Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interlude--The Stowaway

This post is inspired by two characters, one from science fiction and one taken from history itself--Saffron from Firefly, and Abigail Williams from the Salem witch trials, as depicted in The Crucible.


Interlude: The Stowaway
There's an old superstition that it's “powerful bad luck” to bring a woman on board a ship crewed by men. While the merits of that assumption could very much be debated, one thing's for certain—it is bad luck to sail with the young woman known as Martha Jones. This little lady is skilled in the arts of the bokor, and she knows how to use them to create pure hell for those around her.

Just how Martha—a name thought to be an alias—came to be so skilled is a matter of conjecture. Some say that she once lived in a proper English town, probably somewhere in the Colonies, and learned the magical arts from a slave or servant. Perhaps because of such an initial contact, or maybe just because she sought power from the start, it seems likely that she came to the Caribbean to learn from someone even more experienced. Clearly Martha has learned well, for she is adept at using magic to influence others.

Martha could first come aboard the party's ship for any of the following reasons.
*She might simply appear as a stowaway, trying to avoid notice but eventually being discovered.
*Alternately, she could turn up while stranded on a desert island, having been left behind and now hoping to be rescued.
*Another possibility is that she approaches one or more characters with a tale of persecution and asks to be taken away before suffering some kind of misfortune. This option could legitimately be true, or it might all be part of her web of lies. Possibilities here include trying to flee an arranged marriage, being pursued by a vengeful clergyman or the like.
*For an added twist, Martha might come aboard disguised as a man.
However it comes to pass, this unexpected bokor quickly begins to make life difficult for the PC's.

Martha Jones
Bokor 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d6+10; hp 30; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +1 (1d3-1, unarmed) or +4 ranged; SQ details; AL X; SV: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +3; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 17.
Background: Colonist.
Skills: Bluff +14, Concentration +10, Knowledge (local) +8, Profession (whore) +3, Voodoo Ritual +11.
Feats: Combat Casting, Great Fortitude, Skill Focus (Bluff).
Fortunes: Favored Horse.
Equipment: Various items at the GM's discretion.
Wanga per Day: 2/2/1/1. (She tends to focus on charms in order to make others do as she bids, but—since she doesn't prepare spells and is familiar with all of them on the bokor's list—can break out more offensive magic if there is need.)

Martha (if that's her real name) is an attractive young woman, a little pale of complexion, with dark hair and eyes. This pleasant and appealing exterior hides wickedness on the inside, however, as she does not hesitate to exploit other for her own gain.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Interlude--The Temple

This week's update is another interlude, albeit one that can readily be adapted into a full-blown adventure.


Interlude: The Temple
The jungles of New Spain hide many secrets; chief among these are the remnants of the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations. While may of these have fallen into ruin, others are relatively intact. What is more, at least one is still occupied, albeit by a man who has long since lost touch with reality.

This interlude can be added to a campaign in a number of ways. A few of the possibilities are listed below.
*Characters trekking through the jungle might just stumble across it, thereby encountering the hazards that it entails.
*The madman could kidnap someone, leading concerned associates to recruit intrepid souls who are willing to go and stage a rescue.
*Alternately, someone who learns of the temple and suspects that it contains treasures could put together an expedition to retrieve them.
*Building on the previous option, said treasure hunter could eventually betray the PC's in hopes of leaving them for dead so as not to have to share the prize.
*For an even greater twist, the madman could actually be a nobleman or someone else of influence who has become delusional and “gone native.” (Refer to the article “Afflictions Revisited” in Issue 2 of the Buccaneers & Bokor e-zine for applicable game mechanics.) This person could be an heir to a fortune or something similar, making it possibly lucrative for someone to find him and help restore his mind.
*As in the fourth option, above, someone might hire the PC's to help find the madman, and then try to kill him and any possible witnesses.
In these ways, a GM could easily adapt this interlude into a full-fledged adventure with just a little work.

However it comes to pass, refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions.

1. Exterior—Stairs
Four sets of steep, broad stairs lead up the outside of the temple, one on each side. Before the characters can deal with them, however, they must face two other dangers. First among these is a family of leopards that prowl around the area, ones attracted by the food that the madman leaves for them. He has also dug a spiked pit trap, twenty feet deep and ten feet on a side, at the base of each set of stairs.

Leopards—Refer to the Monster Manual for statistics.

Spiked pit traps—CR 3; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; DC 20 Reflex save avoids; 20 ft. deep (2d6, fall); multiple targets (first target in each of two adjacent 5-ft. squares); pit spikes (Atk +10 melee, 1d4 spikes per target for 1d4+2 each); Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 20.

2. Rooftop
At the apex of the pyramid is a flat platform used for important sacrifices. There is a table in the middle, beneath which an open pit leads down through the heart of the temple to an undeground bone pile beneath it. In front of the table, a stone slab conceals a ladderwell (DC 20 Search or Spot to notice, and DC 15 Strength to lift).

3. High Priest's Quarters
Back when this temple was actively used, the high priest occupied this room. It is sparsely furnished, with only a stone platform for a bed against one wall, since the priest's need were provided for by underlings who dwelled in the chambers below.

4. Puzzle Room
Four stone pedestals, each waist-high, occupy the outside corners of the four sections of this room. In the center of each of these is a trigger mechanism that can be pressed downward (DC 20 Search or Spot to notice). Although characters might not realize it at first, these correspond with the four urns from outside Area 3, below. On the wall behind each pedestal is a glyph—one depicts fire; the second, air; the third, earth; and the fourth, water. These must be match up with the urns containing the correct remains. One victim was drowned, the second was strangled, the third was beaten to death and the fourth was burned alive.

This area is also where the madman awaits intruders. He hides behind the central chute, then rushes to attack once the first character has entered the room.

The Madman
Barbarian 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d12+10; hp 48; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 40 ft.; AC 15 (+1 Dex, +4 armor); Atk +8 (1d12+4, type) or +6 (ranged); SQ Fast movement, illiteracy, rage 2/day, uncanny dodge, trap sense +1, improved uncanny dodge; AL CN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 17, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Climb +11, Heal +2, Hide +6, Move Silently +6, Jump +11, Swim +11.
Feats: Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Hide armor, greataxe.

The madman is a poor soul who has, not surprisingly, lost his mind. Now he dwells in bestial simplicity, hunting game and eating it raw. He does not take kindly to intruders in his territory.

5. Chamber of Altars
The walls of this area are adorned with bas relief sculptures depicting important Aztec deities. In front of each of these rests a small, raised stone platform on which offerings once were placed. Any character who leaves items for these gods and goddesses benefits from a bless spell for the duration of the adventure.

6. Storage Room
The walls of this room are lined with a broad stone shelf at waist height. A variety of baskets and clay jars are arranged on and underneath the shelf. While they once contained fresh foodstuffs and dried goods, their contents have long since spoiled. Now they are home to two swarms of centipedes that attack anyone who disturbs them.

7. Junior Priests' Quarters
Four more stone beds are situated against the walls of this section; it is otherwise empty.

8. Hearth
The outside corner of this room contains a recess intended to be used for building fires. A cleverly concealed channel in the wall allows smoke to escape the temple's interior.

9. Prisoners' Cells
At one time, those prisoners intended to be used as offerings were kept here. Outside of one skeleton, however, they are empty.

10. Crypt
In many ways, this room resembles the storage area, above. The chief difference is that it is filled with urns containing the remains of former priests. It is also home to a huge constrictor snake.

Constrictor snake—Refer to the Monster Manual for statistics.

11. Treasury
The doors leading into this room are locked by a complex mechanism with no visible apertures. It takes a DC 25 check to force the doors; otherwise, characters wanting to gain access must figure out the key to unlocking them (see Area 4 above). The four urns here each contain the skeletal remains of a body: one has a broken neck, one has numerous broken bones, one is clearly scorched by fire, and one has no visible injuries.

Even if interlopers can force open the doors, entering the room through either doorway triggers a scything blade trap. As a reward, though, characters can find here the priests' assembled valuables, including an amulet of natural armor +2, a collection of herbs that function as incense of meditation, and an atlatl +1.

Scything blade trap—CR 4; mechanical; location trigger; automatic reset; Atk +20 melee (2d4+8/x4, scythe); Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 18.

12. Calendar Room
The outside corner of this area is filled with a massive calendar stone, a complicated affair that was once used for timekeeping but that is now covered in cobwebs.

13. Bone Pile
This was where the priests once dumped their refuse, and where the madman now does so. As such, it is filled with numerous old and brittle bones, along with some rotting remains and at least one fresh carcass. The area can only be reached by climbing fifty feet down from the rooftop, a task that requires multiple DC 20 Climb checks. This area is also home to three swarms' worth of rats.

Rat swarms—Refer to the Monster Manual for statistics.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Item--Skin Cloak

Here's a new, rather gruesome magical item drawn from Aztec traditions.


Aztec Skin Cloak
This item, a sacred part of the rituals practiced by certain Aztec groups. It is created by carefully removing the skin from a person, and then praying over it and anointing it with special materials. These rituals are performed in honor of Xipe Totec, the deity who personifies life, death and rebirth. If prepared correctly, the cloak contains the life energy of the victim, and allows the priest who wears it to cast healing spells using that energy.
The power of the item varies, depending on the hit dice and hit points of the sacrificial victim. In game terms, the victim's hit dice determines the level of the healing spell that it can be used to cast, as reflected on the table below. Moreover, the cloak can only be used to heal a total number of hit points equal to the amount possessed by said victim.

HD / Spell Cloak Can Cast
0-1 / Cure minor wounds
2-3 / Cure light wounds
4-5 / Cure moderate wounds
6-7 / Cure serious wounds
8-9 / Cure critical wounds
10+ / Heal

For example, Jacques the Logwoodcutter becomes the unfortunate victim of this ritual. Since he is a 5th-level Buccaneer with 42 hit points, the cloak made from his skin can be used to cast cure minor, light or moderate wounds, up to a total of 42 hit points before running out of curative energy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ships of the Sea

In earlier articles and adventures I've introduced two new types of vessels, the big and lumbering slave ship and the small but outdated cog. Here are stat blocks for those craft.


Ships of the Sea
Detailed below are three new types of vessels, all differing slightly from those presented in the Corsair rules supplement.

Medium Merchantman
Draft: 3 fathoms
Structure Dice: 4d8 (18 sp)
Hardness: 6
Maneuverability: -4 (-2 merchantman, -2 antiquity)
Speed: 80 ft./8 knots
Turn Rate: 2
AC: 8 (-2 merchantman)
Weapons Fore: None
Weapons Aft: None
Weapons Broadside: None
Damage: NA
Special Qualities: None
Crew: 15
Passengers: 5
Cargo: 50 tons

This outdated vessel was most common in the Fourteenth Century. It was a sturdy little craft in its time, but has become outmoded in comparison to more modern, sleeker ship designs.

Slave Ship
Huge Merchantman
Draft: 3 fathoms
Structure Dice: 7d8 (31 sp)
Hardness: 5
Maneuverability: -4 (-2 merchantman, -2 size)
Speed: 100 ft./10 knots
Turn Rate: 2
AC: 6 (-2 merchantman, -2 size)
Weapons Fore: Varies
Weapons Aft: Varies
Weapons Broadside: Varies
Damage: Varies
Special Qualities: The hold space of this vessel has been modified so to take human cargo instead of more traditional items.
Crew: 30 (not counting weapons crews)
Passengers: None
Cargo: 150 tons

This large, rather ungainly ship is designed for carrying a large volume of human cargo across the Atlantic Ocean. As such, its hold space is divided with shelves, providing just enough room for slaves to lie down or sit up, but not stand. If it were retrofitted, the ship would provide plenty of room for weapons, other quarters and the like.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two Ladies' Favors

Detailed here are two more magical items, each of these gifts that a woman has bestowed on a mariner.


Leucothea's Veil
In the famous story of Odysseus, the hero suffered many difficulties in his efforts to return home to Ithaca following the Trojan War. Not the least of these was ongoing punishment by Poseidon, god of the sea, whom Odysseus had angered. It was only through the gift of Leucothea, a minor goddess of the sea, that the warrior was finally able to return home. She gave him a veil—in the Greek, kredemnon—to wrap around himself. With that he was able to complete his voyage, as it protected him from drowning.

In game terms, the veil—actually more like a wrap that is commonly worn around the head—prevents a character from drowning. That character always succeeds at Swim check made to avoid drowning. Note, however, that it does not prevent someone from being drowned through more nefarious means, such as some who has been chained to a cannon and thrown overboard.

The O'Malley Lock(et)
Of the many women who have braved life at sea, few are better known than Grace O'Malley. As the stories have it, she birthed one of her sons during a storm at sea, and was so influential that she received a private audience with Queen Elizabeth herself. Before she rose to fame, however, it is said that the young O'Malley asked to accompany her father on a voyage; he dismissed her request, saying that her beautiful long hair would become entangled in the rigging. To show him her conviction to sail, she cut it off, and he relented. Thus was begun a career of romance and rebellion.

This item is a small golden locket on a gold chain. Inside it is a coiled lock of fiery red hair. The wearer of the locket receives the benefits of the Iron Will feat. Moreover, the wearer is protected from entanglement as if by a freedom of movement spell.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Mermaid's Tale

Today I have a new adventure, the ninth in the series. This one has me particularly excited because it moves into more larger-scale action and reveals some of the major conflicts in the campaign.


The Mermaid's Tale
This scenario is Part 9 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 sixth-level characters. Although it is intended as part of an ongoing collection of scenarios, it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure.

There's a secret that lies buried in the depths of the Sargasso Sea, one that has lied there for more than three centuries. This is the resting place of the fabled lost Templar Fleet, the ships that disappeared from the harbor of La Rochelle on the eve of Friday, 13 October 1307. They sailed in the depth of the night, in order to avoid arrest, trial and execution as ordered by the Pope and King. Of the half dozen vessels that sailed, only one—L'Etoile—found its way out of the sargasso. The others were sunk in battle with a detachment of Spanish vessels, but the flagship escaped. This reprieve was only a short one, however, as it eventually became trapped in the ice far to the north.

What neither the Spanish, who eventually gave up the hunt for it, nor anyone else could have imagined was that the threat represented by the Templars did not end with their demise. The ghost of one knight, Jean de Montsegur, continued to haunt the frozen ship. This foul spirit was able to return to civilization when the derelict was found by a band of pirates, and now de Montsegur continues his foul plotting. Indeed, since escaping his icy prison he has studied the wicked vodoun of the bokor Mabhena, used the secrets of the Clavicula Salmonis to commune with Mayan demons, and gained access to the legendary dedicated compass. Now he intends to raise his old comrades, reanimating their bodies as hosts for demonic forces, and thereby creating an armada of ghost ships crewed by undead warriors.

To this end, the ghost now inhabits the body of the Maroon buccaneer leader Nneka, and is inhabited by the demon-possessed Englishman Edward Chapman. In this way he has made contact with the cutthroat pirate Captain Horne and the noted shantyman Llewellyn. Together they have managed to abduct a handful of onijegi, the mermaids of the Caribbean. These they hold as hostages in order to force their fellows into helping dive for salvage on the Templar vessels. The onijegi are not content to meekly serve the pirates, however. Instead, one of their number—Arukuma—has sought out other humans for aid. She found a band of divers known to be friendly to the onijegi, and they, in turn, passed word on to their employer. Dona Isabella Santiago is the pearl merchant in question, and she knows just the adventurous but good-hearted band who could help.

If this adventure is being used as a stand-alone scenario, then Dona Isabella might simply come looking for a trustworthy crew to aid in her business. Perhaps she knows of the PC's by reputation, especially if they have shown mercy to others in their past doings.

On the other hand, if this scenario is being used as part of the Come Hell and High Water campaign, then a little more planning is required. For one thing, there is the matter of the dedicated compass that the PC's acquired through their activities during “Into the Shadows.” In order to obtain this, Nneka—possessed by the spirit of Jean de Montsegur—might arrange to craft a fake and use it to replace the real item. Another possibility, is for him to steal it outright. Resolving this issue is likely to require some adjudication on the part of the GM, taking into account any precautions the PC's have taken to protect the item.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the PC's have had any additional adventures between the previous scenario and this one. Given that the compass can be used to seek out any item they desire, there's a good chance that one or more characters would use it to settle some long unfinished business. If that has been the case, it might be necessary to increase the challenge presented by enemies in this adventure to compensate for a more experienced and therefore tougher party.

Event 1—Unwanted Attention
The adventure begins for the PC's at one of their favorite watering holes, when Dona Isabella comes looking for them. Although she has disguised herself as an Englishman, it doesn't take long before someone sees through her ruse. Given the unpleasant nature of the scallywags who frequent such establishments, this is not a pleasant prospect for the Spanish merchant.

Begin by having the PC's make Spot checks; the one with the highest result is first to notice the arrival of the newcomer. At the same time, they should also make checks to recognize her in spite of the disguise. A few moments later, while she is asking around about the PC's, someone recognizes her as a woman and makes a belligerent advance toward her person. During the ensuing scuffle her disguise is revealed, and the situation could become ugly unless the PC's intervene.

Assuming that they are willing to do so, they characters should be in for a good fight. The scallywags are not particularly fervent, instead enjoying some good fisticuffs. For this reason the combat should remain non-lethal, but can provide opportunities for cinematic action.

The Pearl Diver's Story
As long as they can extricate Dona Isabella from her difficulties, she takes them to where her sloop is docked. There she leads them below decks, where an incredible sight awaits them. In a huge water cask, filled with saltwater, is the onijegi. Arukuma rises to the surface, propping herself up on its rim, and then tells what she knows.
*Recently various members of her family have begun disappearing; she fears that they've been kidnapped.
*Not long ago, two of her sisters began visiting the island of Barbados, where they'd met a shantyman who was a skilled singer.
*The shantyman in question is named Llewellyn, a fellow of Welsh descent who was also familiar with numerous tales.
Although this isn't much information with which to work, it should be enough details to steer the PC's in the right direction. A DC 20 Knowledge: local or Gather Information check reveals that Llewellyn is still performing at the Grey Gull Tavern on Barbados. Since he's the only connection to the rest of the plot, the path should be clear.

Event 2—Out of Tune
The voyage to Barbados can be as uneventful or as fraught with difficulties as the GM and players desire. Once they arrive, however, the PC's should have a good idea of how to proceed. Refer to the map of that location to resolve this situation.

1. Main Room
This broad room features more than a score of tables, with seating around the bar for a dozen and a half more people. It is a broad, open room, with a high ceiling due to the balcony overhead. On nights (such as this one) when there is entertainment scheduled, the table in front of the door is removed to make room for a performer.

2. Kitchen
This room boasts a large hearth for cooking, a cabinet full of implements and a wide table in the center.

3. Storage
The walls of this room are lined with shelves; they are heaped with bottles, jars, boxes and sacks of foodstuffs, with barrels on the floor beneath them. A trapdoor in the middle of the floor leads down via a ladder to the cellar, where perishable goods are kept cool.

4. Private Rooms
These rooms can be reserved for larger groups who wish to dine with a little more privacy.

5. Landing and Hallways
At the top of the stairs is a broad landing with railings. It divides into two passages, each providing access to half of the rooms.

6. Single Rooms
Each of these rooms is available to let and can hold one person, or two if they are comfortable together. The room has one bed, along with a wardrobe and chest for storage.

7. Double Rooms
These rooms each have two beds, in addition to the other features of the single rooms.

A Popular Fellow
The primary difficulty for the PC's here is that Llewellyn has developed considerable popularity among the sailors here; because of this, they are not eager to see him leave before the night is done. If the PC's wish to remove him before then, the sailors object and things could turn violent. At the GM's discretion, they might be able to settle matters by using Diplomacy, buying rounds of drinks or through similar tactics. On the other hand, the situation could explode into a fight. Here again, the matter need not turn deadly. After all, the sailors enjoy a good brawl at least as much as they love Llewellyn's music.

As long as they can gain command of the shantyman, the PC's can pretty easily persuade him to tell what he knows. While he is not familiar with the larger plot, he does know where the other onijegi were taken—the ruined settlement at Bloody Bay on the island of Tobago.

Event 3—Return to Bloody Bay
For characters who participated in the events of the scenario “The Message,” this should be familiar territory. At that time it was a different band of pirates who'd kidnapped Dona Isabella's father and were holed up there. This should let the PC's act quickly when it comes to making their strike. (If they are at all worried, by the way, about sailing into Spanish territory, Isabella suggests flying a Spanish flag and her family's own pennant to ensure safe passage.)

The Ruins
These buildings, even more dilapidated with the passing of time, are clustered in a rough semi-circle around one arm of the bay.

1. Guard Posts
Once again, a pair of pirates is posted in each of these ruined buildings, which provide a good line of sight around the encampment.

2. Quarters
This building is filled with hammocks, two in each of the four corners. In the center is a table at which the pirates eat their meals, gamble and the like. At any given time, six pirates are located here.

3. Brig
The door to this building is stoutly locked (DC 25 to disable; hardness 15 and 30 hit points; DC 25 to force the door). Captain Horne has the key. Ten large water barrels are lined up against the walls of this building; each holds a single onijegi. The pirates take turns draining out the filthier water via spigots set low in the barrels, and bring buckets of clean sea water from the bay. Usually there is one rather bored guard on duty here. As a protection against attacks, this fellow is armed with one grenadoe that he can use to threat his captives if the need arises.

4. Captain Horne’s Quarters
The pirate captain has outfitted this building with a large, comfortable bed, a table for making plans and a chest containing the possessions that he doesn't keep on his person.

5. Mizzen
This is where the pirates dump their garbage.

6. Empty Buildings
Just as one might expect, these structures are unoccupied.

As long as the PC's can defeat the pirates and free the onijegi held here, they have won a considerable victory. What is more, by questioning Captain Horne, they can learn the full extent of the plot. The scallywag can provide the following details.
*He was approached by two men—one a “proper Englishman,” and the other an African—and asked to assist, along with Llewellyn, in capturing and imprisoning the onijegi.
*Still more of the mermaids have been taken to another location, to participate in “diving on some kind of wreck or another.”
*If pressed, he mentions that his employer was preparing to sail into the Sargasso Sea.
*His employer sailed in a strange vessel, an old-fashioned two-masted ship. It was called L'Etoile.
These details should be enough to convince the PC's of the true threat that they face, even if they don't know just what de Montesegur might be seeking. For her part, Arukuma can confirm that there are still a dozen of her fellows unaccounted fore. She thanks her heroes for their services so far, but is forced to ask for their assistance once again.

Event 4—Into the Sargasso Sea
Armed with Horne's information, the PC's can make preparations to sail for the Sargasso Sea. The onijegi whom they've rescued thus far offer assistance and a reward, in the form of a cask containing pearls worth two thousand pieces of eight. At the GM's discretion, they might provide some other kind of treasure, such as a magical weapon or piece of armor recovered from a long-lost wreck. (This could be a chance to introduce the Interlude “The Wreck” for use in the future, too.) With these valuables and whatever else they've gathered, the PC's can outfit their vessel, purchase supplies and perhaps even hire some more crew members.

Once they're ready to do so, the PC's can set sail. Their voyage takes them out beyond the Windward Islands, into the nearer part of the Atlantic Ocean. At first the seaweed that makes up the Sargasso is barely noticeable, but it grows steadily thicker as the ship moves forward. Those characters who are attuned to such things also begin to feel a growing sense of evil in the surrounding air and water; although they don't know it, they're drawing closer to the place that has been tainted by the sunken Templar fleet.

At the same time, the PC's could have any number of the following encounters. These should help to provide some insight into what is happening, and to help build up the mood before the final encounter.

Boatload of Zombies and One Inquisitor
As they enter the Sargasso, the PC's first run into a sloop that seems derelict. This—the Prudence—is one of the two on which the Inquisitors have been traveling; unfortunately for them, they encountered one of the raised Templar cogs. The Inquisitors put up a brave fight, but the tide turned against them. Now a few of the undead remain, claiming the vessel so that it can be used later.

The zombies wait in hiding while the PC's approach, letting them come close and even board the ship. At that point they come swarming from below decks and attack. As long as the PC's can defeat them, they should be able to learn a thing or two about what is happening. (Use the sloop deck plan from a previous post to represent the Prudence.) In the captain's cabin (area 5) are the personal possessions of a Catholic priest, and most of the clothing in that and the other areas has a Spanish cut to it. These details should hint at the involvement of the Inquisition, but such details become secondary once the survivor appears.

Have the PC's make Listen checks opposed to Genevieve's efforts to Move Silently. She has taken refuge in the bilge, and now dares to emerge. (Characters who participated in the events of “Beyond the Pale” should recognize this alluring but pious woman; if she was killed, the GM could substitute her sister, Gabrielle.)

Fiendish Sharks
If any of the PC's is so bold—or foolish—as to enter the water, one of the fiendish sharks that inhabits the sargasso makes its attack. This might happen if they use Arukuma to scout ahead, if one or more characters set out in the rowboat, or if someone is knocked overboard during a battle. Whatever the reason, these creatures swim to the attack. They strike with their bite attack, hoping to find and drag off an easy meal.

Deadly Plants
As the PC's push further and further into the Sargasso, the plants themselves become more and more steeped in the evil presence. Eventually they even become animated, seeking blood on which to feed. These should be treated like fiendish assassin vines, reaching out across the decking in an effort to grab and pull away victims. Because the vines themselves cannot move, the PC's might want to just sail away from them. This could be a good tactic, unless one of the vines has grappled a victim.

Once they have dealt with these difficulties—and any others the GM might care to add—they reach their destination, the place where Jean de Montsegur has been busy raising his fallen brethren.

Event 5—From the Depths
In the middle of the Sargasso stands L'Etoile, the flagship that has been used to summon up the rest of the fleet. It is here that the remaining onijegi are being held, surrounded by the last of the undead Templars. This group is just finishing business before following the others, who have set out in search of the PC's so that Jean de Montsegur can have his revenge.

Refer to the deck plans for the cog to set up this encounter. At the outset, the onijegi are being kept in barrels on the main deck, while the undead are taking shelter in the fore and aft castles. The Templars rush to the attack as soon as they spot the PC's, something that can be resolved using the normal sighting rules. They might surprise their foes with volleys of cannon shot, making this a true naval engagement. At the same time, they bring their arquebuses to bear and ready for boarding action, assuming that they can run down the PC's, or the PC's bring the fight to them.

This scene should make for a furious battle, but one that the PC's can win if their tactics are sound. Should things be going to easily for them, the enemies can complicate matters in a number of ways. One option is for them to threaten throwing some of the mermaids overboard, exposing them to the aforementioned sharks. If the PC's manage to sink L'Etoile from a distance, the undead can swim over to the other vessel and then climb aboard to attack it. The zombies could also throw grenadoes into the water if one or more of the PC's dive into it. At the GM's discretion, especially for tougher parties, the Templars could include tougher undead such as ghouls, ghasts or even wights. All in all, there should be plenty of swashbuckling action for everybody.

As long as the PC's can defeat the Templars, they have completed their rescue mission. They should also have a much clearer picture now of just what danger Jean de Montsegur presents.

Further Adventures
This scenario leaves a number of unanswered questions, all of which could provide for further adventures; some of the possibilities are detailed below.
*As mentioned above, the onijegi could provide the location of a wrecked ship by way of a reward for the PC's. That in itself could contain other dangers and possibilities for adventure.
*The tangles of the Sargasso might contain other secrets left behind by unfortunate victims.
*The fact that the PC's are traveling with an Inquisitor should provide some excellent roleplaying opportunities. Genevieve (or Gabrielle) can tell them that the Spaniards' other vessel, the Providence, is still missing, although the onijegi know that it has headed eastward. In truth, Jean de Montsegur (using Edward Chapman as his host) has taken this and sailed for the Mediterranean, events that will be detailed in the adventure “Treacherous Waters.”
*There is also the matter of the other Templar vessels, with Nneka leading them, something else to which the onijegi can attest. These have sailed westward, a situation that forms the basis of the next adventure, “Dead Reckoning.”

Appendix 1—Dramatis Personae

Arukuma the Wanderer
Female Onijegi Bard 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d6+5; hp 25; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 5 ft., swim 50 ft.; AC 13 (+3 Dex); Atk +4 (1d4+1, dagger) or +6 ranged; SQ low-light vision, bardic music, bardic knowledge, countersong, fascinate, inspire courage +1, inspire competence; AL CG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 18.
Background: NA.
Skills: Diplomacy +12, Escape Artist +11, Hide +11, Gather Information +12, Move Silently +11, Perform (singing) +15, Tumble +11.
Feats: Dodge, Skill Focus (Perform: singing).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: None.
Spells Known: Daze, detect magic, know direction, message, read magic, resistance; charm person, hypnotism, identify, sleep; daze monster, enthrall, suggestion.
Spells per Day: 3/4/2.

Arukuma has always been fascinated by the world beyond the watery confines in which she was born, a predilection that earned her the moniker of “Wanderer.” She is fond of all kinds of stories, and enjoys sharing her considerable talents with those whom she meets. Her recent experiences have left her the wiser, but she is still friendly with those who earn her trust.

Fiendish Assassin Vines
Plant; CR 4; Size large; HD 4d8+12; hp 30; Init +0; Spd 5 ft.; AC 15 (-1 size, +6 natural); Atk +7 (1d6+7, slam); S/R 10 ft./20 ft.; SQ Constrict 1d6+7, blindsight 30 ft., smite good 1/day, camouflage, immune to electricity, low-light vision, plant traits, damage reduction 5/magic, resistance to cold 10 and fire 10, spell resistance 9; AL NE; SV: Fort +7, Ref +1, Will +2; Str 20, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 3, Wis 13, Cha 9.
Background: NA.
Skills: None.
Feats: None.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: None.

This bloodthirsty foliage has developed from the seaweed that grows in the area, but it has been warped and twisted by the presence of the dead templars.

Fiendish Huge Sharks
Animal/Outsider; CR 6; Size huge; HD 10d8+20; hp 65; Init +6 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd swim 60 ft.; AC 15 (-2 size, +2 Dex, +5 natural); Atk +10 (2d6+7, bite); SQ blindsense, keen scent, smite good 1/day, damage reduction 5/magic, resistance to cold and fire 10, spell resistance 15; AL N; SV: Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +4; Str 21, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 2.
Background: NA.
Skills: Listen +10, Spot +10, Swim +13.
Feats: Alertness, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: None.

Like the assassin vines, above, these creatures have been warped an twisted by the presence of evil energy in this part of the sargasso.

Fiendish Templar Zombies
Undead Humanoid; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 2d12+3; hp 16; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+4 chain shirt, +2 natural); Atk +4 (1d8+3, longsword); SQ undead traits, smite good 1/day, darkvision 60 ft., resistance to cold and fire 5, spell resistance 6; AL N; SV: Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +3; Str 17, Dex 10, Con --, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 1.
Background: NA.
Skills: None.
Feats: Toughness.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Tattered clothing, rusted armor and longsword.

These animated corpses have a particularly evil glint in their eyes. They wear rusted chain shirts covered with the rotting remains of knightly tabards, and wield similarly tarnished longswords.

Rogue 8; CR 8; Size medium; HD 8d6; hp 30; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +8/+2 (2d4, pistol) or +8/+2 (1d6+2, rapier); SQ Sneak Attack +4d6, Trapfinding, Evasion, Trap Sense +2, Uncanny Dodge, Improved Uncanny Dodge; AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 10, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 16.
Background: Religious.
Skills: Bluff +14, Decipher Script +13, Diplomacy +14, Disable Device +13, Disguise +14, Gather Information +14, Hide +13, Knowledge (local) +5, Knowledge (religion) +13, Move Silently +13, Search +13.
Feats: Investigator, Point Blank Shot, Precise Attack (rapier), Weapon Finesse (rapier).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Rapier, dirk, pistol, powder horn, apostles.

While she plays the part of an alluring and seductive woman, Genevieve is in fact a devout agent of the Inquisition. Her tanned complexion and raven hair help her to blend in anywhere in the Caribbean, while her shapely figure and striking looks make her a hit with menfolk. These are all weapons in her arsenal, however, and her mission is to stamp out heresy wherever she finds it. In this her zeal is unmatched and unwavering. Her recent defeat has left her a little humbled, however, and more willing to work with others to achieve a common goal.

Dona Isabella Santiago
Aristocrat 3/Expert 1; CR 3; Size medium; HD 3d8+1d6+4; hp 24; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +2 (1d3, unarmed) or +4 (ranged); SQ None; AL LG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +4; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 16.
Background: Colonist.
Skills: Bluff +9, Diplomacy +12, Gather Information +12, Knowledge: local +7, Knowledge: nobility +7, Knowledge: sea lore +5, Profession: merchant +3, Profession: sailor +3, Read & Write Carib, English, French, Spanish, Speak Carib, English, French, Spanish.
Feats: Skill Focus (Diplomacy, Gather Information).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Clothing, pistol, dagger.

Isabella, though she is part of the upper crust of the Spanish colonists in the New World, also has something of an adventurous streak. Recently she has begun leading the expeditions of one of her father's pearl diving ships.

Shantyman 6; CR 6; Size medium; HD 6d8; hp 30; Init +6 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +6 (1d6, rapier) or +6 (1d4, stiletto); SQ Bardic music, bardic knowledge, vaporing, fame tale; AL CN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +5; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 17.
Background: Gentleman-Adventurer.
Skills: Appraise +11, Bluff +12, Diplomacy +7, Disguise +12, Gather Information +12, Knowledge (local) +11, Knowledge (sea lore) +11, Perform (fiddle) +12.
Feats: Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse (rapier).
Fortunes: Booty, Wastrel.
Equipment: Rapier, stiletto, dueling jacket, fiddle, pouch containing 100 doubloons.

Llewellyn is a consummate performer who loves the attention of a crowd. He is inspired by tales of thrilling heroics, but he himself is something of a coward. For that reason he likes to surround himself with adoring fans, something he accomplishes through adequate performance and the easy spending of his money.

Tough Pirate
Sea Dog 2; CR 2; HD 2d10+4; hp 19; Medium-sized; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+1 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +4 (1d6+2, club) or +3 (ranged); SQ Favored Ship (English ships); AL CN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Sea Devil.
Skills: Balance +6, Climb +7, Jump +7, Profession (sailor) +6, Survival +6, Use Rope +6.
Feats: Cleave, Dodge, Power Attack.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Dueling jacket, buccaneer knife, various improvised weapons.

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.

Captain Horne
Sea Dog 4/Sea Officer 3; CR 7; Medium-sized; HD 7d10; hp 43; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 buff coat); Atk +6/+1 (2d6, pistol) or +6/+1 (1d6, buccaneer knife); SQ Close Quarters +1, Command (morale bonus), Preferred Ship (English ships), Skill Expert +2; AL TN; SV: Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +8; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 16.
Background: Sea Devil.
Skills: Appraise +12, Knowledge: local +12, Knowledge: navigation +12, Knowledge: sea lore +12, Listen +15, Profession: sailor +13, Spot +15, Survival +8.
Feats: Alertness, Dodge, Endurance, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Mobility.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Two pistols, buccaneer knife, buff coat, scroll with ship’s articles.

Captain Horne is every bit the sea dog. He has lost his right hand, replacing it with a hook, and has the weathered features of one long exposed to the wind and waves. His clothing is fancy but functional, and he wears his dark brown hair and beard long. Difficult times have left him a desperate man, to the point that he has now allied himself with true cutthroats in order to make his fortune.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Interlude--The Healer

Happy New Year to all! I'll start 2012 with a new interlude while I'm finishing up the stat blocks for the next adventure in the series.


Interlude: The Healer
As Europeans began exploring what was to them a New World, many told stories of encounters with strange and previously unknown creatures. One such example is the wild hairy man, a creature first met—and killed—by Edwin Tobias. Although some who've heard it do not believe that fellow's tale, they are wrong. Indeed, there are more of them living in the Caribbean, and they are not something to be feared.

This encounter could occur at any time that the PC's make landfall at a remote location. They have their own run-in with a wild hairy man, this one an experienced cleric. Because of this, the encounter serves as a test. The PC's might first encounter a wounded animal, perhaps an wild dog or a boar. Due to a musket ball lodged in its shoulder, this creature is angry and aggressive. It comes charging out of the underbrush to attack, but characters who succeed at a DC 15 Spot check notice the injury that has enraged it. Armed with that information, it's up to the PC's to try helping it instead of harming it.

As long as they pass that test, they can meet the wild hairy man. He approaches along the animal's path, trying to Hide and Move Silently. If they have killed the beast, the wild hairy man tries to depart, and uses his spell to deter or defend against the PC's. On the other hand, if they have helped it, he approaches them. As a sign of his gratitude, he can heal any wounds they've suffered, and perhaps even reward them with some potions.

This moment of peace lasts only until the hunting party arrives. They are the cause of the trouble, eager to claim their prey and perhaps bag the wild hairy man as an added trophy. Needless to say, they are not happy to see another group interfering with their hunt. The hunters confront the PC's and demand that they yield up the wild hairy man, and respond with violence if their demands are not met.

Depending on the average level of the PC's, the following animals are recommended for use as the wounded creature.

1—Wild dog (use Wolf)
3—Dire wolf
4—Dire boar

The Healer
Hairy Wild Man Cleric 6; CR 6; Size medium; HD 8d8+16; hp 52; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft., climb 15 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 natural); Atk +8/+3 (1d6+3, quarterstaff); SQ Can attempt saves versus spell effects twice; AL N; SV: Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +10; Str 17, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +6, Concentration +11, Heal +14, Hide +4, Listen +4, Spot +4, Survival +5.
Feats: Brew Potion, Iron Will, Self-Sufficient.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Quarterstaff, satchel containing various items, potions.
Spells per Day: 5/4+1/4+1/3+1. Spells commonly prepared:

This large humanoid is covered in shaggy fur. He has no chin of which to speak, but does have small horns protruding from its head. The wild hairy man is a peaceful type, content to explore the wonders of the natural world. In his bag he carries the potions that he has been brewing, coconuts filled with sweet milk in which various herbs and other ingredients have been soaking. These function as potions of cure light, cure moderate or cure serious wounds, at the GM's discretion.

Lead Hunters
Male Buccaneer 4; CR 4; Size medium; HD 4d10+4; hp 32; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +7 (1d6+3, cutlass or buccaneer knife) or +5 (2d6, short musket); SQ Survivor +2, Expert Pilot, Resilient; AL CN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Colonist.
Skills: Climb +10, Heal +8, Hide +8, Knowledge (local) +2, Move Silently +8, Profession (guide) +4, Survival +8, Swim +10, Use Rope +8.
Feats: Alertness, Cleave, Power Attack.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, long musket, buccaneer knife, cutlass, backpack, bedroll, tinder box, salt pork, cheese, biscuit and water for three days, gallon jug of ale, pipe and tobacco.

Male Buccaneer 2; CR 2; Size medium; HD 2d10+2; hp 19; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +4 (1d6+2, cutlass or buccaneer knife) or +3 (2d6, short musket); SQ Survivor +1, Expert Pilot; AL CN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Colonist.
Skills: Climb +7, Heal +6, Hide +6, Knowledge (local) +2, Move Silently +6, Profession (guide) +4, Survival +6, Swim +7, Use Rope +6.
Feats: Alertness, Power Attack.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, long musket, buccaneer knife, cutlass, backpack, bedroll, tinder box, salt pork, cheese, biscuit and water for three days, gallon jug of ale, pipe and tobacco.

The hunters are not necessarily evil, but they are greedy and unconcerned about the well-being of animals. Because of this, they continue to pursue their quarry (or a fight with the PC's) until it becomes apparent that they're overmatched.