Fight Like a Pirate Day!
Recap: the team is on “Pirate Isle” and intends to rescue captives and recover loot from the pirates.
Having beached successfully, we send Red off at the jog-trot to scout the pirate village, while the remaining four of us – Martel Guerra the paladin, ½-Jack the Halfling rogue, Abram Gaunt the cleric, and Banjo Carrick the Elf mage – organize a hidden camp and lay out caltrops. Martel has sliced a branch so that its end is smooth and pale and has explained to Red that it will point to our camp. The Elf will be making a run through the evening and through the twilight and may possibly not return until deep night.
This proves true. Red stumbles into our camp, obviously exhausted, when the stars are well and truly out. Cloud cover has provided him with but fitful moonlight with which to find his way back, and he is ready to drop.
[Red is an NPC this session. Carrick’s player minded him and ably navigated him around. However, there was quite a lot of down-time listening to the scouting mission, which could have been left off-stage with a couple of private GM rolls.]
Red explains to us that the pirate village is enclosed by a thorn hedge or boma. Three watchtowers – one at either eastern spur between which the miniature bay rests and one in the west – sand just inside the boma. Each tower may be manned by up to six pirates. Simple huts sit in a crude sprawl inside, some very close to the boma. The beach is clear, and four outriggers are there, or were while he was watching.
Up to ten paddlers to an outrigger gives us a rough indication of the opposition. ½-Jack points out that the pirate caravel is absent, and that means they are weaker than they may have been. Martel agrees that it’s time to strike while the iron is hot.
Martel has a military mind, and he lists the various obstacles that we must overcome and suggests ways and means. We all chip in with various thoughts or objections. It’s a fairly democratic way to proceed.
- Boma: either go around it using the low tide, or over it.
- Spur: climb it. (Red sleepily explains it’s not really an obstacle.)
- Tower: this will be a benefit, since we will take the southern one and use our range weapons against the others and the interior.
- Ladder: speed, and covering fire, will allow it to be scaled before we are stopped. A ground defense around the ladder will help.
After some discussion and suggestions from others, Martel asks Red and ½-Jack to fashion a mantlet from driftwood and fiber. They work hard, and ½-Jack’s carpentry skills produce a serviceable result. [DC22 and 23 from the crafters] Having looked at it, the Halfling suggests we may as well use it as a corvus or boarding plank over the boma. This has so much merit of simplicity that Martel agrees. He lashes on three javelins a side so as to stiffen it up and aid portage, then we all turn in for a very short rest. For despite Br Gaunt’s concerns about Red’s fitness, we attack at dawn!
Ready for the big push
In the pre-dawn, the march is grueling and Br Gaunt and Martel, armored and heavily equipped, sweat under the extra weight of the corvus. At least Br Gaunt keeps up a good pace for the first hour, thanks to a Longstrider spell from Red. The final leg involves a good deal of careful walking, up behind the hills that surround the inlet. [Con all round, then Str for Gaunt and Guerra, then Stealth for best- and worst-Stealth characters.] As we ready ourselves, Martel blesses us in Tyr’s name.
It seems our plan has gone well, for it is not until Martel and Red rush the corvus down to the boma and make a running jump over, that the alarm goes up. ½-Jack is ready with his bow, and as a quarrel smacks down from the tower into the sand near Red, the Halfling makes an excellent shot and drops the pirate dead on the spot!
Round 1: The alarm is called and two other pirates in the tower (for a total of four) loose at Red and Guerra as they run east, around a nearby hut and towards the tower. Guerra’s shield takes one bolt aimed at Red, and the other pirate drops his crossbow off the tower. Gaunt – who is first to admit that his strength does not lie in acrobatics – rushes the corvus and makes a bumbling [Athletics 3] fall into the thorns. Certain naughty words fill the air. ½-Jack tumbles across easily, possibly using the cleric as a springboard, and as a bonus, has enough pace to get to the nearby hut and sink into hiding beside it. Meanwhile, Red ends up at the ladder: Martel pauses briefly to check the rope that will allow the corvus to be pulled over is actually in reach: then running after the Elf, leaving him a yard or so back. Carrick looses his longbow at the tower pirates, misses, and advances to the boma.
Round 2: The three tower pirates continue trying to repel boarders: Martel is missed but the other crossbow quarrel hits Gaunt [3 damage] and the crossbow-less pirate draws a scimitar and with a flourish, sallies down the 20’ ladder in a sweeping cut at Red: but his swing goes wild and merely takes a chunk out of a tower leg.
Elsewhere the alarm has had its effect: two pirates burst out of the nearest hut and charge toward Red and Martel, one reaching Martel and hacking at his unshielded flank [Crit for 9 damage]. Other huts show activity.
Red gets into action with his twin scimitars, but only connects once for a scratch [4 damage – he has disadvantage on each attack due to exhaustion]. Gaunt heaves himself back onto the corvus [DC12] and gets his shield up. ½-Jack sidles around the hut, kills Red’s luckless opponent with a fine shot, and hides in the hut’s entrance. Martel smites his opponent but fails to kill him with this display of divine power, but Carrick, who can see the fight over the boma, finishes the job with a good shot to the pirate’s back.
Round 3: The two tower-top pirates make a complete hash of their shots and the pirate left facing Martel misses as well. Other pirates run onto the field of play; at least one toting a crossbow. Red joins Martel against the pirate below the tower, but fails to kill him. Gaunt leaps down over the boma, and jogs behind the nearby hut. ½-Jack shoots a newly-arrived crossbowman, and hides again. Carrick sees that shot go home and follows it with one of his own, killing the pirate. Meanwhile, Martel leaves Red to the lone pirate and clambers up the ladder, one-handed, with shield up [good Athletics roll with disadvantage].
Round 4: Martel is able to reach the hatchway or trap up to the tower, but he’s shoved at by one of the pair up top. The shove fails [Martel making a respectable DC21 on Str] and the pirate leaps back, drawing his scimitar. His comrade, sticking with his crossbow, misses Carrick. Below, Red’s opponent misses the Elf. However, he’s joined by the survivor of the pair from the nearby hut, a tough-looking type with chain armor, who charges in with a wild swing of his longsword, missing as well!
Red drops his original opponent, and tries a cut at the newcomer, without success. Gaunt joins the fray! He charges from behind the hut and cuts the longsword-armed pirate and then, with a war-cry, cuts him a second time, killing him [5 damage then War-priest and 10 damage]
In the hut, ½-Jack decide that since no-one has blundered in, he is safe to snipe again: he slides around the entrance-frame, aims at the shooter in the tower, and wounds him [7 damage]. And the wily Halfling hides again. Carrick, who is still guarding the boma ramp (someone has to be the cool head), notes the better equipment of Red’s new opponent and, dropping his longbow, whips out his focus orb and shreds the pirate with a volley of blue bolts! [L2 Magic Missile, 14 damage]
Meanwhile, up in the tower’s hatchway, Martel bellows a war-cry that calls Tyr’s divine favor, and in one movement draws his longsword, slices the pirate’s arm off, and vaults up into the tower.
Round 5: Now in a precarious position, the lone, wounded pirate manning the tower whirls round, dropping his crossbow, drawing his scimitar and swinging at Martel, who easily parries him away. Below, more pirates arrive, but at range. Some shoot; Carrick is hurt even behind the cover the boma affords [5 damage]. Gaunt is missed, and he turns – annoyed at being denied a fierce battle – from the body of the pirate and runs straight at a pair of the newcomers. Getting into a suitable range, he unleashes Sacred Flame, burning one but not dropping him [8 damage]. From somewhere behind him, ½-Jack shoots another running pirate, runs around the hut out of their sight, and hides again. Carrick runs up the corvus, leaps over, and scurries to cover with ½-Jack. Meanwhile, up in the tower, there’s an unpleasant chopping sound as Martel’s empowered blow kills the final pirate. Red, even exhausted, reaches the hatchway and joins the paladin.
Round 6: No fewer than four pirates rush Gaunt, and two of them land blows [9 damage] while a fifth pirate hustles towards the scrimmage, or possibly beyond it. The remaining pirate in sight stops, fires a crossbow from the hip and somehow manages to hit Red – possibly because he is so tall and because he is clearly picked out by the dawn sun bathing the tower-top. Red chooses not to counter-fire and tries a shot at one of Gaunt’s opponents, missing. Gaunt shoves forward his Tempus-decorated shield, causes the Tempus sigil to glow [Light cantrip] and yells “I’ll tear yer f***ing heads off and take a dump down the stump!!!” [DC23 on Religion] The pirates surrounding him seem thoroughly intimidated! [Disadvantage to attacks as in Cause Fear] ½-Jack helps by killing the swordsman he previously wounded. [Crit, 16 damage] And hides again! Beside him, Carrick emerges from behind the hut, and shoots another of Gaunt’s opponents. Up in the tower, Martel has unlimbered his heavy crossbow and has it loaded.
Round 7: The running pirate runs around the scrimmage and reaches the ladder. The shooter misses another shot at Red. Aware of the threat below, Red shifts to the trap, and shoots the pirate looking up at him.
The cowed pirates surrounding Gaunt strike out but feebly, nicking the Tempus cleric. [2 damage] Gaunt growls “is that all yer got?” and heals himself [L2 Healing Word], looking bright and fresh. The pirate morale is further lowered as ½-Jack finishes the pirate Carrick wounded [crit] and from the tower, Martel pins one of the remaining three to the ground with a heavy, empowered crossbow quarrel. There are now only two pirates facing Gaunt, a crossbow-armed pirate much further back, and one trying to re-take the tower.
Round 8: The climbing pirate neatly fends off one of his dead comrades, pitched down by Red. His rump is presented to Carrick, who shoots it, to accompanying bawdy jests about Elves and behinds.
Gaunt and the pirates exchange blows, Gaunt easily getting the best of the exchange as he is missed and he slays one of the two [War-priest for a total of 12 damage]. ½-Jack’s luck suddenly turns as he misses his shot and receives a crossbow bolt from the waiting crossbowman [3 damage] – the Halfling squeaks in pain and hides. Martel decides to try a long-range shot at the crossbowman but misses. Red and the pirate below him exchange cuts, the pirate dropping dead.
As the last two pirates fall, Red and Martel stare around. [Perception 20+ for both] They note that one hut may be a store or prison; the weather bids fine for sailing; and that two of the four reported outriggers are gone. Twin specks on the horizon suggest they left well before the attack. Provided no-one uses oil and flame to roust the remaining tower guards out, the pirates in the caravel will not know their base has fallen!
[This was easily the longest DDN fight we have experienced and there is more to be done. A highly successful assault and very pleasing to still have a few reserve spells/powers between us at the end.]