Now that I’ve introduced you to Revel, Mirielle, Nasha, and Dolce, allow me to try and recap some of the more interesting tidbits of their journey thus far. I couldn’t tell you how many hours we’ve played in the past week, but I can assure you many of the finer details from our sessions have already been forgotten since I don’t keep thorough notes. In fact, I usually don’t keep notes about any Role Playing session, instead relying on my memory and my husband’s to supply us with enough detail to move forward. Also, I’m not good at pirate lingo so I hardly intend to try… Just imagine it in your head if you will. Here we go..
Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!
• Nasha woke with a start. There was movement in the room with her and all she could remember from the night before was passing out at the Formidably Maid tavern. She’d been there plenty of times before after a long day’s work, but the alcohol that night had been something else.. And now, as her vision adjusted and her hearing grew more distinct, she realized she was not in a tavern at all.
She slid from her hammock just as a harsh and loud voice started attempting to rouse her and the others in the room. Some grumbles and moans returned the man’s words and Nasha watched as a hobgoblin and a human also stood. The last to rise was an elf, her face almost green. The voice boomed again, “Welcome to the Wormwood, Landlovers! Get up on deck!”
Nasha had counted the people in the room at this point. She and the other three disoriented souls were at a severe disadvantage.. And.. aboard a ship. She quickly realized there was no reason to fight this particular battle and moved forward, passing between the gang of pirates that had come to rouse them.
• Revel watched as the blue scaled lizardfolk retreated and soon was gone up the steps. She wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but she had no intention of going so quietly. “What the fuck is this? And what the fuck did you do with my things?” Her pack, her coin, her javelins… All gone.. But apparently they hadn’t searched her too closely. She’d managed to keep hold of her brass knuckles… Not that she really needed them when her blood got pumping.
The man in front cracked a whip and Revel snarled. “There’s no reason for this to get ugly.. Unless you just want it to. Get up on deck, this is your last warning.”
Revel watched as one of the other two girls that had been in the back with her skirted around the far side of the room from the man with the whip and slinked up the stairs. She looked utterly terrified. Useless, in Revel’s mind. Then there was the elf, who was currently still here. “Fuck that. I’m getting my stuff back, right?” She directed the question to the elf as she got ready to throw herself at the whip-wielder.
• Dolce’s mind was reeling. The whole world felt off-balance and the loud shouting match going on round her wasn’t helping her come to her senses. There were.. 6…? No.. eight of the pirates. Pirates! She’d been press ganged, and-
She didn’t have any further time to think about it as her stomach lurched. She staggered through the sailors there to rouse them unsteadily and made for the stairs as she felt last night’s meal trying to come up. She’d heard the hobgoblin’s defiant statement, but she didn’t have time for that nonsense.
When she made it to the deck there was more laughter from the surrounding crew as she moved to the railing and retched over the side. To her dismay they were quite well away. Land was just a tiny sliver in the distance. A quiet, but calming and resonant voice asked, “Are you alright?”
She looked up to see the human from down below and hardly had time to consider answering before retching again. It had to have been something in the alcohol. She’d never felt so bothered by the sea before. Maybe the drug they’d used to knock them out? She gave the human a small nod.
• Mirielle was at least slightly relieved by the elf. She felt completely overwhelmed, but at least she hadn’t physically succumb to seasickness. It made her feel a little guilty to find comfort in the misfortune of a kindred spirit… but.. it also kept them from focusing on her. She tried desperately to remember the events of the night before.
The ship had made port at Port Peril of all places after a nasty storm had done damage to it, she’d been required to find lodging in the city and disembarked with one of her household guard in the clothes of her attendant to draw less attention in the hive of villainy.. The guard and she had been separated int he chaos of the streets and she’d found a blond-haired man…
Her eyes cast about and she saw him. Quinn was his name. He looked as miserable as them though. He’d found her in the streets and realized she was hungry and lost and said he’d get her some food and taken her to the Formidably Maid tavern… A place he’d been to before where the food wasn’t great but it was edible and the prices were reasonable.. So he’d said… And then? They’d had a bite to eat and she’d passed out with just a single drink.
That was what did it.. The alcohol. She looked at the faces of the others assembled on the deck. Some looked to be hardened sailors and others like her and the elf she was standing beside… Shocked and struggling to catch up.
• Below deck Revel scoffed as the elf fled and gave a sharp, toothy grin to the whip-wielder. “Fine, I’ll do it myself.” The hobgoblin said, still too stubborn to stand down.
The man laughed, and Revel’s blood pumped harder. “You? Against all of us? Well I guess you aren’t the brightest mind now are ya? That’s fine, Lass, I’m happy to show you your mistakes.” He cracked his whip again and everyone began moving.
It was a halfling on the left wielding a sharp dagger, who stepped forward first. He might have hit Revel, but she bellowed at him furiously, “THAT’S RIGHT! COME AND GET ME!” And somehow the hobgoblin, though only 4’4″, seemed larger than the biggest man down there. The halfling yelped and started moving backward, right into another pirate’s generous gut.
The whip-wielder snarled at him, “Ratline, what the fuck are you doing?”
Revel took advantage of the distraction to move forward and close the distance to the bully. She didn’t hesitate even a second before slamming her fist into his right cheek with a triumphant snarl. She tried to punch him again with her left, but he dodged that blow.
His demeanor had changed, the amusement gone from his eyes and his voice was a low snarl itself. “You’ll regret that, Pup.” The lash wrapped around her arm and side mercilessly. It was amazing how hard he could wield it as her skin sang from its stinging touches. The second strike caught her torso and coiled over one of her shoulders. The third fell across both of the first two and in just those few moments she fell into unconsciousness again.
• Nasha heard the sounds of combat below her as everyone stood awkwardly on the deck. It was obvious to her which among them were crew for the vessel and which had been like herself. Already she resigned to just do whatever work they required and try to survive to the next port. With her natural ability to swim and the length at which she could hold her breath they weren’t going to be able to keep up with her if she made it into shallow waters…
The sound of feet on the stairs preceded the crew that had been below to rouse them filing onto the deck, the last among them the man with the whip. His cheek was red and starting to swell already, but the hobgoblin had been dragged above by a large brute already and was limp in his grasp. Nasha shook her head at the foolishness of the hobgoblin’s actions. She supposed the woman would be lucky if she wasn’t tossed overboard.
“Tie this one to the mast,” the whip-wielder said.
The others obeyed even as a new voice spoke out. “Are you alright, Master Scourge? I hope she didn’t hurt you.”
“I’m fine, Captain,” Master Scourge responded, though Nasha noted he seemed genuinely afraid of his captain.
• Dolce may have been retching moments before, but with her stomach now empty she held to the rail and watched the scene unfolding before her. Her mind still worked as her body warred with itself. The fear Master Scourge felt toward the captain was practically tangible. He must be quite a capable man.
“Good. I’d hate to think one of my officers could be bested by a little girl like that,” the captain said as he turned to face the rest of those on deck. “Welcome to the Wormwood. We’re so happy you volunteered to join our merry crew. Understand that there is no tolerance for trouble here and you will do well. Don’t speak to me. While I enjoy speaking, I don’t care what any of you have to say. For that reason I leave you in the loving care of my Bosun, Mr Plugg.”
And with that he walked into his cabin. Mr. Plugg stood sharper and spoke loudly, “We have already had an incident from you lot, so let’s show you just how we handle troublemakers on the Wormwood. Stitchman, if you please.”
Another man moved forward, crossing his way to the hobgoblin. He rifled through his pouches and produced something that he put under her nose. The hobgoblin woke with a jerk and pulled her head away from the Stitchman. More laughter sounded from the crew and Dolce had a feeling she knew what would come next.
• Mirielle felt completely helpless standing there in the midst of everything. She could see clearly where they’d bound the hobgoblin to the mast and the expression on Master Scourge’s face looked all-too happy to her. “Rise and shine,” said the Stitchman as he stepped away.
“You are all,” Mr. Plugg said, “expected to pull your weight. A ship needs a crew that works together, and we intend to make you do so. If you don’t work, you will be punished. If you start fights… You will be punished. Piss us off enough and you’ll spend some time in the sweatbox or maybe even get to find out what it feels like to be keel hauled. This one earned herself four lashes today.” He nodded at Master Scourge.
Mirielle’s eyes grew wide as the man unfurled his whip. How had she ended up here? She had been on a boat on her way to be wed to a noble of Sargava just the day before… With servants and guards to tend her needs and keep her safe.. And now… The whip cracked through the air and though Mirielle suspected the hobgoblin was trying not to call out she did again, and fell limp in her bindings. Master Scourge didn’t stop when she was unconscious, instead letting the lash fall three more times, each time drawing blood.
“Good,” said Mr. Plugg. “Take her below, make sure she doesn’t bleed out.” The stitchman nodded and did as he was bade, untying the hobgoblin’s restraints and dragging her below deck as Mr. Plugg continued. “Now we’re going to see if any of you are good at rigging. When I say so, you’re gonna climb that mast as quick as you can. And go!”
• Dolce’s suspicions had been confirmed, and soon enough they were setting them to task. She noticed the human who’d come to check on her wasn’t moving and purposefully brushed against her arm as she passed her by to see if that would rouse her from her shock. It seemed to work, for soon enough she, the lizardfolk, and the other shocked and overwhelmed looking faces were scrambling up the rigging. Cheering and jeers were called up from below. More than one directed at her in her short little dress.
While she didn’t mind that sort of attention, in fact it served her well enough when singing bawdy tavern songs or pirate shanties in the places she frequented, right now it was distracting. “You can climb my pole anytime, Elf!” rose above the others and she couldn’t help rolling her eyes. Another wave of sickness hit her and she almost lost her grip, but not quite. Ultimately her natural speed gave her an advantage over the others and soon enough she’d left all but one behind… The lizardfolk.
• Nasha had watched without any real sense of dread. She suspected they would do as they said, attempt to forge them into a solid crew. If she continued with her plan and applied herself she would be fine. They were instructed to climb, and climb she did, taking to the mast like she may have to the water and scaling it and the ropes upon it with relative ease. The elf was having trouble, but not overly much. The blond haired human girl who had been standing beside her was far behind with the halfling and the gnome.. One other human managed to pull away and it soon became a race between him, the elf, and her.
Nasha strove harder, pushing herself to reach further and climb faster. If she performed well she would brook less pain in the future. So she told herself. And soon enough she had made it to the crow’s nest. Curses came from the sailors below, for they had begun to think the elf would win, and she’d almost tied with Nasha, but now she struggled a few feet below, seeming to have trouble finding purchase.
It was all the time the human man needed to catch up and overtake her, and then he was in the crow’s nest with Nasha. “Not bad, but you lizards have an unfair advantage I imagine.”
Nasha considered his words and said, “My cousins would make this seem quite simple a task, but I am a far better swimmer than climber” Her voice was even and calm when she spoke.
The man shrugged his shoulders, “If you say so.” The elf finally made it up that last five feet, and soon after her the blond haired human. Mr. Plugg called up, “That’s enough, get back down here.”
• Mirielle had only just reached the top when they were called back to the deck and she sighed. The climb down would be easier than the climb up, but it still was not her strong suit. She picked her way down carefully and as she suspected was the last to reach the deck. Mr. Plugg glared at her as he waited, but didn’t say anything until all were assembled below. “Alright, you and you, you’ll be riggers.” He had pointed to the lizardfolk and the human male that had reached the top first. “Any of you know how to cook?”
Mirielle certainly didn’t. She’d had servants to cook for her and even climbing the ropes had hurt her delicate hands. Since her healing magic had emerged at a young age she’d never gained a scar and her parents had decided to be certain she never formed calluses. Her skin was silky soft and right now that would probably prove nothing but a hindrance.
The elf rocked a little on her feet, still looking like every dip of the boat was making her sick, and meekly said, “I can.”
Mr. Plugg gave a nod, “Cook’s helper. Take this one to Fish Guts.” A man called the elf over and took her below. “The rest of you are swabs.” He assigned tasks to each of them, and when he got to Mirielle he took a belaying pin from the boat and tossed it at her with a smirk. “Rat catching,” was all he said.
She fumbled with the pin as she struggled to catch it much to the amusement of the crew, but at least managed not to drop it. Rat-catching? She felt her stomach lurch. As if this whole ordeal wasn’t trying enough.. Now she’d be hunting rats all day…? At least her knowledge of ships would pay off. She knew where to look for them. Still, the thought of touching the foul vermin made her skin crawl.
• Revel woke after about an hour and a half and was told to report to Mr. Plugg. She grudgingly did so. She was given the task of being a runner and spent the day carrying messages from one part of the ship to another. While she did grumble and complain from time to time, it seemed the lesson had paid off because she mostly did as she was told without giving them trouble.
• Nasha did repair work in the sails, and while her craftsmanship was not well-honed, it did the job it was needed to and putting repairs in place proved quite effortless for her with her athletic prowess. She discovered a young man named Jack working as lookout and struck up a conversation with him regarding the scrimshaw he was working on. Soon enough the two were on friendly terms.
• Dolce found the kitchen occupied by two individuals. One in an apron smothered in fish guts and the other a half-orc female. They had been drinking, but stopped when she arrived. The half-orc wished the man luck breaking in his new help and retreated into a small chamber with a locked door, though Dolce noted she forgot to lock it. Her day proved easy enough for the chef was a capable cook and managed all the cooking himself. Dolce made efforts to befriend him and found it easy enough to do. She supposed this was as good a job as any on the ship if all she had to do was pass the man ingredients and talk to him.
• Mirielle hunted rats, and while the critters caused her some revulsion, she overcame it to fulfill the task she’d been set. She found herself int he company of a pirate named Badger who related some of her own story and gave Mirielle pause to think. The pirate had started wearing her hair in an absurd fashion to keep people from messing with her after a rough life on the streets… And Mirielle found herself reflecting on how privileged her existence had been prior to waking up here.
At the end of their hard days’ work the crew was assembled on the deck once more. Mr. Plugg standing by the wheel bellowed out to them, “And now it’s time for tonight’s entertainment! Welcome to Bloody Hour!” The crew seemed happy to hear this proclamation and did some cheering. A man was brought from below deck by Master Scourge. “Ah, here we have good ol’ Jake Magpie! Magpie thought he needed your gold more than the rest of you!” Boos broke out from the crew and some even threw things at Jake.
Dolce swallowed. Pirates took theft very seriously. She could only imagine they were about to witness this man’s death and her eyes sought out the tender-hearted human. Sure enough, the blond girl looked quite alarmed as she watched.
“We all know the cost of thieving, don’t we?”
“YEAHHH!” Bellowed the crew.
“Get him ready, boys!” And no sooner had Plugg said the words than the crew sprung to action. A rope had been prepared for this before they’d been called to assemble it seemed, for one man held Jake who struggled and pleaded while another tied that rope around his neck. “Now, now, Jake, you knew the rules.”
“Aye, Mr. Plugg. Please, I’m sorry! I won’t steal again!” He sounded utterly terrified and it made even Dolce frown.
Mr. Plugg looked like he was considering the man’s pleas. Looked like it, but Dolce and Mirielle both knew better. They, Nasha and Revel watched in silence as he strode down from the wheel and over to Jake’s side. “Jake, you served us well for many months. You just got too greedy. You’re right though. You won’t steal from us again.” He flashed Jake a cold smile and pushed him over the side of the ship.
Dolce heard someone else retching and turned to find Mirielle kneeling over a bucket, her face pale as the clouds int he sky. She moved closer, resting a hand on her shoulder, and the human looked up at her with actual tears in her eyes. ‘She’ll never survive this ship…’ Dolce thought, feeling pity for the only person who’d really shown her kindness before she’d set to work on Fish Guts.
The crew was hooting and hollering, even placing bets about whether or not he’d survive. Long odds, those Dolce knew. She’d studied pirate stories long enough to know just how rare it was for someone to survive the process. Sure enough, a minute and change passed before the rope made full circle and Jake was hauled up from the ocean below. Mirielle retched into the bucket again as she saw the open lacerations on the man’s body. Even Dolce felt unnerved, and she’d been prepared for what they would see. His expression was one of horror, frozen eternally on his battered face.
“Who wants to do the honors?” Mr. Plugg asked.
Ratline piped up, shooting Revel a purposeful look as he did, “I got it, Mr. Plugg!” The hobgoblin took a single step toward the halfling with her menacing grin and he edged away, but still eagerly went to Plugg’s side. Mr. Plugg handed him a sword and he used it to behead Jack’s already broken body.
Mirielle was retching again, not that she had anything to expel at this point. Bile came up and nothing more as she saw the man’s head fall free of his body. It was a bloody ordeal for the blade wasn’t sharp enough and the wielder not strong enough to make the cut clean and strong. She closed her eyes against it and felt another hand alight on her other shoulder. When she looked up it was Quinn and she gave him a weak and fearful smile.
The body was kicked overboard and Mr. Plugg turned to the crew, “Alright you worthless slobs. It’s time for dinner and your rum rations! Get down to the galley and get your fill!”
• By the time bed came Mirielle was exhausted. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d spent all day moving around like that, and she had never been required to find and kill rodents. Dinner and rum rations were passed around and it was all she could do to pick at her plate before she started to take it off to sleep.
Master Scourge appeared beside her, she wasn’t sure where he’d come from, and said, “Don’t you like the captain’s good rum?”
Mirielle was startled and shrank away from him, “Umm.. I just.. don’t hold my alcohol well…” She knew the crew would laugh at her, but wasn’t creative enough to come up with anything else in that moment.
Master Scourge smiled and it put her ill-at-ease. Then he caught her by her hair and took her rum glass in his hand, “That’s alright, Lass, let me help ya!” He forced the glass to her lips and twisted her hair until she opened her mouth and drank it down. Some spilled onto her shirt, but he made sure she drank most of it. “There ya go. See? No harm at all!” He clapped her on the back hard and looked around at the rest of the crew, “Anyone else need my assistance?”
• Dolce, who saw this scene unfold, felt wary of the alcohol, but with the officers watching she decided it best to just drink it down. She wasn’t the only one to do so. The rum was strong. Stronger than any she’d had before, and unfortunately for her her stomach was having none of it. She tried to fight it down, but the retching came back and she rushed up onto the deck again to go hang over the railing.
When she finished and made her way back below deck she saw the eyes of Master Scourge and Mr Plugg on her. She knew she’d get to pay for this the next day. For now though.. For now she could distract, perhaps, or maybe make some friends. Music was, after all, a perfect means to bond with others and her repertoire of sea shanties and tavern songs was nigh inexhaustible. And ultimately, while being press ganged had not been her preferred way to become one, she was now a pirate. Really, on the whole, her spirits were high. She had no intention of stealing from the Wormwood and as such would be able to slowly climb the ranks among the crew. Perhaps making officer herself and being able to really enact change.
Besmara said the crew should be loyal to one another after all. It had always sounded more like family than her actual family was when she’d listened to the tales and read the stories. Surely there was some of that to be found on this ship… Perhaps with a bit of effort.
• Nasha had consumed her share of the rum, but it was powerfully strong. She wondered at the harsh discipline she’d witnessed earlier that night and the potency of the alcohol provided. Did they want their sailors to perform shoddily and incur punishment? Perhaps Scourge did. He seemed the sort. She made her way over to Jack and talked to him some more. He showed her some scrimshaw dice he’d carved himself and soon they were joined by the large man who had been with the throng that had awakened the girls. The man’s name was Fipps, she learned, and he seemed to like games. Nasha curled her tail around a portion of the floor so the three of them could toss the dice with little worry of them rolling too far away and played into the night before the need for sleep overtook her.
• Revel had already been tired from the day’s abuse before she drank the rum. After that she was pretty exhausted. She might have been inclined to go and drink with others or socialize, but today.. today she just slept, slinking into her hammock and letting the day melt away.
I went into a lot more detail here than I likely will in the rest of my recap. I felt it was a good way to introduce the girls and their various reactions to being press ganged. I will, as I said in my intro, be trying to mention the more memorable highlights, but expect the next post to have either much smaller story snippets or just summaries. When I get to our current sessions they will read a bit more like this one.
Thanks for reading!