Actual Play – The Captain’s Special Day (5/5/2015)

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

Salty water splashing on your face to wake you in the morning. That’s a pirates life!

Activity on the Wormwood has settled into something of a rhythm. Work, or you’ll be whipped. Drink, or you’ll be whipped. Keep your nose clean at night…or you’ll be whipped.

Day three started without fanfare. Narwhal and Fipps were conspiring about something. Conchobhar was in a foul mood, and Madeline was exhausted from staying up all night working on an alchemical concoction. Pretty standard fare.

With Davey and Anand offering a distraction, in the form of insulting Narwhal, Sandara and Madeline weren’t noticed as Sandara Besmara’s restorative magic to put a little more spring in Madeline’s step (bumping her up from exhausted to merely fatigued). The distraction turned out to be unnecessary however, as Madeline clouded the lower deck with a thick billowing fog (cast Obscuring Mist).

Day Shift (Day 3)

Anand was given mainsail duties. Tough work with the strong winds that were coming in. He did just fine, but the day tired him out (fatigued). When he wasn’t busy pulling the mainline or letting out the sheets, he found Jack, working on the foredeck sowing a torn sail.

“You do a good with your hands.” That sounded awkward. Anand tried to start again, but Jack was already perplexed. “Who? Me?”

They got into an uncomfortable conversation about the fact that Jack really should apologize to Davey for leading him on. (Jack is now friendly).

Madeline was sent down to the bilges to pump water. She worked diligently and managed not only to work the rusted bilge pump, but also did so without pushing herself to the state of exhaustion. While down there she found a few battered scraps. Some torn quilted armor and a couple of patina covered copper coins.

While doing the work Madeline lamented that it isn’t fair for one person to captain a ship and have a special day! Not when she has to spend the day working the bilges! During the day she heard several people sneaking down into the lower decks, most of them accompanied by Tate.

McTavish was told in hushed tones that it was the captain’s “special day” and that he’d be killing one of the pigs to cook up for dinner tonight. It was a mess. The pig (who had fondly been named Gerta) didn’t go down easily, blood got everywhere in the galley, and Abrose had to finish her off.

While getting the good linens (the only linens) out of Grok’s store, McTavish couldn’t help but notice all the random items stashed both in locked boxes and scattered throughout the hold. Davey asked Grok was she was giving the captain for his “special day” and she showed him a bit of fine scrimshaw (made by Jack) depicting the Wormwood impaling a giant squid creature with it’s bowsprit.

When Grok was busy fishing for her keys, Davey slipped a fine set of carpenter’s tools which were wrapped up in a leather valise, just outside the store and into the galley where they wouldn’t be noticed and he could pick them up later. He also got to singing songs with Grok as the set the tables.

She particularly liked one about the old captain’s “blowhole” which could be heard all the way up on the main deck by the swabs.  (Grok is now helpful)

As the end of the day, Mctavish went up on desk to throw the offal overboard but didn’t quite make it… Someone bumped him from behind and he spilled a bucket of blood and intestines all over the deck.  He only barely avoided spilling it all over Master Scourge, but to do so covered himself in gross (Devil’s Bargain).  Scourge barked that the mess has better be cleaned up by the time he came back around, or someone would be licking it clean!

When Davey turn around he spotted Cog… busy at work!

Vyv was assigned… knot work! (again). Vyv is a master at knots, best on the ship. That must be why Vyv keeps getting the job! It’s also tiring work that wears a person out as you have to to keep climbing up and down the rigging all day to replace worn ropes (fatigued).

While making the rounds Vyv bumped into Ratliner and go to talking with him about bets. Eventually Vyv goaded Ratliner into challenging Rosie Cuswell to an arm wrestling match. Ratliner wasn’t really sure how that all happened. Normally he’s the one convincing others to try things that he can bet on, but he liked the cut of Vyv’s jib, so he agreed and got to liking Vyv even more (attitude changed to Helpful).

The Bloody Hour

Rosie and Conchobhar were both lashed six times for delinquency of duty and failure to give proper respect to a superior officer. Not a big surprise with those two.

The Night Shift

By way of congratulating his crew, Captain Barnabas told them that they would be seeing action soon enough, and that tonight he would take any challenge at the captains table for arm wrestling.

Madeline, eager to prove her self went up first…and we got the greatest disparity in contested strength roles that I think I’ve ever seen. -2 vs. 28 (natural 1 with a -3 penalty vs natural 20 with a +8 bonus). The captain looked at this petite girl, whose had fit in his own like a child’s, furrowed his brow in some confusion (the confusion of “you’re on my ship?”) and then beat her so swiftly that the flame under her hand was put out and she lost without being harmed.

Anand also challenged his captain and lost, but did chose “steel” over “flame” and in doing so earned his captains recognition. “You’re the new rigger. You’ve been up in the crow’s nest and we haven’t crashed into anything.” This Anand heard as “You’re the savior of our ship”.

The captain beat all of the others without much fanfare except the very last bout. The titanic Rahadoumi with a permanent scowl Maheem was the very last to challenge his captain… and he won! His scowl, for a glimmering moment turned into a smirk as his fellow crew cheered him on. Jape was another notable contender who help the captain at a standstill for a few moments before going down.

After that Madeline, and Vyv both got an early night’s sleep (remove fatigued condition), but Anand and Davey were were up to mischief. Davey was lookout for Anand while he snuck down to the berths, and tried to pry open Tate’s lockbox. When picking the lock didn’t work, the got to banging on the check and served only to mangle the hinges and damage the frame. Cracked open ever so slightly, the strong smell of pipe-weed came out. Rushed for time and not having a better option, they went ahead and swapped the lockbox with the box under Cog’s hammock, where Davey removed the Offal he had placed there earlier in the day!

As they were finishing up Davey noticed a figure in the shadows of the step up to the middle deck. Clearly the figure had kept some distance and didn’t see what they were up to, but was waiting for Davey to be free. Once spotted he stepped out. It was Jack. Who told Davey in his own half-assed way that he didn’t want to fight him, so he thought that seducing him would be the less painful way of press ganging Davey. “So anyway… I’m sorry.” Davey forgave him, but then there was more awkwardness about what Davey and Anand had been doing alone in the berths, and if they wanted to be left alone further.

Day Shift (Day 4)

“What’s that smell?” Anand bellowed as the pipe weed acrid odor was now strong around Cog’s bunk. Hard looks and threats ensued.

Vyv was sent to do… knot work again! Vyv worked diligently this time to avoid over-exertion (working diligently).

Davey was sent out with nets and harpoons to go sea turtle hunting, which he did very well (it helped that Ambrose was sensible enough to cook so Davey didn’t have to do that too) and even made sometime for himself to sneak down into the bilges and look around. There he found a suit of leather armor, three heavy maces and 12 whole silver pieces. Living large!

He also found a bilge spider, which bit him twice on the hand before he was able to smash it into a fine paste.

Madeline was set to swab the decks “and clean that stink off” which she failed to do remarkably and earned herself six lashes on the bloody hour. This was probably because she spent most of the day lollygagging with Shivikah about the good old days when the Mwangi woman owned a whole plantation of slaves, until the greedy Chelaxian’s sold her out. They both agreed that they were better suited for ordering people to do work instead of doing it themselves (Shivikah now indifferent).

Shivikah also told her that Rosie and many others thought she was one of Scourge’s cronies. He had been merciful on her, which he never is, and leered at her all the time. Maddie couldn’t really believe that is what people thought, she hated Scourge. So maybe it was good she was getting whipped today.

Anand was given mainsail duties again, and given the strong winds he just stuck to work and tried to keep the ship from blowing apart (working diligently).

The Bloody Hour

Madeline was given six lashes for failing to clean the stink off the deck. Shivikah was given the same, though she didn’t begrudge Maddie for it.

The Night Shift

That night Madeline was caught again trying to spill her rum rations. As this was the second time she was caught, it was the cat-o-nine for her this time. Davey tried to bargain to take them for her instead, since she had just been whipped, but Mr. Plug didn’t care if the whipping left her a bloody mess, justice would be done.

Davey leapt in the way of the blow and pleaded once more, this time with Ratliner backing him up (+2 help on Diplomacy). Frustrated and not feeling as bloodthirsty as usual Mr. Plug consented for Davey to take the blows instead. Which he delivered with so much vigor Davey passed out from the pain, and looked to be bleeding to death. Satisfied that justice was metered out, and that if Davey really had any salt in him he’d survive, Plug moved on to the nights festivities.

Watching Davey bleeding out, Vyv stepped up and finally showed aspect of their mysterious self. Embodying both the masculine and the feminine in one form, Vyv whirled her curled pinkies in a swirling motion and the water of life flowed from her and into Davey, who’s wounded knitted themselves back together. In a moment he gasped and was awake once more. Though famished as if he hadn’t eaten in a week. The bulk of Davey’s wounds were healed (Cure light sounds, healed 7 points of the 10 injury damage he had taken).

And then there was much singing and merriment. Or as much as their can be aboard the Wormwood.

Anand, Madeline, and Vyv got to bed early (remove fatigued).

Davey got to bed early and spent time with Jack (Jack now helpful, but Davey still fatigued).

XP Awarded

  • 50 (Ratliner Helpful)
  • 50 (Jack Helpful)
  • 100 (Cut Throat Grok Helpful)
  • 100 (First conversation with captain Barnabas)

Total gained: 300.
New XP Total: 825

What Rocked

Something totally unintentional happened with the arm wrestling match. The captain got to show that he was a scary bad ass without huffing and puffing, or having to actually get in a fight with any of the PCs. He also got to show that while he may be pirate scum, he not actually a complete asshole like his first mate and boatswain.

Instead of a two faction model that the adventure assumes will happen, it’s looking a lot more like three factions will develop. The PCs, Scourge’s lackeys, and Rosie’s little people. A few like Ratlinder will fit in multiple groups (and of course, it should be tense if/when he’s asked to choose between them). There are also some personal rivalries. Like Cog, he just hates the fuck out of Davey, as does Narwhal really have a mad hate now for Anand.

Some of the NPC initiatives are coming out. Rosie’s gang, Narwhal’s pipe leaf sales, Cog’s beef with Davey, and Conchobhar’s self destructive streak are all playing out here and there.

What could have improved

I have a few more NPCs that I really need to bring out into the spotlight. Nobody is going to know about Barefoot Samms, or Bager or Giffer Tibbs if I don’t announce them!


One thought on “Actual Play – The Captain’s Special Day (5/5/2015)”

  1. Thanks again for the write-up, Sean!

    Bet we would have gotten some more xp if we’d beat the Captain at armwrestling.

    Also, don’t count on the little people, not being consumed by our faction. We can be very persuasive.

    Other thoughts:
    – We got more accomplished; two days on the ship instead of just one. Helped that there were no special events.

    – Felt like there was more flexibility to try and achieve side-goals. So maybe we were cheating, but I liked being able to roll to accomplish things more often. (Steal something, help break into something, arm-wrestle.)

    – The pig slaughter was the darkest moment on the ship for me, this time. Poor Gerta.

    – Is there a sentiment that we want more combat? It seemed like Madeline and Vyv’s prepared spells were more combat-oriented, but personally I’m really enjoying getting the flavour of the Wormwood without getting into a lot of extended fights (which can suck up a lot of time.) The captain did imply that we’d be using our weapons soon, so we’ll probably see some action whether we like it or not!

    – Appreciate the rules-massaging that allowed Vyv to have cure light wounds so Davey wouldn’t bleed out.

    – That Cat-o-Nine is brutal! Davey was initially only down two HP (7 of 9) when Plugg started wailing on him. The three strokes of -4, -4, -7 took him really far into the negative. Not sure Madi, starting at 1HP, would have survived. (Assuming there’s some limit too how much your HP can go into the negative before you expire.)

    – Loving the character bonds that Davey is developing. Vyv saved his life again. Anand is helping him out with his love-life. He took some blows for Madeleine. All of this is extremely rewarding.

    Favourite moments:
    Madeline’s excelling at bilging! I also really appreciated Rocky narrating how this young girl was coming to terms with her abduction and new lot in life.
    Vyv’s pinky-magic. Great to have Vyv finally unveil their powers – the anticipation had been building!
    All of Mordwyr’s interactions: fucking with Narwhal and Cog, teaching Davey pronunciation, and making nice with Jack!
    A-team / FF fanfare upon spider-kill.

    Another great game!

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