DDN 2.12: I [♥] Dread Finale: Return of the Newly-introduced Arch-enemy!

Apologies for what is necessarily going to be an inaccurate record. I didn’t take any real notes during the session as I had run out of notebook space. 

Reminder: Having achieved all we wanted to on the island, we decided to finish it off with a brief trip north out of Tanaroa to see if there was something to be seen.

But the DM had other plans!

½-Jack’s player has provided me with ½-Jack’s explanation for all this. How much of this was back-story and how much was DM invention I would be intrigued to know. But the in-character explanation is near the foot of this entry.

So, it went like this…

Emergency! Imperiled Loot!

A day’s travel out of Tanaroa, we head north away from the tar-pits where the zombies are collecting tar. We’re already a little frazzled from fighting a large armored lizard (which we agree is not a dragon, but next best thing to one) and then four croc-size lizards. Once we reach the hills we find a sheltered dell and camp.

But after an uneventful night there, a runner from Tanaroa arrives and warns us that our ship is in peril!

The Return to the Rum

Some of us choose to lighten their load and some figure that they’ll need their armor at the end of the journey. We make best speed back south, Red jogging ahead for the first hour and ½-Jack with him thanks to Carrick’s Longstrider spell. Maybe Red throws in another one later, but whatever the case, after 14 hours forced march, we all straggle together at the gates, and are let through.

From the vantage of the village’s position we can see a red-painted ship off the eastern shore. The two ships of our company, the Rum and the Yolande, are anchored in the western bay where we left them, but smoke is drifting off the Yolande.

Since our treasure is still on the Rum (Ryhab only had enough crew left to decently man one ship) this is not the disaster it could have been. But we pile into an outrigger and make best speed for the Rum. Of our company, only Br Gaunt and ½-Jack are not feeling the effects of the forced march [Fatigue causes disadvantage on all attacks and checks for the others.]

Cunning Plan

Ryhab explains that attackers have boarded the Yolande, forcing most of the skeleton crew off. Only his first mate remains aboard, and that massive Dragon-kin is still fighting as far as he can make out.

We assay our resources. We have out armor and weapons and spare crossbows if needed.

“I’ve got a nifty sword that will let me cross under the sea” – ½-Jack

“And if someone were to run across using the ring of water-walking, and climb aboard, that would create enough of a diversion for you to sneak up the other side” – Martel

Since Martel fatigued is still a better climber than Gaunt, the paladin will have to be the diversion. The other three will paddle across and board in support. (Well, it sounded reasonable at the time!) Tyr’s blessing is called for and ½-Jack dives overboard, grasping Pontus, his magical sword. Martel leaps overboard and runs across the intervening sea to Yolande’s portside.

The Battle for Yolande

Fighting can be heard and the mate’s broad shoulders glimpsed. Martel deftly snags the gunwale with his grapnel and knotted line and swarms aboard [making an adequate climb check of 11.]

On the Yolande’s main deck, men stamp, curse and fall to writhe in gore. The mate protects himself as best he can with a heavy shield, and wields a massive longsword as though it were a willow switch. He’s already taken a few shrewd cuts from the swords his opponents, four or five armored interlopers armed with longsword and shield, are wielding. For their part, most are looking battered despite their scale armor.

[Each interloper has light armor and shield for AC17, and a longsword with which they can attack twice with no penalty. Hope the xp reflects the danger!]

Initiatives:

  • Martel
  • Carrick
  • ½-Jack
  • Red
  • Interlopers
  • Mate
  • Gaunt

Round 1: They see Martel but cannot immediately get clear of the mate’s whirling blade. Martel calls for Tyr’s Divine Favor and readies his shield and mace. In the outrigger, Carrick urges the others to let him get up first. Gaunt agrees since he will probably need Red’s help to get up the rope, but Red thinks they could climb together. Under the Yolande, ½-Jack can see the anchor chain.

The mate puts another pirate down and takes another savage cut.

Rounds 2-3: Martel holds close to the gunwale and rams his way into the fight on the mate’s left flank. He’s not able to actually land a blow but does take some of the pressure off the mate, and he’s still hard to hit.

Round 4: Carrick and Red arrive on deck as ½-Jack finally gets his head up to the hawse of the anchor-chain he has climbed. Martel finally lands a blow, dropping his pirate. Then the mate falls as a druidess* emerges from the hold behind the pirates and blankets he, Martel, Red and Carrick with a Sleep spell. [Being lowest on hp the mate drops.]

Round 5: ½-Jack rolls through the hawse, onto the foredeck, and flings a dagger. One of the pirates cries in pain: the Halfling’s been noticed! Red leans athletically over the gunwales and attempts to help Gaunt. Gaunt hauls manfully on the Elf’s lean arm. The pair tumble oikily back into the outrigger. Meanwhile Martel has taken a few knocks despite his evasiveness and armor. Carrick lines up the druidess and the pirate ½-Jack wounded and rams them back towards the foredeck with a powerful Thunderwave. [Each take 11 damage.]

Round 6: Carrick repeats the maneuver, not quite as successfully though still dishing damage out. Because of the fighting mid-deck, he can’t maneuver right round and ram them overboard.

½-Jack’s focus on the fight is broken when a sinister Halfling appears beside him and rasps:

“You thought you could get away with map and treasure did you cousin? I warrnned ye!”

“Cousin Grippin! The blackest sheep of the Sackfull-Bigginses!” – ½-Jack

Round 7: While ½-Jack is getting painfully reacquainted with his cousin, who drops him [assassination specialty] the comedy duo in the outrigger begins returning to the fray and Martel succeeds in toeing the mate awake while dazing a pirate [the mace’s reserve power]. Carrick sends a tremendous blast of Thunderwave up the deck and flattens two pirates, while further battering the druidess. She returns the compliment, but in weaker fashion. The Dragon-born mate leaps back to his feet and cuts another pirate down! Gaunt is nearly back up on deck: he calls “I have Healing Word ready!”

Round 8: Pirate numbers are beginning to thin. Martel is still holding their attention and taking shots. Red rushes into the fight and cuts the dazed pirate down and suddenly there is only the druidess and Grippin left to deal with! Gaunt finishes scrambling over the gunwale and healing flows into Carrick and Martel, and 1/2-Jack, who has been at death’s door, [makes death check] also revives.

Round 9: Red launches himself up the deck and cuts the druidess down.

“Thanks Red, couldn’t have done without you” – Carrick, sarcastically

“I’ll have my revenge yet!” – Grippin, leaping over the bow

“Do you want the Halfling alive, ½-Jack?” – Martel

“O… yes, I suppose so, otherwise Auntie would go on so” – ½-Jack

Martel leaps lightly down from the midships gunwale and chases towards the shore, while ½-Jack swims quickly underwater. But before they can bring the interloper to justice – and ask him where he got the funds to hire so much talent – the red ship in the eastern bay intervenes!

Suffice to say [for I do not wish to bore my audience] that Martel and ½-Jack choose to help Tanaroa rather than search for Grippin, who escapes.

The loot from the fighting is satisfactory. Armor and swords aplenty, a druid’s staff and bracers of defense. Carrick and ½-Jack appear to be rivals for the latter. Meanwhile, having seen off the red ship (with Grippin aboard it, we presume) we relax ashore and 1/2-Jack gets to tell us all about it.

1/2-Jack’s explanatory exculpation, or exculpatory explanation

After the battle for the Yolanda, once the red ship has set course firmly away from Tanaroa, and once they have checked the treasures of the Isle of Dread have not been lost to Grippin Sackfull-Biggin, the party return to the native settlement.  In celebration of the party’s last night on the island, the native community produces a generous meal.  So it is a happy band of adventures perched around the warm fire under the stars which eventually begins to question Halfjack more closely about his cousin.

“Well, it all started sometime back…” began Halfjack in the winding way of Halflings, as he helpfully poured the party another round of rum with their meal to celebrate the recent victory.

“Firstly, I’m not a Tarfoot.  No, that’s a name that I made up for the tall folk, because it avoids a certain annoying question.  I’m actually a Biggin, like my uncle, Rotjack.”

The Halfling drew on his pipe, and nursed his cup of rum to in his face lit by the warm light of the fire.   “Now Rotjack was an explorer true… but most about the way paid little attention to his many tales.  They did paid attention to his wealth, some of which claimed to have found in the South Seas.”

“What is the annoying question?” asked Martel, looking up from the large dinner he was determinedly demolishing as if it was a meal he had not paid for.

“It’s of no consequence to the story of my cousin, good friend Martel,”  assured Halfjack, then momentarily changing the topic… “Should we not wait for Red to return to the fire, before I continue?”

“He will be back soon enough.”  Brother Gaunt sternly declared.  The party could hear Red, stumbling in the dark, lost in a small copse of trees some yards away.  Red had been away for the last five minutes. Sooner, or much, much later, the party knew the ranger would notice the fire’s blaze and navigate his way back by its light.

“Of course,” agreed Halfjack, and returned to his tale. “Uncle Rotjack was dearly loved by all his nephews.  And when he was sober, which was far more often than his detractors claimed, he was a great storyteller of his journeys beyond the Shire.  When I heard he had passed on, I was greatly saddened because he was always one of my favorite uncles.  So I rushed to the shire to pay my respects.”

Halfjack drew again on his pipe.  A look of distaste came to his face as he thought of the sorry tale to come. “Now, it was no surprise to me, once I returned to Uncle Rotjack’s once happy hole, that I discovered my cousin Grippin had already got his great, hairy feet under my uncle’s old table.

“Grippin is a Sackfull-Biggin, and that whole side of the family are full of apples that fell far from the Biggin tree. Bigginses are well respected for their consideration of others, and our opened-handed friendship far and wide in the Shire: but short on hospitality are the Sackfull-Biggins, and long on greed.  Oh, they are a disgracefully, grasping lot; and care not what eye gets elbowed as they grapple for the last bent ha’penny.”

Carrick began to ask the question ‘Just how much more interested in money than Halfjack could a Halfling be?’, but he thought better of it, allowing Halfjack to continue.

“I quickly saw that Grippin had not only claimed Uncle Rotjack’s hole, but was turning it over in search of anything of the smallest value – writing an inventory as he went.  He assured me he was merely settling the estate, but clearly he was looking to maximise his return, and was clearly planning not to leave before that was done.  While I was there, I saw Grippin ‘lending’ Uncle Rotjack’s property to other family members, his friends, or those who simply past-by so long as they all greased Grippin’s palm.  He would then note this exchange on his inventory.

“Unable to find a reason to deny me a bed for the night, Grippin was quick to inform me that I had missed luncheon, he then went on to provide me with little for afternoon tea.  He barely scratched together a dinner, and supper was naught but hard cheese, dry bread and what was very poor, near-foxed ale.  Truly he was intent on driving me away!

“However, out of familial loyalty, I did my best to rise above such oafish behavior, and when Grippin went to the shed with the half-moon windowed door, out in the back garden, I couldn’t help but notice that the inventory he had left lying out did not correctly list Uncle Rotjack’s old sea chest.  Obviously, Uncle Rotjack had always wanted me to have that chest, as I had taken to life aboard boats as he once had.  It was obvious that steps had to be taken to honor my Uncle’s memory!

“Eventually Grippin, exhausted by his near endless searching of the hole for every last dwarvish groat and gnomish pfennig, fell asleep with loud, droning snores in my Uncle’s old armchair.  Quietly, I went to the sea chest.  In a short time it was open and I quickly saw retained among its secrets my Uncle’s telescope, as well as his South Sea’s journal and old chart.  And of course there remained the possibility of other things as well.  Well pleased, I hurried the chest outside to the garden shed, bringing back another chest I had fortunately come across by-the-by.

“Once I had replaced the old chest with the new, I replaced the telescope with a length of pipe I had previously painted brown, the journal with ‘Hagatha’s 247 recipes for Scrumpy’, and the chart with a parchment illustrating some welcoming freely-dressed native women that my Uncle must have collected for esoteric reasons, and had kept hidden behind his bedstead.  Finally, I added some random bits and bobs from here and there.

‘Freely-dressed?’ wondered Martel to himself, as Halfjack pressed on.

“Then, before I retired myself, I crept to the inventory, and confused the issue of the sea chest by marking it as being lent to my cousin Halfkeg, a large Halfling and noted pugilist there-abouts.  He and Grippin had suffered some misunderstandings in the past.

“In the morning I sprang to the kitchen to prepare my cousin and myself a first breakfast of kippers.  And although this meal was greeted with all too evident poor humor by Grippin, once he had eventually staggered through to the kitchen, he still managed to eat more than his share between off-color jibes.

“Then it was time to end my stay.  Even before second breakfast, I bid farewell to my dear Uncle’s hole, and my cousin, who was quick to wave me off. I took the opportunity to set off into the bright morning to stretch my legs down memory lane, visiting the treasured places of my happy boyhood.  After I had finished my second breakfast while enjoying the glorious sun in the garden of the ‘Pleasing Maiden’, and while Grippin was trying to retrieve his rowboat which had somehow come adrift in the mill pond, I returned to Uncle Rotjack’s by way of the back gate. I retrieved the sea chest, and made full speed by donkey cart back to you all, my friends, trusting that the confusion between Halfkeg and Grippin would delay any misguided attempt of the later to locate the sea chest anytime soon, and in the certain knowledge that Uncle Rotjack’s chart and journal would guide us all to adventure and treasure.

“And so it has!” finishes Halfjack, with an honest smile.

“Some of you could have come looking for me!” accused Red – as he finally returns with a number of twigs in his hair, to the warmth of the fire, the rum and the laughter of his comrades.

 

Off home

And so with 1/2-Jack’s role as instigator convincingly explained, it’s yo ho and off to home port me hearties, where we shall squander our loot and upgrade to better equipment ready for our next foray!

List of significant loot from the voyage (values are approximate):

The Yolande

3000gp black pearl

2050gp in gems

1500gp gold-inlay bowls

500gp gold coins

450 gold intrinsic value of ex-statuette

300gp obsidian bowls

3 metal potion flasks

Gourd containing healing potion, several doses

The weapons and ring as previously noted

Plus the druidess’s* bracers and staff, and armor and weapons of the interlopers

*[Druidess is my term because it’s how her equipment depicts her; in fact she was a mage with the Druidic initiate feat.]

GM’s end of season notes

1. XP – the head-count XP was disappointing. The 6 toughs were out of the book and seem low for multiple attacks. Anyway, I added them all up to 382 each (including the random encounters). Also added in is 1500XP season/adventure bonus. This should put everyone on 5801 XP except Red, who is 290XP behind. (next level is 9500XP)

2. Level 5 gains. The simple stuff is your hit dice. No-one get a proficiency increase yet, but:

Rogue: Evasion (reaction to 1/2 damage) and Sneak Attack improves to 2D6.

Ranger: Extra attack, Natural Explorer (would make him less-useless) and spell slots (4/2)

Paladin: Extra Attack, Oath spells (lesser restoration & zone of truth) and spell slots (4/2)

Cleric: Domain spells (holy vigor & prayer) and spell slots (4/3/2)

Mage: 2 spells into book, school spell (Disappearing Trick) and spell slots (4/3/2)

3. The wrap up.

  • Grippin gets away in the twilight and shadows ashore. He is helped to his ship which departs in the fading light.
  • The party survives with all their loot. The Yolanda is damaged a little by fire and some vandalism but Rhyhab says that it is easily repairable. After checking things out it is quite dark, so Rhyhab decides to leave later the next day, after the return cargo is loaded. A good chance for the wounded to heal up and everyone to be spelled up for the start of the return trip.
  • Fortunately, the trip back to civilization is uneventful. Once away from the island swell, Rum tows Yolanda with enough crew on the latter to look after one reefed sail and keep it under control. The rest look after Rum. Everyone does keep a nervous eye out for sails and there is no regular traffic until closer to the mainland. No sign of Grippin.
  • Once back in port you do have to decide what to do with Yolanda. Cash it in or something else? Instead of a cash share, you could see if you can pay Rhyhab with a piece of the Yolanda and let him run her as part of his fleet. Have a think about it.
  • Note that Rhyhab’s original agreement was 3 shares of the loot, two of which are to be divided up for the crew. The crew may not be so interested in anything other than gold.

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