The Pirates of the Flowering Isles

We begin on Esevelen (Seventhmonth) 29, IY 383, six weeks after the Battle of Medauria. The adventurers begin unfamiliar with each other. Each of them, while seeking employment, has seen a billboard or heard a crier that has led them to the docks of Emprisos, where Captain Massimo Maldives of The Shrike awaits them.

Captain Massimo Maldives is a 70-something sea dog who has spent his life as a mariner in the archipelago. He is 5’8” tall, with a stout frame that is verging on obese. His grey beard has been carefully waxed to a sharp point below his chin. His left eye is covered by an eyepatch while his left hand has been replaced by a hook. He is dressed in the manner of a Syrnasan pirate, with a gold turban, an embroidered silk vest of purple and gold, and gold pants striped with purple bloused over high boots.

His ship, The Shrike, is a 20-ton aphract 1.5 rower with two banks of oars, 9 upper and 16 lower per side, each rowed by one rower, creating an oar system with one-and-a-half rowers per file. It has a length of 80’, beam of 14’3”, and a draft of 2’6”. It requires 5 sailors and 50 rowers and can carry 5 marines. It has a cargo capacity of 750 st. It has a naval ram mounted on its bow. It can carry 2 war machines weighing up to 150 st each, but isn’t currently carrying any. Waterproofed with pine tar, its hull is almost black. Its main sail and boat sail are both crimson. Its mast is carved with hundreds of names of places and people.

Officers & Mates (PCs):

  • Quartermaster Saphra Royale, Opelenean Venturer (merchant mariner) with Bargaining, Navigation
  • Master of Rowers Platino Silvertongue, Syrnasan Bard (swashbuckler)
  • Master of Arms Labrico Carius, Syrnasan Corsair (cutthroat)
  • Master of Cartography Rasha Hiram, Opelenean Bladedancer (temple blade) with Mapping
  • Ship’s Lookout Drenis Drenis, Syrnasan Explorer (mountaineer)
  • Ship’s Doctor Black Guts, Syrnasan Warlock (mad vivisectionist)

The Marines (NPCs):

  • Cutter : A veteran of Armatus’ Free Navy. Gruesomely scarred.
  • Flint : Tinder’s brother, also a Pyromaniac. “I like to burn things.”
  • Tinder : Flint’s brother, also a Pyromaniac. “I like women that are hot. Hehe. Hot.”
  • Rivers : “Why are you called Rivers?” “Cuz he runs.” “ONE TIME. I ran ONE TIME."

We begin…

All right, listen up, men! Captain Massimo Maldives, feared across the Ammas Aurë, is before you now. The taker of women (but only the pretty ones), plunderer of wealth (but not a miser, no sir!), and drinker of booze (but only the expensive stuff)! Do not let age fool you. By summers Massimo is 76 but by deeds he must be 500! Doubtless you’ve heard an accounting of Massimo’s legendary exploits on his hemiola The Shrike?

No? Seducing the mermaid princess of the lost city? Plucking out his own eye so that he would duel the one-eyed champion of Pireus on equal terms? Plundering the Celdorean treasure ship Royal Purple only to lose the coin in a wretched night of gambling? Losing his hand to frostbite from urinating on the summit of Mt. Skarstind?

No? No bell is rung? No memory jarred? AHHHH. You are just uninformed. Fortunate indeed that Massimo is here to tell you of great deeds to inspire you! Because you are about to embark on a great adventure! An adventure that will make you not just rich, not just famous, but famously rich!

Massimo expects his crew to be operate like a fine honey wine – smooth and strongly spirited! Thus I ask you now to introduce yourselves in turn, so that we might set sell with the benevolence and comity of heroes on a high crusade!

The players to introduce themselves. Marines introduce themselves. After the marines, one of the rowers speaks up. “I’m—"

No, no, we can stop here. No need for the rowers to speak up, Massimo knows you are men of action and not words, and also there are too many of you and Massimo will not remember your names.

Let us aboard then!

Once onboard it’s time for the captain’s vow:

Men, as you know, a sea captain must vow to uphold the crew’s code, protect their honor, and lead them to wealth and glory. Massimo Maldives, captain of the Shrike, so swears, by his illustrious fame, his royal bloodline, and his faith in Naurivus! Massimo shall uphold his crew’s code, protect his crew’s honor, and lead them to wealth and glory! It is sworn. Now, the blood oaths of loyalty.

The blood oaths of loyalty to the captain are a Syrnasan tradition…

A blood oath sworn on water is sacred and unbreakable. It is known! What, no, no put away the scimitar, Cutter. Only a little blood is needed. Sorry, captain. Here, here are some needles. Prick your thumb and press it to the mast, swearing like this: By Naurivus, prince of the winds and waters, I swear to obey Captain Massimo Maldives while on board his vessel the Shrike, for the duration of this voyage, and any future voyages we may undertake together, on pain of being shamed for all eternity in the eyes of men.

Finally it is time for the anchor’s toast.

Now, men, as you doubtless are aware, before setting sail we must have a communal toast around the anchor to ask for the sea’s blessing. Here, here is a cask of wine and mugs of good clay, let’s us open it and toast. Who will lead the toast?

The bladedancer performs an erotic dance on the mast and asks for Ianna’s blessing. Everyone decides that having a bladedancer of Ianna is much better than a priestess of Naurivus. Massimo is pleased.

There, we are blessed, I can feel the bounteous love of the gods already settling upon us. Raise the sails!

Our first port of call is the island of Scilus! With favorable winds we should be there by nightfall! Set sail men, set sail. You all know where Scilus is, yes? Southwest of here, past Rinos? Good, of course you do. When get past Rinos, then we sail to Scilus. After that, our destination is secret, known only to Massimo!

It is 8:15AM when the Shrike departs. The Shrike can sail 96 miles per 12-hour sailing day, or 8 miles per hour.

Moderate easterly winds under a master mariner enables the Shrike to travel at full speed to the east, southeast, and northeast. It travels at 2/3 speed (expending 9m per hex) to the north or south.

  • 3 hexes (18 miles) of travel southeast brings it to the coast of Rinos at around 10:45 AM.
  • 2 hexes (12 miles) of travel south around the southern tip of Rinos takes another 2 hours and 15 minutes, making it 1PM.
    • Encounter check at 11:45AM – No encounter.
  • 3 hexes (18 miles) of travel northeast takes another 2.25 hours, making it 3:15 PM.
    • Civilized Encounter. 2 huge Kemeshi grain freighters, sailing towards Zidium with shipments of grain from Istakahr. Each vessel is a 400-ton three-masted square sailed ship, 115’ long and 33’ beam, three-decked, with castles roe and stern. Each has a crew of 40 sailors and carries 50,000 stone of cargo. The party decides not to attack the huge ships; too much risk for too little gain.
  • 36 miles of travel southeast takes another 4.5 hours, making it 7:45 PM.
    • Encounter check at 6:15PM – No encounter.

Rasha casts detect evil and discovers that Cutter has ill intent towards her. Judging from his leer, she thinks “rape” might be the hostile intent. She gives him her best bladedancer stare.

With the sun setting in the west, Massimo says “Massimo is weary! Quartermaster, take the helm and brings us to a comfortable beach on Scilus. Wake me when it is time for the evening meal.”

Saphra takes the helm and steers The Shrike to a white, sandy beach located between two fishing villages on the coast. However, when she goes to wake Massimo, she finds him unresponsive. She quickly but quietly alerts the ship’s doctor, Black Guts, who confirms that the captain is dead and offers to animate him if that’s helpful.

They decide that wouldn’t be helpful.

Saphra instead gives a speech announcing that she is now the captain. Saphra gives her captain’s vow and then demands blood oaths from everyone. This is, based on rolls on the Change of Management table, surprisingly effective, with just 5 rowers deciding to leave the crew. Cutter and the marines, to everyone’s surprise, agree to continue to serve (roll of 11!).

Black Guts, meanwhile, has removed Massimo’s valuables and discovered his navigational charts! These charts show (a) the major trade routes of the Ammasaurean Sea and (b) a close-up of the Syrnasos islands with 24 different locations marked with an X. The group is very close to one of the Xes. Attached to the nautical chart is a torn scrap of paper that says that the treasure is buried in the temple on the Isle of the Dead.

The crew decide to visit the nearby village to ask if they know about the Isle of the Dread. They learn the village is called Lensos. The steward is named Blaedarus (Corsair 3), while his reeves are Callo (Fighter 2) and Volcos (Corsair 2). The local sea witch (Witch 1) is named Maga the Hag.

The crew talks to the steward.

Blaedarus: The Isle of the Dead? You don’t want to go there. No, I can’t tell you why. You’d have to talk to Maga the Hag, and no one likes to talk to her. Well, if you’re … dead set… on going there, so as to speak, it’s about 3 miles southwest of here. It’s more an islet than an island. Cant be bigger than a half mile by a half mile.

They go talk to Maga.
Mag the Hag: The Isle of the Dead? It is called Mormanos in the classical tongue, Gidim-Kur in the black language of the Kem. It is very old, it is – seven centuries, when Kemesh ruled the Syrnasos. There is a temple there… a temple to Dirgion, the Doombringer. Back then we followed the Kemeshi ways, we buried our dead, you see – buried them on that very isle. Do you know why the Aurans don’t bury their dead, but burn them instead? Because sometimes the buried dead WAKE UP. Cackles*. Oh, yes, an Awakening! I can taste it. When you’re as old as I am, the taste of death is ever in your mouth.* [smacks toothless gums] Tastes like rotten fish.

The crew decides they will sail to the nearby Isle of the Dead in search of treasure. They strong-arm little old Maga into coming along. They also hire 5 new rowers in the village…

We end the session as they beach at the Isle of the Dead.