Archive for June, 2011

I am suffering from some sudden and intense toothache, Im sorry I have to cancel tonight. I will try and run a double encounter next week.

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"A mountain rose out of the sea with a cavernous opening..."

After the battle with the Purple Wyrm, the Tomfool Free lancers were in dire need of ship repairs. They ended up harvesting the great spine of the beast and fusing it to the broken timbers of the main mast for support, and mounted the sea serpents skull on the ships prow. (Harvesting its skin for hull repairs was deemed impractical after repeated attempts.)

While the ship repairs were successful, they could not replace the lost rowers, and this led to the ship drifting through a week long spell of rain with little to no wind. They spent their time time trying to catch fish and drinkable water. The chibi’s grumbled at the salty mix the heroes squeezed out of the sodden sails for them to drink. It is a wonder none of them became ill, but it was due to the amazing sandwiches of Thokk the half orc barbarian master cook, or “Cookie” as he insisted on being called. Tunaisse with mayon, mm. His apprentice wizard assistant Ismelda no doubt helped.

Finhals Cave

On the 7th day out, the wind picked up into a gale and the rain continued, forcing the ship to ride out a storm, until the 8th day, when the skies opened up. The strong winds continued and the ship began to make good speed throughout the day. Around noon, a dark shape on the horizon rose out of the ocean ahead, which Poppy’s keen eyes soon picked out as a lone mountain jutting up out of the water. They cautiously kept their distance, fearing rocks and shallows, but the water around it was clear and deep. A dark scar resolved itself into a cavernous crack opening up one side of the mountain, into which the sea flowed. Tacking into the wind, they came around and lowered sail.

Though the crack seemed large enough to admit the Ship+3, the ships officers decided to take a rowboat in, and leave the chibi fanaton and humans aboard. The five remaining ex-slaves assured them they would defend the ship and await their return, and that they could not sail without the aid of the chibi, who were intensely loyal to their new masters.

Sailing into the crack they saw that it was an old hollow volcano and their were structures built upon the far wall. A circle of dayling illuminated the inner protected bay, and across the deep water a long stone dock was carved from a wide inner shelf of stone with steps going up into the ruins of stone buildings. They discovered tumbled and broken stone buildings many centuries unused, with little record of who once called this place home. Searching further into the ruins, they noticed at the back of the cavern 4 cave mouths leading deeper into the mountain. It looked like there were once bronze bars blocking them, but now only the ruins of stubs stuck out of the stone. As Poppy and Felipe cautiously advanced, keeping a sharp ear, they could hear the distant sound of… hooting. \

Now thats a sea cave full of savage humanoids all right!

The hooting quickly became louder and more savage sounding until from the mouths of three caves disgorged throngs of howling, hooting orc savages led by enormous bloated ogres with spiked clubs. The battle was swift and fun and towards the end of it the ghost of Sharia made an appearance and helped turn the tide of victory. (Thanks to our good friend Khar suddenly returning after a gaming sabbatical known as SHOOL. She will not be using the lame revenant Sharia-as-seeker that I had the printer spit out, though the ghost of Sharia made a fine accounting of herself during the last half of the battle with the savage humanoids.) Each character was able to do what they do best – slaughter hordes of brutes. It was glorious.

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Finally after a night spent in the shadowfell, dealing with shadowy monsters and elusive threats, the party has a fleshy enemy they can really sink their teeth into. Or let me rephrase that, the enemy finally sinks their teeth into the party of heroes. Groans, moans, and the occasional slurred word “brains…” comes from the shadows of the cemetery, and Brother Zevan wants them to investigate. But before that happened…

While chasing down shadows, town guardsman came up to the heroes, and mentioned a brother Zevan from the Chapel of Light who wanted to see them. The paladin had heard of this warrior priest and knew him to be an upstanding fellow, if on the older side. When they arrived at the chapel, they saw he was protecting a group of civilians who sought the chapel’s safety. Though old and bent, brother Zevan looks like a born fighter, and indeed his trusty mace is leaning by the door. He tells the heroes a tale of seeing the strange mage involved in a ritual in the cemetery near his chapel just before the “shadowfall,” and wants them to investigate.

The runepriest has been eyeing Brother Zevans mace – a big deadly, finely crafted thing, and asks the priest if he could have the weapon. Zevan takes great interest in the runepriest, and they agree to swap maces – and that’s how Thorn ends up with a masterwork +1 mace. (that and a good diplomacy check)

After that, it is off to the cemetery, and they arrive just as corpses are pulling themselves up out of the dirt – perfect timing! So begins a big battle of organs, blood and body parts flying. It was a good battle, pretty tough, and fora moment there it looked dangerously like a TPK in the making, but the party pulled through it, despite the poor paladin being knocked unconscious every round repeatedly. But the organs of slaughtered ghouls and zombies quickly piled up on and aound him, and the party was victorious just as the first light of dawn spread its wings across the vault of the sky.

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Sailing the Seas of Dread

By the end of the Isle of Dread Adventure, the characters had relieved a pirate crew of their ship, and this was the means by which the party chose to leave the isle – to sail across the sea towards civilization. Thus was born the need for rules for sea travel. These rough draft rules provide support for a hex crawl based sea adventure.

The Isle of Dread lies some 40 days good sailing due south of the city of Shalazar, jewel of the Jade and Azure Seas. In the middle of the Emerald Sea. Each hex is approximately 40 leagues or 1 average day’s sailing. (in MY world a league is like a mile, but BIGGER.) A good party will need to divide their roles amongst the special “mariner classes” listed below:

Ship’s Officers:
Captain – Uses Diplomacy and Intimidate to control deck hands, a success will avoid an injury (or worse) on deck. Injured 1d6 days, 6+ killed.
Navigator – Uses nature to determine wind speed, direction, weather, and currents, success avoids a shift to the left (even roll) or right (odds.)
Helmsman – Uses athletics and acrobatics to steer the ship, success avoids a shift to the left (even roll) or right (odds.)
Bosun – Controls Ship repair, work crews, uses dungeoneering (or arcana for special) success will prevent ship damage, travel delays
Look Out – Uses Perception and Insight to predict and spot the next hex result, success allows a chance to avoid or outrun
Ships Cook/row master – Controls below deck activities with intimidate, including meals using Endurance. Failure results in sea sickness, or bad rowing

There are plenty of other possible roles on deck, but these top six will work for the average size party. Ships mage, meteorologist, first mate, marine commander, chief engineer, steward, and second mate are some other possible roles for bigger ships and bigger parties. After a successful skill challenge during a heavy storm (or any other especially harrowing event that requires skill at sea) anyone who participated in the victory gains a “level” in their class. This levels can be added as bonus points to any skill check involving that class. For example a level 2 navigator can roll an extra +2 on her nature skill check for navigation. The maximum level for a mariner class is 10.

Additionally, all crews start out at one of the bottom tiers. Two weeks training will raise any crew to the level of step 2. After any event where the officer corps raises a level, the ships crew will also raise one step in quality as long as they participated in the event. Any time new crew are added to a roster, the crew quality will go down one step, or two if over half the crew is replaced. The quality of the crew follows this track:

1 – Lowest level, land lubbers, common criminals, and fools
2 – Low quality sailors
3 – Average quality sailors (save)
4 – High quality Sailors (save +1)
5 – Master crew (save +2)

For the Navigator:
At the beginning of each day, at dawn, or at the start of “First Watch” begins that day’s skill challenge. During this time each of the ships officers will do their part to oversee the days sailing. First the navigator will begin by rolling on the wind and weather charts.

Navigator Table 1 – Three Seas Weather Chart

1 – cold, precipitation
2 – cold, clear
3 – sweltering, precipitation
4-5 – mild, precipitation
6-7 – warm, precipitation
8-10 – hot, precipitation
11-12 – mild, clear
13-14 – warm, clear
15-19 – searing, clear
20 – sweltering, clear

Navigator Table 2 – Random Wind Strength
1 – Hurricane
2-3 – Gale Force
4-7 – Calm
8-13 – Light Breeze
14- 17 – Stiff Breeze
18-20 – High Winds

If the two rolls above equal precipitation plus high winds or above, that means a storm. In a storm each member must roll a skill check to perform their duties (even the ships cook must provide filling cold sandwiches to stave off the effects of fatigue and seasickness.) For a high winds storm, all skill checks are 2 DC higher. For Gale Force storms, all DC are 5 higher, and for a Hurricane, all DCs are 10 higher.

Before going on, there are two more steps for the navigator to roll:

Navigator Table 3 – Wind Direction
1-12 – Prevailing
13 – North
14 – Northeast
15 – East
16 – Southeast
17 – South
18 – Southwest
19 – West
20 – Northwest

And with those three rolls, the navigator has one thing left to do, the daily skill check. The last roll of the navigator is to roll a navigation (nature check) remembering to add any levels in navigation to the die roll. The DC is 10 +level, plus any additional DC due to the severity of storm. A success means the navigators work is done for the day, a failure means that the boat has travelled off course 1 hex to the right (if the skill check was even) or one hex to the left (if it was odd.)

It is important to note that the days weather, wind and direction do not change throughout the day no matter how many hexes the ship travels through. Normally a ship travels 1 hex during the day, whether sailing or rowing. There are times when the wind and clear skies can lead to an extra hex of movement, at the DMs discretion. During Hurricane winds, the ship must move in the direction of the wind, or not at all.

For the Helmsman
Guiding the ship is no easy task, and one of the things the helmsman has to take into account are the prevailing currents, which can adversely affect the shuips speed, maneuvering, and course. At the beginning of the day, the helmsman first rolls on the Current Currents chart below:

Helmsman Table – Current Currents
1-9 – No current
10-12 – Prevailing
13 – North
14 – Northeast
15 – East
16 – Southeast
17 – South
18 – Southwest
19 – West
20 – Northwest

Once the current has been determined, the Helms man will go on to roll a skill check – Acrobatics during a storm, athletics at other times + Helmsman level against a DC of 10 + level, plus any additional DC due to severity of storm) with a success meaning no adverse reactions, but a failure will result in the ship moving one hex in the direction of the current – instead of the planned direction.

For the Look Out
Next up is the Look Out. The first thing the look out does is to roll a D20 to determine what, if anything, lies in the hex the ship is sailing into. A roll of 1-16 indicates that the hex being explored is empty sea. A roll of 17-18 indicates that the look out should roll on Look Out Table 1. A roll of 19-20 means a roll on Look Out table 1 AND the Dm rolls on the Sea Encounter Table. The DM will also roll on the “Special feature” table if needed.

Look Out Table

1-2 – Atoll
3-4 – Sea Cave
5-6 – Volcano
7-8 – Wreckage
9-10 – Ruins
11-12 – Dead Calm
13-14 – Reef
15-16 – Shallows
17-18 – Narrows
19-20 – Special feature

Once the look out rolls are done, the look out makes a skill check (perception + look out level) against a DC of 10 + level, plus any additional DC due to severity of storm. A success indicates the features are spotted in time to make maneuvers in preparation, a failure means that the encounter is spotted too late to maneuver or prepare. Note that this doesn’t mean the ship crashes into the feature of the hex, just that they come within a league or so.

For the Bosun
The bosun has no rolls to make other than the daily skill check, using arcana or dungeoneering. A success means that the ship has sustained no damage. A failure means the ship has suffered a setback. If the roll was failed by 4 or less, it is minor and means the crew must spend the day (or night) working on repairs, but failing by 5 of more means a roll on the ship damage table.

For the Cook
The cook doubles as the surgeon, steward, rowmaster, and all around below-decks officer. During a sailing-day skill challenge, his endurance roll counts as a secondary for every other roll. On a success, any sick or injured sailors are returned to duty healthy. On a failed roll, everyone on board has a -2 to skill checks for the day (weevils in the bread, salt in the water.)

For the Captain
Depending on the mood and temperament of the captian, the daily skill check can be made with diplomacy or intimidate. (A crew will rebel against mixed signals, at the DMs discretion.) A failure within 4 of the target DC results in an injury on board, and a failure of 5 or more means a death of a sailor. During a storm, the injury and death rate become 1d4.

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