Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

To mark the fourth anniversary of this blog, here's a link to the compiled PDF with this year's articles.

The Logbook Volume 4 (2013)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What Else Was Happening?

Although not all scholars agree, many concure that the Golden Age of Piracy lasted from around 1650, when Henry Morgan and other buccaneers ravaged the Spanish Main, until 1725, the point after which the pirate haven of New Providence was irradicated. The Skull & Bones rulebook, along with the Buccaneers & Bokor ezine (Issue #3), do a good job of listing the major piratical events that took place during this period. The purpose of this article is to detail the happenings that weren't specifically related to piracy, but that help flesh out the background for a campaign set during this time.

The writing of this article is indebted to one source in particular, a book called The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun.

Listed below are the respective years and the events that took place in them.

1650--The first coffeehouse opens in Oxford, England; tea is first drunk in England; the world population is estimated to be 500,000 people.
1651--England passes the Acts of Navigation; Thomas Hobbes writes Leviathan; the Dutch establish a settlement at the Cape of Good Hope.
1652--Following the Battle of the Downs, England goes to war with the Netherlands; the first opera house opens in Vienna.
1653--James Naylor, a Quaker, is recognized by some as a new Messiah; the Taj Mahal is completed.
1654--The Treaty of Westminster ends the Anglo-Dutch war and the Dutch recognize the Acts of Navigation.
1655--England captures Jamaica; the first regular newpaper begins publishing in Berlin.
1656--The Netherlands captures Colombo from Portugal.
1657--Christiann Huygens invents a pendulum for clocks; stockings and fountain pens are first manufactured in Paris.
1658--Rober Hooke develops a balance spring for watches; Sweden begins issuing bank notes; religious conflict erupts in India.
1659--France and Spain agree on the Peace of the Pyrenees.
1660--Dutch peasants begin settling in South Africa; England acquires the use of water closets from France.
1661--Robert Boyle identifies chemical elements.
1662--England acquires Bombay, Tangier and 300,000 pounds from Portugal via marriage.
1663--The Royal African Company is chartered; Turkey goes to war with the Holy Roman Empire; the Ottoman army is defeated at Vienna.
1664--The English begin wearing large periwigs.
1665--A military alliance with England helps Portugal gain independence from Spain; the Black Plague occurs in England.
1666--France and the Netherlands go to war with England; English privateers capture Tobago; Isaac Newton measure the orbit of the moon; cheddar cheese is first made; the Great Fire of London occurs.
1667--France and England make a secret treaty against Spain; John Milton writes Paradise Lost; the French army begins using hand grenades.
1668--England and the Netherlands form the Alliance of the Hague; Isaac Newton develops a reflecting telescope; France establishes a factory at Surat in India.
1669--The Venetians lose Crete to the Turks; the Hanseatic League ceases operation; China suffers an outbreak of Cholera.
1670--The Hudson's Bay Company is chartered; watches begin using minute hands; Puritans found Charleston.
1671--John Milton writes Paradise Regained; the Bible is first printed in Arabic.
1672--England and the Netherlands go to war; the Royal African Company is given a charter.
1673--Joliet and Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River and Great Lakes.
1674--Hindus in India gain reassurance when the conqueror Shivaji is crowned king.
1675--Basho helps popularize haiku poetry; the Greenwich Observatory opens; van Leeuwnhoek uses a microscope to examin microscopic organisms.
1676--An influenza epidemic occurs in England.
1677--Ice cream becomes popular in Paris.
1678--John Bunyan begins publishing Pilgrim's Progress; Russian and Sweden go to war; chrysanthemums are brought to England from Japan.
1679--England passes the Habeas Corpus Act.
1680--Stradivari makes the first known cello; the last dodo bird dies.
1681--A London woman is flogged for becoming involved in politics.
1682--Amsterdam builds the first textile mill, with one hundred looms.
1683--Dutch traders enter Canton; Spain and France go to war; Turks begin the Siege of Vienna, William Dampier begins a voyage around the world.
1684--England gains control of the Bermudas; Alexander Esquemeling publishes History of the Buccaneers of America; a Siamese embassy visits Versailles; Changamire Dombo fights back against the Portuguese in future Zimbabwe.
1685--Chinese ports open to all foreign trade; the Duke of Monmouth foments rebellion in England.
1686--Russia goes to war with Turkey; Edmund Halley draws the first meteorological map.
1687--Isaac Newton writes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica; Sir Hans Sloane begins collecting biological specimens that will one day be given to the British Museum.
1688--France goes to war with the Holy Roman Empire.
1689--John Locke argues that governmental authority should not be based on divine right.
1690--Calcutta is founded as an English colony.
1691--The New East India Company is formed; the Treaty of Limerick ends Irish rebellion.
1692--An earthquake destroys the city of Port Royal in Jamaica.
1693--The Knights of the Apocalypse are founded in Italy; Cotton Mather publishes Wonders of the Invisible World.
1694--English forces destroy a French fort on the Senegal River.
1695--French forces destroy an English fort on the Gambia River.
1696--Fort William is built in Calcutta.
1697--France begins colonizing West Africa; the sedan chair becomes a popular means of transportation.
1698--Peter the Great of Russia begins visiting Europe, sometimes with an entourage and sometimes disguised as a commoner.
1699--William Dampier explores the northwest coast of Australia.
1700--Governor Bellomont of New York establishes a reading room that will become an early society library; the world population is estimated to be 640,000; average life expectancy is calculated to be thirty-six years.
1701--The War of Spanish Succession begins; the Popol Vuh is translated.
1702--The Asiento Guinea Company is founded to facilitate the slave trade; Kira Yoshinaka is killed by forty-seven ronin in Japan; an Anglo-Dutch fleet captures a fortune in silver from the Spanish.
1703--Eddystone Lighthouse is destroyed by a storm.
1704--England takes control of Gibraltar; Handel and J.S. Bach begin composing; a subscription library opens in Berlin.
1705--Edmund Halley predicts the return of his comet; an observatory opens in Berlin.
1706--Henry Mill invents carriage springs.
1707--England and Scotland combine to form Great Britain; Sir John Noyer is the first to measure a person's pulse; billiards is first played in Berlin coffeehouses.
1708-The British East India Company and New East India Company merge.
1709--Bartolomeo Cristofori invents the pianoforte; Johann Maria Farina introduces cologne.
1710--France takes over Mauritius from the Netherlands; the English Sout Sea Company is founded; England captures Nova Scotia from France.
1711--John Shore invents the tuning fork.
1712--A war of succession erupts in India; slave revolts occur in New York; the last person executed for witchcraft in England dies.
1713--The Treaty of Utrecht ends the War of Spanish Succession and Queen Anne's War.
1714--Fahrenheit develops a mercury thermometer.
1715--A Jacobite rebellion erupts in Scotland.
1716--A company of English actors stages its first performance in the American colonies.
1717--Pope Clement XI funds a Spanish fleet to fight against the Ottomans, but the Spaniards use it to recapture Sicily and Sardinia.
1718--England declares war on Spain; New Orleans is founded.
1719--France declares war on Spain; Defoe publishes Robinson Crusoe.
1720--Novels are first serialized in newspapers; plague breaks out in Marseilles.
1721--Swiss immigrants first bring rifles to the New World.
1722--Benjamin Franklin begins writing the Silence Dogood letters.
1723--Vivaldi composes the Four Seasons.
1724--Gin becomes popular in Britain.
1725--The first public concert is given in Paris; Manchu Emperor Yongzheng publishes the largest encyclopedia ever created.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Interlude: The Dismasting

Here's another post inspired by Wilbur Smith. Right now I'm reading Monsoon, and in it the crew is forced to deal with a fallen mast.


Interlude 53: The Dismasting
The rigors of travel at sea--not to mention nautical combat--can be hell on a ship and crew. At no time is this more apparent than when a ship loses its mast, sending it crashing down to the deck or into the water. Such a situation presents numerous dangers and other challenges, but provides PC's with various opportunities to show off their abilities and skills.

Why This Happens
This situation could occur for a number of reasons. For one, that mast could be stricken by lightning or snapped by powerful winds during a storm. Another possibility is that enemy fire manages to break it, either through a sustained volley or because of one lucky hit. It could also happen that a band of attackers storm the ship and, using axes, manage to chop through it.

Where It Goes
Once the mast does fall, it's important to know in which direction it falls. To determine this, use the scatter chart for grenade-like weapons from Chapter 8 of the Player's Handbook. Of course, the GM should also consider the direction of the prevailing wind, especially if that is the cause of the dismasting.

When it does fall, a number of results occur right away. For one, characters who happened to be in the crow's nest or in the rigging must make DC 25 Strength checks to hold; those who fail are thrown from the mast and suffer the effects of a fall equivalent in height to the characters' initial height minus ten feet. The surface they hit, of course, is determined by the aformentioned scatter result. Those going into the water can treat the fall as being another ten feet less, although they must then make Swim checks appropriate to the condition of the sea. Those who hit the ship's deck take damage as normal. Class abilities that reduce this, such as for the rogue and monk, can be applied as normal.

There is also the chance that the falling mast hits characters standing on the main deck. If this is the case, they suffer damage equal to 1d6 for every ten feet they are from the base of the mast. Said characters make make a DC 20 Reflex save in order to halve the damage. Moreover, those who fail become pinned under the mast and need to make a DC 20 Strength check in order to be freed.

What the Crew Needs to Do
The other main effect of the dismasting is that the ship's speed is reduced to one third, rounded down (for ships with two or three masts), or one half (for ships with four or more masts). Ships with just a single mast lose their method of propulsion. Furthermore, all Profession: sailor checks made to steer it suffer a -10 circumstance penalty. For dismasted single-masted ships, of course, maneuvering is impossible. This remains the case until the crew can cut away the remains of the mast. Treat the mast as having hardness 5 and 60 hit points for this purpose. Even so, the speed only returns to one half normal (for ships that started with two masts) or to two thirds normal (for ships that started with three or more masts), rounded down, until a new mast can be put in its place.

Replacing a mast is a daunting task. First, the crew must find a suitable piece of timber. Unless the vessel is carrying a spare, they must search on shore to find one. If it is a fresh tree, they must cut it down and then move it aboard the ship. The latter action requires a series of DC 30 Strength checks, although as many as twelve characters can combine their efforts. Failed checks do not cause damage, but do take up more time. The GM could use this for a bit of excitement if the PC's have enemies pursuing them while they make repairs. Additionally, a DC 15 Use Rope check provides a +2 synergy bonus. Once the mast is close enough to be brought aboard the ship, a DC 20 Rope Use check is needed to rig it properly. Then, another combined DC 30 Strength check is required to hoist it into position, and failure by five or more causes it to fall again. Finally, a DC 20 Craft: carpentry check is required to secure it, and again failure by five or more leaves it susceptible to failure at a future time chosen by the GM.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Two Things

While I'm working on new content, I want to share a couple of recent discoveries. One is my growing excitement that a date has been set for the premier of Black Sails: 25 January 2014. It'll be nice having something pirate-themed on TV again.

The other is a picture that I found while digging around on Wikipedia the other day.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Interlude 52: The Circumnavigation

This post is, admittedly, a work in progress. As I've been preparing various material, I've been wanting to put together a map of the world for use in a campaign. My problem is that I don't know if I can ever reach a point at which I'm satisfied that it is comprehensive in covering piratical possibilities around the world. To that end, I've decided to post it now, and then update it as new ideas come to me.


Interlude 52: The Circumnavigation
At some point during their piratical careers, the PC's could find themselves in a position to try circumnavigating the globe. Although this is a daunting task, it carries a certain amount of prestige for those who do it. It also, needless to say, presents many good opportunities for exotic encounters and other challenges.

Making the Trip
When it comes to outfitting for a voyage such as this, the GM would do well to consult the article "Dehydration and Starvation" to find guidelines for monitoring a vessel's supply of food and fresh water. Should the crew run short of these provisions, they begin to suffer the ill effects detailed in that article. What is more, this gives them excellent incentive to make landfall in strange, unknown places in order to resupply.

Navigation is also an important concern. Refer to page 22 of the Skull & Bones rulebook to find guidelines for using the Knowledge: navigation skill.

Locations, Locations, Locations
Presented here is a key with details regarding the areas noted on the map.

1. Refer to the Skull & Bones rulebook, along with the article "Settlements of the Spanish Main" in Buccaneers & Bokor Issue 6, for more information regarding the Caribbean Sea and the Spanish Main. Moreover, any of the adventures not mentioned below are set in this region.

2. Refer to the article "The Mediterranean Sea and Algiers" for more information about this area; additionally, the scenarios "Treacherous Waters" and "The Eye of the Storm" take place here.

3. Suggested hazards and encounters for the Cape of Good Hope are presented in the scenario "The Ends of the Earth."

4. The adventure "Above and Below" presents a long-lost Chinese treasure cache and a tribe of natives that can be found here.

5. The article "London Town" provides an overview of that famous city.

6. Refer to the article "Cape Coast Castle" and the scenario "Into the Shadows" for details about the outpost to be found here.

Links to Other Interludes
For one thing, the GM could easily drop other interludes on the party during this lengthy voyage. Good options here include "The Hazards," "The Shipwrecker," "The Timingila," "The Storm" and "The Storm 2." Members of the crew might create some of the actions, such as is described in "The Competition 2" or "The Jonah." There could always be an unexpected passenger aboard the ship, too, such as in "The Stowaway."

Finally, it should be noted that characters who successfully perform this task should be granted the benefits of the Been-Round fortune--that is, a +2 insight bonus to all Knowledge (sea lore), Profession (sailor) and Swim checks.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Three Quick Updates

Here are a few items that I think might be of interest.

First, Adamant Entertainment, who produced Skull & Bones via Green Ronin Publishing, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. As part of that, the company has made the first issue of Buccaneers & Bokor, the e-zine that inspired this blog, free from RPGNow. Check out the link below.

Adamant Entertainment Blog

Thanks go to EnWorld for the news.

Second, the game publisher Ubisoft, in conjunction with Vice Media, has produced a series of videos in anticipation of releasing Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag. Here's a link to it on Youtube.

Assassin's Creed 4 Video

The pirate-related website Under the Black Flag gets credit for this one.

Finally, while checking out the above-mentioned video, I found a documentary on the Golden Age of Piracy from the BBC that clocks in at nearly two hours.

BBC Documentary



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Interlude 51: The Flower-Boat

During my research I've encountered many different sources of inspiration; one of them in the story of the Chinese pirate mistress Cheng I Sao. That led me to read about the notion of flower-boats, which border on historical accuracy but seem to be too good an opportunity to overlook.


Interlude 51: The Flower-Boat
A peculiar institution in China during the Qing Dynasty is a type of floating brothel known as a Flower-Boat. These places are generally found in the mouths of rivers in port cities, places that see lots of ship traffice. It should not be assumed that they cater to such base clientele as sailors, however; rather, they are reserved for government officials, wealthy merchants and other such elite members of society. They consist of junks that have been retrofitted, with modifications as described below.

The courtesans who work aboard these vessels are trained in intellectual artistic pursuits along with the usual business. These skills allow them to entertain such refined clients for an entire evening, providing music, storytelling, philosophical debate and the like. Many of them live aboard the flower-boats, earning room and board along with a small profit. Sometimes they are owned by an investor who lives onshore, but at other times a senior courtesan who has worked and saved for years can manage to purchase her own establishment.

The Grand Tour
Refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions. Note that all doors can be secured with good-quality locks; they require a DC 30 check to open, and have hardness 5, 15 hit points, and take a DC 18 Strength check to force.

1. Open Deck
As expected, these areas would be crewed if the flower-boat was still sailed. Now, instead, they provide a place for courtesans and clients to take a stroll under the night sky, and perhaps for a musician to set up shop and serenade the others.

2. Typical Rooms
Each of these small rooms is furnished, not suprisingly, with a bed, along with a chest for the occupant's possessions and a small table. The latter item is used as a washstand, as well as a place for playing games, sharing food and drink, or the like.

3. Larger Rooms
In most regards, these areas--which cost more than the smaller locations, of course--boast all of the same furnishings as the typical rooms. Given their greater size, however, they can be set up to host a small group of clients, or one visitor with rapacious appetites might request to be entertained by multiple courtesans.

4. Saloon
This large area, in what once was the ship's cargo hold, is filled with tables and chairs. In the bow end of it is a broad bar, behind which a door leads into the storage area. A pair of courtesans are stationed here at all times, preparing beverages for guests, while two more deliver them to the tables. Others also linger about the area, letting guests see them and perhaps select them for some companionship.

5. Storage
This area is filled with casks of wine, boxes of tea and ingredients for other beverages, along with clean linens and draperies, oil for the hanging lamps, candles and the like.

Using a Flower-Boat in a Skull & Bones Campaign
Detailed here are a few of the many ways in which these establishments could be worked into piratical adventures.
  • PC's who are meeting with a wealthy, influential or otherwise important contact in a Chinese port might find that their meeting takes place at one of these establishements.
  • During one such visit, the flower-boat could be attacked by a marauding band of wokou.
  • Alternately, the courtesans themselves could all decide to turn pirate. If they did so with important clients on board, they would thus gain valuable hostages for ransom.

Flower-Boat Girl, Young
Expert 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d6+3; hp 16; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +1 (1d3-1, unarmed) or +3 (ranged); SQ none; AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +5; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 15.
Background: Courtesan.
Skills: Bluff +8, Diplomacy +10, Gather Information +8, Knowledge (history) +8, Knowledge (local) +8, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +4, Knowledge (religion) +8, Perform (musical instrument) +8, Perform (storytelling) +8, Sense Motive +8.
Feats: Force of Personality, Guidance, Negotiator.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Appropriate clothing, musical instruments, books, etc.

Flower-Boat Girl, Veteran
Expert 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d6+7; hp 34; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +4 (1d3-1, unarmed) or +6 (ranged); SQ none; AL LN; SV: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +7; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 16.
Background: Courtesan.
Skills: Bluff +13, Diplomacy +15, Gather Information +13, Knowledge (history) +12, Knowledge (local) +12, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +4, Knowledge (religion) +12, Perform (musical instrument) +13, Perform (storytelling) +13, Sense Motive +12.
Feats: Force of Personality, Guidance, Negotiator, Port Savvy.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Appropriate clothing, musical instruments, books, etc.

Flower-Boat Girl, Senior
Expert 11; CR 10; Size medium; HD 11d6+11; hp 52; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +7 (1d3-1, unarmed) or +9 (ranged); SQ none; AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +11; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 16.
Background: Courtesan.
Skills: Bluff +13, Diplomacy +15, Gather Information +13, Knowledge (history) +12, Knowledge (local) +12, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +4, Knowledge (religion) +12, Perform (musical instrument) +13, Perform (storytelling) +13, Sense Motive +12.
Feats: Force of Personality, Guidance, Iron Will, Negotiator, Port Savvy.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Appropriate clothing, musical instruments, books, etc.

At first glance, one might assume that these women for no purpose other than to please their clients. That would be a gross underestimation of them. It is true that they are highly trained in providing mental and physical stimulation to visitors. They wield their abilities toward all sorts of ends, however. While some are content to do their jobs and thus earn their livings, others use their talents to manipulate their clients and thus gain political and economic influence. What is more, they can demand to be treated with a good deal more respect than other members of "the oldest profession" around the world.

New Background: Courtesan
You have been raised to provide pleasant company to those of whose preferred sex you are.
Free Skill Ranks: Choose 2 ranks in two of the following skills: Diplomacy, Gather Information, Knowledge, Perform, Sense Motive
Bonuses and Penalties: You receive a +2 circumstance bonus to Charisma-related skill checks for interacting with the kinds of people who could be your clients--merchants, government officials and the like.
Contacts: You receive two bonus contacts--one with a fellow courtesan, and one with a favorite client.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Great Secret

Recent adventures for the Come Hell and High Water campaign have revolved around a general theme, the Cabal's efforts to gather ancient lore from around the world. Although some of the details of that hunt have been provided in those scenarios,they are only part of a much bigger picture. For that reason, detailed here are many of the other threads that can be woven into that tapestry.

The Separation of Heaven and Earth
One element common to tales from around the world is the notion that magic was once much more common in the world. In many traditions the gods themselves walked among mortals, and some of the great heroes were even descended from unions with them. For example:
  • According to Genesis 6:4, the "sons of God" dallied with the "daughters of men," and the giants (nephilim) resulted from it. That was before the flood, which was used to punish humanity for its wickedness.
  • Various African traditions tell of heaven and earth being separated in order to punish humanity.
  • Chinese tales describe a ladder that once connected the two realms, but that has ceased to exist.
  • Numerous tales from around the world explain how there was in ancient times a golden age of peace and plenty, but that it for some reaon was brought to an end.

The Circle and the Square
Two shapes symbolically represent heaven and earth. The circle is emblematic of the prior, relating to what one sees of the sky at the horizons; the square depicts this world and the four cardinal directions.
  • Some scholars claim that the octagon was important to the Knights Templar, since it represents a combination of the two shapes.
  • The compass and the square are symbols of Freemasonry, an organization that seems to have associations with the Templars.
  • Chinese sculpture depicts two cultural heroes, Fu Xi and Nu Kua; they are shown to possess those two devices.

Building a Bridge between the Worlds
There are also many stories which tell of beings who bridged the gap between heaven and earth, or at least tried to do so.
  • A Greek myth regarding Otis and Ephialtes tells of how they stacked mountains one on top of the other in an effort to reach the top of Mount Olympus.
  • That is reminiscent of the Tower of Babel, which was built in an effort to reach heaven; Yahweh punished the architects by causing them to speak different languages so they could no longer cooperate with one another.
  • The Hebrew Jacob had a dream in which he saw a ladder reaching between heaven and earth, and angels moving up and down on it.
  • Norse mythology tells of the word tree Yggdrasil, which connects all of the planes of existence; it has a bird in its branches and a serpent at its roots.
  • The Elder Edda claims that Odin, in order to learn the secrets of his magic, was hung upon a tree and pierced with a spear, sacrificed to himself.
  • That is, of course, reminiscent of the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • According to an Aztec origin story, Huitzilopochtli led them to their homeland in New Spain and knew it was the place when he saw a cactus with an eagle atop it, clutching a snake in its talons.

In this way, the GM can add hints about the nature of the Cabal's plot, and perhaps even find inspiration for side quests that must be completed in order to gain the magical power behind them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Above and Below

Presented here is the next adventure in the series. While I hoped that it would pull together a number of loose threads from previous scenarios, it also leaves open some major possibilities. In any case, I hope that it's engaging and a change of pace from previous ones.


Above and Below
This scenario is Part 18 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 designed for a party of eleventh-level characters. Although it is intended as part of an ongoing collection of scenarios, and in particular as a direct sequel to the adventure "Machinations," it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure with a bit of modification.

As detailed in the scenario "Machinations," a chance rendezvous on a remote island has led to a complicated situation for the PC's. It started when they witnessed an explosion aboard a vessel in the Thames River. Rushing to help, they managed to rescue a the captain of the Temerarious, Isaac Faulkes. He, in turn, led them to a meeting with a local apothecary, Reuben Meier, and his unusual guest, Liu-Chang Kwan. The three men then told their story.

Liu-Chang was part of an expedition that sailed from China in search of the fabled, long-lost fleet of Xu Fu. That group had been sent by Emperor Qin Shi Huang Ti to find the secret of immortality, and had never returned. For that reason, Liu-Chang and his fellows crossed the Pacific Ocean, eventually making landfall at an island on the western coast of North America that was rumored to be a domain of evil. They began exploring, and found evidence that that Xu Fu had been there. Sadly, they also ran into a ship sent by the Cabal, one that had no interest in sharing the find with them.

The Cabal, a ruthless group of occultists based out of London, had learned of the Chinese expedition and had followed it, lying in wait until the time was right, and then ambushing the other ship. During the ensuing battle, the Chinese sailors, soldiers and scholars fought valiantly, but were finally defeated. For his part, Liu-Chang managed to jump overboard during the fighting, carrying with him the truth of what had happened.

This sole survivor managed to swim to shore and then hide among the native people, the Yelamu. There he remained until another English ship came along, one whose captain, Faulkes, treated the natives with respect. Taking a risk, Liu-Chang approached that captain and asked for transport back to civilization. This Faulkes granted him, and then began to make inquiries about the Cabal's activities back in Londn. Liu-Chang's journey back to his homeland was disrupted when agents of the Cabal, learning of Faulkes's inquiries, attacked his ship in order to silence him.

That's where the PC's enter the picture. Liu-Chang is eager to continue his quest, but Faulkes no longer has hi ship; that is why they have asked the PC's to take them aboard their own vessel, to return to the island in hopes of preventing the Cabal from discovering its secrets.

Ideally, this adventure should begin in medias res--in the middle of things--with the PC's already en route from London to the South Sea. That is why such matters as outfitting and crewing the ship, along with any other necessary preparations, are covered in the previous scenario. Even so, it might be important, if some time has elapsed between sessions, to review some details about the PC's, their vessel, crew and passengers.
  • Who are the important officers aboard the vessel? This could include the captain, sailing master, helmsmen, quartermaster, doctor, lookouts and the like.
  • What is each Player Character's station aboard the ship? Where is each character likely to be found while not on duty?
  • Where are the special passengers, such as Kwan Liu-Chang, Isaac Faulkes and Reuben Meier, quartered?
As always, these details help set the scene when the action begins.

The Great Secret
At some point during this scenario, the three aforementioned passengers take the PC's aside to discuss the reason why, they believe, the Cabal is so interested in the lost expedition of Fu Xu. This should be an important bit of interaction, given that it ties this business to the Cabal's previous activities. Refer to the scenario "Retribution" for more details about those developments, and the article "The Great Secret" for a description of the mythological foundation for the Cabal's plot.

Note that the effectiveness of this scene can have big repercussions for the rest of the scenario. If the information can be presented in an atmospheric, somewhat conversational way--rather like a person telling a good ghost story--it can really set a good tone for the remainder of the adventure. On the other hand, if it is just presented like so many bullet points, it would really detract from the atmosphere.

Encounter 1--Into the South Sea
Once the action begins, the PC's find themselves making the voyage for the Cape of Good Hope in order to pass into the Pacific Ocean. As they do so, the GM could easily work in interludes and other encounters from previous scenarios; a few of the possibilities are suggested here.
  • Interludes that would be appropriate include The Competition 1 or 2, The Jonah, The Hazards, The Storm 1 or 2, The Serpent or The Timingila.
  • Encounters with other sea creatures could also occur.
  • Possible scenes include the events "Crossing the Line" from Encounter 3 along with "Cold...So cold... (Again)" and "The Passage" from Encounter 4 of "The Ends of the Earth."
  • PC's who participated in the events of "The Ends of the Earth" might also observe a friendly giant (or an unfriendly one, depending on the course of action they chose) observing them as they pass through the Strait of Magellan.

The Garda Costa
It's also important to note that the Spanish don't take kindly to ship from other countries sailing in what they see as their sovereign territory. For that reason they have a number of ships known as garda costa, coming in varying degrees of size and armament. In this case, the PC's run into a full galleon, the Nuestra Senora de Manilla, one that is outfitted for war. This scene can occur at any point once the PC's have moved beyond the Caribbean, but is most likely after they make the passage through the Strait of Magellan.

Whatever the case, PC's and members of their crew who are in a position to do so should make Profession: sailor, Search or Spot checks, opposed by the efforts of the lookouts aboard the Nuestra Senora de Manilla. As usual, modifiers should be applied for the height of each vessel, the use of a spyglass and similar circumstance modifiers.

If the PC's and their crew manage to see the other ship before its crews notices them, they have a variety of options. One is to alter course, trying to stay low on the horizor or seeking a landmass in order to avoid detection. Doing that requires a Profession: sailor check opposed to that vessel's Search and/or Spot efforts; success allows the PC's to hide while the other ship sails past them. On the other hand, failure means that they've been noticed and the chase is on. That is also the result if the garda costa's crew wins the first opposed checks.

In the event of a chase, the starting distance is sixteen miles. The PC in charge of the party's vessel and the captain of the Senora should start by rolling 1d20 and adding the ship's maneuverability rating. If the PC's win initiative, they can begin taking evasive actions if they wish to do so. This requires three successful Profession: sailor checks, opposed by the enemy vessel's similar efforts. Success on two of those allows them to sail out of that ship's line of sight, thereby avoiding it.

On the other hand, if the PC's are spotted right away, or if they fail two of the opposed sailing checks, the chase is on. Both crews should make another round of opposed Profession: sailor checks, this time to determine how much speed they can coax out of their vessels. Refer to the following chart for the effects of these efforts.

Check / Results
0-9 / -1 knot
10-19 / +0 knots
20-29/ +1 knot
30+ / +2 knots

The adjusted speeds, then, determine who can catch whom. Given the actions of the PC's however, and any other factors adjudicated by the GM, it could be possible to affect these speeds even more.

Of course, it is also always possible that the PC's are looking for a fight, or that they can't outrun the garda costa). In that case, they have the duration of the chase in which to prepare for battle, and perhaps some time to begin shooting at their enemy if they have chase guns on their ship. Once the vessels are within ranged of each other, the faster one closes with the slower at a rate of ten feet per round, multiplied by the difference in their speeds. (For example, if the galleon is traveling at eight knots, and the party's vessel is traveling at six knots, the enmy gains twenty feet per round.) As soon as the two vessels have closed with each other, the battle can be conducted as normal.

Pursuit by Land
If the Spaniards do manage to detect the presence of the PC's, they also lower a boat to warn the people of the nearest settlement. Depending on how close they are to land, the PC's might be able to see riders on horseback bringing word of their presence up and down the coast. Unless they decide to make a landing, this probably doesn't have any direct effect on them. It does, however, provide a hint of just how seriously the Spanish are regarding the party.

Encounter 2--Drake's Bay
After many days of travel, the PC's finally reach their destination. In Drake's Bay--the place that will one day be known as San Francisco Bay--they have numerous dicoveries waiting for them. First among these are some curious local natives.

Note that the island in question is the one marked with a lowercase f close to the entrance to the bay.

The Yelamu
Assuming that the PC's sail into the bay and then drop anchor, they aren't left in peace for long. That is because the local natives, the Yelamu people, are a curious bunch and come out to investigate. Half a dozen of them--including the shaman and a handful of warriors, load into their small reed boats and paddle out to greet the newly arrived vessel. As long as they are treated peacefully, they respond in kind. Note too that, since the Yelamu people are already familiar with Liu-Chang, they happily welcome him back to their land.

The shaman speaks neither English nor Spanish, but instead relies on gestures to convey his meaning. Refer to some of the following options, and feel free to improvise more.
  • The Shaman points to the newcomers and then clasps his hands together and bows his head, meaning to welcome them.
  • With a gesture he indicates the group and then holds his arms out wide, trying to ask why the PC's have come to the area.
  • If the PC's indicate an interest in the island, he shakes his head vigorously but is frustrated by his inability to communicate why he thinks it is a bad place.
During these efforts, the shaman can start adding words to his vocabulary, allowing the communication to become smoother as it progresses. This should provide a chance for some good roleplaying, but shouldn't be too tedious for the groups involved.

If the PC's indicate their intention to visit the island in the middle of the bay, however, the shaman becomes alarmed; he gestures toward it and shakes his head vehemently. He and his people regard it as an evil place. He will not use force to prevent them from doing so, however.

Settling In
Having dropped anchor, the PC's and their crew can set about obtaining freshwater and perhaps even some foodstuffs. The Yelamu have a plentiful supply of local fish, shellfish, nuts, berries and other vegetables. Although it might seem primitive by European standards, it's a lot better than old salt beef and ship's biscuit. At the GM's discretion, and if the players are interested, they could also have more interaction with the Yelamu people. Should the PC's go hunting, they might run into a family of brown bears for a little excitement.

At the same time, it's also important to note any defensive preparations that the PC's might want to make. These include such concerns as where they are anchoring their ship, whom they are leaving aboard it, the readiness of weapons and the like.

Encounter 3--The Island
Refer to the following map for a layout of the island. It is long and narrow, only about a third of a mile in length and about a third of that in width. It has rocky sides, but trees and other vegetation atop its crown. On top it is fairly flat, only reaching a height just shy of 150 feet. At first glance the place seems like it has never seen human habitation.

Characters who succeed at a DC 25 Search or Spot check, however, notice a small golden medallion attached to the face of a rock outcropping. Since there are eight of these in total, this could happen just about anywhere on the island; again, refer to the map for the medallions' locations. Each depicts one of the Chinese trigrams.

The trick here is to remember that the Great Secret involves bridging the gap between heaven and earth. As long as the PC's can find those two trigrams, and then determine the spot directly between them, they can find the entrance to the underground structure. At this point, refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions.

1. Entry
As mentioned above, the mouth of this cavern lies directly between the markers with the I Ching symbols for heaven and earth. It is blocked by a large, flat stone. Noticing it requires a DC 20 Search check if the PC's know to look in the area (and they can take 20 on the check to do so), or a DC 30 Spot check to notice it by luck. At that point it becomes clear that there is a space behind the rock, but it takes a DC 25 Strength check to move. Up to four PC's can combine in this effort, and the PC's should be able to gain circumstance bonuses for using tools such as prybars or other tactics.

2. Yin-Yang Chamber
This area looks like nothing more than a natural cave, with one exception. The wall opposite the entry has been worked smooth; moreover, a DC 20 Search or Spot check reveals that a secret door is built into it. No check is needed to notice the six-inch-wide yin and yang symbol that is carved into it. This is unpainted, but clearly depicts the familiar icon. What is more, the two small circles inside can be pressed inward, at which point the symbol can be turned one way or the other. At that point it opens the secret door.

There is also the matter of a nest of small viper snakes that live in the cave; they swarm to attack the first unlucky person who disturbs them.

3. Chamber of the Trigrams
The PC's might be surprised to find that the secret door in the previous area wasn't trapped, but they'd best be on their guard in this room if they want to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Accessible via a ladder and trapdoor in the ceiling, this chamber is surrounded by an octagonal wall. The stonework is almost featureless, except for a small hole in the center of each wall. Close examination (DC 15 Search check) reveals that there is some kind of mechanism inside each hole; an even closer look (DC 20 check) lets a person notice that there are also holes for traps built into the ceiling around the chamber.

The trick here is for the PC's to remember the trigram symbols from around the island. If they haven't collected these, they need to do so now. Only by placing the medallion markers into the correct holes can they open the secret door down to the next level. It takes a DC 10 Profession: sailor check, or the use of a compass, to orient the symbols correctly. Each failure triggers the trap once.

Poisoned Dart Trap: CR 4; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Atk +15 ranged (1d4+4 plus poison, dart); multiple targets (1 dart per target in a 10-ft.-by-10-ft. area); poison (Small monstrous centipede poison, DC 10 Fortitude save resists, 1d2 Dex/1d2 Dex); Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 22.

Finally, once the last of the eight symbols is placed in the correct position, the trapdoor in the floor leading down to the next level grinds slowly open.

4. Elemental Chamber
This room is square in shape. In each corner stands a statue depicting a Chinese guardian lion. Those who think to inquire about it could notice that they are aligned with four of the eight trigram symbols, those depicting earth, fire, water and heaven (see map). What is more, the mouths of the ones that match up with water and fire are open, while those of the other two are closed. This is another puzzle, and again is connected to traps that punish failure. In this case, the solution is to pour water into the mouth of one, and to place a burning flame into mouth of the other, respectively. Doing so triggers the mechanisms that open the trapdoor down to the next level.

5. Natural Cavern
This is where the survivors of the expedition hid their secrets. Here they realized that the power of transgressing the earth and the heavens was too great for any one person to command, and therefore they decided to leave it be and abandon their mission. For one thing, Fu Xu himself crafted a number of terracotta warriors to protect the site. What is more, this is also the place where he and his explorers first encountered the "fish" that prevented them from gaining access to their secret goal.

The wide spiral staircase from the previous level opens onto a broad legend, with the ceiling rising to thirty feet overhead. That continues out over an underground pool, one that is fifty feet deep. The level of the water ebbs and flows with the tide, but on average is five feet below the level of the ledge. This is the abode of a sea serpent--offspring of the very one that Fu Xu and his people faced on their two seperate incursions. For their part, the members of the Chinese expedition sent their leader himself to swim across the gap ahead of the serpent. It was then that, reaching the pinnacle of rock, he recognized the full importance of the inscriptions on the tablets there and thus decided that the Emperor was not fit to possess them. For that reason he and the rest of the party crossed back to the land and exited, leaving the secret alone--as they thought, at least--for all time.

Decisions, Decisions
As long as the PC's succeed in reaching the pinnacle, they can examine the tablets. Those doing so who can read ancient Chinese (or have it translated) and who succeed at a DC 20 Knowledge: arcana or religion check recognize that the tablets, combined with the other information collected by the Cabal, could be used to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. In game terms, this would allow one who possesses such knowledge to create and use a Codex of Infinite Spells. In a low-magic setting such as Skull & Bones, this should have huge implications. After all, the notion of people having access to spells such as wish or miracle presents tremendous opportunities for good or evil. With that in mind, it is up to the PC's to decide just what they want to do with this power.

On the one hand, they could decide to use it for themselves. To do so they might need to gain access to the lore assembled by the Cabal, if they have not already done so. At that point, of course, a good deal of GM adjudication likely becomes necessary. What is more, the PC's, while facing off against their enemies in the Cabal, would also find themselves opposed by powers such as Kuan Liu-Chang, Reuben Meier and Isaac Faulkes, agents of the Inquisition, and others. Of course, it is always possible that the PC's decide to cooperate with the Cabal, but Brother Simon is not one to share unlimited power with others if he can possibly avoid doing so.

On the other hand, the PC's could always decide to destroy the tablets so as to prevent such power from falling into anyone's hands. In that case, allies such as Meier and Faulkes approve of their decision. This can be done by dealing a suitable amount of damage to the tablets, which have hardness 8 and 50 hit points.

Whatever the PC's decide, as they emerge from the underground complex, they must face up to the other parties who are interested in their discovery.

Encounter 4--Repercussions
Characters who think to do so can make DC 25 Spot checks to survey the waters surrounding this island as they exit the cache; those who specify such wariness may make DC 20 Search checks instead. Those who succeed notice that two more vessels are arriving in Drake's Bay--the Duke and the Duchess. (As always, the GM should modify this situation based on what has previously transpired during the campaign.) Whatever the case, trouble arrives for the PC's.

This should make for a dramatic situation in which the players might need to control the actions of the PC's as well as the NPC's aboard their ship. (Here the GM is encouraged to use the rules for tracking crew members presented in the article "A Motley Crew.") In such a situation, the PC's must hurry to reach their vessel while it is under attack.

As mentioned above, there is always the possibility that the PC's decide to cooperate wth members of the Cabal, or at least that they feign to do so. That situation presents a complicated roleplaying situation, and one that requires a good deal of GM adjudication. At the very least, they need to figure out how to make their capitulation apparent to the newcomers. This could entail some kind of signalling, running up a white flag, or the like.

Alternately, if the PC's decide to make a stand and fight, they face a classic run-out-the-guns, ship-to-ship combat. This could include maneuvering in the tight confines of Drake's Bay, along with the trading of broadsides and other such glorious action.

Additional Difficulties
Just when the battle is reaching a fever pitch, it becomes more complicated--the aforementioned vessel of the Garda Costa reappears. This development serves two purposes. For one thing, it provides a reprieve if the PC's and their crew have been caught offguard by the agents of the Cabal. For another, if the PC's have chosen to capitulate, this presents a contrary opinion and could precipitate a fight. Here again, GM adjudication is likely necessary to resolve these developments.

At the GM's discretion, the captain of this vessel could be none other than Salvator Jimenez, or another character whom the PC's have previously encountered.

If they haven't already done so, in the aftermath of the battle the PC's must decide on their intentions. They should be aware that they possess information of tremendous value, albeit some that could be used to unleash almost unspeakable power. With that in mind, theirs is a choice that could carry heavy consequences. Although it is never possible to anticipate all of the directions that an adventure can take, some of the more likely outcomes are detailed in the Conclusion, below.

With power such as this available to them, the PC's could pursue any number of goals; indeed, this is really more of a beginning for them than any kind of resolution.

Further Adventures
Given that, here are suggestions for some of the myriad possibilities.
  • The PC's could decide to use the power available to them, or let someone else use it. Keep in mind that doing so calls into play all of the normal rules for casting spells beyond one's knowledge, just like when a low-level character uses high-level spell scrolls. To that end, it could bring some unexpected consequences.
  • It could be that the PC's need to access the lore collected by the Cabal if they wish to harness this potent magic. Should that be the case, they might need to bargain with Ephraim or Muriel Grey, or even seek out Brother Simon himself at the Cabal's repository.
  • There is always the chance that the PC's decide to destroy the tablets. This is not difficult to do, given the stats for them mentioned above. Such an action is not without repercussions, however, as the agents of the Cabal are relentless in their efforts to recover the tablets or punish those who disregard them.
  • In the event that someone such as Brother Simon is able to wield the power of this connection, he can start to make some big changes in the world around him. The earthquake that destroyed Port Royal is a good example of what he might unleash.
  • Characters who want to buy some time to think could always sail home via the westward route, thereby completing a circumnavigation of the globe.

Appendix 1—Dramatis Personae

Captain Isaac Faulkes
Sea Dog 4/Sea Officer 5; CR 9; Size medium; HD 4d8+5d10+18; hp 68; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+2 buff coat, -1 Dex); Atk +8 (melee) or +6 (ranged); SQ Bonus feat, survivor +2, expert pilot, resilient, skill expert +3 (Profession: sailor), command (morale bonus, readiness); AL NG; SV: Fort +7, Ref +1, Will +7; Str 12, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 16.
Background: Seaman (Climb, Profession: sailor).
Skills: Climb +5, Diplomacy +10, Gather Information +8, Heal +12, Knowledge (geography) +8, Knowledge (sea lore) +8, Listen +12, Profession (sailor) +16, Sense Motive +9, Spot +12, Survival +12.
Feats: Alertness, Guidance, Negotiator, Self-Sufficient, Skill Focus (Profession: sailor), Track.
Fortunes: Code of Honor.
Equipment: Buff coat.

Isaac Faulkes is something of a rarity in England, a Jewish ship's captain. In this way he is notably more pious than some others of his profession. Even so, his years spent commanding voyages and exploring new lands have proven his competence, and the discrimination that he sometimes faces because of his beliefs has only honed his determination. He has long been friends with Reuben Meier; the older fellow acts as a spiritual advisor to Isaac, while the sailor helps the apothecary with his business.

Faulke's Sailors
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6+2, belaying pin or gaff hook) or +2 (ranged); SQ details; AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Seaman.
Skills: Climb +6, Knowledge (sea lore) +3, Profession (sailor) +5.
Feats: Power Attack, Seagoing.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Sailor's clothing, gaff hook or belaying pin, miscellaneous possessions.

Liu-Chang Kwan
Wizard (Diviner) 9; CR 9; Size medium; HD 9d4; hp 24; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (+0 Dex); Atk +4 (melee) or +4 (ranged); SQ Scribe Scroll, bonus feat; AL N; SV: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +13; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 20, Wis 12, Cha 13.
Background: Scholar.
Skills: Concentration +12, Decipher Script +14, Knowledge (arcana) +14, Knowledge (history) +14, Knowledge (religion) +14, Spellcraft +14.
Feats: Greater Spell Focus (divination), Iron Will, Mental Acumen, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Concentration), Spell Focus (divination).
Fortunes: Enlightened.
Equipment: Spell components & pouch, I Ching coins.
Spells per Day: 4/5/5/4/3/2. Spells Known: (0) Arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance; (1) identify, mage armor, shield, true strike; (2) cat's grace, fox's cunning, locate object, obscure object; (3) arcane sight, dispel magic, illusory script, nondetection; (4) detect scrying, lesser glove of invulnerability, locate creature, mnemonic enhancer; (5) break enchantment, dream

Liu-Chang Kwan is a Chinese mystic who is skilled in the art of divination. He uses his powers to gain a greater understanding of the world around him, and therefore of his own place in it; he has little concern for gaining power or wealth. It is this desire that led him to trace the legendary voyage of Fu Xu, leaving him in his current predicament.

Reuben Meier
Cleric 9; CR 9; Size medium; HD 9d8; hp 35; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+0 Dex, +2 magic); Atk +6/+1 (melee) or +6/+1 (ranged); SQ Turn Undead; AL LG; SV: Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +10; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 20, Cha 12.
Background: Religious (Diplomacy and Knowledge: religion).
Skills: Craft Wondrous Item, Diplomacy +13, Heal +17, Knowledge: religion +16, Profession: apothecary +17, Survival +4.
Feats: Herbalist, Iron Will, Self-Sufficient, Skill Focus (Knowledge: religion).
Fortunes: Enlightened.
Equipment: Clothing, books, various herbs and powders, herbalist equipment, amulet of natural armor +2, incense of meditation, restorative ointment.
Spells per Day: 6/5+1/5+1/4+1/3+1/2+1. Meier may select from the list of "discreet" spells presented in the article "Clerics in the New World."

Reuben Meier is best known around London as a highly skilled apothecary; many people swear by his remedies, and rightly so. What fewer people know is that he's also an accomplished Khabbalist. In his spare time, he reads from his religious texts and meditates on their meanings. He is also intrigued by other cultures, however, delighting especially in books and tales from the far-flung corners of the world.

Mercenary Soldier
Fighter 1; CR 1; Size medium; HD 1d10+2; hp 12; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +4 (1d8+2, cutlass) or +2 (2d6, musket); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Military (Survival 2 ranks).
Skills: Climb +6, Jump +6, Professions (sailor) +5, Survival +5.
Feats: Point Blank Shot, Rugged, Weapon Focus (cutlass).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, cutlass, musket, powder and shot.

Mercenary Sergeant
Fighter 3; CR 3; Size medium; HD 3d10+6; hp 27; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +6 (1d8+2, cutlass) or +4 (2d6, musket); AL LN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Military (Survival 2 ranks).
Skills: Climb +8, Jump +8, Professions (sailor) +7, Survival +5.
Feats: Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Rugged, Weapon Focus (cutlass).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, cutlass, musket, powder and shot.

Mercenary Lieutenant
Fighter 6; CR 6; Size medium; HD 6d10+12; hp 49; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +9/+4 (1d8+7, cutlass) or +6 (2d6, musket); AL LN; SV: Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +3; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Military (Survival 2 ranks).
Skills: Climb +12, Jump +12, Professions (sailor) +11, Survival +5.
Feats: Cleave, Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Rugged, Weapon Focus (cutlass), Weapon Specialization (cutlass).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, cutlass, musket, powder and shot.

Mercenary Captain
Fighter 10; CR 10; Size medium; HD 10d10+20; hp 75; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +15/+10 (1d8+9, cutlass) or +11 (2d6, musket); AL LN; SV: Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +4; Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Military (Survival 2 ranks).
Skills: Climb +16, Jump +16, Professions (sailor) +15, Survival +5.
Feats: Cleave, Far Shot, Great Cleave, Greater Weapon Focus (cutlass), Greater Weapon Specialization (cutlass), Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Rugged, Weapon Focus (cutlass), Weapon Specialization (cutlass).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, masterwork cutlass, masterwork musket, powder and shot.

These soldiers of fortune are all business. They sell their services to the highest bidder, working to support that patron in whatever pursuits he or she might have. For that reason, they do not take the actions of opponents personally, but that does not mean they aren't ruthless toward their enemies. They would rather shoot first and ask questions later, if at all. Of course, should someone offer them more money, that could always change the situation.

Muriel Grey
Wizard 11; CR 11; Size medium; HD 11d4; hp 29; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 armor, +1 deflection); Atk +5 (ranged) or +4 (melee); SQ spells; AL CN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +7; Str 8, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 20, Wis 8, Cha 14.
Background: Scholar.
Skills: Appraise +8, Concentration +14, Craft (writing) +13, Decipher Script +19, Knowledge (arcane) +19, Knowledge (geography) +19, Knowledge (history) +19, Knowledge (religion) +13, Spellcraft +19.
Feats: Combat Casting, Craft Wondrous Item, Dodge, Improved Counterspell, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (enchantment/charm), Spell Mastery (Details).
Fortunes: Details.
Equipment: Clothing, spellbook, pouch with components, pouch containing 20 poe, cloak of resistance +1, amulet of natural armor +2, ring of protection +1.
Spells per Day: 4/4+1/4+1/4+1/3+1/2+1/1.
Spells Known: Level 0—Arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance; identify, mage armor, magic weapon, shield, true strike; cat's grace, fox's cunning, misdirection, protection from arrows; arcane sight, dispel magic, haste, heroism, keen edge; bestow curse, locate creature, remove curse; break enchantment, dream, nightmare, permanency; analyze dweomer, greater dispel magic, greater heroism.

Muriel seeks one thing in this world--arcane power. This is why she joined the Cabal, and why she now leads the expedition to Patagonia. She is willing to use any means of achieving that goal, including exploiting others if they might be useful to her. To that end, Muriel can be downright charming, but this is only a veneer. She is highly knowledgeable when it comes to the ancient traditions of the world, but always seeks more information in hopes of unlocking the deeper secrets of eldritch might.

Muriel's Raven Familiar (Shadow)
Animal; CR 1/6; Size tiny; HD 11d4; hp 14; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft.; AC 14 (+2 size, +2 Dex); Atk +13 (claws, 1d2-5); SQ low-light vision, Alertness, Improved Evasion, share spells, deliver touch spells, speak with master, speak with animals of its kind, speak English, SR 16; AL N; SV: Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +9; Str 1, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6.
Background: NA.
Skills: Listen +16, Spot +16.
Feats: Weapon Finesse.
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: None.

Ephraim Grey, Agent of the Cabal
Male Wizard 9; CR 9; Size medium; HD 9d4; hp 24; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +4 (1d4, dagger) or +6 (ranged); SQ Spells; AL N; SV: Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +9; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 10, Cha 16.
Background: Scholar.
Skills: Appraise + 5, Concentration +12, Decipher Script +15, Knowledge (arcane) +15, Knowledge (geography) +15, Knowledge (history) +15, Spellcraft +18.
Feats: Combat Casting, Leadership, Mental Acumen, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Spellcraft); Spell Focus (School).
Fortunes: Enemy, Magic.
Equipment: Clothing, spellbook, writing materials, pouch of spell components, pouch holding 50 poe, ring of keys.
Spells per Day: 4/4+1/4+1/3+1/2/1. Spells Known: (0) Arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, resistance; (1) Endure elements, identify, mage armor, magic weapon, protection from chaos/evil/good/law, shield, true strike; (2) cat's grace, fox's cunning, owl's wisdom, protection from arrows; (3) arcane sight, dispel magic, haste, heroism; (4) bestow curse, lesser globe of invulnerability, locate creature, remove curse; (5) break enchantment, contact other plane.

Ephraim is a dedicated agent of the Cabal, working to fulfill its objectives around the world. He is not so zealous as to eschew possible allies, however, and as such will exploit anyone he can. To that end he can be quite charming and even witty, but this is only a front for his cunning and calculating nature. Grey dresses like a proper English gentleman, with a tophat, coat and vest. He is unfailingly polite, until he dismisses someone as an enemy.

Yelamu Champion
Ranger 5; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d10+5; hp 37; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +8/+3 (1d6, short bow) or +6/+1 (1d6+1, hand axe); SQ Favored Enemy (animals, humans), Wild Empathy, Combat Style (archery), Endurance, Animal Companion; AL CN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Climb +10, Heal +6, Hide +11, Listen +10, Move Silently +11, Spot +10, Survival +10, Swim +10.
Feats: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot,Track.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Bow and arrows, hand axe.

Yelamu Chieftain
Ranger 11; CR 11; Size medium; HD 11d10+11; hp 76; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +14/+9/+5 (1d6, short bow) or +13/+8/+3 (1d6+2, hand axe); SQ Favored Enemy (animals, humans, magical beasts), Wild Empathy, Combat Style (archery), Endurance, Animal Companion, Improved Combat Style, Woodland Stride, Swift Tracker, Evasion, Combat Style Mastery; AL CN; SV: Fort +8, Ref +10, Will +5; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Climb +17, Heal +6, Hide +17, Listen +16, Move Silently +17, Spot +16, Survival +16, Swim +17.
Feats: Improved Critical (short bow), Improved Precise Shot, Manyshot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot,Track.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Bow and arrows, hand axe.

Cannibal Warrior
Ranger 1; CR 1; Size medium; HD 1d10+1; hp 11; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6, shortbow) or +2 (1d6+1, hand axe); SQ Favored Enemy (animals), Wild Empathy; AL CN; SV: Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Climb +5, Heal +6, Hide +6, Listen +6, Move Silently +6, Spot +6, Survival +6, Swim +6.
Feats: Point Blank Shot, Track.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Bow and arrows, hand axe.

These warriors wear primitive clothing, adorning themselves with the skins and bones of their victims. When they are on the hunt, they also add a variety of intimidating warpaint, along with an array of deadly weapons. At the GM's discretion, they could also possess some minor magical items or other such trinkets and treasures.

Spanish Captain (Salvator Jimenez?)
Expert 5; CR 4; Size medium; HD 5d6+5; hp 25; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6, cutlass) or +2 (2d6, pistol); SQ details; AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 14.
Background: Seaman.
Skills: Appraise +9, Climb +4, Diplomacy +10, Knowledge (navigation) +9, Knowledge (sea lore) +9, Listen +13, Profession (sailor) +14, Sense Motive +11, Spot +13, Survival +11.
Feats: Alertness, Seagoing, Skill Focus (Profession: sailor).
Fortunes: Been-Round, True Thomas.
Equipment: Sailor's clothing, cutlass, pair of pistols, logbook, pouch with 100 poe, pipe and tobacco.

Captain Jimenez plays the part of a swaggering sea captain, but in truth he is something of a coward. He is also cruel and self-centered, which makes him the ideal candidate to command a slave ship. While he is full of bravado when first encountering trouble, a show of superior strength can quickly change his attitude.

Spanish Crew Member
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6+2, belaying pin or gaff hook) or +2 (ranged); SQ details; AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Seaman.
Skills: Climb +6, Knowledge (sea lore) +3, Profession (sailor) +5.
Feats: Power Attack, Seagoing.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Sailor's clothing, gaff hook or belaying pin, miscellaneous possessions.

Sea Serpent--Refer to the interlude "The Serpent" to find stats for this creature.