Set up –
The characters are on the outer dock after a fierce battle. What started with a mob of snake tongue cultists “gang pressing” the crowd into their cult was interrupted when Sahuagin warriors assaulted from out of the sea. They tried to sink the PCs ship, but it was saved. As they recover their breath, or in other words, the opening text:
“Recovering from battle, you try to piece together the meaning of recent events. Ling Wei moves to the helm and discovers that the wooden case in front of the wheel is smashed open, and the Black Pearl is missing. In its place is a soggy scroll with smeared ink that reads ‘I will not rest until you are destroyed – Z.Z.’ Just then, as Poppy scampers up the ratlines to her post, she spies a dark smear on the horizon out to sea. It resolves itself into a dark-sailed ship making way at full sail directly towards the docks.
The others are on the dock beside the ship, helping the injured, searching for clues (and loot) amongst the wreckage. A wounded man pulls himself out of the office door of Port Authority and shouts ‘they have taken the chest!’ before collapsing in the doorway.
Body of Pellew the head purser, which fell into the surf is missing, along with all his 250 citizenship badges.
The sahuagin are a known tribe who called themselves the Black Spines.
A hole cut in the dock below is how the chest was stolen
A fisherman Mensch saw them at the rocks northwest of town at dawn. He also saw a light in a cave entrance on the bigger rock
After the initial actions of the characters:
” A horn sounds and from shore a large regiment of soldiers marches towards the docks, with the four Merchant Lords leading them. As the town defenders approach, the lord who can only be the son of the recently slain King, Prince Tallyman, turns and waves his scepter towards the tower on the cliff-side. Fire the ‘Flambeaux!’ he shouts. A signal flare erupts from the tower and seconds later a massive ball of fire goes arcing overhead towards the ship.”
So begins the “Save yourselves, the docks, and your ship from the incoming Fire Ship!” Skill Challenge. The Flambeaux continues to fire on the ship, and when it hits (15+ on d20) the ship will burst into flame but continue on directly towards the Pyrpyl Wyrm +3.
Characters have 5 one minute turns and a last half turn before the ship strikes.
After the battle they begin talking to the four merchant lords:
Lord Greyfrost of House of Grey Veils – a dragonborn communist
Lord Crabstone of House Crabstone – a dour but loyal fellow who seeks out corruption in his brethren
Lord Tallyrand of House Tallyrand – son of the dead king, lantern jawed brute, first name Gaston
Lord Samarquoil of House Samarquoil – snakey
In the middle of negotiations time stops and the characters have a vision:
The sun looks black with a ring of light like an eclipse. Permanent eclipse is what the Shadowfell day looks like. A corpse rises and speaks in the voice of the Raven Queen. When done, it turns to shadow and sprouts raven wings then dissipates like smoke.
A guard steps forward and the light of the gods shines from his eyes and cheeks. He glances distastefully at the sailor corpse before introducing himself as an avatar of the god of civilization, Erathis. When done, the poor soldier will sit down with a sigh and shake his head, then look up and say “them tuna pies for breakfast was a baaaad idea.”
The deities talk about a coming war brewing in the three seas, Raven Queen mentions how she HATES undead (nothing personal to the vampire Rook) and Erathis breaks in that all of civilization is threatened should the cities of the three seas fall. They mention the undead war of 100 years ago and that not all enemies were destroyed in the war.
Raven Queen says – Find out who is building up an undead army in the vicinity.
Erathis says – Save Free Port by finding out which of the four Merchant Lords is least evil (heh).
Erathis knows that unless the right king is chosen, the Free port will fall into chaos and be ripe for invasion, causing a domino affect in the three seas region.
The Raven Queen knows that not all of the elements involved in the Undead War 100 years ago are defeated.
Their reward for accepting this task is to not fall afoul of a gods attention.
Each character offered a “Stone of…” as a mark of their fealty
The vote for the new king takes place in three days and only one of the four Lords is worthy. The PCs must choose the correct king and ensure he is crowned.
The fisherman Mensch will offer to take the PC’s to the rocks to the northwest of town, known as the spines, or the PC’s can take the Pyrpyl Wyrm +3 if it is repaired.
Encounter 1 = The Spines
Approach to the cave entrance is blocked by a series of rock outcroppings known as the Spines. Broken ships caught on the rocks creak and sway in the fast moving current.
When the PC’s come within range at the edge of the map (the souuthwest corner unless they decide otherwise) the enemy materializes. They are slain mariners, risen from the hoary depths.
3 Battle Wight (re-skinned to drowned sea captains in shell armour)
3 Wailing Banshee ghost (re-skinned to the suicide wives of sailors lost at sea)
3 Skeletal Corsairs (fishfood deck hands with a cruel chain of cutlass attacks)
See next week for the final installment, as we didnt manage to finish the adventure in one sitting, though we played for well over 5 hours (this is why I love marathon events>) Here is the map of the sea cave.
*A note on the use of Deus ex Machina. Any use of gods intervening in he affairs of the PCs is a pretty strong sign of heavy handedness in most cases, and this is no exception. (Also goes against the atmosphere of freedom and all that) but in this case I wasnt too worried, since they didnt all have to accept, just a majority, and two of the characters were already adepts of the Raven Queen. Adding Erathis also increased the choice, and frankly, this band of cutthroat thieves and murderers needed some guidance in their brutal lives!