Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Fighting Pit

There are all kinds of entertainments available in a sizable port city. While taverns and brothels are usually the first to catch a sailor's attention, there are also traveling bards and perhaps even more organized types of shows. One that appeals to a particular crowd, however, is the fighting pit. An enterprising young adventurer who didn't really take to the adventuring lifestyle, Thayer took the gold that he earned during his brief career and used it to buy a rather ordinary warehouse close to the docks. That structure he then refurbished, digging out a basement, building quarters for competitors and then adding two levels from which patrons can watch the fights.



The Fighting Pit
Broad double doors provided access to the warehouse at street level. The building itself is two stories above ground. Those two levels have been gutted of everything but support pillars, a railing to prevent spectators from falling into the pit, and a spiral staircase in each corner that provides access to the other levels. The pit itself is sixty feet on a side, with a floor of packed dirt and sand. It is surrounded on the underground level by sixteen small rooms, where combatants can prepare for, and recover after, matches.

Running Matches
Entry for a night's entertainment costs 5 sp. Given that it's standing room only, positions against the railing are on a first come, first served basis only. Each bout pits two competitors against each other in single combat. In game terms, this can be handled in much the same manner as typical Pathfinder battles. Matches are fought to incapacitation, so there's usually a chance that the loser can recover. Thayer keeps a cleric on hand, too, to provide healing for the defeated. Although the combatants are permitted to use any magic that they might possess, no outside participation or interference of any kind is permitted. That rule is enforced not only by Thayer and his heavies, along with a hired wizard named Ancalimë, but also by the spectators, especially those who have wagers on one combatant or another.
At the end of the night, Thayer keeps half of the proceeds for distribution to his employees and profit; the other half is divided among the competitors.

Betting on Fights
On the subject of gambling, it is permitted. While there is not technically a limit on wagers, they don't generally exceed ten gold pieces per fight. Because Thayer and his heavies don't wish to be bothered by keeping track of this business, it is standard practice for the two participants in a bet to have a third party observe the transaction.

Personnel
At any given time, Thayer and a dozen or so guards are present to make sure that things run smoothly.

Sylvio Thayer
CR 4
XP X
Male human fighter 5
N Medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 47 (5d10+10+5)
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +1
Resist Details
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Weapon +12 (1d8+7)
Special Attacks weapon training +1
STATISTICS
Str 18, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +5; CMB +10; CMD 20
Feats Cleave, Dodge, Great Cleave, Power Attack, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword)
Skills Climb +12, Survival +8, Swim +12
Languages Common
SQ bravery +1, armor training 1
Combat Gear Studded leather armor +1, longsword +1, pouch containing 100 gp in mixed coins

Sylvio Thayer loves nothing more than a good fight. What he did not love were the privations that adventurers had to suffer as part of their lifestyle—sleeping outside on the hard ground, subsisting on trail rations and limited quantities of ale, and the like. That's why he retired from that profession, choosing instead to invest his hard-earned money in this fighting pit. Now he can enjoy as much fighting as he is able to arrange, while still living comfortably in town.

Thayer's Enforcers
CR 1/3
XP 135
Male human warrior 1
N Medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 13 (+1 Dex, +3 armor)
hp 6 (1d10+1)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Longsword +1 (1d8+2)
Special Attacks Power Attack
STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 9
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Power Attack
Skills Climb +6
Languages Common
Combat Gear Studded leather armor, longsword

These fellows have a fairly cushy job that lets them show off a little bravado without actually facing much danger; it suits them well. They are given to bluster, but can be overwhelmed by a real show of martial prowess.

Brother Fain
CR 2
XP 600
Male dwarf cleric 3
NG Medium humanoid
Init -1; Senses Perception +3; Darkvision 60 ft.
DEFENSE
AC 13, touch 9, flat-footed 13 (-1 Dex, +4 armor)
hp 23 (3d8+6)
Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +6
Resist hardy, stability
OFFENSE
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Heavy mace +4 (1d8+1)
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 14
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 12
Feats Extra Channel, Selective Channeling
Skills Diplomacy +7, Heal +9, Knowledge (religion) +6
Languages Common, Dwarven
SQ Channel positive energy 2d6
Domain Spell-Like Abilities: Rebuke Death, Touch of Good
Spells Prepared
1st—Cure light wounds, deathwatch x3
2nd—Cure moderate wounds, gentle repose x2
Combat Gear Chain shirt, masterwork heavy mace, healer's kit, silver holy symbol

Brother Fain worships the Goddess of Mercy, bringing her blessing to those in need of healing. Sometimes he struggles with his job as healer for a fighting pit, given that those who engage in combat aren't doing it for any cause higher than that of earning some money. For that reason, he sometimes dreams of finding a band of adventurers and joining their efforts to dome some real good in the world.

Ancalimë
CR 2
XP 600
Male elf wizard (diviner) 3
CN Medium humanoid
Init +3; Senses Perception +3; Low-light vision
DEFENSE
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 10 (+3 Dex)
hp 13 (3d6)
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +4
Resist Elven immunities
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Quarterstaff +2 (1d6)
STATISTICS
Str 10, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 17, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Greater Spell Focus (divination), Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (divination)
Skills Knowledge (arcana) +9, Knowledge (geography) +9, Knowledge (history) +9, Knowledge (local) +9, Spellcraft +9
Languages Elven, Common, Gnomish, Dwarven, Orcish
SQ Bonded item (staff)
Spells per Day: 4/3/2
Spells Prepared
0th—Detect magic x3, read magic
1st—Comprehend languages x2, identify
2nd—Detect thoughts x2
Combat Gear Robes, masterwork quarterstaff, component pouch, spellbook, potion of gaseous form, scroll containing mage armor and shield


At first glance, it might seem unusual that a wizard (and a diviner at that) is involved in business like this fighting pit. While it's true that the half-elf's job is to monitor spectators and competitors alike to prevent the use of magic in the fights, Ancalimë also uses the opportunity to pry into the minds of those who are present. So far he has just done so for his own amusement, but it won't be long before he learns something really important and decides to use this tidbit for his own gain.

Using the Fighting Pit in a Nautical Fantasy Campaign
There are many ways in which this establishment could become involved in a nautically-themed Pathfinder campaign; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • First and foremost, one or more of the PC's could participate in the fights in order to hone abilities and earn some coin.
  • Indeed, a party might come together for the first time while all are present and something happens to draw them into an adventure.
  • Should somebody decide to cheat, perhaps by aiding one competitor or hindering another—the PC's could have a chance to bring that person to justice.
  • If Ancalimë ever learned something really important, he might sell that information; that, in turn, could lead to blackmail or perhaps even a murder, and the PC's might be asked to investigate.
  • When a young noble decides to participate in the fights, the kid's parents hire the PC's to bring the wayward youth back home. The crowd at the fighting pit doesn't like this intrusion, however, and so the PC's must decide to be forceful or subtle—perhaps even requiring cheating on their part.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Four Things

This post is a bit of a hodgepodge, so I'm going to break it up into smaller parts.

-Nate


Skull & Shackles
This past weekend some friends and I started in on the Skull & Shackles adventure path for the Pathfinder roleplaying game. I am, of course, very excited about this. Right away our characters found themselves serving aboard the Unlucky Halfling, called upon to perform all manner of tasks related to sailing the ship. The adventure did a nice job of incorporating those elements, giving the scenario a distinctly maritime feel. I highly recommend it to enthusiasts of nautical fantasy.

Here's a link to the player's guide for the campaign, by the way, which is free for download.

Skull & Shackles Player's Guide


Legendary Games
For GM's who are running this adventure path, or for those running Freeport games or other pirate-oriented campaigns, I recommend checking out the PDF's available from Legendary Games. While I have not read any of them myself, they seem tailor-made for incorporating into a series of pirate adventures.

Pirate Plug-Ins


Crossbones
I've been following the show Crossbones on NBC for six episodes now, and I think the show is really starting to move. There were a number of major developments in the most recent episode, "A Hole in the Head," and they have me excited to see how it all concludes. Here's hoping that NBC manages to renew a series that gives the viewer something different from the usual medical dramas, police procedurals and reality shows.

Crossbones


Finally, here's a table with suggested heights for different positions in a ship's rigging, in case characters need to climb up to them or if they should fall from them. It's based on an image I shared previously.

Third-Rate Ship


Falling Distance
In any nautical campaign, chances are good that some of the characters are going to spend time in the ship's rigging. When that happens, Climb and perhaps Balance checks become necessary. Should any of those fail, it's important to know how far characters could end up falling. The following heights are based upon the schematic of a third-rate ship of war, presented previously. The GM can use these as a guideline when adapting heights for smaller or larger vessels.

Position
Mizzenmast
Mainmast
Foremast
Lower Spar
30 ft.
40 ft.
30 ft.
Middle Platform
40 ft.
50 ft.
40 ft.
Higher Spar
50 ft.
60 ft.
50 ft.
Top Platform
70 ft.
90 ft.
80 ft.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Orc Whaling Ship

This post continues taking the blog in a high-fantasy direction. Recently I've been reading the draft manuscript of the new Freeport setting book for use with Pathfinder, and it has me excited to run a campaign in the city that started my love of pirates.

-Nate


Orc Whaling Ship
There are a lot of ways to make a living at sea, including serving aboard a military ship, operating a merchant vessel, or even turning pirate. One of the less glamorous options is to become a whaler, hunting the great creatures that swim in the oceans and harvesting what they have to offer.



Whale Hunting
Typically a whaling vessel sails in waters where the creatures are known to be found, timing its voyage for periods when they are expected to frequent those waters. When a lookout spies a whale or its spume, the chase begins. The crew maneuvers the vessel until it is close enough for hunters to lash out with their whalespears, which are connected to ropes tied to the ship. Using these weapons, the orc members attempt to grapple the whale; one orc makes a combat maneuver check, and receives a +2 bonus from each orc who also succeeds with an attack to aid. If they succeed, the whale is unable to dive beneath the surface. At that point, the captain calls for the ship's boats to be lowered, and teams of orcs (one mate and five typical sailors) venture out to stab the whale to death with their spears.



As long as they succeed, the hunters drag the whale's carcass either to a convenient beach, if one is available, or back alongside the ship. They then begin cutting away its skin and blubber in long strips, followed by chunks of its meat. The meat they cook for their own consumption, having quite the feast to celebrate their catch. At the same time, they cook down the blubber until they can siphon off the oil from it, a substance they can sell for use in making candles. The skin, if they wish, can be used to make clothing like the whaleskin greatcoats they wear to keep dry.



The Abattoir
Refer to the deck plan above for the following area descriptions.

1. Main Deck
This broad open space provides access to other parts of the ship. From here, stairs lead up to the fore- and sterncastles, and a wide hatch opens to the cargo decks below. There are also ladders leading belowdecks, and doors to the rear compartment for officers and the crew quarters before the mast. The main deck's most notable features, however, are twofold. There are a pair of boiling kettles used to cook down the harvested blubber, and the ship's boats are kept here when not in use.

2. Armory
The whale hunters keep their crossbows and whalespears here, hung on racks that line the walls, ready for when the orcs sight their prey.

3. Captain's Cabin
By far the most comfortable quarters aboard the ship is this, usually with a comfortable bed and a table for studying charts and taking meals, and perhaps even a wardrobe against one wall.

4. Mates' Cabin
The three mates have their quarters here. As such, this room usually contains three bunks and another table, along with sea chests for their personal items.

5. Veteran Crew Quarters
Half a dozen hammocks are hung in this area, providing places for veteran crew members to sleep. There are also sea chests for individual possessions. Another ladderwell leads from here to the mess and cargo hold, below.

6. Bowsprit and Head
This area sits in front of the forecastle, open to the wind and spray. The ship's toilets are located here, and it is from here that the ship's bowsprit protrudes.

7. Forecastle
Most of the time, this area serves little purpose other than providing a place from which to watch the passing sea and keep an eye out for whales.

8. Sterncastle
This raised platform is a center of activity when it comes to sailing. Crew members man the ship's whipstaff here, steering the vessel. The captain and/or a mate is also often present, setting the course and shouting orders to the crew.

9. Crew Quarters
More hammocks are hung in this area—many more. Even so, there are not enough for every crew member; most share a hammock, taking turns sleeping while the other is on duty. Needless to say, this makes for tight quarters.

10. Storage and Mess
Foodstuffs are kept in this room, and distributed from here to the crew. These are usually simple affairs, consisting of ship's biscuit, salt pork and a thin wine.

11. Cargo Hold
This area is filled with barrels. If the crew has had success, they are filled with whale oil and perhaps meat; if not, they stand empty and waiting.

12. Infirmary
Crew members who are injured in the line of duty are allowed to recover in the beds located here.


The Crew
Detailed here are the orcs who can commonly be found aboard this ship.

Typical Orc Sailor
CR 1/3
XP 135
Male orc warrior 1
CN Medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 10, flat-footed 12 (+2 armor)
hp 6 (1d10+1)
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0
Defensive Abilities ferocity
Weakness light sensitivity
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Whalespear +5 (1d10+3/x3)
Melee Longsword +4 (1d8+3/19-20)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +1 (1d10)
STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 13
Feats Weapon Focus (whalespear)
Skills Profession (sailor) +4
Languages Common, Orc
SQ weapon familiarity
Equipment Clothing, whaleskin coat (treat as leather amor), longsword, whalespear, heavy crossbow, ten bolts

These orc sailors are a rough bunch; their only focus is to find and kill enough whales that they can earn their pay and go back to port in order to spend it.

Veteran Orc Sailor
CR 2
XP 600
Male orc warrior 1/fighter 2
CN Medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 10, flat-footed 12 (+2 armor)
hp 19 (3d10+3)
Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +0
Defensive Abilities ferocity, bravery +1
Weakness light sensitivity
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Whalespear +7 (1d10+3/x3)
Melee Longsword +6 (1d8+3/19-20)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +3 (1d10)
STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 15
Feats Lunge, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (whalespear)
Skills Profession (sailor) +6
Languages Common, Orc
SQ weapon familiarity
Equipment Clothing, whaleskin coat (treat as leather amor), longsword, whalespear, heavy crossbow, ten bolts

From among the simply average crew members, these are some of the few who have proven themselves more cunning and more capable. They are old veterans, ones who lead watch teams.

Orc Ship's Mate
CR 4
XP 1200
Male orc warrior 1/fighter 4
CN Medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 10, flat-footed 12 (+2 armor)
hp 31 (5d10+5)
Fort +7, Ref +1, Will +1
Defensive Abilities ferocity, bravery +1
Weakness light sensitivity
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Whalespear +9 (1d10+6/x3)
Melee Longsword +8 (1d8+3/19-20)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +5 (1d10)
STATISTICS
Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 18
Feats Lunge, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (whalespear), Weapon Specialization (whalespear)
Skills Profession (sailor) +8
Languages Common, Orc
SQ weapon familiarity
Equipment Clothing, whaleskin coat (treat as leather amor), longsword, whalespear, heavy crossbow, ten bolts

There are three of these tough, battle-tested orcs; they are second only to the captain himself. One is charge of the crew when on deck, except when the captain is present.

Captain Cyrus
CR 6
XP 2400
Male orc warrior 1/fighter 6
CN Medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 10, flat-footed 12 (+2 armor)
hp 44 (7d10+7)
Fort +8, Ref +2, Will +2
Defensive Abilities ferocity, bravery +2
Weakness light sensitivity
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Whalespear +12/+7 (1d10+7/x3)
Melee Longsword +10/+5 (1d8+3/19-20)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +7/+2 (1d10)
STATISTICS
Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +7/+2; CMB +10; CMD 21
Feats Far Shot, Firearms Proficiency, Lunge, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (whalespear), Weapon Specialization (whalespear)
Skills Profession (sailor) +10
Languages Common, Orc
SQ weapon familiarity (spears)
Equipment Clothing, whaleskin coat (treat as leather amor), longsword, whalespear, heavy crossbow, ten bolts


Using the Orc Whaling Ship in a Nautical Fantasy Campaign
There are many ways in which these maritime hunters could become involved in a nautically-themed Pathfinder campaign; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • The PC's could encounter this vessel at sea, providing an opportunity to trade supplies and exchange news.
  • The crew's whale hunting leads them to run afoul of a local druid; she goes looking for help (the PC's?) in convincing them to stop their predations.
  • When this crew arrives in port, things become rowdy; the orcs, flush with newly earned money, are eager to spend it on food, drink and entertainment.
  • In the event that a fire broke out aboard their ship, the orcs might need the crew of a passing vessel (the PC's?) to rescue them—and then to deliver them back to port, something that could make for a difficult voyage, indeed.
  • Should the orcs find a cryptic item in the belly of their prey, they might turn to outsiders (the PC's?) to help find out what it means; this, in turn, could lead into the search for a vessel that was lost at sea.
  • If Captain Cyrus ever grows tired of whaling, he and his crew could turn pirate, thereby becoming a threat to all manner of other ships sailing the seas.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Apotheosis

At long last, here's the scenario that's intended to wrap up the Come Hell and High Water campaign. It feels a little bit piecemeal, but I think that's how it works when it's designed to wrap up all of the loose ends in this long series of adventures. I hope that people have been able to make use of material from them and have some fun in doing so.

-Nate


Apotheosis
This scenario is Part 19 of the Come Hell and High Water campaign, an adventure series for the Skull & Bones historical setting, for use with the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game version 3.5. It is intended for a party of eleventh-level characters. Although it is intended as the finale of an ongoing collection of scenarios, it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure with a bit of modification.

Background
For some time now, the PC's have been involved in the hunt for lost relics and lore around the world. This started with a visit to Circe's island in “Living Legends,” followed by a visit to the home of the remaining giants in “The Ends of the Earth,” a journey back to London in “Machinations” and then a voyage to an ancient Chinese treasure cache in “Above and Below.” During that time, they and/or the agents of the Cabal, or perhaps even the Spanish, have been gathering all of the magical spells and items that they could. Their ultimate aim is to create a collection equivalent to a codex of infinite spells, allowing them to access magic beyond anything known in the world.

Of course, it's never completely possible to anticipate the actions of the Player Characters or the outcomes of their adventures. For that reason, many options for starting this scenario are presented in the Introduction, below.

Introduction
Depending on the Player Characters' situation in the aftermath of the previous scenarios, this adventure could begin in many different ways.

If the PC's acquired the last items necessary to completing the codex of infinite spells and managed to flee from the Chinese treasure cache, there are a number of possibilities. Should the PC's be tempted to use the codex to their own ends, the GM could start with Encounter 1—Unleashing the Power, below. If the agents of the Cabal managed to take the information from them, the action could begin with Encounter 2—Reclaiming the Prize. The same goes if the Spaniards managed to take control of the materials in question. On the other hand, in the event that the PC's decide it's best to rid the world of such a temptation—or those of another power group—are in hot pursuit, kick it off with Encounter 3—Protecting the Secret.

While those options cover most of the possible outcomes from the last few adventures, there are some other elements that could come into play. For example, it's always possible that the PC's might be the recipient of a proposal from one of the world's sovereigns who has heard of the pursuit and wishes to gain control of nearly unlimited magical power. That could lead into the events of Encounter 4—The Powers That Be. Should the PC's wish to gather their old associates around them, such possibilities are detailed in Encounter 5—Gathering Forces. Finally, if they have managed to acquired the Prow of the Argo (as detailed in the scenario “Trial by Fire,” and either they or their enemies have gained access to the aforementioned source of unlimited magical power, and the GM wants to test their intentions and resolve concerning the latter, ways to introduce a vision of temptation or warning are detailed in Encounter 6—Dreams or Nightmares.


Encounter 1—Unleashing the Power
As mentioned above, possessing the accumulation of relics and lore gives the PC's access to power similar to that of a codex of infinite spells. In that way, they can wield the power of spells like wish and miracle—but not without some danger to themselves and others. If the PC's decide to use such a power, the GM should keep in mind a few suggested guidelines.

First and foremost, any effects that the PCs might wish to achieve should be compared to existing spells. For example, bring a comrade back from the dead is analogous to raise dead or resurrection; unleashing devastation upon an enemy stronghold can be accomplished via earthquake; and just about anything can be handled through a casting of limited wish, wish or miracle. These guidelines, then, determine the effective level of the magic being wielded, which in turn determines the danger that it presents.

Refer to page 238 of the Dungeon Master's Guide to find rules for characters who attempt to use spells beyond their capacity. Keep in mind that they must meet four qualifications to cast the spell without risk of ill effects: 1) Be able to cast spells of the appropriate type (divine or arcane); 2) Have the spell in question on the spell lists for their classes; and 3) Possess the necessary ability scores for casting spells of that type; 4) Be of sufficient class level to cast that spell. Ordinarily, if the character in question doesn't meet all four of those criteria, he must make a DC 5 Wisdom check in order to avoid a mishap. In this case, that DC increases by five for each additional criterion that the character does not meet. For example, a PC who is unable to cast spells of any kind, and doesn't have high enough Wisdom or Intelligence scores, must make a caster level check in order to properly activate the magic. Failure means that said character must succeed at a DC 20 Wisdom check in order to avoid a mishap.

Should a mishap occur, refer to the same section of the Dungeon Master's Guide in order to determine its effects.

On the other hand, if these efforts are successful, the implications are left up to the judgment of the DM to determine. They might be able to build for themselves an idealistic pirate paradise, but old enemies and new would not hesitate to try and take that from them.


Encounter 2—Reclaiming the Prize
If the PC's turned the last of the sacred information over to the agents of the Cabal, or were overpowered in trying to protect it—either to the Cabal or to the Spanish—they face the challenge of taking it back from their enemies.

In the prior case, if they gave it up willingly to their employers, they'll soon find reason to regret doing so. This could take a fair amount of adjudication on the part of the GM, as the Cabal begins to unleash untold power upon their enemies. This could include unprecedented attacks agains the allies of the PC's, as detailed in the scenario “Retribution.” That alone should be enough to provoke a change of heart on the part of such mercenary characters.

If and when such a new resolution occurs, there are two possible options; each of these is detailed below.

The Chase
In this case, it is up to the PC's, aboard their ship, to chase down the agents of the Cabal and take the items in question away from them. The GM should use the stats presented in the previous scenario, “Above and Below,” to represent the abilities of these foes—and perhaps increased by a level to represent newly gained experience. This sets up an exciting ship-to-ship battle, provided that the PC's make their move with enough time left to run down their enemies before they reach their destination—London.

The Assault
Should the agents of the Cabal be able to return to their stronghold in London, refer to the article “The Cabal” for a map of that group's stronghold, along with stats for the characters who might be found there. Here again, a fair amount of adjudication on the part of the GM is likely necessary in order to resolve such an attack.


Encounter 3—Protecting the Secret
In the event that the PC's manage to escape from the island with the necessary items in their control, they find themselves as the object of pursuit. Just as with the previous encounter, this can take one of two likely forms.

Retribution
As mentioned above, the wicked machinations that the Cabal could undertake in order to lure the PC's out of hiding are detailed in the scenario “Retribution.” Should the occultists already have staged such an attack, they could be empowered to new levels of violence and ruthlessness now that they possess the relics and lore. Of course, in the face of such aggression, it's up to the PC's to decide how they want to respond. Eventually these predations should demand some kind of response from them. When and where that happens is left to the adjudication of the GM, likely using characters and locations introduced during prior adventures. This could lead into a chase or an assault, as detailed above and below.

The Chase (Reversed)
This situation can play out in much the same manner as if the PC's were pursuing agents of the Cabal or Spaniards, except in reverse. In this case it is the NPC's who are chasing the PC's, and they're out for blood. Here again the GM should refer to the deck plans for the vessel in question, along with the stats for the characters aboard them. Of course, should they wish to acquire a little help for this endeavor, they could turn to existing allies (as detailed in Encounter 6) or even have some offered to them (covered in Encounter 4).

If the PC's manage to defeat their enemies, they win a reprieve from pursuit. Even so, they could still be tempted by the notion of using this power, or another foe could become apparent. There is always the option of destroying the items, as detailed below. On the other hand, should the agents of the Cabal acquire the goods from the PC's, such a development sets up either of the two encounters mentioned above.

Destruction
Another option is for the PC's to destroy the assembled magical materials once and for all. To do so they have a variety of options. Unlike artifacts in high-fantasy settings, these ones are not indestructible save for one particular situation. For that reason the PC's could simply stoke a large bonfire and cast the materials into it. Those who have a more dramatic flare could lock them into a weighted trunk and throw them overboard in the deepest part of the ocean, or even cast them into a volcano. At the very least, this should require that the PC's fight off a last-ditch effort by their enemies to prevent such actions, requiring a desperate battle in an exotic location to eliminate the problem once and for all.


Encounter 4—The Powers That Be
Given the magnitude of the power represented by the accumulated magical materials, it's also possible that some of the world's most powerful figures could take an interest in them. This might include the kings or queens of England, France or Spain; the emperor of China; a corsair ruler of Algiers, Tunis or Tripoli; or even the Pope himself. (In the latter case, the pontiff would probably seek the items in order to ensure their destruction.) At the GM's discretion, there could even be multiple representatives from competing parties. Whoever the important person might be, though, this development is likely to take place in a few different steps.

The Meeting
In contrast to the pomp and circumstance that could accompany such an encounter, the initial contact from the sovereign is conducted by an empowered representative who conducts this business in a nondescript manner. If the PC's happen to be in port, he—along with a cadre of bodyguards—approach them wherever they might be visiting. Should they be at sea, the representative could approach them aboard a ship—probably a galleon or a similarly large and well-armed vessel—and invite them aboard for the meeting. The PC's always have the choice of rebuffing this proposal, but they should be wary lest the potential ally become an enemy.

Given that the PC's have other foes about whom to worry, it is possible that a spy might try to eavesdrop upon a meeting on land in order to report back to her own employers.

The Offer
The representative comes armed with a royal proclamation, signed by the sovereign in question. (Refer to Interlude 47: The Declaration for an example of how such a document might look.) It even bears the royal seal, and promises the PC's something lucrative in exchange for turning the accumulated magical materials over to the sovereign (or helping the sovereign's representative to acquire the items, if someone else possesses them). Some options for this offer include the following.
  • A pardon for past crimes, especially that of piracy.
  • Granting one or more of the PC's a commission in the Royal Navy, as captain of one of His Majesty's vessels.
  • A royal title (such as Baron or Lord) along with a grant of land in the sovereign's domain.
  • Riches, in the form of 100,000 piece of eight.
  • Perhaps even the vice-governorship of one of the Crown's royal colonies—a position that would put the character in question on part with Captain Henry Morgan himself.
  • Favors on behalf of other characters, such as Nneka the Maroon or even Gath the Shaman.
  • A reward of the character's choosing—at the GM's discretion, as always, and something comparable to the aforementioned incentives.
Whatever these promises might entail, it is up to the PC's to accept or decline. The prior decision likely wins them influential assistance, while the latter might yield powerful opposition.

The Fallout
Just how this situation develops depends, of course, on the decisions of the Player Characters. They could find themselves sailing with a might escort, or having said vessel in pursuit of them. What is more, whether or not they receive the rewards in questions is determined by whether or not they can deliver on their end of the bargain.


Encounter 5—Gathering Forces
It is quite possible that either the PC's or the agents of the Cabal, or both, could try to gather up their allies (or people with whom they share enemies) in order to tip the scales during the final confrontation. For characters who've participated in the entire Come Hell or High Water campaign, there could be plenty of both. This all depends on how previous scenarios developed, and—more importantly—who survived them.

Allies
Potential friends of the PC's could include the following characters.
  • Captain Ned Carstens (from “An Ill Wind Blows”)
  • Mama Cecile and/or Nneka the Maroon (from “Reprisal,” etc.)
  • The Priestess and her Mayan warriors (from “The Message”)
  • Captain Oliver Sedgewick, whaler (from “Beyond the Pale”)
  • Sister Sophia and the Amazons (from “Trial by Fire”)
  • Arukuma the Wanderer and her onijegi (from “The Mermaid's Tale”)
  • Hussein “the Hunter” Ra'is and his corsairs (from “Treacherous Waters”)
  • Alkmene the sea witch (from “Treacherous Waters”)
  • Captain Luciano Vittorio (from “Treacherous Waters”)
  • Annabell “Banshee” O'Bannon and Michael “Cannon” O'Bannon (from “Fortune & Glory”)
  • Mustafa al-Aqil (from “Living Legends”)
  • Amelia Cordeiro (from “The Ends of the Earth”)
  • Gath the Shaman (from “The Ends of the Earth”)
  • Captain Isaac Faulkes (from “Machinations”)
  • Reuben Meier (from “Machinations”)
  • Liu-Chang Kwan (from “Machinations”)
Here it is up to the PC's to rally their allies around them, although the GM could always surprise them with an unexpected arrival, especially if they find themselves in a seemingly insurmountable situation.

Enemies
Included among those who might be enemies of the PC's are these individuals.
  • Mhlongo or Mabhena the Bokors (from “An Ill Wind Blows”)
  • Raymond and/or Roderick Carlisle (from “Reprisal,” etc.)
  • Captain Salvator Jimenez (from “Out of the Darkness,” etc.)
  • Captain Bartleby the Pirate (from “The Message,” etc.)
  • Various members of the Inquisition (from “The Message,” etc.)
  • The spirit of Jean de Montsegur (from “Beyond the Pale,” etc.)
  • Hussein “the Hunter” Ra'is and his corsairs (from “Treacherous Waters”)
  • Captain Luciano Vittorio (from “Treacherous Waters”)
  • Annabell “Banshee” O'Bannon and Michael “Cannon” O'Bannon (from “Fortune & Glory”)
  • Various agents of the Cabal (from “Living Legends,” etc.)
The GM is encouraged to pull out all the stops in assembling a force with which to challenge the PC's.
Note, too, that these are only NPC's culled from the various scenarios in the campaign series; there could be any number of other characters from various Interludes, or ones introduced by the GM. Including these characters helps to pull together the different strings from which this tapestry has been woven, helping to create both continuity and closure as the climactic finale approaches.


Encounter 6—Dreams or Nightmares
Although the previous encounters lay out the most likely developments as this confrontation comes to a head, this one provides a chance for a “do-over” in the event that the PC's fail. This assumes, of course, that they have managed to acquire the beam from the Argo's prow, a relic detailed in the scenario “Trial by Fire.” Given that this item is known to grant prophetic dreams upon those who carry it on their ships, PC's who fail in their efforts could wake up to find that they only dreamt of such catastrophes. (Refer to Event 0 from the scenario “Treacherous Waters” for an example of how this could work.)

Providing an Impetus
It's a well known fact that Player Characters don't always act in an altruistic manner, and this is probably more often the case with pirates. Should the PC's be reluctant to undertake a nobel endeavor, the GM could always give them a push in the right direction using a vision from the beam. In this case, the GM can run an encounter as normal, perhaps one involving the agents of the Cabal unleashing the power of the assembled magical materials, or even of an effort by one or more PC's backfiring and thus leading to tragic consequences.


Conclusion
Once all has been said and done, it's time to wrap up any loose ends for the campaign. In addition to having the PC's advance to twelfth level, it's important to know what they plan to do now that these adventures are finished. To that end, rather than including suggestions for further adventures, this conclusion presents some questions to answer regarding the resolution of the Come Hell and High Water campaign.
  • What does each character intend to do in the future? Is the character settling down into retirement, or taking on a new job (or continuing the old one)?
  • How do the characters stand in the eyes of the world's governments? Are they honored as heroes, or reviled as villains?
  • What kind of legacy does each character leave for the future?
  • Are there any relationships between PC's and NPC's that need to be resolved?
In this way, the players can bring their characters' stories to a satisfying finish—and perhaps even start laying the foundation for future campaigns.


Appendix 1: Dramatis Personae

(Note that stat blocks for many of the characters who could be included in these events are not included here, given how unpredictable the outcomes of previous scenarios can be. The GM is encouraged to draw them from the Player Characters' previous adventures, perhaps bumping them up a level to represent experience gained through success or failure.)


The Representative
Power
England
France
Spain
China
Corsairs
The Vatican
Name
Sir Basil McNaughton
Guillaum Verdier
Manuel Gutierrez
Fat Chow
Jamal al-Jazeeri
Sergio Moretti

Royal Representative
Fighter 13; CR 13; Size medium; HD 13d10+26; hp 102; Init +5 (+1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 buff coat, +1 Dex); Atk +19/+13/+7 (1d6+7, rapier); SQ None; AL LN; SV: Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +5; Str 18, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +17, Jump +17, Survival +3, Swim +17.
Feats: Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Great Cleave, Improved Critical, Improved Initiative, Improved Weapon Focus, Improved Weapon Specialization, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Clothing, buff coat, rapier, royal proclamation.

These representatives are not negotiators, but rather messengers who are skilled in defending themselves as well as the interests of their sovereigns. They are unswervingly loyal to said lieges, but not could be susceptible to magical influence. Note, too, that they are not empowered to negotiation, only to present the offers they've been given.


Bodyguards
Fighter 7; CR 7; Size medium; HD 7d10+14; hp 57; Init +5 (+1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 buff coat, +1 Dex); Atk +11/+6 (1d6+5, rapier); SQ None; AL LN; SV: Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +3; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +13, Jump +13, Survival +3, Swim +13.
Feats: Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Clothing, buff coat, rapier.