Friday, January 25, 2013

Interlude: The Chase 2

Here is another interlude, this one with suggestions for chase scenes that cover huge tracks of land. It is inspired by the novel Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith.


Interlude 34: The Chase 2
A previous interlude, “The Chase,” provided tables for spicing up a pursuit in an urban setting. Such a scene makes for fast action, with characters ducking around obstacles, jumping from roof to roof and the like. It is also possible to evoke this kind of drama in the outdoors, using natural terrain as the background. While the action here doesn't move nearly so quickly--indeed, it can stretch over a period of hours or even days--it can still make for excitement. To do this, consider the following factors.

Refer to the appropriate chapter of the Player's Handbook for information about speed based upon terrain, and the same in the Dungeon Master's Guide (or the D20 SRD) for more details about getting lost. What is more, different landmasses can present different kinds of obstacles and hazards that the PC's and their quarry or pursuers must face. Take, for example, the desert island presented in the adventure "Dead Reckoning." It contains three types of terrain--hills, forest/jungle and swamp. These areas could present the following obstacles.

In places where the hills are steep, members of the party must make Climb checks in order to advance. Failure adds to the time that it takes to bypass the obstacle, allowing pursures to close or quarry to escape. If the height of the obstacle is thirty feet (requiring two checks at DC 15), every member of the party must spend one round per check trying to surmount it. Failure adds another round to the group's total, which the GM can tally. There is also the possibility that someone falls, causing 1d6 damage per ten feet, or that one character can reach the top and lower a rope (and thus lower the check DC to 5).

In the event that a character is incapacitated by damage suffered in this way, it might become necessary for another person to haul the victim. Additionally, any treatment through the use of the Heal skill eats up more time, as does taking time to rest in order to regain hit points.

Slogging through Swamps
In addition to slowing down the overall pace of the party, swamps can also conceal quicksand. This is a large area of sand and possibly water that creates a deadly sinkhole. (Mud, snow and similar substances can work in a similar manner.) Upon falling into it, a character is initially one-half submerged and must make a DC 15 Swim check to reach solid ground. Simply floating on top of the quicksand requires a Swim check with a cumulative -2 penalty for each minute spent in it. One failed Swim check means the character becomes three-quarters submerged; a second failed check (at a -4 penalty) means the character is completely submerged and begins to drown. Movement to solid ground at this point entails a Swim check with a -8 penalty.

Only upon reaching solid ground—earth, stone a tree trunk that extends into the water, etc.—can the character attempt to climb out; this requires a DC 15 Climb check with a penalty similar to that of the Swim check above. Failure on the Climb check does not cause a character to become more submerged, but does prevent escape.

Other characters can attempt to pull out the drowning character with a DC 15 Strength check; failed checks do not cause the character to become further submerged.

Clearing a Path in the Forest/Jungle
This can be treated in the same manner as a complex action, as detailed in the encounter "The Shipwreck 2." A given patch of forest or jungle can be given a number of hit points or DC, such as 300. Characters involved in the trek can make attacks against AC 5 or Survival checks against the same DC, with those that succeed adding to a combined total. Reaching it allows the characters to proceed, with the GM again keeping track of time taken.This naturally gives an advantage to pursuers, who can follow the path taken by their quarry.

Tracking and Spotting
The rules for using the Survival skill and Track feat are well dilenated in the core rules; they can provide guidelines for following another person's trail--or for having someone tracking oneself. Should the pursuers come close enough to their quarry, they might actually be able to see them, depending on the terrain. For example, if an area of forest gives way to more open hills, the pursuers might be able to see and even shoot at the ones whom their following.

All in all, this kind of pursuit gives characters a chance to use their skills, and can make for a different kind of action from combat or the typical chase scene.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Dhow

Today's post is an adaptation of a map from this blog's first adventure, providing a deck plan for a dhow or fishing boat.


The Dhow
While bigger ships are a crucial component of the quintessential scenario for action at sea, trading broadsides, smaller vessels are also important. After all, they can be used for running up rivers into unknown lands, making small-scale raids and the like.

Refer to the appropriate map for the layout of the ship. Unlike larger vessels, the dhow doesn't have separate cabins in the back; rather, there's a raised deck from which the tiller is operated. Beneath it is a narrow space that provides some cover from the elements, accessible by a short ladder. On the opposite side of the ship another such ladder leads below decks into a cramped space that serves as hold and sleeping quarters for the crew. There's another such ladder forward, in front of the mast. Vessels like this one are generally lateen-rigged, with one large triangular sail.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

An Interlude and a Review

Today's post combines two things. The first is a review of the novel The Guardship, the first book in the Brethren of the Coast trilogy by James L. Nelson. The second is an interlude entitled, appropriately enough, "The Brethren," which presents the notion of the pirates in a campaign banding together into a group akin to the council of pirate lords in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.


Book Review

As a fan of all things piratical, I'm always on the lookout for fiction and non-fiction related to the subject. In this case, I was intrigued when I first learned of The Guardship during a Google search for pirate fiction. Since my local library had a copy of it, I figured it was worth a try. I was not disappointed.

The novel has an interesting premise, rather the opposite of the classic Captain Blood. In the latter, Peter Blood is a respectable gentleman who is thrust into a life of slavery by performing his duties as a doctor. In The Guardship, the hero is a former pirate who seeks to give up that life by going ashore, buying a plantation and living like the other landowners. For that reason, a fair amount of the early action is less swashbuckling and more intriguing. It does not drag, however, since the other gentlemen with whom Thomas Marlowe must deal are just as cutthroat as any pirate. The conflicts are interesting, the characters are engaging, and the story is thus quite satisfying.

Interlude 33: The Brethren
In the time of Captain Henry Morgan, there was a band of pirates known as the Brethren of the Coast. Years later, the pirates who gathered around New Providence Island came to be known as the Flying Gang. Both of these groups represent a classic idea for pirates: banding together as an alliance which can resist the forces that would hunt them.

In a Skull & Bones campaign, the notion of an overarching band of pirates can provide for lots of drama an adventure hooks. A few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • First and foremost, the PC's could be invited to join this organization once they have made their own names as leaders of a pirate crew.
  • This could come in the form of a messenger who bears the invitation, or perhaps it could come in the form of an encrypted message a la "The Letter."
  • One option for this invitation is to be part of a coalition to resist enemies, such as the English or Spanish navies. Under such circumstances the enemy in question would need to be a fearsome one, indeed.
  • Another option is that the pirates wish to establish their own settlement, a pirate utopia. This would, of course, require much negotiation and planning in order to find the best possible location and then determine how to administer such a settlement.
  • The chosen location is likely to be a remote location, given the checkered histories of those who are invited to it.
  • Whatever the situation, the assemblage could bring the PC's together with old allies as well as enemies. For example, the PC's might have previously encountered the Carlisle Brothers during the events of "Reprisal," Captain Bartleby during "Trial by Fire," Captain Horne during "The Mermaid's Tale," or Banshee and Cannon O'Bannon during "Fortune and Glory." If Nneka has established himself as a captain, he too could be present.
  • This gives the GM an opportunity for some vivid description, as the PC's see the other vessel arrive, flying their distinctive pirate flags.
  • An aggrieved party could call for a duel to settle the matter.
  • This gathering provides an opening for other interludes, such as "The Competition" or "The Competition 2," as well as something akin to "The Articles."
  • Once the assemblage is brought together, there is the question of leadership. In the tradition of pirate equality, it would be best for each captain to have a vote in matters. Given the tendency for people to be ambitious, however, it could also happen that one pirate tries to be elected as commodore over all the other captains.
  • Of course, this call for unity could also be a ruse. For example, an enemy of the PC's could have captured one of their rivals, and then persuaded that unfortunate to betray them.
In this way, this interlude could make for numerous short- as well as long-term conflicts. For example, the PC's might be able to settle an old grudge with a single confrontation, whereas the notion of founding an idyllic pirate community on a remote desert island could make for many sessions' worth of activity.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Interlude: The Burial + Two Important Dates

This interlude is a simple one, but one that could make for some drama.

Additionally, I have a couple of important dates to report. One is for the release of the next Pirates of the Caribbean film, on 10 July 2015. The other is for a new compilation of sea chanties and similar songs, Son of Rogues Gallery, on 19 February 2013. (If you'd like to hear a preview of a song from this anthology, check out .


Interlude 32: The Burial
It's an unfortunate fact in the life of an adventurer that some times the best plans go awry. At best, such occasions lead to a great deal of improvising, allowing the heroes to extricate themselves from a bad situation. At worst, of course, it could lead to the death of one or more characters. In a Skull & Bones campaign, of course, PC casualties can roll the bones, and perhaps live to fight another day despite some sort of debilitating injury. For lesser crew members, however, there are no such chances. While this is a necessary risk for the crew of a pirate vessel, it can also make for a good roleplaying opportunity.

A previous article, “A Motley Crew,” introduced guidelines for tracking the development of personalities of crew members. One issue that it did not address is the possibility of such characters being killed. Should that misfortune occur, it behooves the ranking (PC) members of the crew to give the fallen their last respects.

Traditionally, a burial at sea involves stitching the deceased into a canvas shroud made from spare sails, with the last stitch going through the nose in order to make sure there aren't any “dead ringers.” It is also customary to say a few words. This could include a prayer, by whoever is pious enough to lead one, along with comments from those who knew the deceased. The result of this could be an honorable sense of melancholy, or perhaps some disgruntled fellow crew members who question the decisions of the officers and need to be mollified. Whatever emotions are elicited, they are undoubtedly strong ones.

Finally, there is always the chance that a PC who is believed to be dead—and who should be rolling the bones as a result of this setback—is unknowingly stitched into a shroud. This could make for an exciting moment when said character awakens in the middle of the somber proceedings.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Galleon

This post marks the end of a lengthy process. For a while I've been working on deck plans for a galleon, but I hadn't found a base design that really worked for me. While reading the book The Spanish Main, however--part of the excellent Seafarers series by Time-Life Books--I found a set of pictures by an artist (I think) named John Batchelor. This provided side and top-down views, along with a cross-section, and it just worked.

Also, based on a post from Black Vulmea's enjoyable Really Bad Eggs blog, I present to you my pirate name.

My pirate name is:
Dirty Jack Cash
You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

If you want, take the quiz yourself and discover your own pirate moniker.


The Galleon
No vessel better represents the majesty of a ship at sea than the galleon. Although they are most closely associated with the Spanish fleet in the New World, these ships play an integral role in many navies and merchant endeavors.

The following area descriptions are pretty standard for this type of vessel, but by no means comprehensive. Individual captains and crews, as is their want, are likely to modify their vessels to suit their own styles and needs.

1. Main Deck
This broad area is flanked forward by the forecastle, and aft by the quarterdeck. The mainmast juts upward from it, while the cargo hatch and stairways provide access to lower levels. Some vessels carry six cannon on this deck, three to each side.

2. Passenger Cabins
Six small cabins in this area can provide sleeping space for a variety of passenger, or even for lesser officers aboard a ship.

3. Steering Station
In older vessels, before the advent of a ship's wheel connected by chains to the rudder, the ship is steered by a crew member in control of the whipstaff here. A raised section of the roof overhead allows this person to communicate with the captain on the quarterdeck.

4. Great Cabin (Captain)
This large cabin provides space for the captain, along with room enough for hosting meals and meetings. A typical arrangement of furnishings could include a bed, writing desk and wardrobe, along with a table and chairs.

5. Crew Quarters
Despite this area's relatively small size, it can easily hold a dozen hammocks or more. Given that crew members tend to share this sleeping space when they are not on duty, this allows a large number of sailors to be quartered here.

6. Beak
This open area in front of the forecastle is used for little more than storage.

7. Forecastle
The raised platform here is common on merchant and military vessels, but pirates often remove it to provide more open space for combat. As a result, members of a pirate crew are forced to sleep on the open deck or to string up a hammock somewhere belowdecks. The foremast protrudes through here.

8. Quarterdeck
A short set of stairs leads from the main deck up to here, and another leads from here up to the poop deck. The mizzenmast rises up through this area.

9. Sailing Master's Cabin
The person in charge of plotting the ship's course is quartered here, with a view better than that of anyone other than the lookouts in the rigging overhead. This cabin is outfitted much like the captain's cabin, albeit without the table and chairs for hosting.

10. Poop Deck
At the very aft of the ship is this raised deck, from which the bonaventure mast rises. In the back of this area is the transom, on which the ship's name is usually painted; one or more bright lanterns are often mounted here, too, to provide illumination for crew members working during the night.

11. Gun Deck
Underneath the main deck is this level. It is most often filled with cannon, with gunports cut in the sides. At least six cannon can fit on a side, with perhaps a couple more facing aft as chase guns. Depending on the needs of the crew, their could be some hammocks strung up in the middle of the deck to provided more sleeping space.

12. Bilge Pump
In the middle of the gun deck stands this structure, one that is both loved and hated by sailors. While it can often mean the difference between surviving and returning to life on land, or finding one's death in the cold embrace of the sea, it can also make for brutal labor when the hull is badly damaged. One pipe leads down from here to the lower deck, while another juts out through the ship's starboard side.

13. Orlop Deck
This deck, along with the one below it, provide most of the space for cargo and supplies aboard the ship. As such, both can be divided as necessary by erecting temporary bulkheads. For example, one section might hold the ship's water barrels, while another is filled with spare timber, rope and canvas. There could also be a sealed rooms for holding treasure or weapons. Finally, extra space for passengers, especially soldiers, can be set up here.

14. Lower Deck
All of the masts except the bonaventure mast have their steps here, and the pipe leading up to the bilge pumps can also be found runs through the floor here to reach the bilge. Other than that, this area functions in the same manner as the orlop deck, with one exception. Given that it is hard to keep this deck dry, it's not likely that people are quartered here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Giants in the Earth

Sometimes ideas flow more easily than at other times. In this case, I was reading the Skull & Bones book's entry for island giants and it started me thinking. With a little bit of research online, I found the makings for some interesting ways of incorporating giants in a piratical campaign. The net result of this is the following article.


The Giants of Patagonia

This article is inspired by the entry for the island giant from Chapter 13 of the Skull & Bones rulebook. It is intended to build on the information presented there, including details from world mythology and specific historical references to encounters with them. In this way, the giants can be more intricately woven into the tapestry of a campaign setting.

The Origins of the Giants
Depending on the region in which they are told, stories vary widely about how the first giants came to exist. For example, the Greek record presented in the Theogony claims that the gigantes were the offspring of the Earth mother, Gaea, when she was impregnated by the blood of Ouranos following his castration at the hands of his son Cronus. They fought against the gods on behalf of the titans, hoping to overthrow Zeus and the other Olympians. In a variation on this theme, two of the giants—Otus and Ephialtes—tried to stack mountains on top of each other so that they could reach the dwelling of the gods atop Mount Olympus. Another example of giants from Greek mythology include the Laestrygonians, cannibals who killed most of the fellow crew members of Odysseus.

The Judeo-Christian tradition is perhaps the best known, however. According to the Old Testament (Genesis 6:1-4):

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,
The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." The nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

These giants, then, were the cause of God's wrath and thus the flood. Some of them managed to survive it, however, and (like Goliath, Gog and Magog) went on to do battle with Jewish heroes for centuries thereafter.

There are still many other examples. In the Norse tradition the giants are known as the Jotun, and were enemies of the gods, just like among the Greeks. Indeed, the Norse giants were such formidable foes that, it was believed, they and the gods who destroy each other in an epic battle at the end of this world. Finnish folklore tells of a giant shaman, Antero Vipunen, from whom the hero Vainamoinen learned ancient magic. British legends tell of another giant, Gogmagog, whom the early settlers of Britain had to conquer in order to have peace in the realm.

Although there is considerable variation in all of these tales, a few common details stand out amongst them. The giants, not surprisingly, are quite powerful—and not just because of their size and strength. Some of them possess magical abilities, and most have some kind of supernatural origin connected to ancient powers in the world. Many were considered to be a danger to humans, and a few even threatened the gods themselves.

Disappearance and Rediscovery
It is because of this unending conflict with humankind that the giants tried to leave the settled parts of the world behind them. For that reason they set out across the Atlantic Ocean, seeking places where there was little human occupation. Some of them tried different territories that were remote at the time, such as Albion. Others ended up in various parts of North and South America; this is doubtless what gave rise to various native stories of encounters with giants. The largest group by far, however, eventually settled on the southernmost point of this new continent, in the region that would come to be known as Patagonia.

This seclusion finally started to unravel when the Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan made his famous voyage of circumnavigation. While passing between the mainland and Tierra del Fuego, he and his crew witnessed a curious sight: "One day we suddenly saw a naked man of giant stature on the shore... He was so tall that we reached only to his waist, and he was well proportioned..." These reports led to the giants being given the name Patagon, a reference to the large footprints they left behind. When those who'd survived the voyage (not including Magellan, who was killed by natives in the Philippines) reported the discovery, it caused a sensation. Due to the remote nature of where it happened, however, others could only speculate but not investigate what had been seen.

There's a curious side note to this tale. As Magellan and his crew were passing through the Strait, some of his captains attempted mutiny. Although reports differ, it is known that at least one captain was executed, while another, along with a priest, were marooned in the area. Most people assume this insubordination occurred because these men had wearied of the dangerous voyage, but others suspect that their might have been other reasons.

Years later another band of explorers encountered the Patagon when Sir Francis Drake led a similar voyage. It was his chaplain, Francis Fletcher, who reported on the encounter. Similarly, sailors aboard two later vessels (both in the 1590s) reported related encounters; one saw graves for bodies some twelve feet tall, while the other reported actually being attacked by the giants.

Even given these detailed reports, other voyages failed to find the elusive giants. Given the scientific enlightenment that has arisen during the Renaissance and afterward, many people now view the stories with skepticism. Those who are familiar with the history of the giants, however, know that this skepticism is just what the giants would want to encourage.

Lifestyle and Culture
The Patagon, as they are known, have a nomadic lifestyle—one that fits well with their desire to stay away from human attention. As such, they move between various cave complexes, following the animals that live close to them. Those who live in the islands around Tierra del Fuego hunt the guanaco (an animal resembling a llama) and rhea (a bird rather like an ostrich). To that end they employ large bolas, which they hurl at and thus entangle their prey. Those who live near the sea also use spears for hunting fish, venturing forth in massive dugout canoes.

As far as religion is concerned, the giants practice a form of ancestor worship. Some scholars speculate that this is because the giants have always been the enemies of humans and their gods, and so choose to revere their own fallen progenitors instead of other powers. For this reason the giants maintain small shrines to those who have died, usually in the same place where they bury their dead. Of course, given the long lives that giants have, they do not often lose members of their tribes. As such, these shrines are kept somewhere near the territory in which the giants travel and hunt. Other tales tell of savage, cannibal giants who consume the bodies of their fallen comrades in order to inherit their physical and spiritual strength. Some scholars speculate that, if the giants do possess ancient lore or lost relics, it is these shrines where such items might be found.

In their seclusion the giants have one set of companions, dire wolves. These creatures are the size of horses, but look like normal wolves in comparison to the giants. They are utterly loyal to their large companions, helping with hunting and defense while benefitting from having intelligent fellows. Thus the two groups provide mutual protection and assistance for each other.

Among the giants, two forms of entertainment are most notable. One is rock throwing and catching, a game that helps train younger giants for combat. Another is storytelling. This allows the giants to pass along the history and traditions of their kind; these tales could include any of the ones told by humans, as mentioned above, although the versions told by the giants no doubt vary according to their different point of view.

Giant Characters
Detailed here are several types of giants that vary from the statistics presented in Chapter 13 of the Skull & Bones rulebook. Note that they reflect a fairly primitive lifestyle, as detailed above. It is entirely possible that other giants live a much more civilized existence.

Giant Hunter
Giant Ranger 4; CR 11; Size large; HD 12d8+4d10+64; hp 140; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 19 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural, +2 leather armor); Atk +21/+16/+11 (1d10+12, large longspear) or +12/+7/+2 (2d6+8, rock); SQ Rock throwing and catching, favored enemy (humans), Track, wild empathy, combat style, Endurance, animal companion; AL N; SV: Fort +16, Ref +7, Will +5; Str 26, Dex 8, Con 19, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 17.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +9, Handle Animal +7, Hide +6, Jump +8, Listen +7, Move Silently +6, Spot +11, Survival +7, Swim +16.
Feats: Cleave, Impale, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatclub).
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: Greatclub, throwing rocks.

These giants specialize in tracking and killing animals—and other quarry, should there be need. They specialize in using spears in close combat, and are known to impale enemies and prey. In temperament they are closer to the shamans than other giants, although they can be ruthless when in pursuit of a foe. They generally choose dire wolves as their animal companions.

Giant Shaman
Giant Cleric 4; CR 11; Size large; HD 16d8+48; hp 120; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 20 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide armor); Atk +17/+12/+7 (2d8+7, large greatclub) or +11/+6/+1 (2d6+5, rock); SQ Rock throwing and catching, turn or rebuke undead, spells; AL N; SV: Fort +15, Ref +4, Will +12; Str 20, Dex 8, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 18, Cha 17.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +7, Heal +11, Jump +6, Knowledge: religion +7, Spot +8, Swim +14.
Feats: Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatclub).
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: Greatclub, throwing rocks.
Spells per day: 5/4+1/3+1. Domains: Animal and Plant.

More peaceful than other island giants, shamans carry on their connection to the past. They study the healing arts and thus have more respect for all living things. Even so, they can be very protective of their fellows, especially when it comes to threats to their society. Note: Refer to the article “Clerics in the New World” for suggestions about how to add divine magic to a Skull & Bones campaign.

Adolescent Giant
Giant; CR 4; Size medium; HD 8d8+16; hp 52; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 21 (-1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide armor); Atk +11 (1d10+7, greatclub) or +5 (2d6+5, rock); SQ Rock throwing and catching; AL N; SV: Fort +8, Ref +2, Will +3; Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 17.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +8, Jump +7, Spot +2, Swim +8.
Feats: Weapon Focus (greatclub).
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: Greatclub, throwing rocks.

These young giants are approaching the age of majority and thus are starting to learn the ways of their elders. For that reason, they may accompany others on hunting trips or other such educational opportunities. While they won't rush into combat, they do provide a second line of defense should a settlement be attacked.

Juvenile Giant
Giant; CR 2; Size small; HD 4d8; hp 18; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 19 (+1 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural); Atk +6 (1d8+4, small greatclub) or +2 (1d6+3, rock); SQ Rock throwing and catching; AL N; SV: Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +2; Str 17, Dex 8, Con 11, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 17.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +4, Jump +4, Spot +1, Swim +4.
Feats: None.
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: Greatclub, throwing rocks.

These little giants are generally non-combatant, only entering combat in direct self-defense. Of course, older giants rush to protect them should they be threatened.

Savage Giant
Giant Barbarian 4; CR 11; Size large; HD 12d8+4d12+64; hp 144; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 50 ft., swim 40 ft.; AC 20 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide armor); Atk +21/+16/+11 (2d8+12, large greatclub) or +13/+8/+3 (2d6+8, rock); SQ Rock throwing and catching, fast movement, rage 2/day, uncanny dodge, trap sense +1; AL N; SV: Fort +16, Ref +4, Will +5; Str 26, Dex 8, Con 19, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 17.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +13, Jump +13, Spot +4, Survival +7, Swim +16.
Feats: Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatclub).
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: Greatclub, throwing rocks.

These island giants have adopted a brutal lifestyle. They hate interlopers of any kind and attack them on sight, working themselves into a vicious frenzy as they do so.

Giant Magician
Giant Wizard 4; CR 11; Size medium; HD 12d8+4d4+48; hp 112; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 17 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural); Atk +15/+10 (2d6+7, greatclub) or +10/+5 (2d6+5, rock); SQ Rock throwing and catching; AL N; SV: Fort +11, Ref +4, Will +8; Str 20, Dex 8, Con 16, Int 17, Wis 10, Cha 14.
Background: NA.
Skills: Climb +6, Concentration +9, Jump +5, Knowledge: arcane +10, Spellcraft +10, Spot +4, Swim +13.
Feats: Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Power Attack, Spell Focus (Illusion), Weapon Focus (greatclub).
Fortunes: NA.
Equipment: Greatclub, throwing rocks.
Spells per Day: 4+1/4+1/3+1.
Spells known: All 0-level spells except from the evocation and necromancy schools; color spray, comprehend languages, disguise self, identify, mage armor, shield, silent image, ventriloquism; blur, hypnotic pattern, invisibility, minor image.

These giants are reclusive, but still important to the rest of their society. It is they who study the ancient magic, hoping to find the means to prevent humans from rediscovering giantkind. Ironically, it is this knowledge of the arcane arts that makes them intriguing objects of pursuit for some humans.

Using the Giants in a Campaign
Island giants can be used in a Skull & Bones campaign in a variety of ways; a few of the possibilities are presented here.
  • Sailors aboard an English whaling ship, while plying the waters near Tierra del Fuego, spy what they believe to be a giant; when word reaches a prominent naturalist (such as Dr. Mordechai Smith, from a previous Interlude), he recruits the PC's to help investigate the matter.
  • Alternately, the PC's could just be passing through the area, perhaps bound for the Pacific Ocean, when they spy a towering figure in the distance; it's up to them to decide whether or not they want to pursue contact.
  • Another possibility is that a young Spanish nobleman decides to go looking for the remains of an ancestor who sailed with Magellan and was marooned or executed. Just how this person comes into contact with the PC's, however, could require some finagling on the part of the GM.
  • Alternately, someone who suspects that the giants possess ancient lore or lost relics might arrange an expedition to visit Patagonia. This could be an out-and-out raid, or these intentions might be concealed behind one of the aforementioned scenarios.
  • As humans continue to explore the world and thus make more and more voyages through the giants' territory, they could become hostile and begin attacking passing ships.

New Rule and Feat
Detailed here are a new optional game rule and feat, especially useful for large characters.

New Rule: Long Stride
According to the core rules for the D20 System, characters and creatures can take a five-foot step as a free action without being exposed to attacks of opportunity. While this makes sense for humans and others of medium stature, it seems less appropriate for large (and even bigger) creatures that have longer strides. For that reason, this optional rule allows characters and creatures can take a free step of a distance based on their size: medium = 5 feet; large = 10 feet; huge = 15 feet; gargantuan = 20 feet; colossal = 25 feet.

New Feat: Impale
When using spears and similar weapons, you can drive them through the flesh of your opponents and thus hold them in one position.
Prerequisites: Base attack bonus +6, Power Attack feat, proficiency with appropriate weapon.
Benefit: If you hit with an attack and do damage to an opponent, you can make a grapple attempt. This is resolved as normal. If it succeeds, the opponent is considered grappled, but can choose to suffer base damage from the weapon (without a Strength bonus), as a free action, in order to escape.
Normal: You cannot impale opponents with your weapon.
Special: This feat can only be used with the following weapons: longspear, halberd, ranseur, boarding pike. Feats that provide benefits for other grapple checks do not apply to the grapple check made to resolve impaling an opponent.

Related Relics
Detailed here are a number of magical items inspired by the legends of giants from around the world. They could be useful tools for the PC's to wield against such foes, or items that the giants themselves seek to acquire.

Bronze Armor of Goliath
This breast-and-back armor, forged from bronze, is sized to fit a huge creature. The style of craftmanship is clearly very old, harking back to Biblical times. It is enchanted with a +2 enhancement bonus, and possesses invulnerability—that it, it grants damage reduction of 5/magic to its wearer. Note that, while some giants view it as a relic of the ancient race that should be prized and used by giant warriors in battle, others regard it as a reminder of the aggression that has led to the downfall of the race.

Bronze Spear of Goliath
This spear, with a metal head on a wooden shaft, closely resembles the armor mentioned above. It, too, is sized for a huge creature. The weapon is imbued with a +2 enhancement bonus, along with the wounding quality. As such, it causes one point of Constitution damage to targets of a successful attack. Although a potent weapon, some giants regard it with the same sense of disapproval that they have for Goliath's armor.

Four Stones of David
According to the story in the Bible, the shepherd David, after deciding to face Goliath, collected five stones from a nearby stream. In the end he only needed one with which to defeat his opponent. What few know, however, is that the other stones still retain their divinely magical properties, having +2 enhancement bonuses along with the greater slaying property (DC 23 save) versus giants. They are of such a size that they can be used with slings, or if fired from a special wide-bore firearm, essentially a portable swivel gun. It is believed that agents of the Vatican may have gathered these weapons in order to use them against giants.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Interlude: The Escape

In the event of a worst-case scenario during an adventure, this interlude provides suggestions for what happens if the PC's are caught ad imprisoned, along with how they might escape.


Interlude 31: The Escape
There comes a time in the career of every adventuring party when things just don't work out right. Perhaps the PC's are beaten into unconsciousness and left for dead, or maybe they find themselves in a no-win situation and actually surrender. Whatever the case, they could wind up being held prisoner, either aboard a ship or in a building on land. Rather than being an unhappy ending, this situation instead can make for a truly engaging scene, as they look devise an escape plan and settle the score. Should this situation arise, the GM would do well to consider the following factors.

Taking Stock of the Situation
First and foremost, the PC's find themselves stripped of all possessions. This should make for a particularly challenging situation, given that they're probably accustomed to having their chosen weapons and other equipment.
  • Any characters who were hurt badly enough while being captured should roll the bones; adapting to any new developments, such as the loss of a hand, can be part of the drama.
  • Rogues in the party must find or improvise some thieves' tools, especially if the PC's are locked in irons. Likely candidates for substitution include hairpins, needles and the like. Depending on the likelihood of the item in question, an equipment penalty from -2 to -5 could be appropriate.
  • Hougans, bokor, clerics and perhaps even occultists must deal with both the lack of spell components and perhaps inability to prepare spells, as well. Depending on what they can find, such characters might be forced to make do with a limited repertoire, which should provide an interesting challenge.
  • All of the PC's could be forced to deal with improvised weapons, based on the items to which they have access. For those who are given work details, this could include the tools for laboring; another option is stealing them from unwary guards.
  • Along the same line, it could help build conflicts if one or more NPC's were to claim the Player Characters' equipment and perhaps even use it against them.
  • Finally, the PC's could always by themselves a little time—and perhaps create opportunities to escape—if they can convince their captors that they hold the secret to a hidden treasure cache.
Once the PC's are locked away in confinement, it could be important to have some details about their dwelling. As mentioned above, this could happen aboard a ship at sea; in such a case, refer to the deck plans for a sloop, a slave ship or even a galley. Indeed, serving aboard a galley was especially common in those countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, if they are in a port city, use the floor plan for an appropriate building. Unless they're brought to a major fort, such as Cape Coast Castle, the chances are good that they find themselves in an impromptu prison, often a converted warehouse.

It has a door of iron-banded wood sealed with a stout padlock (DC 20 to open; hardness 10 and 30 hit points). What is more, shackles are added around the walls, and captives are kept locked in them. Buckets serve for inmates' toilet needs, and bowls of soup and hunks of bread are provided for meals. Guards are usually posted outside the door, with the number assigned depending on the size of the incarcerated party along with the reputations of the prisoners.

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

Warrior 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d8+6; hp 23; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +5 (2d6, short musket) or +4 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +5, Jump +5, Survival +5, Swim +5.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

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

This is only a temporary measure, of course, a holdover until the PC's can be transferred to a more secure location, something like Cape Coast Castle.

Paying the Price
As part of their incarceration, the PC's are likely to face some kind of punishment. This could include humiliation at the hands of an enemy, physical labor, or perhaps even torture. While the GM should not overdo this part of the situation, it can be an effective means by which to establish an enemy. For example, if the PC's are subjected to the not-so-tender mercies of a jailer who whips them while they haul heavy stones as part of a work detail—thereby inflicting subdual damage an perhaps even fatigue upon them—it can create more dire circumstances, and make the scene even more engagin once they have a chance for some comeuppance.

A trial could be an opportunity for engaging roleplaying. Should this occur, each of the PC's is brought before the court and accused of his/her crimes; the judge asks questions, while witnesses present their own versions of the events in question. It could make for an especially lively discussion if the PC's have differing opinions about the facts of the matter.

A Little Help
During their incarceration, the PC's might have a chance to work with one or more allies. Some of the possibilities for this include the following.
  • Characters who have animal companions—especially those who have invested in fortunes like Parrot Perch, Monkey Magnet or Dog's Best Friend, and perhaps even the Bonded Animal feat—might find that these creatures have survived the fateful encounter. After all, enemies might not consider an animal to be much of a threat. Considering the tricks that these pets might have learned, they could certainly prove useful.
  • Imprisonment could also give the GM a chance to introduce new NPC's, or to make use of old ones. For example, a chivalric gesture toward a local noblewoman could pay dividends if she visits the prison and takes pity on the PC's, as could an act of kindness toward a street urchin, or something similar.
  • This is also a good chance for PC's to make use of any contacts they might have, depending on their chosen backgrounds.

Choosing the Right Moment
Another important consideration is where and when to take action. Likely moments include while being forced to participate in a work detail (in Algiers, for example), or while being escorted to the place of judgement or execution (as might happen in Port Royal or other places). Other preparations should lead up to this moment, building a sense of tension and anticipation. Once the escape effort begins, the action should be fast and furious. Something akin to a running chase is probably best, rather than having the PC's stand and fight all of their enemies. Although this might mean that some opponents survive, this only makes for an even more memorable confrontation in the future. Similarly, this could mean that they are forced to leave behind valued possessions and the like.

Making an Exit
Once the deed is done, it behooves the PC's to move as far away from the scene of the action as they can, and as quickly as possible. Therefore, having a vessel—or at least horses—available is advisable. As long as they can put some distance between themselves and the long arm of the law, the PC's can live to fight another day.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Interlude: The Coffeehouse

Today's post is a shorter one, a floor plan and description for a coffeehouse.


Interlude 30: The Coffeehouse
It's a fact of life that pirates must sometimes interact with, well, regular folks, and not all people like to spend their time swilling ale and rum in the local tavern. It could be that some buccaneers are looking for a scholar to help decipher a cryptic document, or that they're meeting a secret benefactor who doesn't dare make an appearance in such unrefined places. Perhaps they're even looking for a legitimate cargo in order to do some honest business. Whatever the case, they might find themselves visiting a coffeehouse.

These locations first appeared in Europe around the middle of the 1600's, coming from the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire. They quickly became a place for people to gather and discuss all manner of topics, including politics and philosophy. As such, at least one sovereign, Charles II of England, tried to suppress their spread, claiming that they were a hotbed for dissenting ideas. Indeed, many of the important thinkers whose ideas led to the Enlightenment spent their time in these locations, reading and conversing.

In a Skull & Bones campaign, a coffeehouse can make a good location for a fish-out-of-water situation should the PC's need to meet with someone respectable. This could include a nobleman, a wealthy merchant, a sage/occultist, or the like. Of course, given the intrigues that can arise, this action need not be limited to roleplaying; perhaps the PC's are present during an act of thievery or even an assassination attempt. Alternately, a meeting here could be the start of a plot involving insurrection against the king or queen.

The coffeehouse itself is a rather simple structure. A broad bar in the middle of the room provides seating for many of the customers, while lining the walls are booths with benches and tables for those who like a little more separation or privacy. There are also two smaller rooms, one for storage and one that serves as an office for the proprietor.

Proprietor—Perceval Reed
Expert 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d6; hp 27; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +5 (1d3, knife) or +4 (ranged); SQ none; AL NG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 12, Cha 16.
Background: Mercantile.
Skills: Appraise +15, Craft (cooking) +14, Decipher Script +9, Diplomacy +15, Knowledge (geography) +13, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (local) +13, Knowledge (nature) +13, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +13, Knowledge (religion) +13, Sense Motive +13.
Feats: Diligent.
Fortunes: Enlightened, Guidance, Negotiator, Skill Focus (Craft: cooking).
Equipment: Clothing, pouch containing 20 poe in mixed coins, book.

Perceval Reed has a love of learning rivaled only by his loves of good food and living in comfort. Running a coffeehouse allows him to indulge all three of these passions, since his establishment is always filled with paying customers with whom he can discuss any subject imaginable. He is a jovial and open-minded fellow, but one who enjoys playing devil's advocate if doing so can facilitate a good discussion.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Living Legends

To kick off the new year, I have the next adventure in the Come Hell and High Water series. It allows for a bit of a hiatus following the events of "Fortune & Glory," and marks the beginning of a major new story arc.

Happy 2013!


Living Legends
This scenario is Part 14 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 ninth-level characters. Although it is intended as part of an ongoing collection of scenarios, it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure with a bit of modification.

For a long time now, the use of arcane magic has been on decline in the world. This is due to a number of factors. One is the growing use of technology, especially with such inventions as gunpowder; it is now much easier to create powerful weapons without relying on magic to do so. Another influence is the persecution of those who practice the eldritch arts, especially by representatives of the monotheistic traditions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Together these elements have made such practices so rare that many people believe tales of sorcery to be nothing more than tenacious folklore or flights of fancy.

The rather recent discovery of the New World has added some credence to those old stories. For example, reputable sources who have visited the Caribbean and the Spanish Main have brought back to Europe reports of Voodoo practitioners, Aztec and Mayan rituals in the like. This has brought about a resurgence of interest in the subject, and thus has caused people to look with renewed credulity on old traditions regarding the arcane arts.

Nowhere is this interest more evident than in London, where an organization known only as the Cabal operates. This secretive band of scholars is steeped in occult research, studying everything including reports of witchcraft, Arthurian legend, native traditions, Biblical scholarship, mythology and the like. All throughout these myriad subjects they seek a common thread, any hint of means by which to harness eldritch influence.

Not long ago one agent of the Cabal, Ephraim, learned of recent events in the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas involving a band of pirates, a sea witch and a North African scholar familiar with ancient legends. Through his investigations he tracked down Mustafa Al-Aqil, an associate of the Algerian corsairs who had studied the legends of the region in detail. Once he learned the extent of Mustafa's expertise, Ephraim pressed him into service of the Cabal. What he did not know, however, was that his prisoner's servant, Yusuf, witnessed the kidnapping and decided to do something about it. Knowing that it was an Englishman who was behind the crime, and that Mustafa had recently had a run-in with certain scallywags from the Caribbean, Yusuf decided to gamble on a desperate ploy: he sailed for Jamaica, hoping to find said scallywags and recruit them for a rescue mission.

At the same time, the agents of the Cabal and their associates remain on the island, searching for the treasures of the witch Circe. So far they have been stymied by the puzzles that they have found. For that reason they've moved their ship away from the island, so as not to attract attention, but a team of agents remains among the ruins.

This adventure is meant to take place some time after the events of “Fortune & Glory,” detailed previously. It is not so much a direct sequel, however, and provides a good opportunity to introduce a new group of heroes into this series of scenarios.

If this adventure is being used as part of the Come Hell or High Water campaign, then some time should pass between the end of “Fortune and Glory” and the start of these events. By this point in the series, the PC's have become ship's captains and other influential individuals, and no doubt have business of their own to pursue. That might include enjoying the spoils of previous scenarios, recruiting sailors to serve as part of a growing band of ships, hunting for prizes and plunder, tying up loose ends from previous story lines or even settling old scores from characters' background tales. Whatever the case, some time has passed since their last adventure.

On the other hand, if this is being used as a stand-alone scenario or as an introduction to the next series of adventures, the GM might need to do a little finagling. In such a case, the servant Yusuf might head for Port Royal in search of a Non-Player Character, albeit one who is familiar to one or more of the PC's. Alternately, one of the PC's might have met Mustafa al-Aqil during prior business, and made an impression that leaves him willing to seek help from that PC. Of course, the PC's could just happen to be in the right place at the right time, and thus become embroiled in these events.

Whatever the case, the PC's happen to be in Port Royal when the mob gathers to exact its misconstrued justice on an innocent man.

Encounter 0—Downtime
Before this adventure even begins, it is important to know what the PC's have been doing up to this point. If this adventure is being used as a one-shot scenario, this information could be part of the Player Characters' backstories. On the other hand, if the GM is using this as part of the Come Hell and High Water campaign, those details reveal what the PC's have been doing since the events of “Fortune and Glory.” The chances are good that, in possession of a sizable treasure, they have been expanding their spheres of influence and celebrating their windfall. This could include buying and outfitting ships, setting off on personal business, whooping it up in port, and the like.

Once these decisions have been made, they set the stage for the start of this adventure. The PC's could have something of a homecoming, perhaps meeting up at the Sign of the Boar's Head or a similar location. Alternately, they might be down at the docks, having just arrived in town, when news of trouble reaches them. Whatever the case, they can share tales of their doings sooner or later, prior to or during their run-in with the mob.

Encounter 1—The Mob
There's no kind of justice like angry mob justice. At least, this is the guiding principle when a group of Port Royal sailors and similar types learns that a vessel from the Barbary Coast has arrived at the docks, and they decide to take the law into their own hands. As such, they gather a group of civically minded associates and head to the docks to deal with the menace once and for all. They gather a variety of weapons with which to do their worst. To set this scene, refer to the map of the dock and sloop. When the PC's arrive, the dock is filled with angry sailor and other malcontents who are out for blood. As such, they have a number of options for dealing with the mob.

One is to try using Diplomacy. The base DC for talking down these bloodthirsty cutthroats is 30. The GM should feel free to apply various +2 circumstance bonuses, however, depending on specific developments. Some of the possibilities include the following:
  • Good roleplaying, including an appropriate speech
  • An impressive show of force, perhaps along with an Intimidate check
  • Being festooned with weapons, and displaying skill in using them
  • Other tactics, at the GM's discretion
Of course, the flip side of these benefits could arise in the form of penalties for poor attempts to cow the cutthroats.

There's always a chance, of course, that the PC's aren't interested in helping out these strangers. Should that happen, Yusuf takes it upon himself to make contact with them. To do so he first appears on deck and calls out to them, asking for assistance. If need be, he next tries to reach them directly, hoping to be able to share his story and thus win their cooperation. He might even resort to offering wealth or other such enticements—after all, through his research, Mustafa is almost certain to know where such things can be found.

Mob Tactics
Should the PC's choose not to intervene, or fail in their efforts to do so, then in the end the mob has its violent way with the newcomers. These enraged ruffians could even turn their wrath upon the PC's, if they come to the conclusion that they're working with the “foreign spies.” There could still be a chance to learn what has transpired regarding Mustafa, however—perhaps from evidence aboard the ship or from something that a member of the mob overhears—unless the PC's are decidedly disinterested in following such a course.

Encounter 2—Making Ready
As long as the PC's do have an interest in such matters, they can set about pursuing this business.

The Servant's Story
Once he is safe, Yusuf can tell his story. The GM can make this as straightforward or elaborate as desired; it includes the following details.
  • Two months ago, his master was kidnapped by a group of Englishmen. They had previously sought to consult with him about his research, but he refused to do business with them.
  • Yusuf does recall that they mentioned one word repeatedly—moly.
  • He did manage to learn that they sailed aboard a ship known as the Duke, and that they were headed northward from Djerba when they departed.
  • The servant believes that they sought his master in order to employ his extensive knowledge of the world's legends—but to what end, he has no idea.
  • Suspecting that he would do better with the aid of other Englishmen, Yusuf decided to seek out the PC's.
Although this isn't much information with which to work, it should provide a place from which to start.

Learning More
What is more, the PC's can supplement these details using their own knowledge or investigation. Checks in relevant fields of Knowledge, as detailed below, can reveal the following tidbits, depending on their results.

Result / Details (Knowledge: local or nobility)
0-9 / Nothing
10-19 / The Duke is a vessel that belongs to a small company out of London known as the English Expedition Society. It is believed to have considerable wealth and influence from its supporters.
20-29 / That organization is known to deal in trade goods from around the world, but more specifically specializes in exploring distant lands—those beyond the edge of existing maps.
30+ / The Society is even rumored to pursue relics and lore pertaining to occult research.

Result / Details (Knowledge: arcane)
0-9 / Odysseus is the hero in the Greek epic The Odyssey, written by the poet Homer.
10-19 / In that tale, Odysseus encountered the enchantress on her island, Aeaea. The story has it that she turned his men into animals.
20-29 / He was able to defend against her magic by using an herb known as moly, shown to him by the god Hermes.
30+ / Some scholars believe that the island known as Aeaea lies off the coast of Elba, based on claims made in the later epic Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes.

Should they fail to acquire any of these details, either through Knowledge checks or the use of the Gather Information skill, the PC's could spend some coin and hire a specialist for help. This could entail another roleplaying challenge, as the PC's may not wish to divulge the full nature of their plans. What is more, at the GM's discretion, said person could take a particular interest in the matter, perhaps providing additional complications in the future.

Other Preparations
Once they possess the necessary information, the PC's can make ready their ship and crew. This could entail laying in provisions, acquiring additional weapons or other gear, perhaps hiring additional hands and the like. There is also the matter of making room for Yusuf, who suggest that he should sail aboard the party's vessel.
After they've completed the necessary tasks, the PC's can set sail.

Encounter 3—In Transit
As during previous adventures, such as “Treacherous Waters” and “Fortune and Glory,” the voyage across the Atlantic can be as quick and easy or as fraught with peril as is appropriate to the desires of the GM and players, as well as the needs of the campaign. Refer to the prior scenario for suggestions about handling navigation and other shipboard affairs during the crossing.

It takes about a month to make the run from the Caribbean Sea to the mouth of the Mediterranean at Gibraltar. During that time the GM could introduce any number of encounters. Particularly appropriate would be such Interludes as “The Storm,” “The Stowaway,” “The Serpent,” “The Menagerie,” “The Competition 2,” or “The Jonah.” Once they've reached the Mediterranean, the PC's might have run-ins such as “The Sirens,” “The Ship-Wrecker” or “The Hazards.”

Additionally, if the PC's participated in the events of “Treacherous Waters” and/or “The Eye of the Storm,” they could find unfinished business from those scenarios awaiting them. For example, depending on how they treated such characters as Hussein “The Hunter” Ra'is and Captain Luciano Vittorio, either of those people could be on the lookout for the characters' return.

Refer to the article “Corsairs of the Mediterranean” for a map of this region.

Stopping by Djerba
If the PC's were unable previously to acquire the necessary information, they might think to make a stop at Mustafa's home on the island of Djerba. Should that be the case, refer to the appropriate encounter in the scenario “Treacherous Waters” for details regarding that location and what they might find there.

Encounter 4—Landfall
As mentioned above, the island of Aeaea lies not far from the island of Elba, along the western coast of Italy to the northwest of Rome. It rises out of the sea almost like a spire, a tower of rock with a sandy shore around its base and scrubby forest surrounding its crown. At first glance it might seem to be uninhabited, as there are no signs of ships or settlements. There is a small bay for making a landing, however (something that the PC's could notice with a DC 15 Search or Spot check). Similarly, nested atop the hill amongst the tangle of greenery, is an ancient palace (DC 20 check). Once the PC's do make landfall, refer to the following area descriptions for more details.

A. Bay
In addition to providing a safe and secure anchorage for vessels, the PC's could find evidence of their opponents' movements here. To that end, a DC 15 Survival check to track reveals a number of details. For one thing, a number of people made landfall, and then trekked up the hillside to the castle at the top (Area D). Succeeding by five or more reveals that the same people—albeit a slightly smaller number—made the return trip. This should imply that there are still agents of the Cabal on the island, but it is up to the PC's to determine the meaning of these details.

B. Cave
This natural location has long provided a place of shelter; those PC's who are familiar with The Odyssey might recognize it as resembling (or being?) the one mentioned in that tale. What is more, a DC 20 Search check here reveals, mostly buried in the mud, a gold coin with the picture of a king on one side, along with a name in Greek letters—ΠΡΙΑΜ ΒΑΣΣΙΛΕΥΣ.

C. Moly
One of the Cabal's objectives on this island is the acquisition of moly, the magical herb that protects against arcane magic. Its agents have already run roughshod over the area, leaving little for the PC's to harvest. Even so, those who are careful could still (DC 25 Search check, given the right information, or DC 20 Survival check) find some of the plant—enough for two doses—that is still useful.

Refer to Appendix 3 to find rules for harvesting and using moly.

D. Palace
This structure, the focus of the Cabal's activities on the island, is detailed in the next encounter, below. It is important to note as the PC's approach, however, that the Cabal does have guards posted around the palace. They might be relatively sedate, if they don't expect trouble, or they could be on the alert if they've sighted a ship or heard gunfire.

Other Encounters
While they are exploring, the PC's might also run into a variety of encounters. Some of them could be useful, while others might only be distracting. The GM can introduce them with discretion, depending on the allowance of time, the desires of players and the needs of the campaign.

For one thing, the island is inhabited by the offspring of animals descended from people who were ensorcelled by Circe. Because of that, these creatures are much more intelligent than ordinary beasts. These include, in particular, wild boards and monkeys. The monkeys, given their normal level of intelligence, could be especially amusing. They might take an interest in something shiny that the PC's possess, swooping in to snatch it before making an escape. In addition to providing comic relief, they could—if the PC's figure out how to communicate with them—be able to provide information about what has been happening on the island. The wild pigs tend to be much more elusive, preferring to live and let live. Even so, should the PC's seek to do some hunting, they might find their prey to be surprisingly intelligent and communicative. Refer to Appendix 2 to find stats for these creatures.

Depending on their own actions, the PC's might provoke an encounter with agents of the Cabal before reaching the palace. For example, should one of the characters fire a pistol or musket while on the island, it would surely attract some attention. In such a case, a few of the mercenaries come to investigate the matter.

Encounter 5—The Palace
Refer to the appropriate map for the following area details. At first glance, the PC's see the following sight.

Rising out of the surrounding jungle is a building of polished white marble, one that was probably once beautiful but that now has fallen on hard times. One or two of the columns have toppled, and part of the roof has collapsed.

Remember that, as mentioned above, that there could be mercenaries on alert around the palace, depending on previous developments. For that reason, the PC's might need to use stealth as they make their approach.

1. Main Hall
Broad marble steps lead up to a pair of large stone doors; they are closed when the PC's arrive. This presents them with an obstacle, since opening them requires a DC 15 Strength but causes a cumulative -1 penalty on any efforts to Move Silently for every point less than 25. Of course, just how the PC's approach this situation in many different ways depending on what has happened previously.

2. Servants' Quarters
Although this area once provided sleeping quarters for those who served in the palace, it is now empty but for a pile of burned wood used by interlopers as a fire.

3. Dining Room
This room is empty; visitors have long since pillaged anything of value and burned or disposed of anything else.

4. Kitchen
The far end of this chamber is occupied by a broad hearth filled with now cold ashes. There's also a spit for roasting meat that could serve as an improvised tool or weapon if needed.

5. Shrine to Hecate
One end of this chamber is dominated by an elaborate shrine, one with a broad base and a small roof over the top of it. There is a life-sized (for humans) depiction of the goddess. Closer inspection reveals that she is holding her hands outward, with them slightly open as if ready to hold things in them. With that in mind, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcane or religion) check reveals that Hecate is commonly depicted with a pair of torches. Should a pair of such items be lit and put into her hands, the heat that they generate unlocks a hidden vault at the base of the shrine. A DC 25 Search check can reveal the presence of the vault, but not necessarily how to open it.

Inside that area are the palace's lost treasures; refer to Appendix 3 to find some suggestions for what it might contain.

6. Bedchamber
Outside of a small dais where Circe's bed once stood, there is nothing of interest here.

7. Bath
A short set of stairs leads down into this waist-deep pool. Now, instead of holding luxuriously warm water, however, it is partially filled with detritus and debris. Among the rotting plant material, burned wood and the like is the nest for a mated pair of huge viper snakes. They defend their nest if anyone should stumble into it, but do not actively go in search of prey.

When the PC's arrive here, they are likely to find the Cabal agent, Ephraim Grey, along with a number of mercenaries. Mustafa is also present and looking the worse for wear, as Ephraim has been encouraging him to share his knowledge in a less-than-gentle manner. Given the situation, Ephraim and his men are feeling more than a little defensive, but not necessarily hostile. Since they're having trouble finding the hidden cache beneath the shrine, Ephraim is even willing to parley if it might help him find a solution.

For that reason, should the PC's decide to conceal their true purpose, they might be able to play off their arrival as a coincidence. This could lead to a good roleplaying situation in which Mustafa tries to communicate surreptitiously with the PC's. Since Ephraim is eager to recruit new help, PC's who seek to hide their true purpose receive a +2 circumstance bonus to such efforts. Of course, even if the Cabal's agent is willing to accept assistance, it doesn't mean that he won't betray his ersatz allies when an opportunity presents itself.

Encounter 6—Landfall, Again
Said opportunity could arise when the rest of the Cabal's agents, aboard the Duke, returns to the island. Here again, just how the situation plays out is likely to require a good deal of adjudication on the part of the GM. Should it be necessary, refer to the deckplans below for the layout of the vessel.

As the Duke approaches the island, it's important to know if any of the PC's or their allies is in position to notice it. Characters who might do so should make Search or Spot checks, with the outcome determining how much time they have to react. Refer to the following table for times based on check results.

Check / Time to React
0 – 9 / 5 minutes
10 – 19 / 10 minutes
20 – 29 / 15 minutes
30 – 39 / 20 minutes
40+ / 25 minutes

During this time, the crew of the Duke maneuver it into the bay, drops anchor and lowers its shore boats—that is, unless they're given a reason to do otherwise. Assuming that the party's vessel is anchored in the bay, the crew of the Duke can make a similar Search or Spot check, albeit with the DC's increased by five to represent the benefit of cover. If they notice the newcomers before reaching the bay, they instead drop anchor outside of it, then lower longboats and send ashore soldiers before moving closer and hailing the unknown vessel. On the other hand, if they don't notice the party's ship until reaching the bay, they may be forced to parley before being able to employ other strategies.

In the event that the mercenaries do hail the party's vessel, this could provide an opportunity for troupe-style play. Should this occur, one player might be chosen to portray the ranking officer, with other players assigned to various supporting characters. Indeed, this could providing an interesting change of pace if someone accustomed to a less eloquent PC's is called upon to speak for a smooth-talking crew member. (Refer to the article “A Motley Crew” for suggestions regarding keeping track of the lower-ranking crew aboard a ship.)

While all of this is transpiring, the PC's should be going about their own business. Here again, GM adjudication is crucial. It might be possible that, if the heroes reach an accord with Ephraim and his fellows, they can diffuse any possible conflicts. On the other hand, if a fight should erupt, it could sprawl across the island and onto the waters. Whatever the case, it should lay the groundwork for future intrigues.

This scenario can end in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.

For one thing, the heroes could actually ingratiate themselves with Ephraim and perhaps even offer their services to the Cabal. Should that happen, it would have huge implications for this as well as future adventures. This could lead to a number of roleplaying-based encounters, in which the PC's meet higher-ranking members of that organization and try to enter their good graces. Should this go smashingly well for the PC's, they might even be given a chance to see Ephraim's secret message.

Another possibility is that the PC's fight with the Cabal's agents; this could end in at least two ways. One is that the PC's defeat these new enemies and claim the spoils, both what the agents carry and the treasures from the hidden cache. At that point they'd be free to go on their merry way, although the Cabal would certainly investigate the matter and perhaps come seeking revenge against them.

On the other hand, the PC's could also be defeated. In that case, if they aren't killed, they could be taken prisoner to face interrogation and punishment at the hands of the Cabal. Should that occur, they would face a lengthy voyage while locked in irons, and then be delivered to London. At the GM's discretion, they might find chances to escape from captivity, and maybe even pursue other adventures, provided they can seize the opportunity for doing so.

The Cypher
If the PC's do manage to acquire Ephraim's possession, they find among the goods a cryptic note that consists of numerous sets of four numbers. This is an encoded message, one that uses Shakespeare's play The Tempest as its cypher. Refer to Appendix 4 for more information about this.

Further Adventures
A few of the possibilities for continuing the story are detailed below.
  • There's a good chance that the PC's have made a powerful enemy. This could manifest in a number of ways, such as clandestine thieves or assassins sent to settle score.
  • If they have made a good impression, on the other hand, they might be able to glean more information and perhaps even be hired for future business.
  • Should a PC be interested in acquiring a particularly intelligent animal from the island, it could make for all manner of shenanigans.
  • The message is, of course, a seed for another adventure.
  • Some of the items in the cache, too, could be incorporated into other plots. Circe's information about summoning and questioning spirits is one such, for obvious reasons; in a more subtle way, someone who could brew an elixir of love could also cause some trouble.

Appendix 1—Dramatis Personae

Mustafa al-Aqil
Shantyman 7; CR 7; Size medium; HD 7d8+7; hp 41; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+4 chain shirt); Atk +5 (1d6, staff) or +5 (ranged); SQ Bardic Music, Bardic Knowledge, Bonus Contacts (3), Vaporing, Fame Tale; AL N; SV: Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 17.
Background: Gentleman-Adventurer (Diplomacy, Knowledge: local, Knowledge: sea lore).
Skills: Appraise +12, Diplomacy +15, Gather Information +13, Knowledge: local +12, Knowledge: sea lore +12, Perform: oratory +16, Sense Motive +9.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Negotiator, Port Savvy, Skill Focus (Perform: oratory).
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Masterwork chain shirt, clothing, walking stick, pouch holding 24 p.o.e.

Mustafa al-Aqil is fascinated by the legendary tales told around the world. Although a devout Muslim, he is especially interested in researching Greek and Roman myths and the possibility that there is truth behind the stories. In addition to providing a scholarly pursuit, he has turned it into a lucrative business by brewing lotus wine and selling it to unsuspecting buyers, who then make easy prey for Algerian corsairs. Despite this close connection with the corsairs, however, Mustafa is not so loyal that he won't consider other employment if his current occupation becomes too hazardous.

Mustafa's Guards
Ranger 4; CR 4; Size medium; HD 4d10+8; hp 34; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +7 (2d6 or 2d4, short musket or pistol) or +6 (1d6+2, cutlass or buccaneer knife); AL CN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Heal +6, Hide +12, Listen +9, Move Silently +12, Spot +9, Survival +9, Swim +9, Use Rope +10.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Endurance, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Stealthy, Track Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: Doll’s Eyes.
Equipment: Short musket, pair of pistols, cutlass, buccaneer knife, backpack.

These fellows are highly mercenary. Although they have a good arrangement with Mustafa, they are none too zealous in their convictions and thus can be persuaded to cooperate with enemies who are much more skilled in the ways of battle.

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.

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.

Pirate Toughs
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.

Appendix 2—Intelligent Animals
The animals that live on this island are descended from humans who were turned into beasts by Circe's magic. Because of this, they are notably more intelligent than others of their kind. In game terms, they use the elite array of ability scores rather than the standard selection. They are smart enough that they can communicate with people, although they do not speak English or other human languages. As far as communication is concerned, they could try to use movements and gestures, along with animal sounds and body language.

The GM can use these ability score adjustments for inspiration about how to play the animals. All of them are more intelligent than normal animals, of course, but other changes can provide additional personality traits. For example, the boar is also wiser and tougher, making for a careful but relentless foe. The lion, on the other hand, is more charismatic than others of its kind, relying on its fearsome presence to cow others. Finally, the monkey is more agile but less wise, given to mischief.

Medium Animal
Hit Dice:
3d8+15 (28 hp)
40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class:
17 (+6 natural, +1 Dex), touch 11, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple:
Gore +4 melee (1d8+3)
Full Attack:
Gore +4 melee (1d8+3)
5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks:
Special Qualities:
Low-light vision, scent
Fort +7, Ref +4, Will +4
Str 15, Dex 13, Con 19, Int 6, Wis 17, Cha 4
Hide +4, Listen +9, Move Silently + 3, Spot +7, Survival +8
Alertness, Toughness
Temperate forests
Solitary or herd (5–8)
Challenge Rating:
4–5 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment:
Though not carnivores, these wild swine are bad-tempered and usually charge anyone who disturbs them. A boar is covered in coarse, grayish-black fur. Adult males are about 4 feet long and 3 feet high at the shoulder.
Ferocity (Ex): A boar is such a tenacious combatant that it continues to fight without penalty even while disabled or dying.

Large Animal
Hit Dice:
5d8+10 (32 hp)
40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class:
14 (–1 size, +2 Dex, +3 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple:
Claw +8 melee (1d4+6)
Full Attack:
2 claws +8 melee (1d4+6) and bite +3 melee (1d8+3)
10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks:
Pounce, improved grab, rake 1d4+3
Special Qualities:
Low-light vision, scent
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +5
Str 23, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 10
Balance +6, Hide +3*, Intimidate +6, Listen +6, Move Silently +10, Spot +6, Survival +6
Alertness, Run
Warm plains
Solitary, pair, or pride (6–10)
Challenge Rating:
6–8 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:
The statistics presented here describe a male African lion, which is 5 to 8 feet long and weighs 330 to 550 pounds. Females are slightly smaller but use the same statistics.
Pounce (Ex): If a lion charges a foe, it can make a full attack, including two rake attacks.
Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a lion must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can rake.
Rake (Ex): Attack bonus +7 melee, damage 1d4+2.
Skills: Lions have a +4 racial bonus on Balance, Hide, and Move Silently checks. *In areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth, the Hide bonus improves to +12.

Tiny Animal
Hit Dice:
1d8 (4 hp)
30 ft. (6 squares), climb 30 ft.
Armor Class:
16 (+2 size, +4 Dex), touch 16, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple:
Bite +4 melee (1d3–3)
Full Attack:
Bite +4 melee (1d3–3)
2-1/2 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks:
Special Qualities:
Low-light vision
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +0
Str 5, Dex 19, Con 10, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7
Balance + 12, Climb +11, Hide +12, Listen +2, Move Silently +12, Spot +2, Tumble +8
Weapon Finesse
Warm forests
Troop (10–40)
Challenge Rating:
2–3 HD (Small)
Level Adjustment:
The statistics presented here can describe any arboreal monkey that is no bigger than a housecat, such as a colobus or capuchin.
Monkeys generally flee into the safety of the trees, but if cornered can fight ferociously.
Skills: Monkeys have a +8 racial bonus on Balance and Climb checks. They can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened. They use their Dexterity modifier instead of their Strength modifier for Climb checks.

Medium Animal
Hit Dice:
2d8+6 (15 hp)
50 ft. (10 squares)
Armor Class:
15 (+3 Dex, +2 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple:
Bite +3 melee (1d6+1)
Full Attack:
Bite +3 melee (1d6+1)
5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks:
Special Qualities:
Low-light vision, scent
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +3
Str 13, Dex 17, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 16, Cha 4
Hide +5, Listen +7, Move Silently +5, Spot +7, Survival +7*
Feats: TrackB, Weapon Focus (bite)
Temperate forests
Solitary, pair, or pack (7–16)
Challenge Rating:
3 HD (Medium); 4–6 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:
Wolves are pack hunters known for their persistence and cunning.
A favorite tactic is to send a few individuals against the foe’s front while the rest of the pack circles and attacks from the flanks or rear.
Trip (Ex): A wolf that hits with a bite attack can attempt to trip the opponent (+1 check modifier) as a free action without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the wolf.
Skills: *Wolves have a +4 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent.

Appendix 3—Magical Items

Circe's Scrolls
Contained in the cache of items beneath the shrine to Hecate is a collection of scrolls that could include one or more of the following. The GM should feel free to pick and choose from among them depending on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign. This could be a good way to introduce specific spells to a wizard's repertoire.

One set contains recipes for elixirs and other concoctions. As such, they provide access to the Brew Potion feat, along with recipes for specific items. Most appropriate among these would be recipes for making potions of bear's endurance, bull's strength, cat's grace, eagle's splendor, fox's cunning and owl's wisdom, along with, perhaps, an elixir of love.

A more powerful item, and the one that has attracted the attention of the Cabal, deals with summoning and questioning the spirits of the dead. As described in the Odyssey, this entails finding an appropriate location and then making the requisite sacrifice and/or libation. In game terms this could function like a speak with dead spell, or perhaps even like legend lore.

Circe's Wand
This elaborate ivory wand is inscribed with an intricate series of arcane symbols—astronomical and the like—and can be recognized for what it is with a DC 15 Spellcraft check. If it is wielded by a caster in the act of completing a spell, it grants a +1 enhancement bonus to the DC to resist said spell.

This rare herb has the power to protect people who consume it from various kinds of sorcery. In game terms, harvesting and preparing a sprig of moly requires a Knowledge: nature check, with a synergy bonus for having at least five ranks in Knowledge: arcana. The result of the check determines the risk of being poisoned by the plant instead of gaining its beneficial effects, a +5 circumstance bonus to all saves made to risk magical effects for the next four hours. Once the herb has been harvested, it remains fresh for one day's time. After that it can be dried, but its effectiveness is reduced to a +2 bonus.

Result / Effects
0-9 / DC 21 Fortitude save; damage 1d6 Constitution initial and secondary
10-19 / DC 18 Fortitude save; damage 1d4 Constitution initial and secondary
20-29 / DC 15 Fortitude save; damage 1d2 Constitution initial and secondary
30+ / No risk of harm

Appendix 4—The Cypher
In order to protect their messages from snooping, members of the Cabal use a code consisting of four-number sets. These correspond to different plays written by William Shakespeare. They tend to prefer using The Tempest, since its portrayal of a wizard who uses his powers to influence others reflects some of their own goals. The numbers represent the act, scene and line on which a word can be found, and then the position in the line of the specific world. For example, the series 2-2-1-6 refers to Act II, Scene 2, Line 1, the sixth word in it—sun. In Julius Caesar, on the other hand, it would refer to the word been.

Given that they know the secret of the cypher, the Cabal operatives generally carry a folio of Shakespeare's plays among their many other books. Should the PC's discover one of the encoded messages, searching through the operative's library could provided a clue to decoding it. Additionally, agents going out into the field are sometimes told to deliver a message with a single line from the play to indicate which one should be used for decoding. In such cases, “Now all my charms are o'erthrown” would indicate that The Tempest should be used, while “I am constant as the northern star” would identify Julius Caesar as the appropriate text.

The message that Ephraim carries is this:

3-2-1-4   2-1-1-6   2-2-8-4   1-2-16-4   2-1-774-11   1-2-8-3   1-2-2-2

4-1-1762-2   1-2-493-8   1-2-8-3   4-1-1901-3   1-1-79-10   2-1-0-1   5-1-2266-8.

The translation is, “When you are done, return to the white keep to prepare for another voyage.” When it says the keep it is in reference to the Tower of London, but that is for the PC's to deduce (or to trick or coerce the enemies into revealing). Following up on this clue, however, is a matter for another adventure.