Actual Play – Political Machinations on the Wormwood! (4/7/2015)

Skull and ShacklesGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen Twelves, Meg Pressley, Rocko Moran, and Adrienne Mueller
System: Pathfinder
Adventure Path: Skull and Shackles

“Where’s my hat?”

Everyone woke to Conchobhar shouting in the crew brith. “Where is my gods damned hat? Which one of you pig fuckers took it?” Bleary eyed most of the crew told Conch to shut the hell but most just got up and started getting ready for work. The first bell was rung and most started on their way up to the deck. Anand noticed however that there was a very content goat in the corner munching away on Conchobhar’s hat. He said nothing but Madeline spoke up and pointed it out. Conchobhar had a fit. He blamed Davey for letting the goats get free again. He snapped at Madeline for suggesting he might have lost it. He just generally snapped at everyone before storming off in a rage.

That one doesn’t talk much

As Anand set out he noticed a big half-orc, Jaundiced Jape was standing in the door and not moving. Jape just shrugged when Anand asked him to move and looked at his own fingernails.

From behind him a big man with ugly prison tattoos, Fipps Chumlett, spoke on his behalf. “Jape doesn’t talk much.”

Anand asked “Can he hear? Because if so he should get the fuck out of my way.”

“Oh, Japes doesn’t like it when people talk dirty to him. Thinks it’s disprespectful.” Fipps smiled wide.

Madeline charged forward yelling at Jape “You better get the hell out of our way or the captain is going to keelhaul all of us!” It worked, it got Jape to look over his shoulder and clearly made him think twice, but as she was running at him a foot showed up from no where and tripped her. Slipper Sly Lonegan appeared out of the shadows and went to clobber Maddie. It was on!

Some highlights of the fight:

  • Anand reverse headbutting Aretta Bansion in the face and breaking her nose. Aretta running off after that, not wanting more pain.
  • Sly and Madeline wrestling where she gave him an evil eye!
  • Davey pulling out a concealed sap, and prompting Fipps to pull out his concealed dagger. A few very near misses with that one.
  • Vyv kicking sly in the head and then Davey knocking him out with a sap.
  • Fipps nearly stabbed Anand in the back, but when the turned to defend himself, Jaundiced Jape wrenched his arm, dislocating his shoulder. Anand went down in agonizing pain.
  • At the end of the fight it took everyone to convince Madeline not to toss Sly in the drink!

There will be a whipping for you

When they got up Jape and Fipps were already getting lashed for being late. Davey tried to play it cool and said “glad you caught those to already, we chased them off and barely prevented them from killing these two.” (Referring to the unconscious Anand and Sly). It was just a bald faced enough lie that it might work. And it did! [Fantastic diplomacy roll]. Still, someone had to be whipped, and since Davey looked like he gave as good as he took, it was gonna be him. He took three lashes and like the others, got to work.

Getting let off early however, was noticed. Rossie Cuswell in particular now things the PCs are Scourge’s stooges [Devils bargain Davey took on the Diplomacy check]

Work all day…

Vyv hands down coils the best ropes on the ship. When Jack Scrimshaw coils a rope, it’s a tangled mess. When Vyv does it the rope unravels as if it was enchanted by Cayden Cailean himself! No surprise Vyv was tasked to do the job again, but this carrying all that rope too it’s toll and left the druid fatigued at the end of the day. [Fatigued]

When no-one was looking Vyv reset Anand’s shoulder and though it still hurt like hell and was swollen, at least he could use his right arm. [Ship action: Treat deadly wounds on Anand]

Madeline was sent to swab the decks… again. She did it better this time despite the bleariness she felt from working in the sun all day yesterday [Fatigued from yesterday].

As soon as she got a chance though she slipped down into the quartermaster’s store and, knowing the half-orc was a suspicious one, threatened Besmara’s Wrath (TM) if her goods weren’t returned. Not wanting to get mixed up in the affairs of the occult, Grok offered it over. [Ship action, shopping]

Davey was a bit trapped today, listening (and sharing) old salt stories. After a time, Ambrose, deep in his drink started sharing how he really felt about the Wormwood.

“It’s poison, this ship, but don’t let anyone hear you say it aloud. The hull listens, see, and the cap’n hears it all. Poison the Wormwood is, though, rotten to the core. You’ll not meet a more nasty, sour piece of work than Cap’n Harrigan in all your days at sea, and his crew’s the same, ’specially the first mate, Mr. Plugg. Vicious little sod, he is. He’d take his own mother’s liver to the butcher to make pies with, he would. But they leave me alone, mostly. They know I can’t ’arm ’em.”

He also told Davey he used to be renowned in Port Peril, both as a prize winning competitive eater and a cook at the Lobster’s Armor. Ah, those were the days. In sharing stories Davey was able to befriend the old drunk but had to drink more of those toxic rum rations to do so! [Ship action: Influence NPC]

Anand, because of his shoulder was assigned to rope work, carrying it around, which still hurt like hell, but at least didn’t mean climbing! It also meant he got to work next to Vyv who patched him up some. When he did hand the rope off to Ratliner, he got to talking with the halfling. Turns out Ratliner wants to be a pirate, just not on this stinking ship. He has dreams of owning his own ship and being a Free Captain one day, right there with the Hurricane King! To do that he’s gotta make the money though, and he does that placing bets on games at night. Ratliner though Anand was tough and wouldn’t do bad at Hog Lob.  The little man showed Anand how to play with a kleet and though Anand was new to it, he picked up the game quickly (Pick up this greased heavy thing…and throw it as far as you can without accidentally dropping it). Anand promised Ratliner his winning s for the night if he won an made fast friends [Ship action: Influence NPC]

The Bloody Hour

Anand and Ratliner took three lashes each, for dereliction of duty. It got them and Davey a few nods of approval like “Yeah, you’re tough enough to be on this ship.” At least from the crew, most of the officers don’t share that sentiment.

Conchobhar, however got three lashes with the cat-o-nine that cut him up badly. Apparently he had gotten in a scuff with Scourge and pushed him. That amounted to assault of an officer. Ouch.

…And play all night

After everyone but Madeline was able to toss their rum rations (Vyv pocketed theirs), they got to leisure time activities.

Vyv, exhausted from the day, just climbed in a hammock and passed out. [Removing fatigued] Sandara also helped by casting a restoration spell to help Vyv recover from the alcohol poisoning from last night [Lesser restoration healed 4 points of Con damage]

Madeline, caught trying to pour out her rations was caught by a tall Mwangi woman Shivikah who warned her that cheating your rations would get her six lashes. So instead they cavorted and got to know each other. Madeline kept her interest by promising to drink with her tomorrow night as well [Devil’s Bargain]. She found out Shivikah is an ex-Mwangi slaver. Good times [Ship action: Influence NPC].

Davey, though not successful in obtaining a healing potion for Anand before the game, did suitably amuse and impress Grok to win over her friendship, and a promise that Anand would get back all his gear if he won at Hog Lob tonight. She’d even throw in that healing potion! [Ship action: Influence NPC].

Anand was the big star of the night. Cog carried up the “pig” and Jape greased it. Once they were both content that it was well oiled, the contest started. Which of course included some good old fashioned heckling of everyone trying just to hold onto this big heavy slipping thing! Rossie went first, distracted by Madeline who mentioned scourge she had a pretty pathetic throw, barely a few feet. Cog went next and could hear Davey whispering about him behind his back. He slipped and dropped the pig. Then he tuned on Davey with daggers in his eyes. Jape went next and tossed it a respectable 16 feet. Grok took it with confidence, but only got a 10′ throw. Now Anand was up, he remembered his training montage with Ratliner [Bralwer special move to gain a feat, he took Throw Anything] and he heaved that pig…. an amazing 25 feet! “By Asmodeus that was a crazy throw. This Cheliaxian has the devil in him for sure!” Grok uttered, and now word was out to everyone on the ship that Anand was from Cheliax [Devil’s Bargain].  Anand, Davey, and Madeline all pocketed some coin (as did Ratliner). Anand also got back his equipment and a healing potion to cure his wounded shoulder. [Ship Action: Gambling]

No rest for the Wicked

While everyone else went to bed, Madeline stayed up all night concocting an alchemical antitoxin to help her recover from the awful rum ration. She succeeded so well she made two droughts! [Treating Craft:Alchemy as the Heal skill, only for providing long term care to recover from Rum Ration ability damage]. This however took everything out of her, and she’ll wake tomorrow unable to get out of bed [Late night ship action: Long term care. Failed Constitution check, would be Fatigued but since already Fatigued, now Exhausted].

Everyone recovered 1 point of Con Damage, except Madeline who recovered 2.

Corrections Department

  • Davey can deliver a sneak attack whenever someone isn’t able to defend themselves property (either when he flanks them or they are flat footed). When you all ganged up on Sly, he should have done an extra d6 damage.
  • Anand is considered “armed” with his fists, which means that when someone who is “unarmed” attacks him, he gets an attack of opportunity on them. Jesus, Anand is even more dangerous that I thought.

XP Rewards (Per Character):

Defeating Aretta, Sly, Jape, and Fipps – 200 XP
Winning the first Pirate Game – 25 XP
Anand getting back the rest of his gear – 25XP
Madeline getting back all of her gear – 50XP

Total reward: 300 XP

Obsidian Portal Update

New characters and been revealed and the old ones are updated here:

What Rocked

The Strain vs. Injury mechanic was really awesome. The fight below desk and even the lashing is all just scrapes and bruises…until someone lands a critical hit, or gets knocked below 0 hp. Then it’s serious shit. Anand’s dislocated shoulder was a big deal in the game, which I loved.

Some friend were made, but some enemies as well. Rosie thinks they are with Scourge. Cog blames Davey for him dropping the Hog. Conchobhar didn’t change his disposition (still unfriendly) but they certainly didn’t help him when Fipps was messing with him, so he’s not likely to look favorably upon them. Fishguts, Grok, Shivikah , and Ratliner however, are all thinking better of them now!

I enjoyed a lot of our Devils Bargains. Sly having some of Madeline’s hair. Everyone knowing Anand if from Cheliax. Some damn good stuff!

I have a TON of ideas for various fallout (good and bad) on the ship. Right now I’ve got a list of 8 events, 1 discovery, and 1 really good Devil’s Bargain to offer. I love all the plot threads that are opening up in the game.

What could have improved

Several times I had to correct myself on a rules call. Whats the DC to stabilize when you’re at negative HP? (10 + your current negative HP). How does Hog Lob work (A combat maneuver -4 unless you have Throw Anything, roll equals the number of feet you throw it). What’s the DC to intimidate a sailor? (13). A few times I said one number and then corrected myself with another number that was worse, and sometimes corrected myself back to the first number!

Some of this is due to all the ability score modifiers. Several people are Fatigued (-2 Str and -2 Dex), Almost all had Con damage from the Rum Rations. At several times people were Shaken (-2 on Attacks, Saving Throws, Ability Checks, and Skill Checks) and there were a few people who got caught with an Evil Eye. I just ordered a deck of condition cards to help track some of those in the future.

2 thoughts on “Actual Play – Political Machinations on the Wormwood! (4/7/2015)”

  1. Thanks for the great write-up, Sean! This was another really fun session.

    Things I especially loved:
    Anand’s budding friendship with Ratliner. (Such a pleasure to listen to!)

    Having Japes’s greasy hand slide of Anand’s smooth, smooth pate. (And the reverse head-butt! Anand just rules.)

    Madeleine’s jeering! Seeing her spit curses at and talk about drowning the unsavouries who jumped us was a treat – watching her deliberately rile up the other contestants of hoglob, so perfectly, was a delight!

    Peg-legged Vyv kicking scoundrel butt. And healing us. And making the best knots a sailor has ever seen. What is Vyv not awesome at?

    (Also, I didn’t exactly love this, but Rocky’s continued string of bad luck with rolls is pretty entertaining.)

    Things I noted:
    Scourge, even though Sean toned down his appearances, was still a palpable threat.

    We continue to develop party cohesion! Vyv and Anand healing and rigging together during the day, Vyv and Davey coming to Madeleine’s rescue. Vyv and Madeline pulling the rum-stunt. Anand and Davey working on Grok for the healing potion. Our shared history is building!

    The hoglob challenge was pretty tense! I got the impression there were more rules for it than we came up against this time, so I wonder how that will be in the future.

    It’s still kind of weird to me that we haven’t had an in character brainstorming session. It’s just never felt like the right time. I feel like as players we all know that mutiny is where we’re headed, but in character we haven’t really discussed it. I know that if we do have a group chat though, it’ll probably suck up a lot of our precious play-time.

    Sean is doing a great job handling the different NPCs. It’s so much fun to interact with them and their negative reactions to us are so varied! (Conchobhar is complainy, Rosie is sullen and mistrustful, Fipps is canny and hostile, Grok has a sharp tongue but no hard feelings.) Pretty rad.

    We made more use of the Devil’s Bargain mechanic this session. I really like it. And even though things slow down briefly while everyone tries to think of a possible deal; it engages the entire group and is therefore not a problem.

    Still love being insta-healed post encounter. And (as Sean points out) it made the more permanent damage of Anand’s shoulder that much more impactful. It definitely influenced the game. (Could he rig with that shoulder? Did he want to risk a whipping? Could he play hoglob? Could he win?) Whereas in other D&D games I’ve felt I’ve just wandered around with gaping wounds after a battle without taking much notice.

    That you get mechanical benefits for drinking and for taking a whipping is cute.

    Things are a little funky action-wise. Sean was very nice about letting us gamble on Anand, but I think, in general, it’s supposed to take up a full ‘action slot’ in the evening. Which is weird, because placing a bet only takes a minute. It would make sense to be able to do that and then go away to influence/skulk/steal. Also, moments like when Fipps was tormenting Conchobhar are tough. I think all of us wanted to step in and help the little guy – which really (especially for Anand) would only take a moment – but none of us wanted to sacrifice an ‘evening action’ to do so.

    Sean is pretty gentle with us: allowing us to add modifiers after the roll, taking extra small actions in addition to our allotment, ret-conning for bonuses, and chatting OOC about strategy when our characters actually couldn’t. I appreciate all of this – and I don’t think our collective ‘cheating’ makes the game even one iota less fun.

    I didn’t find the modifier-thing that bad – but then I also didn’t have to track that many of them for what I was doing. Conditions cards sound like a definite boon, though!

    Again – a super fun session. We’re making nice progress! (At the expense of our constitutions…)

  2. I’m sure we would have had time to brainstorm as a group in the morning if we hadn’t been jumped! But I agree, having to choose a daytime&evening action makes it difficult to slip in other roleplaying, unless we all sneak away somewhere instead of working.

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