Sunday, February 14, 2010
The side-tracking powers of random charts.
So the plan was: get the party from Malikarr to Modron (JG Wilderlands) so I can get them into Matt Finch's cool Tower of Mouths (from Knockspell 3). Its a short enough adventure that I figure we can finish it off in one session or so. All the group has to do is travel the 5 or 6 days by sea, so they board the trusty caravel Red Corbie and head south across the Winedark Sea. A quick check for wind conditions:
Wind Conditions(d8, determines % of normal speed sailed)
1. Doldrums (0%)
2. Calm (75%)
3-5. Light, favorable winds (100%)
6. Strong favorable winds (100% plus d100%))
7. Light headwind (50%)
8. Strong headwinds (50% minus d100%)
And we get light favorable winds. The first couple of days go great, and the Red Corbie leaves the Valon hexmap and enters Map Five (CSIO). This is hex 4701, if you're following along at home, btw. This is where I get a random encounter and upon consultling Chgowiz's S&W Reference Sheets determine it to be a Basilisk, which I announce to the players as a great, winding sea serpent with cerulean scales, a spiny crested head, and glowing green eyes. This great terror of the sea lanes coils itself around the ship old-school style, snaps one sailor in half with its needle-like teeth, and sets about turning the rest into convenient stone anchors (PC's Otis and Tesmer get lucky and make their saves). The battle gets ugly, with the PCs weapons bouncing harmlessly of the serpent's barnacle-encrusted scales again and again. A max-damage magic missile from Tesmer eventually turns the tide (14 pts!) though Tesmer himself is badly wounded in the battle. Eventually, the serpent realizes it is beaten and flees.
The Captain of the Corbie, an experienced whaler, takes a small bribe from the party to chase the beast so they can finish it off. The chase goes on for the next three hours, with the frantic serpent managing to stay just out of crossbow range the whole way. Eventually, the ship is forced to stop at the edge of a wall of sharp rocks jutting up from the sea (hex 4601 now), and the PCs follow it aboard a dinghy into a series of sea caves. Cornered in its lair, the beast turns agressive again, and the PCs flee back out of the caves, rowing frantically, and leading the serpent right past the ambush set up by Otis the dubious dwarven thief. The PCs discover the basilisk has lined its bed with coins, though the greed soon turns to dismay as they realize they've got about 35k copper coins to collect (along with 2k silver and a hundred or so gold coins).
Exploring around a little, they discover a massive, sunken, skandik knorr in a nearby sea cave, and are able to glimpse several chests submerged in the broken hull. Sadly, they also discover the four(!) giant octopi dwelling there. They make some tentative attacks at the creatures, but after some lengthy deliberation and planning realize they are tremendously outclassed by these monsters. They spend some more time charting the area as extensively as possible and decide to return with men-at-arms, nets, harpoons, and possibly water-breathing magic when they have finished their job in Modron.
The Red Corbie sets sail again, and I consult the weather charts, coming up with a natural 20(!) and a 10. I inform the players that the temperature is dropping rapidly. Within an hour, it goes from the mid-60's to the mid 20's and the howling winds become filled with snow and sleet. The hardy caravel is battered by the storm, but the crew manages to keep the ship from going to pieces and ride it out (though two sailors are sadly swept overboard). When the air clears the next morning, the lookout spies a coastline just to the south, and they assume it to be Brezal Isle, where they should be able to effect some repairs. Out go the oars, and they head for shore.
Another successful random encounter check and I get "Fighters". The party spots red sails on the horizon and realize to their horror that they are not off the coast of Brezal Isle at all, but have instead been pushed into the territory of Warwik (a state currently at war with the CSIO, and thus authorized to pirate all allies). The crew rows frantically for shore, but are quickly overtaken. The Red Corbie is searched and inventoried, and the PCs do their best to negotiate or intimidate the Warwik captain into leaving them alone. Eventually, despite some humorous mishaps, they achieve a measure of success, and the Warwik ships depart with seven heavy chests of copper coinage and four extremely detailed stone statues of Valonian sailors!
The ship beaches on Wormshead Point (hex 4305) and the crew begins to secure lumber for their repairs. The process takes (1d4) 2 days, and yes you guessed it, yet another random encounter (I begin to think my d6 is only capable of rolling 1's, and make a couple of test rolls just to check). This time its Gnolls (which I describe as dog-headed headhunters festooned with plumage, bone fetishes, and carrying blowguns and spears), and a lot of them, so the PCs and the sailors flee, screaming, back to the dinghies amid a hail of darts and arrows.
Forced to make do with incomplete repairs, the ship limps back into the sea lanes, and makes it slowly to the great Estuary of Roglaroon and the hoary old city of Modron without (excepting a brief and harmless but terrifying sighting of Maelstron) further harm. After some negotiation with the wharf-master, some shopping, retaining an Inn, and some carousing, the session was over.
I'm sure we'll get to the "adventure" next time (hmmmm) without further distraction. Right?