After altogether too long a delay, here is the second adventure in the series Come Hell and High Water.
This scenario is Part 2 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 second-level characters. Although it is intended as part of an ongoing collection of scenarios, it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure.
It's a sad fact that, when groups of people from differing cultures come together, distrust an intolerance too often win out over curiosity and mutual goodwill. While the best people in society strive to overcome this, the worst exploit it for their own gain. Such is the case with a pair of despicable rogues named Raymond and Roderick Carlisle.
Like most of the inhabitants of Port Royal, the Carlisle brothers heard tales of a bokor's plot to hijack a merchant vessel shortly after that effort was foiled by a band of adventurers (as detailed in the adventure “An Ill Wind Blows”). They listened to the public outcry and concerns about the possible danger presented by the Maroons living in Jamaica's hinterlands, and recognized an opportunity to profit by it. Gathering about themselves a group of similarly unscrupled scallywags, the brohters led them on a rampage through numerous isolated Jamaican plantations. They and their men did their utmost to ensure that there were no survivors to tell of the attacks, then carefully planted evidence implicating the Maroons for the crimes.
Just as the Carlisles expected, word quickly spread throughout the island following the first discovery of the aftermath of the attacks. As a result, the governor has put out a call for all able-bodied souls who can help seek out the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The cutthroats meanwhile have slowly filled the hold of their ship, the Opportunity, with their spoils and, if their deception succeeds and suspicion and intolerance overwhelm the people of Port Royal, Carlisle and his crew will escape and injustice will win the day.
What is more, the situation is complicated by the fact that, as a result of the attacks they've suffered at the hands of the cutthroats, the Maroons are beginning to fiercely guard their territory. This makes them confrontational if they encounter white settlers, possibly leading to even greater distrust and anger between the parties involved.
This adventure begins for the PC;s when, while passing through Port Royal, they notice the governor's call for assistance:
who can pursue
and bring to justice
the criminals who have
attacked and pillaged
Those willing to serve
can apply at the
Sign of the Boar's Head
tomorrow at dawn.
Assuming that the PC's are interested, they find a squad of English soldiers awaiting them at the designated location, led by Captain Josiah Henderson. The captain surveys any new arrivals with a keen military interest; this should allow a good chance for some roleplaying as he fails to conceal his approval or skepticism. Henderson nods appreciatively at any tough-looking soldierly types, but reacts much less positively to others. Should any of the PC's have the Scum background or come from similar circumstances, they might need to conceal their true identity from him.
Once introductions have been made, Henderson presents the following information; try to keep this presentation as interactive as possible:
*Recently a local merchant, Neville Wright, was making his rounds about the island when he found that a plantation had been savagely attacked and pillaged.
*While the attackers seem to have taken some items of value, they seem to have deliberately massacred then inhabitants of the plantation.
*Mr. Wright fled the scene, fearful that the attackers might still be nearby.
The incident occurred in the middle of the eastern end of the island, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
*Governor Evans is offering two thousand pieces of eight to the person or persons who can apprehend the responsible party and bring them to justice.
*Henderson would certainly take care of the matter himself, but his skills are needed in port and on the seas, protecting against the predations of the Spanish. Similarly, English foot soldiers are in short supply and are needed to serve aboard His Majesty's ships.
*Additionally, PC's with the appropriate Knowledge skills might be able to glean some additional details. Alternately, those who think to ask the right questions might be able to jog Henderson's memory and cause him to mention them.
Knowledge: local--12--While plantations tend to occupy the low-lying areas along the island's coastline, a number of Maroon villages are located in the Blue Mountains.
Voodoo Rituals--15--Because they are escaped slaves, some of the Maroons are believed to be Voodoo practitioners.
Finally, if the GM is running this adventure as a part of the Come Hell and High Water campaign, Henderson or the PC's may allude to events from the adventure “An Ill Wind Blows,” especially if someone should mention that the Maroons may be involved. Since word of Mhlongo's effort to steal ships by smuggling zombies aboard them has spread among many of the people in Port Royal, the PC's might jump to the conclusion that this business is connected to that. While this is not the case, it is just the sort of assumption that
If pressed, Henderson is prepared to pay one tenth of the reward money (two hundred p.o.e) up front to help outfit citizens who are willing to undertake the assignment. Should the PC's wish to do so, he can also summon Wright for an interview, although that individual just confirms what Henderson has already mentioned.
As a final stipulation, Captain Henderson insists that one of his men, Sergeant Gerald Burns, accompany the PC's on this investigation. While the soldier could prove to be a valuable ally during the hunt, his assumption that the Maroons are guilty could prove to be a liability as well. This should provide an opportunity for some good roleplaying, as he is a stodgy fellow and a judgmental one who disapproves of any characters who allow their less-than-lawful tendencies to become known to him.
Event 1—Into the Jungle
Just how this adventure develops depends on the direction in which the PC's wish to take their investigation; refer to a map of Jamaica to track their progress. Those who follow Wright's directions arrive before long at the Clayton farm (see Event 2), while those who venture into Maroon territory have a run-in with a patrol (see below).
In the latter case, have the PC's make Listen and Move Silently checks opposed to those of the Maroon patrol. (Assume that the jungle foliage on the island is too thick for either group to see the other at the start of the encounter.) If the Maroons notice the interlopers without themselves being detected, they attempt to encircle the PC's before confronting them. On the other hand, if the PC's detect the patrol without being noticed, they can react as they see fit. If both parties become aware of each other at the same time, or if they stumble into each other unaware, events can unfold in initiative order.
For their part, the Maroons confront the PC's, brandishing their weapons, and demand that they lay down their arms. Should the PC's make any hostile move, they respond by attacking. On the other hand, if the PC's remain peaceful and attempt to parlay, the Maroons can be engaged in diplomacy. This requires a DC 15 check, or DC 10 for characters of African descent. (The GM is encouraged to grant bonuses or penalties for good roleplaying, of course.)
In the event that they are willing to parlay, the Maroons recognize that they can provide valuable information and ask to lead them to their village (Event 3).
Event 2—The Farm
Another likely destination for the PC's is the farm where Wright discovered the attack. It is a small affair (see map), with a single-story farmhouse (1), a large cattle barn (2), a smaller horse barn (3) and a privy (4).
Evidence of the attack is plainly visible in the main room of the farmhouse; a DC 12 Search check reveals blackening stains of drying blood on the floor of the main room (1A). In addition, it is easy to find some of the possessions of the late inhabitants, ones that help to reveal who they were. A thorough search reveals the parents' clothing and a family Bible in 1B, along with kids' clothing and a wooden sword and doll in 1C. A family tree in the Bible provides the names of the victims—Samuel, Nora, Sam and Ellie.
Those who succeed at a DC 10 Listen check outside the cattle barn can hear an incessant buzzing sound coming from within—hundreds of flies. Inside it is a charnel house. The packed earth floor is soaked with blood, spilled from dozens of slaughtered cows. Characters who succeed at a DC 15 Survival check, or a DC 10 Profession: butcher check, recognize that these remains are simply the bones and offal; all of the quality meat has been carried away. Similarly, those who think to examine the ground outside of the barn can find (DC 18 Survival check) that a group of half a dozen people on foot brought a horse and wagon around to the front of the barn at about the same time that the cattle were slaughtered.
The horse barn contains the main component of the Carlisles' plan, a series of strange markings written in blood on the building's inside walls. A DC 8 Voodoo Rituals check or a DC 12 Knowledge: religion or Knowledge: local check reveals them to be Voodoo symbols, but those who beat the DC by ten or more realize that they are a meaningless hodgepodge. (The Carlisle brothers know enough to copy some of the symbols that they've seen, but they don't actually know how they should be used in rituals.) Of course, any PC who mentions being familiar with Voodoo immediately incurs the suspicion of Sergeant Burns. Should the PC's have missed the tracks outside the cattle barn, they have another chance to notice them here; from the horse barn they lead over to the cattle barn, then out to the road.
Finally, those who investigate the privy can discover the ultimate fate of the Clayton family. Their bodies have been tossed down the hole in here and left to rot. This fact should provide proof that it is not a Voodoo practitioner who committed this crime, as that person would have wanted to keep the bodies to animate them as zombies.
Following the Trail
The tracks outside the cattle barn lead in two directions from here, both from the horse barn and toward the road. PC's who wish to follow this trail can do so by making a DC 15 Survival check for every mile that it covers; it is six miles in length, requiring a total of six checks. It leads along a rough road until it comes near to the coast, at which point it turns off into the jungle. Here the PC's find the discarded wagon, although another Survival check reveals that the people on foot continued down toward the coast. Two more such checks lead to a spot on the shoreline just down from the entrance to the pirates' cave hideout (see Event 4).
Event 3—The Village
However it is that the PC's come to be in the maroon village, whether it is as guests of Nneka and his patrol or as prisoners following a defeat, they have the opportunity to confirm the truth behind the Carlisles' deception and prevent an outbreak of war between the English settlers and the Maroons.
If they are brought in as prisoners, of course, this presents a considerable difficulty. They are taken into one of the huts with their wrists bound, and by these bindings are tied off to one of the hut's support pillars. (This is after being relieved of their equipment, naturally.) This leaves them in a rather uncomfortable position in which the PC's are forced to remain standing, something that the Maroons hope will make them willing to talk. Should the PC's decide to attempt an escape, slipping out of the bonds requires a DC 25 Escape Artist check, and a guard is present at all times.
After about an hour Nneka returns to the hut with some questions. He brings along a bullwhip, to help encourage honesty if need be, and begins the interrogation:
*Who are you?
*What were you doing on this part of the island?
*Why did your people attack mine?
This assumes that the PC's have taken the Maroons' guilt for granted, and that they have missed every previous opportunity to parlay. In this case that last question provides them with a last chance, allowing them to explain their side of the story and to learn the Maroons' perspective on the matter. As long as they can persuade Nneka of their innocence (DC 15 Diplomacy check, +3 for each Maroon scout that the PC's might have killed), he frees them and asks them to help him find the real culprit.
Once the PC's have managed to open a discussion with the Maroons, or if they arrive at the village under peaceful circumstances, they can learn a great deal about the situation. Nneka leads them to the central meeting area of the village to confer with Mama Cecille, the mamba (female hougan, or good Voodoo practitioner) to discuss the matter. At this point Nneka allows them to explain what they have learned, and then tells what he knows of the matter:
*Five days ago, a Maroon patrol head toward Port Royal to trade; they never returned.
*The patrol he sent to investigate found evidence of an attack, one conducted by the English.
*Since then his patrols have been vigilantly guarding their territory against further incursions.
Additionally, if the PC's think to ask, Nneka can provide evidence from the ambush site, in the form of the remains of three smokepots that were used to confuse the patrol. What is more, he also mentions that his scouts managed to track the attackers back to the coast (a spot between Turtle Cove and Galina Point), but that they lost the trail when it reached the shoreline.
Continuing the Investigation
From this point the PC's have a couple of options. One is to visit the site of the ambush; the other is to head to the point on the coast at which the Maroons lost the attackers' trail. While the prior option doesn't reveal much more as far as evidence goes, it does give the PC's another chance to pick up the pirates' trail. Treat this in the same manner as detail in Event 2, above; it takes six more DC 15 Survival checks to follow the trail to the coastline. Of course, Nneka can (if asked) provide the same information and lead the PC's there himself.
Event 4—The Pirates' Cave
While Roderick Carlisle has been busy recruiting hands for the pirating voyage, Raymond has been busy making preparations in a series of caves on the north coast of the island. The pirates have brought their meet and other spoils here and are smoking it on boucan in order to provide victuals for their ship. The pirates have dug a smokehole leading out of the caves, and in daytime this can be seen with a DC 20 Search or Spot check.
If the PC's move to investigate the smokehole without noticing the entry to the hideout (Area 1), one of the pirates there moves in to alert his comrades. These two then emerge to distract the PC's while their comrades climb the ladder to the hidden exit (Area 3), hoping to catch the interlopers out in the open in a crossfire.
1. Weed-Choked Entry
The cave entrance here is filled with shrubs, weeds and other greenery, making it difficult to notice from along the shoreline or out to sea (DC 25 check). At night this becomes a little bit easier, since the two guards posted here use the opportunity to smoke a pipe and the light of this is easier to see (DC 20).
2. Guard Post
The tunnel from the entry slopes upward. Just inside it, two guards are generally posted.
3. Common Area
Seven hammocks have been hung from the posts in this area, and a sea chest sits beneath each. During the day two of these hold sleeping pirates, while at night four slumber here. Once they've been alerted, of course, all of the pirates rally to defend the hideout. Beneath each hammock sits a small sea chest holding that pirate's goods; a search of them provides a good deal of clothing and other such items, along with the following goods:
1-2. Pipes (one wooden and one clay) along with tobacco
3. A medical kit including a surgeon's tools, a bottle of leeches and, most importantly, six doses of pox medicine
4. A logbook, bottle of ink and quills—at the GM's discretion, this might be blank or might contain potentially valuable information or even links to further adventures
5. A bottle of fine wine
6. Nothing of interest
The GM is of course welcome to substitute other items that might be of interest to the PC's.
The middle of the cavern serves as a common room for the pirates; as such it is filled with a broad table and stools, along with a firepit over which they have arranged their boucan—a wooden rack for smoking meat, a practice from which the buccaneers acquired their name. There are also barrels of water and rum and sacks of flour for baking biscuits in this area, along with barrels of meat that the pirates have finished smoking.
Another hammock hangs on the other end of the cavern, along with a sea chest that is stoutly locked (DC 25 to open or break; X hardness and 20 hit points). This is where Roderick sleeps, and where he keeps his valuables. Inside the chest are 500 p.o.e. and a pair masterwork sword-pistol. Additionally, the provisions that the pirates have assembled—rum, water, smoked meat, flour, dried fruit and the like—are worth another 500 p.o.e.
4. Hidden Exit
Not far from the smokehole for the fireplace is a ladder and a small tunnel leading up to ground level that provide a hidden exit in case the pirates should need it. Anyone who crosses over the concealed trapdoor on the surface might (DC 25 Spot or Listen check) notice the unusual feel of the ground at this point; otherwise, the PC's might only learn of it if the pirates use it to ambush them.
The entire upper level of the pirates' hideout it built around a false floor; beneath this is a drop of ten feet, with sharpened stakes protruding from the ground.
As the PC's might have come to suspect, not all of the pirates are present in this hideout. Raymond Carlisle is in charge of the shore band, while the older brother, Roderick, leads the pirates who are aboard ship. This latter group makes an appearance some time after the PC's have finished their attack on the hideout; the GM could have this take place directly following the battle, or after a little time has passed.
In either case, PC's who are in position to notice should make DC 10 Search or Spot checks to see a flashing light from aboard a ship at sea. This is Roderick and the other pirates aboard the Opportunity. They hope to bring the rest of the provisions on board so as to be ready for a cruise. As long as the PC's can avoid tipping their hand, they should be able to catch these new arrivals unaware.
The exact size of the ship, and thus the number of people who are crewing it, is left to the discretion of the GM. This is for two reasons. One is to allow for this threat to be tailored to the abilities of the party; the other is to control the type of ship to which the PC's have access. If they can take the Opportunity, the PC's have a chance to seek their fortunes on the high seas, and the GM should choose the ship that best suits their needs.
However this situation transpires, it should provide the PC's with a challenging fight but also plenty of reward for their efforts. In addition to the ship itself, the GM could add any treasure aboard it that seem appropriate.
If they are successful, the PC's should score a major victory for themselves as well as win the gratitude of an important possible ally. On the flip side, if either Roderick or Raymond survives, the PC's have also made a dangerous enemy.
Whichever happens to be the case, they have numerous opportunities for continuing the adventure.
*The maroons, needles to say, are hugely thankful for the help in clearing their name. While they aren't wealthy people, Nneka might have an idea for a way in which to reward the PC's. He seeks to rescue others from the horror of slavery, and is interested in team with the PC's in attacking the ships that deal in human cargo.
*A surviving Carlisle brother—or perhaps a third member of the family—seeks revenge. This could take any number of forms, including teaming up with any other enemies the PC's have made during their exploits.
*Finally, if they acquired the Opportunity, the PC's have greatly expanded their horizons; the possibilities are limited only by their own ambitions.
Appendix 1—Dramatis Personae
Sergeant Gerald Burns
Warrior 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d8+6; hp 23; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +5 (2d6, short musket) or +4 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills: Climb +5, Jump +5, Survival +5, Swim +5.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.
Sergeant Burns is brusque and pompous, with an inflated idea of his own importance. This is plainly evident in his impeccable uniform as well as in the elaborate mustache and connected sideburns that he wears. Even so, those who win his respect, even begrudgingly, find him to be a stout friend.
Captain Josiah Henderson
Warrior 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d8+14; hp 49; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +10/+5 (2d6, short musket) or +8/+3 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 12.
Skills: Climb +11, Intimidate +11, Jump +11, Swim +11.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (pistol), Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass, pair of pistols, spyglass, whistle.
The captain is a resourceful and capable officer but, sadly, one who is all too susceptible to the biases of the time. As such, he is quick to believe that the Maroons are a deadly threat. This prejudice is only exceeded by his very low opinion of pirates. Because of this, he is quick to judgement and sees himself as a bastion of protection and civilization in Port Royal. His precise military bearing and plain good looks reflect his ideas of his role in the world.
Hougan 5; CR 5; Medium; HD 5d8+10; hp 36; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10; Atk +3 (1d6, quarterstaff) or +3 (ranged); SQ Caille ritual, spells; AL NG; SV: Fort +8, Ref +1, Will +8; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 14.
Skills: Bluff +4, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +10, Escape Artist +2, Heal +10, Voodoo Ritual +13.
Feats: Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Skill Emphasis (Voodoo Ritual).
Equipment: Clothing, religious trappings, staff.
Mama Cecile has a certain natural beauty, rather like a thing of nature that has grown more impressive with the passing of time. She is a pillar of her community, a friend to those who respect it but a fierce enemy of any who might threaten it.
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +3 (2d6, short musket) or +2 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.
These warriors are gathered from many different tribes and places, but all are dedicated to Nneka and his vision of freeing others from bondage.
Ranger 4; CR 4; Size medium; HD 4d10+8; hp 34; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +7 (2d6, short musket) or +6 (1d6+2, buccaneer knife); AL CN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Skills: Heal +6, Hide +12, Listen +9, Move Silently +12, Spot +9, Survival +9, Swim +9, Use Rope +10.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Endurance, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Stealthy, Track Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: Doll’s Eyes.
Equipment: Short musket, buccaneer knife, backpack.
Nneka is one with the wilderness, a warrior who can appear from the jungle to strike and then disappear just as quickly. At times when he can pause from his duty to his people, however, he is a downright jovial soul who enjoys the simple pleasures of life. His avowed purpose is to liberate as many of his people as possible from life as slaves.
Sea Dog 1; CR 1; Medium-sized; HD 1d10+2; hp 12; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+1 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +3 (1d6+2, club) or +2 (ranged); AL CN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Sea Devil.
Skills: Balance +5, Climb +6, Jump +6, Profession (sailor) +5, Survival +5, Use Rope +5.
Feats: Cleave, Dodge, Power Attack.
Equipment: Dueling jacket, buccaneer knife, various improvised weapons.
Raymond and Roderick Carlisle
Sea Dog 3; CR 3; Medium; HD 3d10; hp 21; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +3 (1d6, cutlass) or +5 (2d4, pistol); SQ Close Quarters +1, Dodge, Favored Ship; AL CN; SV: Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +3; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 14.
Background: Sea Devil.
Skills: Hide +8, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (sea lore) +6, Move Silently +8, Profession (sailor) +8.
Feats: Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot.
Equipment: Buff coat, two pistols, cutlass.
The brothers Carlisle are typically swarthy and swaggering, but still with a certain kind of charm, as befits pirates.