Interlude 28: The Shipwreck 2
A previous interlude introduced a shipwreck, a vessel that sunk but was mostly intact. This interlude involves a more complicated salvage operation, one in which the vessel in question broke up as it sank, leaving wreckage and valuable goods scattered across the bottom of the sea. Because of this, recovering the lucre is much more difficult.
Even before the PC's undertake a salvage operation, it's important to figure out some details for the wreck in question. From where was it sailing, and to where? Who was the captain, and what other passengers of note traveled aboard it? What kind of cargo was it carrying? Not only do these details impact what the heroes might find during the business, but can provide hooks for other adventures in the future.
The PC's could learn of this opportunity in a variety of ways. In the aftermath of a big storm, rumors might start to spread of a ship that didn't reach its destination. This could lead to a race against rivals, with everyone outfitting ships and gathering crew members as quickly as possible in order to find the most loot. Alternately, a concerned relative or business partner might seek out the PC's and ask them to go looking for the lost ship.
Once it comes time to outfit, the PC's need to lay in the appropriate supplies and hire personnel. In addition to extra rope, empty barrels for use as buoys are especially useful. It could also be good to hire some divers, requiring negotiations for payment and other concerns.
Finding the Site
Locating the wreck requires a few different steps. The first requires some information gathering, and then plotting the intended course of the ship in question. After that they can set out to follow that path. This should require use of Knowledge: navigation, followed by Search or Spot checks to find some of the debris. At that point additional checks, perhaps by teams in longboats, to trace the path of destruction.
Eventually it is necessary for someone to go into the water. The PC's could hire divers, or do it themselves. Historically, native people were the most skilled, able to stay down longer and thus find more goods. Depending on the weather, this requires Swim checks to reach the wreckage, and then Search or Spot checks to find items of value. Coinage and smaller items can be loaded into baskets, and larger loads could require a Strength check to be lifted.
There is also the possibility that sharks are attracted to the site. This should provide some excitement; keep in mind that the rules for fighting underwater make it much tougher for landlubbers to battle creatures of the sea.
Hauling Up the Goods
While smaller items can be lifted manually, larger things like cannons and treasure chests need to have ropes tied to them so that they can be raised by the crew. One good option is to run a line from the capstan, through a block and tackle hanging from one of the spars, and then down into the water. In that way one character can make the Strength check, while up to five others can make checks to assist. Detailed below are check DC's for different types of cannon. Of course, it is also necessary for someone to tie a line to the cannon underwater, requiring a Use Rope check with a DC five less than that of the Strength check.
Cannon / DC
Demi-Culverin / 18
Culverin / 21
Demi-Cannon / 24
Cannon / 27
There's an old saying that “Treasure is trouble.” This proves true when other interested parties show up with hopes of taking some of the lucre for themselves. It is up to the GM here to decide on the appropriate level of challenge for the PC's, but other interludes and adventures provide plenty of options for sample crews and captains.
Rules for Complex Actions
First and foremost, it should be acknowledged that these rules are inspired by the Cortex rules system from Margaret Weis Productions.
To represent the extended time it takes to perform certain tasks, such as plumbing the depths to remove lucre from a shipwreck, the GM should set a DC higher than is normal—for example, 250. Each day's work allows one check, with subsequent results being cumulative toward that total DC. What is more, the GM can add various stipulations to the results. For example, characters involved in salvage might recover 1000 p.o.e. x the daily result, up to a given maximum. There could also be a time limit, such as a storm arriving or an enemy showing up after ten days' time.
Complex actions can be used in a number of other situations as well. For example, the PC's could be caught when the entrance to the tunnels they're exploring collapses; it takes a complex Strength check to remove enough of the debris so that they can escape, with the risk of suffocating from lack of air after a certain amount of time. Alternately, the PC's might be forced to seek a safe harbor after a battle, with a complex Craft: shipbuilding check to make repairs before their enemies find them to continue the fight.
The Diver Prestige Class
Some people in this world take to the water as if they were born with gills and webbed feet. Where others feel uncomfortable in an environment where they can’t breathe, the Diver becomes just as comfortable as if she were on the land.
Divers have the following game statistics.
Divers gain 1d8 hit points per level.
Climb, Hide, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Spot, Survival, Swim, Tumble.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Iron Lungs: At 1st level the Diver automatically gains the feat Iron Lungs. If she already possesses that feat, she may select a different one from the list below.
Fast Swimmer: The Diver is so much at home in the water that she can swim almost as well as a marine animal. Instead of covering one-quarter her speed as a move action and half her speed as a full-round action, she covers half her speed as a move action and her full speed as a full-round action.
Underwater Combatant: Because of her familiarity with the marine environment, the Diver no longer suffers all of the penalties that hinder others. For her, the usual –2 penalties on Reflex saves, attack and damage rolls are reduced to –1; the –4 penalty for wielding bludgeoning weapons is reduced to –2.
Bonus Feats: Divers may select their bonus feats from the following list: Alertness, Dodge, Extraordinary Ability, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes.
Deep Diver: A Diver becomes accustomed to working at extreme depths. While she still has her ability to hold her breath decreased, the penalties for her are reduced.
0-30 feet: Normal
31-60 feet: Normal
61-120 feet: 2/3
121-250 feet: 1/2
251-500 feet: 1/3