Tuesday, September 28, 2010


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:

Brave citizens
who can pursue
and bring to justice
the criminals who have
attacked and pillaged
several plantations
and murdered
their inhabitants.

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.

Skill--DC--Information Gained
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.

5. Trap
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.

Event 5—Opportunity
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.

Further Adventures
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.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +5, Jump +5, Survival +5, Swim +5.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
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.
Background: Military.
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).
Fortunes: None.
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.

Mama Cecile
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.
Background: Slave.
Skills: Bluff +4, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +10, Escape Artist +2, Heal +10, Voodoo Ritual +13.
Feats: Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Skill Emphasis (Voodoo Ritual).
Fortunes: Superstitious.
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.

Maroon Scouts
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.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
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.
Background: Native.
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.

Typical Pirate
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.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
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.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
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.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today's post is an encounter that could be added to any piratical or otherwise nautical campaign.


Interlude: The Storm
This encounter is intended for use at any time when the crew is traveling by sea. It can be used as a stand-alone scenario, or as an event to be inserted in the middle of another adventure. Either way, it takes place when the PC's are in the midst of a voyage and run into a storm.

1. Signs of Trouble
Before the storm strikes, the PC's should make Knowledge: sea lore or nature checks to recognize that a storm is approaching; the highest result determines how much time they have to prepare before it arrives. Refer to the chart below. With this in mind, the PC's should begin working at a variety of tasks in order to be ready for it.
*Casting appropriate spells
*Checking to make sure the cargo is properly secured
*Putting characters into position in case of trouble
*Whatever else the GM decides is necessary

Check Result and Time to Prepare
0-9 allows 1 round
10-19 allows 5 rounds
20-29 allows 2 minutes
30+ allows 10 minutes

Whether or not the crew is ready for it, the storm arrives at the time indicated.

2. Rats!
As the swell of the sea intensifies, the rats living in the ship's bilge slowly work up into a frenzy. This comes to a boil when they erupt from the hatches, looking for a way to escape and attacking anyone who happens to be in their path. As usual, the GM should tailor the number of rat swarms that appear to the level of the PC's involved.

3. The Zealot
As increasingly powerful waves begin to pound the ship, one crew member decides that the entire crew is being punished for its sins; he falls to his knees and begins to pray for forgiveness. The trouble with this is that other sailors are impressed by his sudden religious fervor and follow his example, leaving the crew shorthanded for its necessary duties. To put them back on track, someone must find a means of convincing them to focus on their mortal bodies now and their immortal bodies later. A DC 20 Diplomacy or Intimidate check suffices for their purpose, with circumstance benefits as usual for good roleplaying.

4. Lightning Strikes
In the midst of all the other developments, lighting strikes the vessel's mainmast. It topples, and the unfortunate soul who was occupying the crow's nest is thrown into the churning embrace of the sea. At the same time, since it is not entirely severed, the mast begins to drag in the water and threatens to turn the entire vessel broadside into the oncoming waves.
The first task that the PC's face is to cut away the remains of the mainmast so the vessel can keep on sailing. The splintered mass of wood has hardness 5 and 100 hit points; it causes the vessel to slew to port. For every round it takes the crew to cut it loose, the vessel suffers subdual damage dependent on the size of the ship. This represents the water that comes crashing over the bow and, as the ship skews, the starboard side. This is not permanent damage but, if it exceeds the ship's total structure points, the vessel is filled with water and sinks.

Size of Ships and Damage Suffered
Small ships suffer 1d4 structure points per round
Medium ships suffer 2d4 structure points per round
Large ships suffer 2d6 structure points per round
Huge ships suffer 2d8 structure points per round
Gargantuan ships suffer 2d10 structure points per round

5. Man Overboard!
There is also the matter of the crew member who has fallen into the water. Given the danger of turning around in the storm, it is nearly impossible to bring it about for a rescue. Of course, the tumbled mainmast brings the ship to a halt, proving an opportunity for rescuers. The only trouble is to find a means of doing so.
Given the dangerous nature of this task, it is best if the victim in question is of considerable importance to the PC's. This could be a favorite sidekick or comic foil, the only female aboard the ship, or someone similar. Reaching the unconscious victim requires DC 20 Swim checks enough to cover sixty feet of distance, along with a DC 20 Spot or search check to locate the victim. (Characters aboard the ship could offer directions to someone in the water.) Those who think to dive underwater must only make DC 15 checks, along with the DC 15 Search or Spot check. Once the character reaches the victim, there is still the matter of swimming back to the ship—and this assumes that it hasn't yet resumed sailing. Alternately, the character in the water could bring a rope, in which case it takes only three DC 12 Strength checks to hang onto the victim while others aboard the vessel pull them back aboard it. In the latter case, those aboard the ship must make three DC 18 Strength checks to pull in those characters, but many characters can combine their efforts. All of these DC's increase by five once the ship resumes sailing.

6. Putting Things Aright
The final task is to put the ship back on course. This requires a DC 20 Profession: sailor check, assuming that the crew members aren't being distracted from their duties. Once that happens, the ship straightens out on its course and everyone can ride out the storm until the coming of morning. Of course, the ship continues to suffer subdual damage until that check succeeds. When the sun has risen, the PC's and crew must make a DC 15 Knowledge: navigation check to put the ship back on course.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cape Coast Castle

New for today is an article about Cape Coast Castle, a trading fortress in western Africa.

Cape Coast Castle
“Ye and each of you are adjudged and sentenced to be carried back to the place from whence you came, from thence to the place of execution without the gates of this castle, and there within the flood marks to be hanged by the neck till you are dead, dead, dead. And the Lord have mercy on your souls.”
-Decree of the President of the Vice-Admiralty court to convicted pirates in 1722

These words, spoken at the end of the trial of Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts and his crew after their capture off the west coast of Africa, are characteristic of the end of many piratical careers. They also represent the likely outcome of any encounter that a pirate might have with the long arm of the law, usually represented by either Navy sailors aboard their ships or the Governors and other agents of the crown in their trading forts, the bastion of government and regulation in the wild territories of the New World. Castles need not always play such a gruesome role in a pirate campaign, however; indeed, some of the most daring acts of piracy were committed under the guns of these bastions, and occasionally within their very walls. The grandiose attacks of Drake on Panama and Morgan on Porto Bello, for example, are instances in which pirates have taken their predations directly to the local authorities and have won fortune and glory.
Of course, grandiose raids are not the most common business that could bring pirate characters to the castle. They might know a fence here to whom they could sell captured goods, or they might sneak in to spy upon the merchants and learn the intentions of captains looking to sail hence. Should they fall victim to the law, the PC’s might also find themselves trapped in the castle’s stockade, awaiting their trial before the inevitable short drop and quick stop.

Throughout the years there have been a number of structures that have occupied the current location of Cape Coast Castle. It is believed that the Portuguese first built a wooden trading fort there, in the time of King Henry the Navigator; after this was abandoned, the Dutch built a similar fort. The castle itself began its life as a Swedish trading fort, Carolusburg, in 1653. It served them for more than a decade before being captured twice, first by the Danish in 1663 and then by the English in 1664. At that point it was put under the auspices of the Royal Africa Company, saw extensive expansion, and soon became quite prosperous.
The chief flow of trade through the castle brought in slaves, gold and timber from west Africa, in exchange for sugar, rum and tobacco from the West Indies. The fort dealt in as many as three thousand slaves a year. To do so, the Royal Africa Company paid “ground rents” to certain local native tribes, something that was more akin to protection money than to actual rent. The chieftains of these tribes became ersatz allies of the British, providing slaves that they capture from their enemies in exchange for coin and technological goods. This alliance was never as clear-cut as it might seem, however. Indeed, it is widely believed that the Royal Africa Company sought to foster conflict between the various native tribes in order to keep them at war, thereby increasing the demand for the weapons that they could sell to the natives and to ensure a steady supply of prisoners who could be sold into slavery.

There is no one person who has control of daily activities in Cape Coast Castle; rather, different aspects of daily life are divided among different people. For example, the supercargo is in charge of the warehouse and its contents, and all of the merchants operating in the castle answer to him. Since he can claim to represent the will of the Royal African Company, he is nominally in charge of the castle.
Similarly, the military commander is in charge of his troops and any matters of defense. He also represents the long arm of British law, giving him power to arrest people for crimes, try them and assign punishments. It is he who sits in judgment at trials conducted by the Vice-Admiralty.
While the ministers can claim considerable influence over those who come to them for religious guidance, they do not have any specific authority. Their advice is frequently sought, however, and in times of war they convert the church into a makeshift hospital to treat the injuries of the wounded.
Note that the character stats provided at the end of this article are generic in nature; the details of their specific characteristics are left to the GM, to allow for characters tailored to the needs of a particular adventure or campaign.

The Grand Tour
Cape Coast Castle is situated on the western coast of the country now known as Ghana, an area that was a key location in the trade of slaves bound for the Caribbean and the Americas. Its outside whiles are made of stone some ten feet thick, having hardness 8 and 1080 hit points. They are twenty feet in height. While the interior walls are not so thick, they are still quite stout (hardness 8 and 108 hit points). Exterior doors are banded with iron and can be barred from the inside, granting them hardness 5 and 40 hit points; interior ones are made from stout wood but not reinforced (hardness 5 and 20 hit points) unless otherwise noted.

1. Main Gateway
The chief entrance to the castle, this gate opens onto the broad open area known as the Spur. From here one can gain access to the rest of the castle via the Square Tower (Area 3).

2. Outer Yard (The Spur)
This area is primarily used for drilling the soldiers who occupy the castle. It is a broad expanse covered, depending on the weather, either with open lawn or with packed earth. It also provides the first line of defense in the event that the fort is attacked; should an attacker succeed in breaching the main gateway, the defenders can fall back to the tower and catch their targets out in the open.

3. The Tower
The outer yard connects to the interior of the castle via this area. On the lower level it is open to allow the passage of wagons, although it can be sealed from the inside with iron-bound, barred doors (hardness 5 and 30 hit points; DC 25 to force open or DC 30 to pick the lock).

4. Warehouses
In contrast to the multilevel buildings that surround it, this one stands two stories in height but is not divided into floors. Rather, tall shelves line its floor, separated by walkways that grant access to their contents. The supercargo runs the warehouses with an iron will, keeping careful track of who is storing what here and how much it’s worth.

5. Warehouse Yard
This roofed area is where all cargo is kept until the supercargo has had a chance to take inventory of it, at which point it is stored in the warehouses or hauled away to be loaded aboard a ship. It can be accessed through a covered passage that runs beneath the officers’ quarters (Area 9) from the inner yard.

6. Barracks and Rooms
These rooms are reserved for the soldiers who are stationed in Cape Coast Castle; it generally boasts a complement some one hundred strong. The smaller, individual rooms located in front of the merchants’ apartments are reserved for officers, while the larger ones are designated habitation for the enlisted men. The officers have quarters that are furnished in the same manner as the apartments, while the enlisted men share a common room filled with bunks, sea chests and tables.

7. Defensive Emplacements
Along with Greehnill Pointe and the Stockade, each of these structures is used in defending Cape Coast Castle against outside attacks. The walls of these rooms are lined with old-fashioned arrow slits, ones that are now used for riflemen to lay down defensive fire.

8. Inner Yard
Just inside the tower gate is the inner yard, the hub of activity in the castle.

9. Officers’ Quarters
While not quite as spacious as the private apartments that are available to rent by the merchants who pass through the castle, these are definitely more comfortable than the barracks provided for the enlisted soldiers.

10. Private Apartments
While the contents of these rooms vary somewhat according to the tastes of their occupants, they do boast some fairly standard features. Each is furnished with a bed (naturally), a wardrobe and a writing desk, something that caters to the merchants who normally by lodging here.

11. Water Gate
Those who need quick access to the harbor can use this gate. It is not large enough to admit carts, carriages or other such vehicles, but a single rider on horse could fit through it. This gate has become known as the “door of no return” for those who are so unlucky as to be sold into slavery, as it is through here that the slaves are marched down to the waterfront to the ships waiting there for their human cargo.

12. Greenhill Pointe
Despite it’s pleasant-sounding name, this area is a focal point of human depravity and misery. It is here that one can find the entrance to the castle’s underground slave dungeon, a dank and dismal series of tunnels dug out from beneath the castle.

13. Cannon Emplacements
This line is the most strongly reinforced section of the entire castle, and boasts sixteen cannon that face out toward the nearby harbor. In the event that someone should be so bold as to attack the fort, they can be used to lay down a terrible barrage. The gunnery platform can be reached via five ladders, as it stands some twelve feet above ground level.

14. Armory
The contents of this storage building could fulfill even the wildest dreams of gun-loving scallywag. At any given time it generally boasts muskets enough to arm the castle’s entire compliment of troops—one hundred in all—along with pistols for the officers. There are fully twenty tons of powder for the cannon and six hundreds pounds of powder for the muskets and pistols, along with large quantities of shot, wadding and balls for the cannon. Needless to say, this building is kept locked at all times. It is very stoutly constructed with hardness 5 and 30 hit points; DC 25 to force open or DC 30 to pick the lock.

15. Stockade
Those prisoners who, for whatever reason, run afoul of the authorities find themselves incarcerated here. The area is divided into eleven small cells, each of which is sealed with an iron-bound door (hardness 5 and 20 hit points; DC 25 to force open or DC 30 to pick the lock).

16. Chapel
To promote the spiritual well being of the castle’s inhabitants, a pair of ministers resides here. As befits the nature of the fort, this chapel is a rather simple affair; the stone walls remain unadorned, while plain benches sit in orderly rows along the walls. The pulpit, with a short set of stairs leading up to it, and the baptismal font next to it are similarly functional.

17. Storage
This room generally holds the ministers’ vestments, the goblets and trays that are used for Holy Communion, extra copies of hymnals and the like.

18. Ministers’ Quarters
Each of these rooms is furnished with a bed, wardrobe, writing desk and chair. The ministers, being fairly humble and pious fellows, possess little of material value beyond their books.

19. Dungeons
This dank series of tunnels is the dwelling of those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves sold as slaves here. In addition to being cold and damp, they are poorly lit by torches in the walls and therefore the air is often smoky. This might be considered something of a blessing, however, as it serves somewhat to cover up the stench of the human chattel who reside here.

The characters detailed here should be considered typical of those who inhabit the castle. As always, of course, the GM should feel free to add any other NPC’s who might be important to the campaign.

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 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +11, Intimidate +10, Jump +11, Swim +11.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (pistol), Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass, pair of pistols, spyglass, whistle.

Warrior 5; CR 4; Size medium; HD 5d8+10; hp 36; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +8 (2d6, short musket) or +6 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +7, Jump +7, Survival +7, Swim +7.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass, pair of pistols.

Expert 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d6; hp 13; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +3 (2d4, pistol) or +1 (1d4-1, knife); AL LN; SV: Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +5; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 15.
Background: Mercantile.
Skills: Appraise +10, Bluff +10, Diplomacy +11, Forgery +7, Intimidate +8, Knowledge: local +7, Listen +8, Sense Motive +8, Spot +8.
Feats: Persuasive, Skill Foci (Appraise, Diplomacy), Weapon Proficiency (simple).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Pistol, knife, ledger book, pen, ink, paper, purse of coins.

Expert 4; CR 3; Size medium; HD 4d6+4; hp 20; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d3, unarmed) or +2 (ranged); AL LG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 14.
Background: Religious.
Skills: Decipher Script +8, Diplomacy +12, Gather Information +9, Heal +12, Knowledge: local +5, Knowledge: religion +11, Listen +9, Sense Motive +9, Spot +9.
Feats: Skill Foci (Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge: religion), Weapon Proficiency (simple).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Vestments, scripture, religious paraphernalia.

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.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +5, Jump +5, Survival +5, Swim +5.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

Slave Hunter
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 or 2d4, short musket or pistol) or +6 (1d6+2, cutlass or buccaneer knife); AL CN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
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, pair of pistols, cutlass, buccaneer knife, backpack.

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.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

Expert 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d6; hp 27; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +6 (2d4, pistol) or +4 (1d4-1, knife); AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +7; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 16.
Background: Mercantile.
Skills: Appraise +14, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +16, Forgery +11, Intimidate +9, Knowledge: local +11, Listen +12, Sense Motive +12, Spot +12.
Feats: Persuasive, Skill Foci (Appraise, Diplomacy), Weapon Proficiency (simple), Leadership.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Pistol, knife, ledger book, pen, ink, paper, purse of coins.

Using the Castle in a Pirate-Style Campaign
There are many ways in which Cape Coast Castle could become the scene of adventures in a pirate-style campaign; a few of the possibilities include:
*When word of a fabulous haul of treasure being moved through the castle reaches the PC’s, they might devise a plan to steal it.
*The PC’s, having run afoul of the law, find themselves locked away in the castle’s stockade; only through strategy, trickery and/or diplomacy can they regain their freedom.
*Alternately, a valued ally of the party has been incarcerated and it is up to them to stage a daring rescue.
*On the flip side of the coin, if the PC’s should find themselves employed as pirate hunters or as privateers, they might use Cape Coast Castle as their base of operations.
*Due to any number of curious circumstances, the PC’s require the assistance of a powerful hougan or bokor. This person, however, is busy infiltrating the castle’s slave trade so as to stage an insurrection; if the PC’s wish to secure his assistance, they may need to aid him in his plot.
*The complex relationship between the English and their native allies could provide a source of much intrigue and conflict. Should it ever be discovered that the British are fomenting discord between the native tribes, the whole situation could erupt into a war that could easily see the English forced to abandon the castle.
*Rumor has it that, back when the location was occupied by the Portuguese, one of the merchants captains—a man with connections to the royal family and to the Order of the Knights of Christ—buried some sort of treasure there. If this is true, that treasure might remain somewhere in the earth that surrounds the current castle’s slave dungeons.

Adapting the Castle for Use in High Fantasy and Other Campaigns
Perhaps the biggest question for those looking to use Cape Coast Castle in a more traditional fantasy setting is the type of business for which it would be used. While any sort of goods could be substituted for the trade in wood and gold for sugar and rum, the practice of slavery creates a much more thorny issue. If this is appropriate to the setting in question, so be it; otherwise, it might need to be eliminated entirely.
Structurally speaking, Cape Coast Castle should require little modification in order to be used in a high-fantasy setting. The line of cannon might have to be replaced with ballistae and/or catapults, depending on the technological level of the campaign.
The inhabitants of the castle, on the other hand, might require more extensive retooling or perhaps certain additions. As usual, various races could be substituted for their strictly human qualities. While the stats for the soldiers might need little change, some of their weapons and other equipment could be substituted for ones more appropriate to the particular setting. The slave hunters should be granted all of the abilities of their Ranger class, especially including their animal companions, and the ministers should be replaced by full-blown clerics. Other likely additions include some kind of arcane spellcaster.

Appendix: New Rules

New Background: Mercantile
Either through birth or your own pursuits, you have grown up in the business of trade. You might be a small-time trader in any variety of goods, a merchant captain who travels the seas, or the administrator of one of the great trading companies.
Free Skill Ranks: Appraise 2 ranks, Diplomacy 2 ranks
Bonuses and Penalties: Because other people recognize your often opportunistic nature, you receive neither bonuses nor penalties when interacting with other characters.
Contacts: Two free contacts with other merchants or with members of the local government

New Background: Military
You are a career soldier. Whether you do it out of patriotism or are simply a mercenary, armed service has been your life since you were young.
Free Skill Ranks: Survival 2 ranks
Bonuses and Penalties: You receive a +2 bonus to interaction-based skill checks with other military personnel and with members of the government, who respect your sense of discipline. On the other hand, you receive a –2 penalty to such checks when interacting with criminals and with those who might perceive you as an enemy, such as opponents in war and natives whom your government might oppress.
Contacts: Two free contacts with other members of the military or the government

New Background: Religious
You are one of those rare individuals who has chosen to pursue the pious life of a leader in your religious organization.
Free Skill Ranks: Diplomacy 2 ranks, Knowledge: religion 2 ranks
Bonuses and Penalties: You receive a +2 bonus to interaction-related skill checks when dealing with people who adhere to your religion, but suffer a –2 penalty to such checks when dealing with those who are opposed to your beliefs.
Contacts: Due to the broad influence of members of the clergy, you receive two free contacts of any type. After all, you minister to people of influence just as often as you do to the downtrodden or even criminal.