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.

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