally fly into a blood rage when his back is against the wall…which in my opinion is exactly how Savage Worlds should be.
  • As far as highs and lows go for a session, this one was a total rollercoaster.  From finally getting Daina’s tago knife back after eleven weeks and being able to play out her Quirk at last, to having a really good in-character reason to bring Trucco into her circle as the last missing piece of the party members she’s sworn to protect, to the cascading series of events in the bilge that had the whole table alternating between riotous laughter and some pretty intense sobriety culminating with one hell of a multi-faceted cliffhanger as we break for the holidays, “rollercoaster” is perhaps an understatement…but it was also my favourite session of this campaign to date.  I’m not going to say it wasn’t nerve-wracking, but tension isn’t always a bad thing, and I am extremely excited about what comes next.  See you in the new year!

Session Recap Week 11: Allegiance

Morning came, and sails were on the horizon. Out on the open water, the horizon was a long way off, and the crew knew it would take a day or two to catch their prey as Scourge snapped at Rus, Trucco, and Torlan to get to their duties for the day. The old dwarf noted that Mika Rockface herself was on the quarterdeck this morning, an unusual sight to be sure, but he’d heard many rumblings that the prince was frustrated about her run of bad luck and itching to turn around the Storm Reaver‘s fortunes.

As the crew began to disperse to their duties, Trucco took a quick glance around and sidled up to where Rus was beginning to gather up some ropes, inquiring if he was okay following the previous night’s bloody round of arm wrestling. Removing his glove to show Trucco his bandaged hand, the skyknight and the rogue commiserated over Sandara Quinn’s skills and Trucco promptly got down to business – had any good bets been placed on the contest? Had Rus made some good money? Rus revealed that “Miss Daina” was working towards making some money of her own to retrieve something dear to her that the quartermaster was keeping under lock and key, and mused that Daina was having a little more trouble accommodating herself to the workings of a pirate vessel than Trucco had. Trucco nodded and suggested that acquiring Daina’s prize whether Grok was a willing participant or not might be just the ticket, and Rus agreed, but again reiterated that he didn’t think Daina had such an act in her and was more than likely not too skilled at it to boot. He knew she’d been trying to gain some funds in a less underhanded way, and to her credit she’d raised no small amount, but he’d been told that this item of hers was not only of great sentimental value but worth more than a few galifars as well. Trucco announced that he wasn’t the smartest, but he was quick, and Rus was smart, and perhaps together they could come up with a solution that would keep the gold in their pockets and see Daina’s treasure returned to her. Rus frowned a little. There were many things down in Grok’s stores, and he didn’t exactly know himself what the item in question looked like, but if Trucco were to ask Daina about it, she might very well be open to his particular brand of help.

“She might?” Trucco asked, “or she will?” Rus shrugged. He’d only known Miss Daina as long as Trucco had, and the best person to ask about her feelings was the lady herself. Trucco’s eyes began to sparkle. Perhaps, he wondered aloud, it would make for a nice surprise. Daina had been kind to him during their short acquaintance, and the thought of being able to indulge his mischievous habits and do her a favour at the same time sounded incredibly appealing to the irascible rogue. “If you wanted to do her a surprise,” Rus replied, “look for the fanciest knife in the quartermaster’s hold. That’s probably what she’s looking for.” If there were multiple expensive-looking knives down there, and Trucco was able to get to one of them, he’d be able to get to all of them and sort it out later. The shifter grinned and declared that he’d think about it.

Reaching into his belt, Rus produced his own tago knife, showing Trucco its fine narrow blade, ornate hilt, and the silver chain attached to its pommel with a medallion emblazoned with an eagle hanging from it. Trucco took a good look at it, and though Rus cautioned him that Daina’s would not look exactly the same, he felt that he had enough information to go on. Having cased the quartermaster’s stores before, Trucco knew that Grok regularly left her post to drink with Fishguts every afternoon, and he continued working with uncharacteristic patience until the time was right.

While Torlan tackled some repairs down in the cargo hold, Daina made an excuse to leave the galley for a few minutes and approached the old dwarf. She told him about the revelation that her and Rus’ paths had crossed before, that he was the one who had bought her and Maz one more week together, and that she remained unsure as to why he’d helped her at the gambling table in the manner that he had, but she was grateful regardless. As Daina abruptly excused herself to get back to work, and Torlan watched her go, he could tell that his normally steady goddaughter was off her game, and the wheels in his head began to turn.

Keeping an eye on the clock, Trucco found himself unable to pass up another chance to exercise his particular set of skills, especially for a good cause. Making his way down to the stores unseen, he gathered up his lockpicks and tested the handle of the door only to find it unlocked. He took that as a good omen, and made his way inside to the locker that his own gear had once been stowed in. Easily popping the cheap lock, he cast a practiced eye over a few flasks of alchemist’s fire, a battered iron box, and a rather ornate knife that easily resembled the one Rus had shown him. Snatching up the knife and one of the flasks, he replaced the locks and left with his prize.

As Torlan continued his work, Rus joined him in the hold to see to his own task of dealing with the ship’s persistent rat problem, and the old dwarf decided it was time to see what his enigmatic companion was made of. Casually approaching the reserved younger man, Torlan rumbled that Daina had told him what Rus had done for her the previous evening. Being Brelish, he’d never entirely understood the Cyran hang-ups about touching bare hands with a stranger, but he felt compelled to thank Rus on his goddaughter’s behalf all the same. “You don’t have to thank me,” Rus insisted. “She won her money fair and square.” Torlan frowned. Rus was Cyran himself – wasn’t it a little strange for him to be “shaking” her hand, according to their customs? Rus agreed that skin to skin contact was normally reserved for trusted friends and confidants, and he didn’t know Daina very well, but it had looked like she’d needed something that was weighing on her mind. As far as he was concerned, they might as well walk through that indignity together. Besides, he insisted, there wasn’t all that much to it. It was a silly tradition from thousands of miles away, buried beneath whatever in Khyber had happened to their homeland. Torlan mused that it was important to carry on those traditions, and that he supposed it was of some comfort to him after all. He’d been reluctant to trust Rus and Trucco easily, and while he wasn’t sure if Daina did, he suspected that she at least soon would.

Torlan shifted his weight and looked at Rus a little more intently.  “I expect that you’ve known dwarves before,” he said, his voice hardening a little. Rus agreed that he had. “Do you know much about us?” the old talespinner asked. “They trained our air corps,” Rus replied, and everyone knew that some of the best flyers came from the Mror Holds. Torlan nodded. It was good that Rus had a proper baseline for dwarves aside from these Cloud Reavers, and that he should know that most of his people were very careful about the bonds they forged, and even more careful about keeping them – they wouldn’t stab each other in the back over a pouch of sovereigns, unlike their present company. The point, he declared, was that it wasn’t easy for him to trust people, but that he found himself in need of it. Rus observed that such a thing was hard to come by on the Storm Reaver, and he figured that you just had to latch on to what you could get.

“Look,” Torlan sighed, “I’m just going to come out and say it. I want you on our side. I’m going to watch your back, and I expect that you’re going to watch my back. Is that a fair assumption?” “Certainly” the younger man replied.

“That’s good,” Torlan rumbled. “You should know this, though. If I place my trust in you – you’re still as of yet a bit of a stranger to me. I expect – I hope – that that will change in the future, but just don’t ever, ever, turn on me or my family. That means Daina. If you did, if you do, well, you’d better have killed me first, because if you do, it won’t just be me who comes calling on that feud. It will be my remaining son, when he learns of the betrayal, and he’ll carry on that quarrel even if you perish before that debt is settled. And if you have any children, that feud will carry on to them. You see what I’m saying?”

“I do” Rus replied. “I don’t plan on betraying Daina, but if I do, should I know who all I need to kill first?”

“That’s a reasonable question,” Torlan replied.

“I’ll let you think about that one,” Rus said. “That sounds like it may take a bit of time. You don’t have to answer it now, there’s no plans to betray Daina currently at the moment.”

Torlan’s eyes grew even harder. “Don’t try to make a fool of me, boy.” Rus held up a hand. “Oh, I’ve seen you in combat. I’ve already been made a fool of plenty times on this ship.”

“Any one of us could turn on each other, put a word in Mister Lagraa’s ear, and that would be the end of it” Torlan remarked. “Oh, we could,” Rus replied. “But I don’t get the sense you’re about to, and I’m not either.” “It’s not in my best interests” Torlan replied. “It wouldn’t serve any of us,” Rus reminded him, exasperation creeping into his voice.

With that out of the way, Torlan declared, he found himself in need of relieving a burden of his own. He’d noticed the officers paying special attention to himself and his fellow captives, and wondered if it wouldn’t benefit him to have someone else know what he’d done and could help look out for signs of the tides turning on him. That missing dwarf, Narwhal, who had gone missing during the squall? It was he, Torlan, who had thrown Narwhal into the sea.

Rus winced.  “Oh…I wish you hadn’t told me that. But you did.” “I did,” Torlan replied. He was worried that Mister Lagraa now suspected him, and if that were the case, he might need Rus’ help in throwing off her suspicion. Rus sighed. He was no liar, and he wasn’t much good at it. Besides, it wasn’t just Torlan who was catching unwanted attention from Lagraa – in fact, Rus had thought it was just himself. He pointed out that no one had so much as mentioned Narwhal since Torlan’s eulogy, and that Lagraa seemed to just be angry for the sake of being angry. Torlan would keep an eye out for Rus, Rus would keep an eye out for Torlan, and that was that.

As the afternoon grew late, the sky began to darken and the sea began to swell. Noticing Jaundiced Sudak leering at him again with a cruel smile on her face, he couldn’t shake the feeling that the silent orc was plotting something against him, and he was well aware that she was one of Master Scourge’s favoured cronies. Making their way up to the quarterdeck, Torlan and Trucco found both Scourge and Prince Mika herself on edge at the prospect of losing their prey in the storm, a fear which was justified after the other ship turned and sailed immediately into the squall – a path the Storm Reaver’s captain grudgingly chose not to follow. 

In the face of another brewing storm, many of the crew remained on duty, and even Bloody Hour was announced to be postponed until tomorrow — though Rus and Torlan were each called out for laziness and assigned six lashes.  Though they’d tried their best to maintain a semblance of working throughout their conversation earlier that day, the increased scrutiny on them was coming home to roost.  Jaundiced Sudak leered at Torlan again with her cruel, silent grin, and the old dwarf remarked that the severity of the punishments had increased.  Torlan had noticed the other storm brewing on the Storm Reaver, the one in which tensions between the officers were beginning to run high as they continued to find themselves unable to take a prize, and still hampered by the damage the ship had suffered several weeks earlier.

Evening fell, and with the usual entertainment and merriment being postponed, Torlan decided it was time to get some revenge on Jaundiced Sudak — and, just like Trucco’s own venture the previous morning, it would kill two birds with one stone and satisfy his desires while helping his goddaughter. The rogue had kept his retrieval of the tago knife he assumed to be Daina’s to himself, and without that knowledge and with the story of Rus and Daina’s encounter at the gambling table fresh in his mind, the old dwarf knew he must do what he himself could do to help ease her burden. Quietly making his way down into the hold where the crew strung their hammocks, he sought out Sudak’s footlocker and popped the cheap lock without too much trouble. He helped himself to the orc’s gold and silver, took care not to disturb any other items, replaced the lock, and returned to his duties without a word.

Morning came and Rus, Trucco, and Torlan found themselves gathered on deck along with Crimson Cog, Conchobar, and Sandara. Master Scourge that morning was angrier than unusual, while acting a little sheepish towards the other officers…and sporting a black eye.  Striding up to the group, he growled that they’d be working for Master Crines that day.  She announced that they’d be practicing boarding actions, and ordered them out into the dinghies in two groups of three.  Rus quickly approached Sandara and told her to stay near him, while Torlan sized up Conchobar, having recalled Daina’s mentions of the foppish gnome putting on a show of being more comfortable at sea than he actually was.  To their surprise, Master Crines got in the dinghy with them, and began instructing Rus to throw his grappling hook back out to the Storm Reaver.  In the second dinghy, Trucco easily secured his own line and began to shimmy across it back to the ship as several of his fellow swabs appeared on deck and began pelting him with rotten apples, fish heads, and whatever odds and ends they could find to try to knock him off.  Easily dodging the projectiles, the overconfident rogue yelled back that Scourge would have a much harder time at this than he did, what with his bad eye.  As Trucco drew closer, Scourge himself appeared at the rail and threw a knife at him, shouting that he’d just earned himself three more lashes.  Rus easily followed, calling back to his training in the aerial corps, while Crimson Cog fell and had to return to the dinghy and Conchobar continued struggling to secure a line for himself.  

As Trucco gracefully dropped onto the deck in front of Master Scourge, the furious half-orc caught him across the head with his fist and snarled that he’d be joining Rus and Torlan at the mast that night.  Safe on deck and seeing Crimson Cog continue to struggle, he began to shout out advice and encouragement to guide Cog back to the ship as Sandara took a bottle straight to the face, knocking her off the line as blood flew from her nose.  Having been her third failed attempt, Master Crines rewarded Sandara with lashes that evening — but a lighter punishment than ones the others had been doled out.  Seeing Conchobar continue to struggle as well, Trucco yelled out that he’d give the gnome two galifars if he made it back on board before Torlan did.  Yelling back at Crines not to pop a blood vessel, he was almost back on board when a volley of empty bottles sent him into the drink before he managed to clamber up.

Bloody Hour came, and Rus, Torlan, and Trucco each found themselves facing six lashes.  Trucco and Rus bore their beatings well, but Scourge caught Torlan in some of the sore spots he’d suffered earlier.  Down in the galley that night, Trucco sat with the others and wondered aloud if the conflicts starting to brew between the ship’s officers could benefit him and his new friends in any way.  Torlan questioned what else they could do unless they planned to foment a mutiny right then and there, and Trucco changed the subject towards the Storm Reaver having failed to reave yet again.  Torlan questioned the Cloud Reaver’s skill as pirates of legend, and Rus wondered if the ship was hiding something — it seemed odd to him that Mika Rockface’s flagship didn’t have so much as an elemental ring.  As they spoke, Conchobar approached Trucco.  He believed he was owed two galifars.  The rogue tried to weasel his way out of it as Torlan reminded him that a promise was a promise, and Trucco offered to try his luck against Conchobar at the card table instead.  He came away with three galifars to his name, and offered them to the gnome, who gladly accepted. Getting up from the table, he turned to see Daina enter the room, and gathered Rus and Torlan to him before waving Daina over. He had business with the lady, and was never one to turn down an opportunity.

Behind the Scenes

  • I (Daina) was away this week (check out my and Kevin’s PAX Unplugged adventures on Twitter!), and it is safe to say I wasn’t expecting Trucco to conspire to retrieve Daina’s tago knife within the first twenty minutes of the session. This particular quest has been a real thorn in my and Daina’s side in as far as it’s bumped up hard against her hindrances, and I am not upset at all that Ernesto decided to take matters into his own hands while I was gone and resolve the problem in a way that both made sense for Trucco, and greatly helped me out as his fellow player.
  • I highly recommend complimenting this week’s recap with the audio if only to listen to Torlan and Rus play out that conversation in the bilge. It was a fantastic moment and Rus asking Torlan for a list of who he’d have to kill first had the table in stitches and was a very well-deserved bennie.
  • Practicing boarding actions was done as a Dramatic Task, but slightly different then how we’ve been doing them. In this case, each individual character had to accrue six successes over four rounds, as opposed to accumulating successes as a group.

Session Recap Week 10: If I Should Rise

As Master Scourge doled out the day’s assignments, he scowled at Rus with an even grimmer look than usual and snapped at him to run messages for the officers.  Making her way back to the galley after passing out breakfast, Daina found Fishguts eager to keep telling the stories he’d regaled her with the day before.  Handing her mug after mug of grog, he told the tale of a successful raid against a Bloodsail ship that had taken place a few years back.  After a few hours, Grok came down to look for some things in the cook’s stores, and couldn’t resist listening in.  As her and Fishguts started swapping stories, Conchobar came looking for the quartermaster, who waved him off and kept talking and drinking.  Looking up from her own mug with a rueful smile, Daina asked the foppish gnome if there was anything she could help him with.  “Not unless you have the keys to the quartermaster’s stores,” he replied with a wink.

That caught Daina’s attention.  Telling Fishguts that the grog was getting to her and she needed some air, she asked Conchboar to take a walk with her, which the gnome eagerly agreed to.  Asking him what he needed from the stores, he told her that he just needed a few things to do his job for the day — nothing she could help him with.  But to what did he owe the pleasure of a walk with Daina?  She asked him how he was settling in, and he began to bluster about how he’d been aboard longer than she had, and was a veritable Cloud Reaver by now!  Daina frowned at that, and remarked that it would seem they didn’t have as much in common as she’d thought.  Feigning woundedness, Conchobar asked if he was not pirate enough for her, and Daina realized he was putting on a show not only to try to impress her, but to make the best of his situation.  She decided to play along.  Since he was so accustomed to this ship already, how well did he know Grok?  He declared that he made it his job to speak with everyone, for he had no intention of being alone and isolated on board.  Changing tactics, Daina noted that Conchobar had a particular set of skills, and perhaps he could put his skill with cards to work on her behalf.  The gnome countered that she needed to put her own skills to work, and she remarked that her best resource at the moment was a silver tongue.  Perhaps they could work together at the cards table, and both come out on top.  While he steadfastly refused to work together, he did eventually agree to teach her a thing or two about gambling, and she agreed to meet him later that evening.

As Rus ran messages back and forth throughout the ship, he came across Mister Lagraa more frequently than he was accustomed to.  It seemed like she kept showing up in his path, and whenever she did, her scrutiny was more harsh and intense than usual.  Unnerved, Rus filed that information away for later and kept to his duties, managing to avoid any punishment that night.

Following Bloody Hour, Rus sought out Aretta, the fellow swab who had introduced him to the game of Hog Lob.  He complimented her on her resilience following the previous night’s game of Heave, and remarked that he often found himself in fights he’d lost before they even began.  She replied that he seemed to be handling himself well, according to some on board, and Rus leaned in closer — what had people been saying about him?  She grinned.  Everyone was still talking about how he and the others had been jumped on their second day aboard and come out on top, and while Torlan was the crazy one, Rus had given as good as he’d got.  She raised her mug and conveyed her respect for anyone who stood up to bullies, and he muttered that he had a rather large one looking over his shoulder at the moment.  He asked Aretta if she’d heard anything about Mister Lagraa having it in for him, and she shrugged.  Who knew, with Lagraa?  She could just be having a bad day.  Rus sighed and asked Aretta to let him know if she did hear anything, for it seemed that Lagraa’s unwanted attention towards him had become ramped up ever since the squall in which Narhwal had been lost.  She simply chuckled and said that he was one of the crazy ones as much as Torlan was.  Jumping into the rough sea to save a man overboard, and making it back out?  If he wasn’t crazy, Master Scourge was sane.  Rus pondered that.  If he’d have been the one knocked overboard instead of Giffer, would she throw him a line?  She agreed that she would if it were convenient — she certainly wouldn’t jump in after him.

Changing the subject, Rus asked who aboard the Storm Reaver other than the officers had been there the longest, and who knew the Prince best.  Aretta became more guarded at that.  While the mage Grovis Stormbeard and the artificer Hakrili Quarn were part of Mika Rockface’s inner circle, they’d lost several of their number recently, and Aretta suspected that the Prince was still sore about losing her navigator.  Rus asked her what had happened, and she revealed that the captain had unsuccessfully attempted to take Tidewater Rock for the third time shortly before they’d made port at Elysium.  Rus frowned and asked if they were heading that way to try again, and she replied that they were in fact headed to the outskirts of the Sea of Rage to find some Sarlonan vessels to commandeer.  Rus remarked that the Cloud Reavers seemed accustomed to losing battles themselves, and he’d fit right in.  Aretta scowled.  The Prince rarely came away empty-handed, and they’d more than likely return to Port Krez after taking a prize to make their much-needed repairs. 

Meanwhile, Daina was keeping her date with Conchobar at the dice table.  Claiming her seat as the gnome began to deliver a steady stream of advice — some of it more savoury, some of it less — she threw some galifars into the pot and cast a smile across the other players.  It was a cold smile, however, the kind that didn’t reach her eyes.  After an hour, she wound up splitting the pot with Azrath and gathered up her winnings with a slightly different smile, raising her mug of grog to Conchobar with a nod and thanking him for his assistance.  Placing his hand on Daina’s leg with a grin, Conchobar declared that soon she’d be losing money to him as she swiftly and firmly returned his hand to where it belonged.

Excusing herself from the table, leaving her drink behind, Daina pulled a stool up away from the revelry and took a seat leaning back against the hull and watched the crew continue to gamble and bull with each other while Torlan spun another tale.  Fifteen more galifars was a good start, but she was still not quite halfway to what Grok would likely demand in exchange for her tago knife, and as her hand instinctively went to the empty place on her belt where it should have sat she began to follow the rabbit down into her memories again…until Rus sat down beside her and in a low voice said, “If you want to know where the ship is going, underneath the forecastle is probably your best best.”  Daina turned her head; he had her full attention.  He continued to speak, revealing that the ship’s sorcerer and artificer spent a good deal of time in a small room in the forecastle poring over maps and charts.  Daina sighed and remarked that while she wasn’t terrible at getting in and out of places unseen, it wasn’t her strong suit either.  Rus pointed out that that other fellow, Trucco, seemed like he’d have a knack for it, but he’d also be more than likely to steal something on his way out and cause even more problems.  Daina shook her head at that and wondered if such a thing wouldn’t be more trouble than it was worth for all of them, confiding in Rus that Fishguts had warned her about Mister Lagraa holding a grudge against, which prompted a reply that she wasn’t alone in that.  “Why?” Daina asked him intently.  “What happened?”  Mister Lagraa had been especially critical and angry towards her as well over the course of this day, but Daina knew what she had done to earn the first mate’s ire — what had Rus done?  He shrugged; he hadn’t done anything.  He’d kept his head down and gone about his work just like he did every other day — had he done something stupid after last night’s drinking contest that he wasn’t aware of?  Daina smiled and reassured him that unless he had a habit of walking and talking in his sleep, he didn’t need to worry, as she’d made sure he’d got to bed safely.  She sighed again and declared that they’d get it sorted out, and if they didn’t, well, they had each other’s back.  

The next morning at roll call, Master Scourge got up in Rus’ face as he ordered him to get some tools from the quartermaster and see to repairs.  As Rus got to work, he couldn’t help but notice that Scourge had become even meaner than usual with Torlan and Trucco as well.  Down in the galley, Fishguts was impressively sober and handling the bulk of the cooking while Daina assisted him.  As he instructed her to find something off a shelf, she sighed and asked him again if he’d let her tidy up at least one part of the galley.  He insisted that if she did that, he wouldn’t be able to find anything, and she sighed and rebutted that she couldn’t find anything.  Finding the jar she’d been seeking, she shook a handful of spices into a mortar and pestle as Fishguts called out to not use too much.  It was Aundairian nettle-seeds, and they were very hard to get.  Daina had never seen such a thing before.  She spent most of her time after the war in Breland, where Aundairian goods were also hard to come by, and joked that the stew ought to be extra good tonight, though she suspected it would be lost on the crew.  “Oh, this isn’t for the crew” Fishguts rumbled, reaching into the mortar and taking out a pinch of ground nettle seed.  “This is for the officers.” 

Daina saw her opportunity.  Speaking of the officers, she mused, Fishguts himself had warned her the other day about Mister Lagraa’s grudge against her, and she confided in him that she’d now heard rumblings that her friend in the blue coat had wound up on Lagraa’s bad side as well and didn’t know why.  Fishguts would tell her if he’d heard anything, right?  Throwing the last of the crab into one of his pans, the cook shook his head and asked Daina if she took everything personally.  In case she hadn’t noticed, Lagraa was so angry and bitter that she probably didn’t even know why she was angry.  Daina shook her own head.  It wasn’t about taking anything personally, she chided him, it was about being careful.  If Rus told her that Mister Lagraa seemed to have it in for him, she was going to take that seriously, and pressed Fishguts again – wouldn’t he tell her if he’d heard anything?  He cocked an eyebrow and replied that he wouldn’t tell her anything that would cause him trouble with the captain.  Gently but firmly, Daina told the cook that she had no intention of getting him in trouble, just to keep herself out of it, and if they could help each other in that regard, all the better.

He grimaced at her and shook his head again.  “It’s easy to stay out of trouble with Mister Lagraa while we’re down here.  She doesn’t come down here.  Now, as long as the food still keeps coming, she’ll be fine, and if you want to take my advice, don’t stand between her and others who have collected her ire.” He looked up from the pan he was stirring. “That’s how you stay out of trouble.”  Daina gave him a rueful smile and replied that maybe she was a little more stupid than he was.  She couldn’t make him that kind of promise, but in the meantime, she’d keep helping him make his soup.  

As they continued to talk, Daina could feel a certain warmth starting to build between her and Fishguts after all their time spent working in close quarters, but on a day like today when was sober, she couldn’t help but observe that his constant drinking was the sort done by a man who had lost all hope and was merely surviving from one day to the next.  She recalled how he himself was on the Storm Reaver involuntarily after losing a bet to Prince Rockface with his life as the stake, and began to recount a story of a time during the war it had seemed she herself had no hope — and her own  death was imminent.  But help had come from an unexpected source, and she’d lived to tell the tale, and made the most of her second chance.  Maybe there was hope for Fishguts as well.

Bloody Hour came and went with no victims for Master Scourge that evening, and Daina went down to the galley in hopes of winning some more money.  Instead of a dice table, the game for the night was arm wrestling — Storm Reaver-style, with broken glass and nails strewn across the table where the contest was taking place.  Boldly dropping down into one of the chairs, she found herself immediately challenged by Slippery Syl, the brawny dwarven woman who had almost drunk Torlan under the table a couple of nights earlier.  Rolling up her sleeves, Daina pulled a pair of gloves off her belt before offering Syl her hand.  “Whoa, whoa, whoa” Syl said sharply, “gloves off.”  Daina smirked.  “They’re just gloves, Syl.  What are you afraid of?”  Piping up from the back, Rosie Cusswell declared that this was just how things were done on board.  No gloves, no advantage.  Daina laughed.  There was no advantage in her gloves; it was just something they did where she came from.  Was Syl scared to lose to a scrawny human?  Others began to pipe up from around the table: “No gloves.  Take your loss like a good sailor!”  Daina’s hard grin got wider as she loudly remarked that it didn’t seem that she was the one afraid of losing, but she tucked her gloves back into her belt and the contest got underway. 

Even against brawny sailors, Daina’s sword arm didn’t go down easily, and her challenge to Syl timed out and was declared a draw as she leaned back in her chair and asked if there were any other takers…and narrowed her eyes as Rus dropped into the chair Syl had vacated and began to remove his own gloves.  Putting her hand over her pile of coins in the pot, Daina told her fellow soldier, her fellow Cyran, that she didn’t intend to put him in harm’s way for money.  Rus shrugged.  “That’s the rules of the ship, Miss Daina.”  “We’re not from the ship, are we?” Daina countered.  “We’re here now” he replied, and her expression turned neutral as she slid her galifars back into the pot and he matched her bet with five of his own.  

Their hands met.  She looked him in the eye, her own eyes hard but sad, and said in a low voice “I’m sorry.  I have to get it back” as she pushed his hand down into the glass — not hard, but just enough to draw the blood needed to satisfy the crowd.  Looking away, she collected her winnings as Sandara Quinn came over to check on Rus.  “That lady was being awful nice to you,” Sandara observed quietly.  “I’ve seen — and I know you have too — I’ve seen much worse in these contests.  You got off pretty light.”  “Her heart weren’t in it” Rus replied.  “She needed the money more than I did.”  

As Sandara finished cleaning and wrapping Rus’ hand and excused herself, the skyknight heard Daina’s voice behind him, perhaps tinged with a bit of shame.  Had Miss Quinn been able to patch him up?  He replied that Sandara was very good at her craft, and as Daina’s hand idly went down to her sword belt and her fingers began to play with something that wasn’t there, she asked Rus why he’d wanted to sit down with her at the arm wrestling table.  Why not one of the Cloud Reavers?  She’d told him that she hadn’t wanted to take his money, and she’d meant it — but she did need it.   “I don’t think ‘want’ ever had anything to do with it,” he murmured.  “Sometimes you see a need, and you just gotta answer to it.”  Daina frowned a little.  “So what did you need?” she asked.  “Oh,” he replied, “I didn’t need anything.  I weren’t lookin’ in a mirror.  ‘Sides, I could tell you were havin’ trouble doing the bare-hand wrestling, so I figure if it’s gonna be a problem, it might as well be one we suffer together.  These people don’t know where we come from, they don’t know what our customs are, and if they did, I doubt they’d care anyways.” 

“Well,” Daina replied ruefully, “I think you’ve got that just about right.  Might as well tell you what all the fuss was about.  I took your money; it’s only fair.”  Rus cut her off sharply.  “It’s not my money no more.  It’s not my money no more.  It’s your money, ‘cause you earned it, fair and square.  Everyone will see that you out-muscled me, that happened.”  Daina’s expression turned from shame to confusion.  He’d just said he gave that money to her.  Which one was it?  “It’s not the same as givin’ it away” he insisted. She smiled.  “Well then I’ll take it in the spirit it was intended.  Take a walk with me.”  With that, she turned to leave the galley, making her way down an empty corridor.  Rus followed.

As they walked, she began to muse about Fishguts being a funny one.  Working together all the time in close quarters, she and him had plenty of time to talk, and she told Rus about how Fishguts had lost all hope and resigned himself to dying on the Storm Reaver.  She didn’t intend to let that happen.  She’d been in more of a few close scrapes herself and she was still standing, but that was beside the point.  The point, she revealed, was that she needed that money to get her tago knife back.  Even with that and the previous night’s purse, she still didn’t have enough.  It was a real nice knife, a gift from someone who had been well-off, and she needed it back.  Anger and disgust crept into her voice as she gave Rus her opinion on the quartermaster, Grok, who liked to crow about being a businesswoman but in Daina’s eyes was no more than a common thief who took what she had no right to have.  Daina’s anger and disgust grew as she spoke of how she’d had her fill of people who hid behind the excuse of just following orders, but she softened a little as she spoke of how the few extra galifars she’d won thanks to Rus would help her get back what was hers and hers alone. “That’s good,” Rus replied.  “I hope you get it back.”  “I hope so too,” Daina said quietly, as her face took on a faraway look.  “It was a gift from someone I served with.”  

Rus’ eyebrows raised at that.  “A tago knife, from someone you served with?”  “Yup” Daina drawled, the anger in her voice quickly replaced by discomfort at this revelation.  “I shouldn’t chuckle,” Rus reassured her.  “Same story for me.”  Daina squinted at him.  He was kidding, right?  “Not at all,” he replied.  “My commanding officer — well, I guess you could call her that — she and I dueled on top of one of the vermishards…”  Daina let out a small, barking laugh.  It seemed they had yet another thing in common, and this hadn’t been the first time a skyknight had done her a favour either…

2 Nymm, 993 YK.  The Cyran side of the Karrnathi border, about halfway between Metrol and Dollen-on-the-River.

The morning was hot and overcast, and the House Deneith 85th mercenary company had been camped along the border for the better part of two weeks without seeing any action.  That wasn’t unusual for the Cyran regulars, but the Deneith 85th was accustomed to being sent where they were immediately needed — and no one seemed to know what they were needed for.  Boredom was a familiar companion to soldiers, but a new tension was starting to set in for the mercenaries as well.

Sergeant Daina ir’Lizani woke up alone.  Throwing on her clothes and sword belt, she emerged from her tent and joined her unit at their fire, claiming a seat and holding out her mug for some tal.  Across from her, Vala looked up from oiling a leather pauldron.  “Hey Daina, do you know what’s going down today?”

Daina sipped her tal and shook her head. “Haven’t heard anything yet, why would I?”  Vala smirked.  “Cause you’ve got connections.”  Looking over her shoulder at Captain Halloran’s tent, Daina pursed her lips.  “He woke up before me.  Five galifars says he’s in there now.  You know he’ll tell us when he’s got something, he always does.  You don’t have to come through me.”

Vala sniffed loudly and declared that she smelled a fight in the air.  Daina chuckled a little and then turned serious again.  It was clear that something was happening today.  He’d left so early and so quietly that even she hadn’t been woken up by his movements, and that was saying something. She agreed that Vala was right to be worried, but they’d get through it; they always did.  The lieutenant took good care of them.  Vala scowled.  There was only so much he could take care of them against those damned undead coming out of Fort Zombie.  Daina grimaced at that and then let out a cold laugh.  She couldn’t imagine raising a dead person to fight in ones place — it was bad enough what they tried to do in Cyre with the ‘forged.  “His parents tried to buy him one, you know” she told Vala.  “He wouldn’t hear of it.  Anyways, when he knows, we’ll know.”

Wrapping up their breakfast, Daina and Vala and the others began to see to their gear, cleaning and oiling and sharpening as needed, and after about another hour and a half a tall, slender Khorovar man emerged from the captain’s tent and came over to the fire.  Giving Daina a long look, he slowly pulled his eyes away to look over the rest of her unit and announced that they had their orders.

All eyes were on the lieutenant; you could have heard a pin drop.  He gave them the news.  Their objective was to reach a spot in the forest about five kilometers to the east that Captain Halloran had marked on his map, and post up there.  Vala scowled.  “Go there and post up for what, L.T.?”  He shook his head.  “I don’t know. This one’s straight from Captain Halloran, so we’re going to go do it.”  A chorus of groans and grumbles began to rise from the gathered mercenaries, and one of them began to mouth off about what a lazy, worthless bastard the captain was as the lieutenant shut that talk down immediately.  They knew he was in it with them, whatever it was, and they knew he’d make sure they all got home.  He couldn’t fix what went on between Halloran and his house, but they’d get the job done.  “Now get yourselves sorted. We leave in fifteen minutes.”

As everyone got to gathering up their kit and making final preparations, the lieutenant walked over to Daina, who looked at him incredulously.  “You serious, Maz?  We don’t know?  We’re just gonna go into the forest and sit there?”  He scowled.  “Something’s supposed to be coming through.  That’s all I know.  The Captain’s not telling me anything; I don’t like it.”  Daina sighed.  “What a surprise.  Well, guess I’ll get my stuff then.”  Mazello’s face softened a little.  “We need to get moving.  It’s quite a trek out there.”  Daina allowed herself a small smile.  “I know, I know.  I’ll get everyone taken care of.”

The eight of them began their trek into the forest.  Some of them chatted as they went, though Daina and Maz walked beside each other in silence.  They were professionals, and they both knew what did and didn’t need to be said between them in order for it to be true.  Finding the spot marked on the map, the Deneith 85th followed their orders.  They waited.

Darkness began to fall, and it sat there, cloudy and quiet, until an unnatural sound began to emanate from the trees.  Drawing their weapons, the mercenaries took up a defensive position, preparing themselves for the onslaught of undead that Karrnath was known for.

That was when the forest to the north, and the south, and the west of them, started to explode in flames, and that was when the undead began to appear from the border — from the only place that wasn’t burning.

The mercenaries sprang into action and started doing what they did best.  They cut down some undead, and managed to hold back some others, but it wasn’t looking good.  The monsters kept coming, and there was nowhere to run.  Back to back with Vala, with her longsword drawn and Vala expertly wielding her spear, Daina saw a bone knight commander charge at the lieutenant as their swords clashed.  Maz was tall, but the bone knight loomed over him, and ice clenched at Daina’s guts.  Finishing off the zombie in front of her, she glanced back over her shoulder at Vala and promised that she’d be right back.  Running over to flank the bone knight, Daina and Mazello fought in tandem, each predicting the others actions and picking up on their cues. In spite of that, the creature was ruthless in its single-mindedness and brutality, and the fight dragged on as the rest of their unit began to falter in the face of the seemingly endless onslaught.

Daina and Maz heard a shout, and spared a split-second glance to see young Kerrick pointing up at the sky.  The next thing they saw was a bolt of lightning come flying down to catch the bone knight square across its shoulders, staggering it, and a hippogriff landed not ten feet in front of Daina as its rider turned and yelled at her to get on.

Daina hesitated.  “GO!” Maz yelled.  “Get on!”  Turning back to the skyknight, Daina shook her head and called back that she wasn’t coming unless there was a mount for everyone.  The woman’s face grew dark with impatience and exasperation as she repeated her order to get on and Maz put his weight into shoving Daina away from the fight and towards the hippogriff.  Stumbling forward and clambering up across the animals hindquarters, Daina sheathed her sword and wrapped her arms around the riders waist, and as they began to climb into the air she could see more hippogriffs circling.  As she looked back down, however, she could see that by dropping his guard to force her to safety, Maz had left himself vulnerable to the bone knight’s attack.  Things weren’t looking good, but there was nothing she could do to help him now…

Daina smiled sadly at Rus.  “We all made it home that night, but we wouldn’t have without those folks in the blue coats.”  Rus stood there, considering everything he’d just heard, and took a long look at his companion.  “The lieutenant — the one who was dueling the bone knight — I remember that.  ‘Cause the way that that lieutenant got out of the fight, well…”  Daina looked at him intently.  “You remember that?”  “I should,” Rus replied.  “I was there.”

Sparing a look to watch Daina rise to safety, Mazello clenched his teeth and staggered back as he managed to bring his sword back up just in time to avoid a mortal blow.  The bone knight knew it had him, and brought its sword down again, knocking the lieutenant down to the ground.  With a hideous, fleshless grin, it raised its sword to finish him off.

Down on the ground, looking up, Maz’s eyes went wide as he saw a skyknight bring his hippogriff into a barrel roll.  As the animal turned upside down, her rider dropped off and landed directly on top of the bone knight, finishing it off.  Signalling to his mount to circle around before landing, Rus cast his own wall of fire on the gap in the trees where the undead were coming from.  With the onslaught halted and the bone knight dead, the remaining riders began to land, and as Rus’ hippogriff returned to him, he extended his hand to Maz to pull him up to safety and they left the burning forest behind them.

Daina stared at Rus in disbelief.  “You’re the rider who got Maz home?”  Rus cleared his throat.  “Guess so.”  She continued to stare at him sadly.  “He would have done the same for you.  You gave us one more week, anyways, so…thank you.”  Rus’ face remained unreadable.  We were in a war, he reminded her.  It was the right thing to do.  Daina let out a sharp, humourless laugh and replied that he could tell that to Captain Halloran.  She shook her head as silence built between them and let out another sharp laugh.  She’d already racked up a few debts with Rus, but she didn’t reckon this was one she could ever square.  “I don’t think you need to,” he replied.  “Besides, it was a war.  Weren’t something I was doing for favours, and I never play for keeps.”  Daina smiled sadly.  “So you keep saying.  Well, you bought us one more week, and now I need to get his knife back, and you’ve helped me with that too, so.  Thank you.”  Rus raised an eyebrow.  “It’s his knife?”  “Yeah,” Daina replied, looking away.  “It is.”  Rus gave her a silent nod and excused himself.  He had plans of his own that night, and needed to prepare.

Waiting for the crew to settle down for the night, Rus snuck his way up to the main deck halfway through the first watch.  He took note of Crimson Cog patrolling atop the forecastle, and the gunner’s mate, a large orc named Gragoth, manning the helm.  Carefully making his way to the door of the map room, he noticed that its handle was set differently than it had been when he ran messages during the day.  The latch seemed out of place and strangely cocked, and he pressed his ear against the door, but heard nothing other than the creaking of the ship and the movements of the sea.  As Rus reached down to turn the handle, he felt it catch on something and he froze in place.  The door wasn’t just locked — it was trapped.  Deciding it was time for a tactical retreat, he snuck back to his bunk.

The next morning, the crew was woken up early with a long-anticipated call: sails were on the horizon.  It seemed that the Storm Reaver had found a prize to take at last…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: What are you the most insecure about? I will tell you right now that Phillip rolls on a table to determine the week’s background question from the list he’s built up. I will also tell you that he rolled more than once this session to make that question happen. XD
  • Michael (Torlan) and Trucco (Ernesto) were away this week, but Kevin (Rus) proposed that Rus and Daina take the opportunity for a flashback episode and Phillip agreed. The war story was played out as an interlude in which we both participated, and 99% of it was ad-libbed.
  • There might be a few things in this session that left you scratching your heads as to their significance: Daina wanting to wear a glove to arm-wrestle, what a tago knife is, and why Daina needs hers back so badly.
    • Wearing gloves as a barrier between personal contact is a facet of Cyran culture. One of the only public scenarios in which the gloves come off is when dancing the tago, the ritual courting dance of Cyre. During the tago, each dancer holds a knife in one hand, and as they circle and come to different points in the music, they extend their hands to each other – without knowing if their partner is going to hold out their empty hand, or their knife. That leaves three possible outcomes: the partners clash knives, the partners take each others hands, or one partner extends their hand and the other extends their knife, which results in a bit of bloodshed. The tago knife Daina carries was a gift from Mazello – who she was married to for three years before his death – and is ornately carved, and cost me fifty of the two hundred and fifty galifars I was given for starting gear at character creation. So it is rather important to both Daina and from a meta perspective that I am able to retrieve it! 🙂

Session Recap Week 9: The Crabs in the Bucket

After failing to appeal to Grok’s better nature, Daina returned to the galley where Fishguts was eager to continue drinking and telling stories when the quartermaster arrived for her own daily bull session with the cook.  A short while later, Tamroth Scrimshaw — an orc swab known and nicknamed for the little animals she carved out of bone — walked into the galley, looking for Grok, who promptly dismissed her and returned to her drinking.  Daina seized on the opportunity to get to know Tamroth a little better, expressing admiration for her carving and telling the pirate that there was a common saying where she was from: “what our dreams imagine, our hands create.”  Tamroth perked up at that, asking where Daina called home, and revealed she felt it was wrong to reave and steal from Cyrans who had lost so much already.  Daina turned the same question to Scrimshaw — where did she call home?  The orc hailed from Crag, the main island claimed by the Cloud Reavers.  Glancing over to where Fishguts was still chatting with Grok, Daina announced that she needed to stretch her legs and asked Scrimshaw to join her.  

Casually leaning up against a porthole, Daina tried to push the conversation further.  Scrimshaw had been with the Cloud Reavers a long time.  She admired them, she was one of them, and they had no problem reaving from those who were weaker then they were — so how did Scrimshaw’s claim to spare Cyrans fit into that?  Scrimshaw dissembled a little, insisting that all she’d said was that Cyrans had been dealt a bad hand, and that she had no problem reaving from whoever they came across.  Changing tactics, Daina asked if the pirate would be willing to teach her how to carve.  Offering Daina a small handful of bones from her own pouch, Scrimshaw began to explain her craft, saying that it was a simple practice that just required a good knife.  Well, Daina lamented, that was the problem.  She had a good knife, but it had been taken from her when she was brought aboard.  Grok had it locked up, and Daina had nothing to trade.  Scrimshaw informed her that on a pirate ship, something was hers as only long as she could keep it.  There were ways on a pirate ship to acquire things to trade to Grok, and she warned Daina to not get caught as she returned to her duties with a wink.

Up on the main deck, Conchobar the gnome was visibly struggling with his work on the rigging, and Trucco could tell that the ostentatious man was not accustomed to such work.  As he offered some advice, Trucco boasted of his own skill and asked Conchobar if he was a sailor himself.  The gnome declared that he was married to the sea, and they had worked in concert for many years.  Changing gears, Trucco inquired if Conchobar was also good at playing cards.  “If I’m married to the sea,” the gnome boasted, “the cards are my mistress.”  Trucco begged Conchobar to help him learn how to play, saying that he was terrible at it, and the other man agreed with a twinkle in his eye.

Back in the galley, Daina was still chatting with Fishguts when Mister Lagraa — the Storm Reaver’s sadistic first mate whose bad side Daina had already come onto — entered the room.  Looking around with a scowl, her eyes landed on Daina.  “You,” she barked.  “Come here.”  Cautious but not prepared to stir up trouble unnecessarily, Daina silently complied, following the huge orc up onto the main deck where Torlan and the others were waiting.  Lagraa ordered Rosie Cusswell over as well, and gestured to a pile of crab pots at her feet.  Pointing out into the water, she announced that there was a reef about two hundred yards off the starboard side, and the captain wanted a crab dinner.  The five of them were to swim out to the reef, fill the pots, and return.  Waving everyone around, Daina ensured that everyone knew how to swim while Torlan and Rus wondered why they couldn’t use the ship’s dinghy.  Overhearing them, Mister Lagraa sarcastically asked if she’d mentioned anything about a dinghy, and told them to make do.  Setting her hat and boots aside, Daina began to strip down to her underclothes for the cold swim ahead, encouraging the others to do the same, though she did strap her sword belt back on and tied a crab pot to it.  

With their gear stowed belowdecks, Torlan urged Daina to lead the way.  As the initial shock of hitting the cold water subsided, she swam out a few meters and turned to ensure everyone else made it in safely before continuing out to the reef.

The reef was largely submerged, and the group was left to tread water and swim as they began to scout their prey.  Rosie wasted no time finding a good spot, and as Daina commended her and handed over a pot to fill, Rus followed Rosie’s lead and came up with a crab in hand.  Eagerly following their lead, Trucco felt something brush against his legs while he was underwater and turned to see a small shark swim past.  Nervously swimming away from it, he still spotted a couple of crabs on his way back to the surface, and then it was Torlan’s turn to show the others how it was done.  Diving down to the place Rosie had pointed out, the old dwarf emerged with one crab in hand, and a second in his beard.  As Trucco regrouped and caught the crabs he’d spotted during his brush with the shark, Torlan could see that these hunting grounds were running dry, and found another one that Rosie, Rus, and Daina swam down to.

As a group of crabs scuttled away from her under a rock, Daina resurfaced to catch her breath.  As she did, Torlan saw a large creature emerge from the water behind her.  It had the armoured body and claws of a lobster, but the tail of an eel, and it seemed to be following Daina.  Torlan knew all about reefclaws; they were aggressive creatures, but he’d also seen them on more than one menu.  A second reefclaw joined the first and they began to circle the hunters.  Drawing her rapier and holding it in a guard position, Daina called out to the others to keep working while she stood guard.  Trusting in his goddaughters confidence and skills, Torlan threw himself into their task with a renewed sense of urgency and filled an entire pot with one dive.  Himself well aware that reefclaws made good eating, Trucco elected to break the stalemate.  Swimming out to the closest one, he plunged his dagger into its head joint and twisted, ripping the creature apart as the water around him filled with blood.  

Nodding to Daina on overwatch, Rus decided he’d try to finish the task and dove back into the water while she kept guard.  He felt a claw grab his leg from behind, and though he was able to pull himself away, he felt a searing hot pain shoot through him, and Daina watched him resurface as he gasped and called out that he’d been poisoned.  Springing into action, Daina put herself between Rus and the creature.  Struggling to deal a good blow in the water, the same reefclaw that had snapped at Rus caught her across the belly.   

Hearing Daina call out again, Rosie cussed loudly as she swam over, axe in hand, and buried her weapon into the reefclaw’s head.  Daina and Trucco called out to Torlan to finish filling the pots.  Not intending to wait for the old dwarf, Rus took matters into his own hands and caught the final crab they needed to satisfy Mister Lagraa as the shark that had been investigating Trucco became intrigued by the blood now in the water.  Filled with bloodlust, Torlan gave the shark a swift punch, and it swam off.  

As Daina led the others back to the Storm Reaver, a stray wave caught her square in the face, overwhelming her with a mouthful of sea water.  Already struggling due to the reefclaw’s poison, she began to flounder — but Torlan, as always, was at her side.  Locking an arm around her, he swam for both of them and everyone made it safely back on board.  As they climbed up, they found Prince Mika herself waiting on the quarterdeck.  Casting an eye over their haul of reefclaws, and Torlan’s beard full of crabs, she pointed at the old dwarf and called out to the quartermaster to return his gear to him for a job well done.  As Trucco began to protest that he’d helped too, Daina reached out from where she was bent over coughing to smack him across the chest in a vain attempt to silence the cocky rogue as he heard smug voice of Master Scourge behind him say, “that’s three lashes for talking to the Prince.” 

That night in the galley, Rus was in a gambling mood once again.  He found a group engaged in a game of Heave, their “last man standing” drinking contest.  Each round, contestants had to down half a pint of rum in one swig, and as Rus staked himself into the game, Torlan sidled up next to him.  “Well, son” the old dwarf rumbled, “we’re gonna see what you’re made of here.  Let’s see if Daina’s right to trust in ya — at least if you can hold down your liquor, that’s as much a measure of your worth as anything else.”  Patting Rus on the shoulder, Daina grinned and declared that it was no shame to lose to Torlan, and she tossed a galifar into the pot.  Indignant that he was only worth a single galifar, Torlan made his feelings known as Daina reminded him that she only had two galifars to her name.  “Well then put them both in the pot!” Torlan insisted.  He was, he revealed, trying to win enough money to get her tago knife back.  Trucco inquired if Daina didn’t have more to bet then that, and she again repeated that she didn’t, and Trucco added three more galifars to her stake.   

As she watched along with Trucco and Conchobar, the first round saw one of the swabs knocked out, and another in the second.  With the revelation that Torlan had joined the contest for her sake, Daina’s demeanour turned from enjoying the spectacle to watching intently with an unreadable expression on her face as Rus bowed out before he could pass out.  With only Torlan, Rosie, Tilly, and a rigger named Slippery Syl remaining, the dwarf and the halfling traded barbs and before long, only Torlan, Tilly, and Syl remained.  As they all drank at once, they all collapsed at once.  The contest was declared a three-way tie, and the pot distributed evenly among them — fifteen galifars each.  Slumping her shoulders a little, Daina raised a hand to scratch at her collarbone, and went over to where Rus was quite drunk but still standing.  Taking five galifars from her purse, she handed them to Rus, insisting that he take his stake back.  He drunkenly slurred that he hadn’t won, and Daina replied that Torlan hadn’t either.  Meanwhile, Trucco made the rounds of the unconscious contestants, discreetly rifling through their pockets for whatever he could steal.

Returning to Torlan, Daina put an arm around the very drunk dwarf and held out her other hand to steady Rus as she led them back to their hammocks to sleep it off.  Getting them both settled, Daina pulled up a barrel to keep watch beside Torlan and leaned back against the hull, casting a look around the hold to see if anyone else was awake.  Pulling a small gold locket from the collar of her shirt, she cupped it in her hand and popped it open.  Leaning back against the hull, she sat staring into it, deep in memories as the night slipped past.       

The next morning, Fishguts handed Daina a harpoon and shooed her out of the galley with instructions to catch some turtles.  Trucco was ordered to work the mainsail, Torlan was set below to catch rats again, and Rus swabbed the deck.

Unhappy about being stuck working down on the deck again, Trucco slunk off to pay Grok a visit.  Laying on the flattery a little too thick, he was unable to impress the surly quartermaster until he offered her one of the items he’d pickpocketed the night before: a small, dark purple stone, swirled with veins of residuuum.  She declared that she’d happily trade his gear for the Thunderstone, and he eagerly asked if she had anything else to trade – something fancy, perhaps?  Something elegant and colourful?  He pointed to the most secure locker behind her and asked to see inside.  She told him that it held some potions, a magnifying glass, and a spyglass.  Trucco confidently declared that he wanted the spyglass, and was informed that it would cost him four hundred galifars.  Shocked at the cost, he jingled the coins in his pocket and insisted that he could afford it, but was no longer interested in such a thing.  Changing gears, he asked if Lagraa and Scourge ever came to see Grok.  Of course they did, she growled.  They were officers.  He asked how well she knew Scourge, and she simply replied that she’d been sailing with the Storm Reaver for a few years and of the officers, Fishguts was her “favourite cup of grog.”  Trucco asked if Grok and the others were subservient to Lagraa in any ways, and she declared that it wasn’t Mister Lagraa’s store — and it wasn’t Mister Lagraa’s ship, either.  The only punishment an officer would receive for defying someone would be if they challenged the Prince directly.  Trucco considered this information, gathered up his things, and went back to work.

Bloody Hour came and went.  With none of them strapped to the mast for the first time in several days, Trucco, Torlan, Daina, and Rus watched Rosie take her punishment and made their way belowdecks to see what the remainder of their evening would hold.

Behind the Scenes

  • The crab hunt was run as a Dramatic Task.  I’ve already broken down an epic DT in detail, but this one was a little bit different.  Aside from the usual shenanigans (two jokers were drawn during the encounter, one by Daina and one by Rosie, and Trucco and Torlan both kept clubs when drawn because they enjoy complications), this DT took a new turn when the reefclaws showed up and we had to choose between going on the defense (or in Trucco’s case, the attack) and finishing filling the crab pots to avoid Mister Lagraa’s ire for coming back with a job half-done.  Ultimately we decided to split the difference, and were able to finish the job and then some.
  • The only critical failure of the night was Daina’s Athletics roll to return to the Storm Reaver.  Thankfully, Torlan’s 16 on his own roll provided both a helping hand and a very appropriate narrative moment.
  • Kevin later revealed that Rus had been leaning towards backing out of the drinking contest when he realized how stiff his competition was…but Torlan’s direct challenge was something that Rus could let slide.  Torlan went into the contest with a whopping seven bennies, but with increasing negative penalties each round and an extraordinary dice explosion from Slippery Syl at the very end — she rolled a 27 with a -4 penalty and no wild die — declaring a three-way tie was the best possible outcome.
  • I (Daina) rolled terribly all evening, having to bennie many of my rolls if I just wanted a basic success of 4.  My one good roll was a success with a raise…on a Notice check in the galley that yielded a fancy lock that wasn’t attached to anything, and two pounds of soap.  I’m not entirely sure how this will come in handy in the future but hey, two pounds of soap is two pounds of soap.

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.

Session Recap Week 7: Blow the Man Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the Scenes

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

Session Recap Week 6: A Call to Arms

As Torlan answered Mister Lagraa’s challenge to go head-to-head with Owlbear in a bare-knuckles contest, he began to sing a song of battle as he prepared to defend his reputation, and that of Clan Kolladron.  The perpetually angry first mate loudly questioned if Torlan was going to fight or sing.  Ignoring Lagraa in yet another act of defiance, Daina got the crowd worked up in support of her uncle while Trucco placed his bets and implored the Cloud Reavers to let the old dwarf have one last performance, as Owlbear would surely destroy him!

The fight began.  Unusually short for a dwarf, what Torlan lacked in stature, he made up for with sheer force of will.  He launched himself at his rather large opponent, catching Owlbear in a mighty bear hug and pinning his arms to his sides.  Repositioning himself for a headbutt, he lost his grip on the big man’s arms.  Owlbear’s meaty fist smashed Torlan off of him, knocking the dwarf out cold.

As Daina rushed toTorlan’s side, trying to rouse him and panicked by how quickly he’d gone down, Mister Lagraa laughed and demanded to know if anyone would take Torlan’s place.  She sneered pointedly at Daina — perhaps she would step up?

Daina looked down at her old godfather who lay unconscious in her arms, as Lagraa’s challenge rang in her ears.  Her expression hardened, and she knew what she had to do.  She had to defend Torlan’s reputation, and she also knew that she could not appear weak in front of Mister Lagraa.  Gently laying Torlan down on the deck as Sandara Quinn pushed her way forward to attend to him, the former Deneith mercenary got to her feet.  Turning around, she didn’t spare Mister Lagraa a second glance as she silently cocked her fists and stepped in front of Owlbear.

It was not an easy fight for either of them.  As Daina’s new friend Conchobar shouted words of encouragement from the sidelines (“You’ve got stones, lass!”), she and Owlbear got down to business.  Trading several powerful blows, they soon both found themselves bloodied and tiring.  As Daina’s punch caught Owlbear square on the jaw, the big man’s enthusiasm for the fight quickly turned to fear as he tried to turn and leave.  Mister Lagraa wasn’t having any of it.  Forcing Owlbear back into the circle, she handed him a large club and shouted at him to finish the job.  He obliged, laying into his opponent.  Noticing that Daina was favouring her ribs on one side and seeing her at a new disadvantage, Trucco called out that she could do it!  He believed in her!  And he had a lot of money riding on this fight, so she’d better not lose!  Pausing in her tracks for a split second to give Trucco an incredulous look for his finishing remark, Daina wiped the blood from her mouth and gave Trucco what he’d asked for.  Now well aware that Owlbear – whom she’d never laid eyes on before this evening – didn’t want to hurt her any more than she wanted to hurt him, she also quickly realized that there would be no way to resolve things peacefully, and that the most merciful thing she could do was end the fight as quickly as possible.  Taking a step back, Daina carried all her momentum and weight into a sharp uppercut.

Owlbear collapsed to the deck, knocked out cold.  The fight was over.  Rus, having been the only one between himself, Daina, Torlan, and Trucco to have met Owlbear prior to that evening, had watched the fight in silence, taking no sides and letting his expression give nothing away. 

Wiping more blood from her face, angry and exhausted, Daina remained silent as she staggered back to where Torlan was being attended to by Sandara.  Sitting down hard on the deck, she bowed her head and laid a hand on Torlan’s shoulder, breathing heavily.  The old dwarf had regained consciousness under Sandara’s care, and he looked up at her, confused.  He rumbled that he must have worn out Owlbear for her, but he was proud of her all the same.  Daina’s expression softened as she gave Torlan a sad smile.  She reminded him that he’d always finished the fights she couldn’t, and it was time to return the favour.  

Daina and Torlan’s victory was short-lived.  Sauntering up, the prize purse of a hundred galifars in hand, Mister Lagraa announced that — as the original challenger — Torlan’s loss to Owlbear meant that he owed her a hundred galifars, and that since he and Daina were friends, she’d be keeping the purse for herself.  She turned on her heel and left without giving the battered merc a chance to reply, as the sky opened up and it began to rain.  As Trucco sauntered over to congratulate Daina on her victory, he tossed over a small share of his winnings, which she let fall to the deck as her arms remained wrapped around Torlan.  She quietly thanked the rogue, but lamented that she wished things had been different — it hadn’t been an honourable fight.  Surprised, Torlan commented that Owlbear had seemed like a formidable opponent, and Daina explained that he’d been forced to keep fighting past his willingness to do so.  She regretted hurting him, but hadn’t seen any other good choice beyond finishing the fight as quickly and mercifully as she could.  Torlan raised an eyebrow at that.  Had he really been knocked out by the first blow?  Impossible!

Meanwhile, a few feet away, Rus decided that it was time to get involved.  Dragging Owlbear over to where Sandara had patched up Torlan, he calmly noted that the big man had fought well and deserved the same help as anyone else.  He drew a bucket of fresh sea water and brought it to her, and she obliged.  As the healing waters of Arawai flowed over him, Owlbear opened his eyes and his expression turned to one of a frightened, abused man as he scooted back across the deck to put some distance between himself and Rus.  He asked what had happened.  Rus replied that he’d been in a fight with a mercenary, and that it had been quite a tussle, but Ms. Quinn had healed him up and he’d be right as rain.  Confused but feeling a little more safe,  Owlbear reached out to pat Rus on the shoulder and declared that he was nice, just like the pigs down in the hold.  

Waking early as usual to a cloudy, overcast sky, Daina found Fishguts three sheets to the wind and continued to wonder how he managed to get so drunk before she even woke up.  He ordered her to hunt some turtles for the day’s stew, and took umbrage at her suggestion that he’d need her to cook them too.  Up on the main deck, Master Scourge mocked Torlan for his loss to Owlbear and ordered him to help with the day’s repairs.  Rus was sent to pump out the bilges after the previous night’s storm, and Trucco was assigned to yet more work coiling and stowing all the ropes.

Returning to the galley with several large turtles, Daina found Fishguts passed out drunk as expected, and got to work cleaning the turtles and preparing the stew.  In his corner of the ship, Torlan decided to sneak away to look for Owlbear.  Making his way down to the cargo hold, he found the big man seated, petting the wandering pigs.  Spotting him, Owlbear crossed his arms over his broad chest and scowled, declaring that Torlan wasn’t to go beyond the door he guarded, and he’d knock the dwarf down again if he tried.  Torlan frowned, asking if Owlbear wasn’t mad at him, and wondered if the big man had received a cut of the prize for his fight.  Owlbear declared that he just loved to fight, and Torlan agreed that he too enjoyed a good brawl.  At that moment, the ship’s mage Grovis appeared from the officer’s quarters and ordered Torlan back on deck, growling that he’d be facing three lashes that night for shirking his duties.   

Up on deck, Trucco laid a loving hand on the main mast and whispered sweet nothings to the Storm Reaver, apologizing for neglecting her and promising that he’d take better care of her in spite of Master Scourge’s harsh treatment.  The rain began to fall harder, soaking him to the bone as he worked.  Belowdecks, Rus wasn’t staying dry either as he diligently pumped storm water out of the bilge.  

Bloody Hour came once again.  Torlan took his three lashes stoically, the grog was doled out, and the crew went down to the meal Daina had managed to prepare without Fishguts help.  As she served everyone from a large cauldron, Trucco approached and hesitatingly asked if he could have a second plate, pleading and promising her more gold in exchange.  As she ladled more stew into his bowl, she rejected any sort of payment and replied that everyone needed to eat. He thanked her profusely, and she thanked him in turn for believing in her.

After Torlan finished his evening performance, and Daina had seen everyone fed and returned the cauldron to the galley, she made her way around the room, waving her uncle, Trucco, and Rus over to a quiet corner.  Leaning forward on the table with her hands wrapped around a large mug of grog, she spoke quietly of how Fishguts had told her that Mister Lagraa continued to hold a grudge from having defied her on their first night aboard.  She couldn’t shake the feeling that her fight with Owlbear had been a setup, but Trucco mused that pitting him against the crew might be a regular occurrence.  Putting aside her fears for herself, Daina leaned in closer and asked Trucco and Rus if they’d run into any extra trouble these past few days.  Rus replied that he’d kept his head down, and Torlan remarked that it seemed they all had the same goal: to get off the Storm Reaver one way or another.  Or perhaps, Trucco piped up, to take the ship for themselves?  Rus replied that he just wanted to get back to land in one piece, and Daina noted that the ship wasn’t headed to any port she knew of.  Having been up in the crow’s nest the previous day, Trucco suggested that he thought they were headed for Port Verge.  That caught Daina and Torlan’s attention, as she had a friend in Port Verge who might be able to help them, and Torlan had a distant cousin there.  Rus mused that there was a chance the Hand of Plenty might be in port, and after some questions from Daina and Trucco revealed that it was a pleasure yacht he’d worked security on.  Torlan expressed concern that the Hand was an excellent target for pirates, and Rus shrugged and simply replied that the ship had its own protection.

Torlan reined in the conversation to their immediate situation, and wondered if the others had any plans regarding their next moves aboard the Storm Reaver.  He believed that the officers quarters held the key to changing their fortunes, and he began to play a song of portent on his harp to determine what may lie beyond the door Owlbear diligently guarded.  As his fingers danced over the strings, the music came back unnaturally discordant, warning him away from that plan.  Daina asked Trucco how long he thought it would be before they reached land, but the normally overconfident rogue conceded that he’d need another day in the crow’s nest to get a better sense of it.  Wondering what else they could do, Trucco proposed that they try to turn the Storm Reaver’s officers against each other — sow seeds of discord and distrust, and let them eat their own.  Torlan and Daina agreed that Trucco had an excellent idea.

Noting that Rus had been very quiet throughout this whole conversation, Daina asked him what he thought of this plan.  He replied that he wasn’t much good at scheming, to which she replied that she wasn’t either, but Torlan and Trucco were, and she’d defer to them on these matters.  Rus promised that he’d be along for the ride and support them in whatever they planned, and Daina agreed that she’d be right there with him.  Rus conceded Sandara Quinn’s repeated insistence that they needed friends more than anything else, while Torlan proposed that the safest thing to do would be to continue trying to earn the crew’s favour, and suggested that they had earned some more respect thanks to Daina’s defeat of Owlbear.  Looking slightly ashamed, Daina questioned whether there was anything respectable about beating up a man who had been scared and trying to run, but agreed that the rougher sailors on board might consider it a worthy feat.  She sighed and noted that she had, however, made a few friends on board, and owed Sandara some extra friendship as well.  Torlan mused that they wanted Owlbear on their side as a strong fighter, but wondered how to convince him that they had his best interests in mind — perhaps if they brought him some food?  Trucco grinned.  He was two steps ahead of them already.  That was why he’d asked Daina for a second plate of stew.  

Making his way down to the cargo hold with a plate in hand, Trucco sat himself down on a crate across from Owlbear and remarked that the big man was clearly special — and Trucco was pretty special himself!  Men like them were often made fun of, and Trucco began to lament that neither of them were free, and that they were both misunderstood.  Pouring his heart out about growing up on the streets of Metrol and falling in with pirates, Trucco began to explain how money was a metaphor to fill the emptiness inside him, and maybe that was because he didn’t have a purpose, and needed to fill it.  After speaking for some time, he commented that Owlbear was a great listener, and that he’d really needed to get that off his chest.

As the rain continued to beat down, the crew began stringing up their hammocks for the night, and prepared to face another uncertain day in the clutches of the Cloud Reavers…but, perhaps, with some renewed hope for their future.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: who is one of the valuable contacts that you have?  How did you develop that relationship?
  • What started out as a fairly standard encounter took a series of unexpected turns. First, Michael petitioned for Owlbear to be upgraded to Wild Card status in order to be able to make use of an adventure card that could only be played on an enemy Wild Card. He temporarily traded the ability to soak wounds for three more adventure cards from which he could choose a new one, so when Owlbear got six raises on his first punch…well…good thing it was not a lethal fight! None of us, myself included, had expected Daina to get involved, but the blow to Torlan’s honour combined with Mister Lagraa’s challenge required it in my opinion. With Torlan down for the count and Rus choosing to remain neutral, Daina and Owlbear ran each other out of bennies in short order while Trucco’s hype from the sidelines translated to support rolls – and Ernesto played the Inspiration adventure card, which gave both Trucco and Daina a +2 to all trait rolls for the remainder of the encounter, while Daina’s use of Martial Flexibility to take the Brawler edge increased her toughness by 1 and added a d4 to her unarmed attacks, giving her a fighting change against Owlbear to begin with. After all the bennies were off the table, and both Owlbear and Daina had taken two wounds, it became very difficult for either of them to succeed at hitting each other and the fight turned into a slog. Phillip then elected to resolve the encounter as a Quick Combat to keep the game moving, shift the spotlight, and get the rest of the party back into the action: one roll, winner takes all.
Actual actual footage of the fight, complete with improved nighttime lighting. All gameplay screenshots are using Foundry VTT.
  • Trucco bet half his money on Torlan, which played into the Poverty hindrance that requires him to halve his funds every in-game week. However, he doubled his money betting on Daina, so it will be interesting to see when and how he and that gold are parted!
  • There’s not a whole lot extra for Behind The Scenes this week, as that encounter and its follow-up took up the bulk of the session. I am very excited about Trucco’s proposal to turn the officers against each other (Yojimbo, anyone?), and to see how we are able to play that out in the coming weeks.

Session Recap Week 5: Getting To Know You

Deep in the bilge of the Storm Reaver, Daina desperately tried to staunch the flow of blood from Torlan’s shredded leg as the hatch in the ceiling popped open and a familiar voice called out to them.  “What’s going on down there?  I heard some screaming!”  Dismissing Sandara Quinn’s concerns, Torlan insisted he was fine as Daina enlisted Rus to help her haul the old dwarf out of the filthy water in spite of a steady stream of indignant protests from the latter.  Sandara paled a little to see the extent of Torlan’s wound, and as Daina obeyed her godfather’s instructions to keep his leg propped up, the fisherwoman who had revealed herself to Trucco as commanding the healing powers of Arawai began to gather up some of the water surrounding them to apply to the wound.  Finding a common ground at last, Torlan bluntly refused to allow Sandara to douse him in the murky, filthy seawater — hadn’t she ever heard of the Bilge Rot? —  while Daina snapped at her to keep it away from him.  Sandara insisted that she could bless the water, and that they all needed friends, as Torlan declared that the price of her friendship was too high.  Cursing their stubbornness the whole way, Sandara began climbing up the ladder to go find some clean water and insisting Torlan not follow her. Did he really want to go back to Master Scourge without knowing the job was done?

Sandara returned with a bowl of fresh water, complaining again about Torlan’s stubbornness, and as she prayed over the water it began to glow with a subtle light.  As she scooped it onto his leg, the bleeding stopped and his flesh began to knit back together, though she ran out of water before the wound could close entirely.  Sitting back and marveling at the healing, Torlan questioned what she wanted in return.  She’d healed Daina, she’d healed Trucco, and now she’d healed him — was she seeking to rack up favours?  Sandara stared at him in disbelief.  She insisted that she was simply looking to gain friends.  The night before Torlan and the others had been brought aboard, Master Scourge had made a pass at her, and she’d slapped him.  She was on his shit list, and she was terrified.  Torlan shrugged and agreed that if all she wanted was a friend, he’d be happy to accommodate her, but still didn’t understand that she seemed to want nothing more.  Daina backed Torlan up once again.  Sandara had been nothing but helpful and solicitous towards them.  What was her goal?  

Still incredulous, Sandara desperately reminded them that the officers of the Storm Reaver took joy in nothing other than stealing, reaving, and inflicting pain on others.  All she wanted was to survive, and not be stabbed in the back, and she didn’t see herself able to do that without allies to call on.  Torlan rumbled that that sounded fair enough, and Daina’s expression softened a little as she replied that she would rather not see anyone stabbed in the back aside from Master Scourge, Mister Lagraa, and the Captain.  As Sandara let out a small laugh and turned to return to her own duties, Daina told her that if she ever found herself in trouble, to seek her out in the galley as Rus commented that Sandara was doing a very swift trade in racking up favours.

As the other woman disappeared up the hatch, Daina mused that Rus was one to talk about racking up favours — the previous night, she’d promised to owe him and Trucco if they ever helped her get Torlan out of trouble, and she hadn’t been expecting that chit to be cashed so soon.  She wondered when he might call on her, and he simply shrugged and replied that he hoped it would be a while before he needed to.  

Speaking of Trucco, the opportunistic rogue had peeled off from the others while they argued with Sandara, having spotted a large crate along the side of the wall above the waterline.  Easily prying it open, he quickly pocketed the small purse he found within before the others could notice, then helped himself to a cutlass and held up a prize that he announced would have been useful ten minutes earlier: a boiled leather chestpiece.  Daina insisted on helping Torlan strap it on while he tested the heft of a bulky mace, and then accepted the morningstar Trucco had also found for herself.  With Fishguts’ spear in her other hand, Daina began to follow Rus along the length of the hull to see if any more rats emerged from the murky water, all the while exhorting Torlan to stay behind and keep his wound dry.  Silently ignoring her fussing, Torlan fell in line behind the two soldiers and offered Rus the harpoon he’d been carrying.  Though armed with nothing but a small knife, Rus said he’d be fine, eliciting a shrug from the old dwarf. 

As they continued to explore, Daina’s foot bumped into something solid and heavy, and a massive rat leapt out of the water at her as Sandara had predicted.  Ready for action, Daina bashed the rat’s head in with her new morningstar and handed the corpse to Trucco.  Bristling, the feline shifter asked if he was expected to carry the rat because he was a cat.  “No,” the Deneith veteran replied, “it’s because you pick up everything in sight, so you might as well carry this.”  Still miffed, Trucco protested that he only picked up things that had value, to which Daina retorted that proof they’d killed the rats had the value of keeping them alive.  Sighing, still on edge after Torlan’s close call and knowing that she had been too short with Sandara and now Trucco, her voice grew more gentle as she told the rogue that not everyone was out to get him — not her and the others, anyways.  Trucco took the corpse from her in uncharacteristic silence, and they continued forward towards the bow of the ship.

Pressing forward, Rus came across his own prize in the water: a small handaxe that somehow had not been rusted or otherwise harmed by the filthy saltwater.  Torlan wondered aloud what had become of the owners of all the weapons they’d found in the bilge as Rus hopped up on top of a crate, lantern in hand, to examine the axe more closely.  Still focused on finishing the job, Daina happened upon some large sacks perched above the waterline.  Grain spilled out of large holes in each bag, and having spent her first sixteen years on a farm, Daina quickly surmised that the rats had eaten the bags from the inside out — that was how they’d wound up on board the Storm Reaver.  Shaking her head in disgust and loudly wondering who would store grain in a ship’s bilge, she found herself suddenly remembering Fishguts warning from earlier.  The unusually sober cook had made an ominous comment about Daina being in Mister Lagraa’s sights, and anxious to return to him, she exhorted the others to pick up the pace..and then forced the issue herself.  Scooping up a handful of grain, she tossed it over the surface of the water as she caught Rus out of the corner of her eye, bent over and fishing something out of the depths.  Turning towards him, thinking he’d found another rat, Daina felt something wet and heavy strike her back and saw Rus shove his dagger into his belt and take his new axe in hand.  He sent it flying past her head, and his aim was true.  The weapon sliced the rat clean in two, miraculously leaving Daina unharmed in the process, and it kept going until it lodged into the opposite side of the hull.  Surprised and embarrassed at being so badly caught off guard, Daina’s eyes widened and she stammered a little as she complimented Rus on his skillful throw.  As she thanked him and noted that she was now in his debt twice over, the former skyknight retrieved his axe from where it was stuck in the wall, casually remarking that it seemed to be a lucky weapon now and that he reckoned he’d be keeping it.  Rolling his eyes, Torlan called out to the two youngsters to get a room, earning him a scandalized cry from his goddaughter and no comment from Rus as he shooed them along to continue in their hunt.

Though it was a cold, northern winter on the upper decks, the bilge was hot and stuffy, and the four new allies were keen to finish their business and leave.  After another half-hour had passed, they felt confident that they’d killed all the rats.  On the way back up to Master Scourge, Daina passed by Sandara Quinn and offered her a vial of clear liquid bearing the sign of the Sovereign Host that she’d found down in the bilge.  Sandara agreed that she could make use of it, and accepted the peace offering.

The remainder of the day passed uneventfully, though Trucco had six lashes waiting for him at the Bloody Hour thanks to having pushed his luck talking back to Master Scourge earlier that morning.  Though it stung, getting lashed was now a familiar enough situation for Trucco that he hardly felt the whip anymore.  The night’s grog was passed out, dinner was served down in the galley, and Torlan entertained the crown once again as he’d promised the quartermaster Cutthroat Grok that he would.  The half-orc expressed her appreciation for the performance, and sitting with her was one of the few humans on board, a man every called Crimson Cog.  Cog was generally ill-tempered, but he listened to Torlan intently, and was eager to speak with the old dwarf when he approached to chat with Grok.  He asked if Torlan would tell another story the following night and, lowering his voice, told the talespinner that he had some special liquor hidden away, and would be happy to share it with Torlan after he was done fulfilling his obligation to Grok.  He happily declared that as long as the tales stayed dark and bloody, Torlan would have a fan.

Though she loved hearing her old “uncle’s” stories, Daina had other things on her mind that evening.  Finding Fishguts still remarkably sober, she asked him to elaborate on his earlier remark that Mister Lagraa had it out for her.  He pointed out that Daina was human, not a Cloud Reaver, and had challenged the first mate in front of the entire crew.  With Sandara Quinn’s desperation to make friends for her own survival fresh in her mind, Daina reminded Fishguts that it had taken three years for him to get help in the kitchen, and it would be a shame to lose it so soon.  Taking her comment as a half-joking offense to his cooking skills, the tone of their conversation immediately shifted as they began to spar and banter back and forth in the familiar dwarven way that Daina was used to from Torlan.  Chatting long into the night, she learned that old, drunken Fishguts had once been the chef at the Lobster’s Armour, a rather popular (and expensive) restaurant in Regalport.  He insisted at first that he’d chosen to leave the job, leading Daina to suspect he’d been fired, but as they spoke he warmed up some more and eventually revealed that he’d left the Lobster’s Armour when he lost a bet — to Mika Rockface herself.  He’d gambled with the Prince, using his own life as his stake, and he’d lost.   

On the 22nd of Zarantyr, morning brought some darkening skies.  Rising early as usual to help Fishguts, she found him slightly hungover but not drinking much, and once again he asked her to help him with the cooking.  Master Scourge looked Rus up and down and growled that Sandara hadn’t done a sufficient job in the cargo hold the other day, and ordered him down to catch rats again.  He ordered Torlan to swab the deck again, and sent Trucco up to the crow’s nest to be the lookout.  

Down in the galley with Fishguts, Daina sought to continue their conversation from the previous night. She reminisced about places she’d eaten in Regalport, and asked him if there were any ways they could improve their lot on board the Storm Reaver through cooking.  What the dwarf cooked for the crew was far different from what he cooked for the officers and separately for the captain, and through the conversation she could tell that Fishguts had lost his hope, which was probably why he drank so much.  He seemed resigned to whatever the Dark Six might have for him on board, but he also seemed to have begun enjoying his conversations with Daina, giving thoughtful answers to her questions and growing more friendly.  While Fishguts adeptly saw to his duties for once, he rejected all of Daina’s attempts to clean or organize the galley, and as she sorted he kept referencing a book that she investigated herself.  The large tome was filled with rather incredible recipes and was probably worth quite a bit of money.  She gathered that next time she had to cook, it would likely help her.  

Up in the crow’s nest, Trucco was unable to get a better sense of what the Storm Reaver’s destination was.  The captain and officers had kept that a closely held secret, and though the ship remained damaged from their failed assault on Tidewater Rock a little over a week earlier, speculation was rampant that the Prince was determined to not return home without a prize.  Feeling a twinge in his sore back as he reached out to climb a rope, Trucco decided to take it easy.  Excusing himself to go to the head, he went down to the quartermaster’s to speak with Cutthroat Grok for the first time after having cased her stores a couple of times before.  As the incorrigible rogue jovially introduced himself and laid on the flattery, Grok snarled and asked if there was something he needed.  Placing a small chunk of hematite on her counter, he offered it to the quartermaster in exchange for his daggers, confident of its worth while simultaneously ignorant to how much it was worth.  Smirking, Grok accepted the far better end of the deal without a word, and turned away to open a wooden locker in which Trucco could see all of his things, along with a wand and some other equipment.  Returning to the door, Grok tossed all five of Trucco’s daggers down on the counter and sent him on his way as Rus appeared behind him to take his place.

“Ain’t he an excitable one,” the skyknight drawled.  Grok replied that Trucco liked to talk, and Rus agreed that she clearly wanted to get straight down to business.  The ornery quartermaster clarified that Trucco liked to talk back, and imagined he’d make many more appearances at Bloody Hour.  Changing the topic, he casually mentioned that Sandara Quinn had suggested that Grok was keeping one of Rus’ wands, and that Ms. Quinn might have mentioned that he needed that wand for certain “spiritual practices” that would ensure the ship kept functioning.  Pausing with a long look, she asked what he meant by that.  Declaring that he just wanted his wand back so that the Devourer – praise his watery deepness! –  wouldn’t get involved, Grok quickly drew a symbol in the air to ward off evil and left to rummage around her locker…and returned with all of Rus’ gear.  Insisting that he make sure the ship didn’t sink, but that if it did, he’d have her covered, Grok handed over the loot as Rus commended her for her devotion and left.

Back up to, scrubbing the deck, Torlan found himself working alongside an orc named Tamroth Scrimshaw.  They spoke as they worked, and he learned that she carved little sea creatures in her spare time.  He praised the quality of her work, and soon learned Tamroth was originally from Cliffscrape and had not been press-ganged.  She’d been aboard for some time, and though she was not one of Lagraa or Scourge’s sycophants, she respected Prince Mika.  As they chatted throughout the day, she became friendly enough and he asked if she’d ever tried carving a sea serpent.  The form should be simple enough, and he’d heard the stories of them.  She replied she had heard the stories, and was glad she’d never seen one in person, and leaned in close as she asked if he had.  He replied yes, all Kolladrons had seen the great sea serpent of Mirror Lake.  It was a terror of Lakehome, and though he’d never tangled with it, Kolladron had, and the tale had been passed down of a gargantuan serpent that harried dwarven vessels by inundating them with waterspouts and blows from its powerful tail.  When it slept, it was so large that the curves of its body were sometimes mistaken for small islands, which meant certain doom for any ship that approached it.  Green scales, glimmering in the full moons.  He offered to assist her if she’d be willing to try carving a likeness of the creature, and she eagerly agreed.  

Evening came, and for once, there was no Bloody Hour.  As the evening grog was passed out, however, Torlan, Daina, Rus, and Trucco sensed a different kind of expectant excitement in the air.  When the evening meal was done, the four of them found themselves swept along with a crush of sailors eagerly making their way back to the main deck.  After a few moment, Mister Lagraa appeared, leading a large man covered in tar and feathers, who pumped his fists in the air as he loudly declared “Owlbear, strong!”  Rus’ heart sank while beside him, Torlan wondered who the hell this guy was, and Mister Lagraa sneered at him and the others and asked if any of them would be brave enough to go toe to toe with Owlbear in a bare-knuckles fight.  She announced that the prize was a hundred gold pieces, and Torlan eagerly stepped forward to defend the honour of the Kolladrons in spite of his still injured leg.  As Daina and Rus watched in dismay, the scrappy old dwarf readied himself for a fight.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: what haunts you the most from the Last War? Well, put three Cyrans and one dwarf who was alive long before the war even began in the same room swapping stories, and things got dark pretty fast. 😀
  • For the first rat encounter, Daina drew a joker on initiative. Jokers give each player a bennie and allow the one who drew the card to choose when they want to act that round without having to make a contested roll for it, as well as a +2 to their rolls for that turn. We are using modified versions of Savage Pathfinder’s class edges, and Daina employed the Fighter’s “Martial Flexibility” feature to temporarily gain the First Strike edge, granting her a free attack on the rat for two attacks that turn at no penalty…which she didn’t wind up needing, but is still nice to have!
  • There’s always talk in the Savage Worlds community about the risk/reward of using smaller die types. The risk, of course, increases your chance of a critical failure, and the reward increases your chance of an ace. Kevin has, so far, enjoyed the rewards of exploding d4s in particular. For the second rat encounter, Rus got three raises on his Notice roll on his first try to be able to act while Daina and the others were Surprised. He then went all out with a Wild Attack to throw his axe – which is another risk/reward maneuver as it granted a +2 to his rolls, but left him Vulnerable until the start of his next turn – met the target number of 4 for a thrown attack, fished for a raise, got another massive dice explosion, and then followed it up with 26 damage on a d6. Feel free to start wildly speculating on Torlan’s declaration that it’s time to get a room. 😉
  • Speaking of Rus acing his rolls, Kevin played the Ace! adventure card on Cutthroat Grok to trick her into giving him his wand back. That card automatically grants a success with one raise on any trait “roll” (which you don’t actually roll for), and the end result was not only the return of Rus’ wand, but making him the first part member to regain all their gear. Praise his watery deepness!
  • Owlbear’s first appearance was in week 3, when Rus discovered him chained up in the cargo hold. He’s only told Trucco about that encounter; this is Torlan and Daina’s first time laying eyes on Owlbear. For an ending in which none of us find ourselves in immediate mortal danger, the moral implications of what might come next make this one hell of a cliffhanger.