Today's post is an article about a crude settlement on the edge of civilization, the kind of pirate camp that might have sprung up on many a far-flung island. There is also a new relic, the Cross of San Andreas, at the end of the article.
Many and varied are the settlements of the Caribbean. Some are bulwarks of civilization, places like Port Royal and Havana that were built many years ago and can boast stone structures and generations of habitation. Just as vital, however, are those locations that seem to spring up overnight and only last a few months or even weeks. Among the latter category, Squatter Bay is a classic example.
According to the tales that Miles Jameson himself tells, the settlement was founded following the maiden voyage of his own ship, the Fortunate. It was a journey fraught with peril, including a run-in with a Spanish galleon and a hurricane. Jameson and his shipmates (he was the owner of the vessel, not the captain) barely escaped from the prior threat only through the occurrence of the latter and managed to steer their vessel into a safe harbor on the island of Turneffe. This first experience at sea voyaging had made a distinctly bad impression on Jameson, and it was while the crew was careening the vessel that he had a new inspiration.
He ordered the men to completely upend the damaged ship, after cutting down what remained of the masts; in this way it looked like nothing more than a beached turtle. They then set about making repairs to the hull, after which they gave it several coats of pitch to keep it waterproof. At the same time the carpenter set to work remodeling the interior, so that it could function as a makeshift tavern and inn. The finishing touch was a pitch-blackened tortoise shell hung outside the place, painted in white with the establishment's new name—the Ebon Terrapin.
This place proved to become the nucleus of the new settlement. As word of the haven spread and more ships began visiting, Jameson and others began to expand their operation. He added a broad sailcloth awning on one side of it, creating a sheltered marketplace that came to be known as the Souk. Others moved in, some in passing and others permanently. Over time a makeshift village emerged and began to take its current shape.
Detailed below are some of the permanent structures of Squatter Bay.
The Ebon Terrapin
As mentioned above, the core of the settlement is built from an overturned ship. Although crude in comparison to other drinking holes around the world, it is nonetheless a beloved place in the hearts of the locals.
Formed by what was once the main deck of the ship, this room has a floor of hard-packed dirt. The aft end of the room is walled, while the bow disappears into a hillock of sand and grass. A collection of mismatched table and cheers fills the space, providing seating for guests. From here a set of stairs leads up to Jameson's room, while ladders provide access to the sleeping area for everyone else.
This area was once cabins for the ship's captain and mates, but the dividing walls have been cut away to provide a single larger room. Preparation tables stand against the opposite walls, while a hearth stands against the rear of the old ship. Baskets hang from the ceiling, and sacks and barrels fill the wooden floor.
There is little more than open space here, with room to string up some hammocks if visitors are so motivated. Usually, by the time they have finished carousing, people are not, but Jameson encourages the practice because it allows him to fit more bodies in the room.
By far the most comfortable location in the whole establishment is this room, the proprietor's own private quarters. It has a large bed with a feather mattress, and a broad desk at which he keeps his records and relaxes. Underneath the desk there is a loose plank (DC 20 Search or Spot check to find). Buried in the sand beneath it is a strongbox (DC 20 to open; hardness 10 and 15 hit points) that contains 200 doubloons and 500 pieces of eight.
Taking its name from the covered marketplaces of the Middle East, this is little more than an open space covered by a broad sailcloth awning. This is where locals come in to sell fruits and vegetables along with handcrafted items such as clothing, baskets, pottery, skins and the like. Sometimes this area is bustling with activity, and sometimes it is deserted.
Doctor MacGillifray makes his home here, along with his wife, Rosa. This is a mud-and-thatch structure with a roof of the same. It boasts a pair of broad tables on which the doctor works, along with a crude but effective hearth. From the rafters hang a variety of baskets and other such containers, containing herbs, foodstuffs and other items. When it comes time to settle in for the night, the doctor and his wife hang a large hammock in the middle of the room.
Shrine of San Andreas
This is the only brick building in the settlement; Brother Rafael made them himself in preparation for building the shrine. Inside is an altar of the same material, along with a large saltire cross on the wall behind it. The altar is covered with small offerings from the locals, including coins, a small pearl (50 poe), a flagon of rum and the like.
Stout, hewn logs form the walls and roof of this large building. This is where Jameson conducts the other half of his business, buying and selling goods brought in by various ships. It has a door of iron-banded wood sealed with a stout padlock (DC 20 to open; hardness 10 and 30 hit points). At any given time the structure might hold any number of items from the Goods and Services table (6-10) in the Skull & Bones core rulebook.
Each of these structures is a broad, open platform protected from the elements by a flat roof. Here is where the local fishermen dry whatever part of their catch is not meant for pickling or immediate use. Because of the lingering smell, the platforms are kept further away from the rest of the settlement, but occasionally squatters take up residence beneath them.
Shacks and Tents
Beyond the Souk, on the side opposite from the Ebon Terrapin, is an area known as the Sprawl. It consists of a motley collection of sailcloth tents, lean-tos and similar dwellings. Oftentimes, visitors simply turn over their shore boats and elevate one end, using it for a shelter during their stay.
Detailed below are a few of the notable characters who inhabit Squatter Bay.
Buccaneer 4/Sea Officer 2; CR 6; Size medium; HD 6d10-6; hp 32; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +5 (1d6, club) or +5 (ranged); SQ Survivor +2, Expert Pilot, Resilient, Skill Expert (Diplomacy) +1, Command (morale bonus); AL NG; SV: Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 10, Dex 13, Con 8, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 15.
Background: Sea Devil.
Skills: Appraise +13, Diplomacy +10, Knowledge (local) +8, Knowledge (sea lore) +8, Listen +10, Profession (sailor) +5, Search +8, Spot +9, Sense Motive +9, Survival +3.
Feats: Alertness, Diligent, Negotiator, Skill Focus (Appraise).
Fortunes: Strange Luck.
Equipment: Clothing, ring of keys, pouch containing 20 doubloons and 30 pieces of eight.
Miles Jameson was born and raised to be a sailor, growing up on the island of Port Royal amidst the buccaneers there. There were two problems, however. One was that he has always been of a rather delicate nature; the other is that his luck takes odd turns from time to time. It was this latter fact that led to his first voyage ending in disaster. Upon reaching Turneffe, Jameson forswore life at sea and founded his settlement. Now he makes a comfortable living, acting as a host at the Ebon Terrapin and dealing in the merchandise that others bring to the island.
Cleric 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d8+5; hp 31; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +4 (1d6+1, staff) or +2 (ranged); SQ Turn Undead; AL NG; SV: Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +6; Str 13, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 15.
Skills: Concentration +5, Diplomacy +10, Heal +10, Knowledge (religion) +9.
Feats: Great Fortitude, Improved Turning, Iron Will.
Fortunes: Code of Honor.
Spells (5/4+1/3+1/1+1): Cure Minor Wounds, Guidance, Purify Food and Drink, Resistance, Virtue; Bless, Divine Favor, Magic Weapon, Protection from Evil, Shield of Faith; Aid, Align Weapon, Consecrate, Delay Poison; Dispel Magic, Magic Circle Against Evil.
Domains: Good, Protection.
Equipment: Clothing, staff, Cross of San Andreas.
Brother Rafael is a former Catholic priest who has grown dissatisfied with the dogmatic, intolerant nature of organized churches, having witnessed firsthand some of the clashes between his own church and the Protestants. Because of this he went out in search of a place where he could be free from such repression, and found it on the island of Turneffe. Now he maintains a simple shrine there, and uses his abilities to help the people who eke out a living there.
“Cavalier” Richard Cavanaugh
Fighter 6/Duelist 1; CR 7; Size medium; HD 7d10+14; hp 57; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +12/+7 (1d6+3, rapier) or +10 (ranged); SQ Canny Defense; AL TN; SV: Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 12.
Skills: Diplomacy +3, Knowledge (nobility) +3, Perform +5, Tumble +7.
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Weapon Finesse (rapier), Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier).
Fortunes: Code of Honor.
Equipment: Gentleman's outfit, dueling jacket, masterwork rapier, pouch with 20 pieces of eight.
Richard Cavanaugh, known to the people of Squatter Bay as “Cavalier,” is a highly trained swordsman whose skills do not allow him to defeat his most dangerous foe—love. He is madly stricken by Manuela de los Santos, and cannot accept the fact that she does not share his amorous intentions. As a result, he has turned to drink, and he demands that any suitor intending to win her hand face him in single combat first. Usually such individuals are crafty enough to circumvent his vigilance, but occasionally one is foolish to accept the Cavalier's challenge.
Manuela de los Santos
Shantyman 7; CR 7; Size medium; HD 7d8+7; hp 42; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +5 (unarmed) or +7 (ranged); SQ Bardic Music, Bardic Knowledge, Bonus Contacts, Vaporing, Fame Tale; AL CN; SV: Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +4; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 16.
Skills: Bluff +16, Diplomacy +13, Gather Information +16, Perform +16, Knowledge (sea lore) +5, Knowledge (local) +13, Sleight of Hand +12.
Feats: Skill Focus (Bluff, Gather Information, Perform).
Fortunes: Ally and Enemy (Richard Cavanaugh).
Equipment: Clothing, Spanish guitar, various books.
Manuela de los Santos, known as “the siren of Squatter Bay,” is a raven-haired beauty of Spanish descent. Rather than accepting the life of a traditional noblewoman, she took up the guitar and began to travel the Caribbean, learning the music and legends of many places. Her adventures eventually brought her to Squatter Bay, where she makes a living providing entertainment to (and taking it from, when she can) the people there.
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Medium-sized; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +5 (+1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +4 (1d6+2, cudgel) or +2 (ranged); AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +0; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Skills: Climb +4, Intimidate +5, Jump +4, Knowledge: local +1, Profession: bouncer +2.
Feats: Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (club).
Equipment: Cudgel, buff coat.
Doctor Padraig MacGillifray
Buccaneer 3/Warrant Officer 1; CR 4; Size medium; HD 3d10-3; hp 18; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +3 (unarmed) or +4 (ranged); SQ Bonus Feat, Survivor +1, Expert Pilot, Resilient; AL LG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +4; Str 10, Dex 13, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 12.
Skills: Concentration +6, Craft (Alchemy) +9, Heal +15, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Knowledge (local) +4, Knowledge (religion) +9, Listen +11, Profession (surgeon) +10, Search +4, Spot +11, Survival +13.
Feats: Alertness, Self-Sufficient, Skill Focus (Heal).
Equipment: Clothing, surgeon's tools.
Padraig MacGillifray could have lived a comfortable life in Port Royal, working as a surgeon. Some say that it was a sense of adventure that made him give up such opportunities; others maintain that he made a mistake that cost a patient's life. Whatever the reason, he went to sea with Miles Jameson on the ill-fated voyage of the Fortunate. When that captain gave up his command, the doctor chose once again to follow his lead. This decision was influenced, no doubt, by the fact that he met and fell in love with a local woman named Rosa. Now he lives by doctoring the inhabitants of Squatter Bay, with his wife at his side.
Ranger 4; CR 4; Size medium; HD 4d10; hp 26; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 leather armor); Atk +4 (1d4, knife) or +5 (1d6, shortbow); SQ Favored Enemy (Spaniards), Wild Empathy, Combat Style (Two-Weapon Fighting), Endurance, Animal Companion; AL CG; SV: Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 16.
Skills: Handle Animal +10, Heal +12, Hide +10, Knowledge (religion) +5, Listen +10, Move Silently +8, Spot +10, Survival +14.
Feats: Herbalist, Self-Sufficient, Track.
Equipment: Clothing, Pharmacopoeia, two knives, leather armor, shortbow, quiver of 20 arrows.
Rosa is a Mayan woman who went to live on the island of Turneffe in order to escape the conquering Spaniards. It was while living there that she encountered the shipwrecked sailors of the Fortunate, including the ship's doctor. In him she found a gentle soul, one eager to learn her ways and respectful of them. Now she and Paddy (as she calls him) make a happy home. She assists her husband, harvesting local herbs with which he makes his medicines. Additionally, she serves as a connection to native people on the mainland, helping them trade their goods with the settlement.
Using Squatter Bay in a Campaign
This rough settlement could serve a number of purposes in various piratical adventures; a few of the possibilities are detailed below.
*Should the PC's need a safe place to recuperate and relax after a bit of illicit business, this could be an ideal place for it.
*At the same time, Miles Jameson could act as a fence to buy ill-gotten gains, or to sell the PC's needed materials.
*One of the other locals could also be a contact for a character, providing some other necessary service.
*As the PC's develop enemies through their adventures, such villains could use a character's association with the settlement to set a trap.
*Given the settlement's far-flung location, it could serve as a stepping stone to business in South America and beyond.
New Magical Item—The Cross of San Andreas
This item is a hollow silver cross hanging on a chain of the same material. It contains a fragment of bone from the apostle Saint Andrew, the patron of, among other things, fishermen. It is obviously of great age, but is unremarkable except that a smaller, saltire (x-shaped) cross is superimposed over the main one.
As a holy relic, clerics who possess this cross are able to cast divine spells.