As soon as Plimsoll the elf graduated from the Knorr wizard's academy, he made his way to the waterfront to look for work. He knew he didn't have the experience to get a job as a ship's wizard, but he was sure that there was a market for an able seaman who was also a Guild-trained wizard. And of course he hadn't been to sea since he had first gone to the academy.
He saw an unusual ship named the "Gossamer Gull", a twin hulled vessel that seemed much too large for its single mast. He asked the dwarf who was standing guard at the gangplank, and found out that the ship was a gaff-rigged sloop with spider silk sails, which made the sloop rig possible. The dwarf introduced himself as Captain Firefox, and it soon came out that the ship was in desperate need of a wizard; they were sailing with the outgoing tide, in a few hours, provided the passengers they were waiting for arrived. Brief negotiations took place, and Plimsoll boarded the "Gull" and stowed his meager possession in the port aft cabin.
Plimsoll took a brief tour of the ship, and arrived back at the gangplank in time to see Firefox greet his errant passengers, three dwarves and a half-elf. Firefox asked them if they had "the coin and the map". The male dwarf, a massive and heavily armored warrior named Shenc, produced the items, and Firefox combined Shenc's coin with one of his own; their complex protrusions locked together perfectly, and Fireflox expressed his satisfaction and offered the group positions as defenders on the Gull; brief negotiations followed, and then he welcomed the group aboard. It turned out that they would be sharing the port aft cabin with Plimsoll.
Introductions were made; the two female dwarf warriors (who were fairly normal, for dwarves) were called Dawn and Wren, and the half-elf rogue was called Esmeralda. Plimsoll knew Esmeralda by repuation; she was known for getting into (and often causing) bizarre situations. She had survivor's luck, which wasn't quite the same thing as having GOOD luck. Plimsoll learned that the group had stumbled into this situation by accident; they had tried to save a lone man from a group of bullies. One of the bullies had turned out to be a were-bear, and the victim had been mortally wounded, but had given Shenc the map and coin before he died.
The tide turned, and the Gossamer Gull set sail. An armored Khazanite full rigged ship followed the Gull out of the harbor; Firefox scowled at that, but the wind was good, and he expressed confidence that the Gull would soon leave dreadnaught behind. The Gull sailed southwest until the coast dropped below the eastern horizon, and then turned full south. When night fell, the dreadnaught was still slightly visible on the northern horizon; Firefox didn't like that, but was confident that it would be out of sight by the morning. Dawn insisted on watching the sunset, hoping to see the legendary green flash, but was disappointed.
The dreadnaught was still in sight when the sun came up, and seemed to have drawn closer in the night. Firefox cursed at that, said that the Gull should be much faster than the dreadnaught in the wind that they had. He spent most of the morning staring to the north and muttering to himself. About midday the Gull was attacked by a kraken; the deck crew cowered and hid from the tentacles that prowled the deck looking for food, but Firefox, Plimsoll, Shenc, Dawn, Wren, and Esmeralda managed to do enough damage to enough tentacles to convince the creature to look elsewhere for snack food.
At sunset, Dawn again watched for the green flash, and this time she saw it! Firefox said he was going to try to overtly lose the dreadnaught in the night, and ordered that the bow and stern lanterns NOT be lit. As soon as it was full dark, he turned west and navigated by the stars until sometime in the small hours, when he gave orders to furl the sails and let the ship drift. When dawn came, the Gull was close to a small island, and the ship was sailed into the island's bay and anchored. Firefox said that they would wait through the day and let the dreadnaught sail right past them.
With no specific duties, the "Combat Crew" set out to explore the island. Dawn, Esmeralda, and Wren chose to explore a hut on the beach near the island's decaying dock, while Plimsoll and Shenc climbed to a watchtower that stood on one of the bay's headlands. The hut was boarded shut from the inside, and after the explorers had broken in, they found three pirates, two of which had died of starvation and a third who was near death. The surviving pirate was brought back to the Gull, and demonstrated a significant terror of the open sky along the way.
Plimsoll and Shenc found a warning message in the watchtower; Plimsoll was able to translate it, and said that it warned of harpies. It was not clear whether the message warned of one or many harpies, though, and there was much evidence of large flying creatures splattered on both the watchtower and the hut. Looking to the east, Plimsoll and Shenc saw a ship in the distance that was sailing southward, and they assumed it was the dreadnaught. Plimsoll caught a faint whiff of magic in the watchtower, and traced it to a buried coffer that contained two fine telescopes. Plimsoll and Shenc each took one, and used them to verify that the ship to the east was, in fact the Khazanite dreadnaught. From the tower, they also spotted another building, a large stone structure in the center of the island.
Once everyone had returned to the ship, Firefox borrowed Shenc's telescope and detailed one of his crewmen to go back to the watchtower and keep an eye on the dreadnaught. Since it was just past noon, and the ship would not depart before the following morning's tide, Shenc led everyone who was interested off to explore the third building, because, as Plimsoll put it, "It's a beehive, and we have a stick."
The building had a single very large door which was sealed very securely from the inside. It also had an upper gallery that was roofed, but open on all sides. The explorers managed to climb into the gallery, and found that the only way into the main building was a large trap door. They opened the trap door, and determined that something (or somethings) large and unfriendly was lurking in the darkness below. Much discussion ensued. It was determined that the creature was a harpy or similar airborne monster, and that it hated sunlight. The group decided to wait for it in the gallery, where its ability to fly would be hampered. If it didn't come out, that was fine with them as well. Or at least with some of them; Esmeralda was sure there was treasure lurking down in all of the filth.
The creature emerged shortly after sunset, and the party found they were slightly over matched, particularly when Plimsoll fumbled two consecutive attempts to cast "Take That, You Fiend." Eventually, though, the harpy was dead, the warriors were battered and bruised, Plisoll was still mortified by his clumsiness, and Esmeralda was eager to chase someone down into the filth to look for loot. After some exploration, the windlass that held the front was located and, when it proved to be too rusted to work, smashed to pieces. The building was then searched and a small amount of loot located. The weary explorers made their way back to the Gull and slept.
In the morning a small boat washed up on the island, and it contained yet another dwarf, another juggernaut named Lubelam who was known, surprisingly, to Dawn, Shenc, and Wren. Introductions were made, Lub negotiated briefly with Firefox, and Lub joined gang is the combat crew; Firefox was happy to have another warrior on board.
Since the dreadnaught had passed well beyond the southern horizon the previous day, the Gull left the harpy's island with the morning's tide. The day passed uneventfully, and Firefox chose to light the ship's running lights when the sun set. This proved to be a mistake when the ship was attacked by a squad of flying monkeys in the small hours of the morning. The monkeys killed several sailors with arrows before the defenders managed to drive them away. Several monkeys had been killed, and all, it was thought, had been wounded; one of the monkeys had fallen to the deck, allowing Wren to appropriate its bow.
The retrieved monkey was wearing Khazanite livery, which caused Plimsoll to turn angrily on Firefox. It was one thing, he said, to run from a warship; no sane sailor interacted with non-allied warships if he could help it. But the presence of these monkeys made it clear that the Khazanites were looking for THIS ship specifically. He hadn't signed on to go to war with Khazan, and neither had the others; his cabin mates nodded their agreement. Firefox admitted that the voyage was a treasure hunt, and that he was looking for a specific magic item under instructions from his employers, Doc and Sardin Tranfers. The Empire of Khazan also wanted the item. However, there was supposed to be a large but unspecified treasure associated with this item, and that is what Firefox had planned to use to pay bonuses. This mollified Plimsoll and company, at least partially.
Firefox then ordered the ship to head west again. Once again Firefox brought the ship close to a remote island in the darkness, and then landed the ship in the first light. This time, Firefox made a significant effort to make the Gull disappear. The crew kedged and dragged the ship into the mangroves, unstepped the mast, and covered the deck with foliage. An effort was made to explore the island, but it was thwarted by the island's huge and varied bug population; Plimsoll spend most of the day hiding in the cabin, wrapped in a wet blanket, after being mauled by bugs.
The following day they reversed the process, clearing the decks, kedging the ship into deeper water, and stepping the mast. By midday they were once again heading south. At sundown both Dawn and Plimsoll managed to see a green flash (much to the disgust of Lub, who insisted that the green flash was an hallucination), and the voyage continued peacefully through the night and into the next day. At midday they approached another island, a tall rock with a deep cliff-lined bay. The was a continuous outbound current in the bay that was fed by a waterfall from the interior of the island.
The Gull was anchored against the current and the tide, and the Combat Crew set off in the ship's boat to explore the cave that was visible behind the waterfall. The cave turned out to be a large grotto, the back half of which had been worked and resurfaced into a temple. The focal point of the temple, facing the entrance, was a tall humanoid statue with an octopus for a head. A large gem glowed from between the eyes of the octopus. A broad staircase ran from the statue's feet down into the water, and the explorers landed their boat on the stairs. Plimsoll tried to cast "Detect Magic" on the gem, and got a crippling headache and a sensation of rampant evil for his trouble. A brief search for side passages turned up nothing of interest, and the explorers returned to the ship.
When Firefox heard about the glowing gem, he dashed into his cabin to retrieve a magic-proof box that his employers had given him, and then demanded to be taken to the temple. The bemused Combat Crew complied. Firefox approached the statue boldly, drew a dagger, and pried the gem out of the statue's head. He slammed the box loudly, and then demanded to be returned to the ship. The Combat Crew noticed that Firefox was now wearing his hat so far forward that it covered his forehead, and Plimsoll even faked a stumble in an effort to see Firefox's forehead, but Firefox just stepped out of the way with a sneer.
Once back on the ship, Firefox announced that they would be heading back to Knorr, so that if the Combat Crew wanted the thousands of gold worth of pearls that were rumored to be on the island, they needed to search quickly. This motivated all but Wren to climb to the top of the waterfall while the surviving members of the deck crew made ready to sail.
It was nearly sunset when the explorers reached the top of the cliff, and they looked down at the Gossamer Gull to discover two things: The waters of the bay had become crystal clear to reveal a complex city full of living humanoid creatures, and Firefox was attempting to ambush Wren. The explorers made enough noise to warn Wren of the attack, and the explorers charged back down the hill to try to intervene.
Firefox and Wren were fairly evenly matched, but Wren got in a lucky hit that dislocated Firefox's elbow and should have ended the fight, only to have Firefox come back stronger than ever. He swung his axe as if his shattered elbow was supposed to bend that way, and his hat came off to reveal (to no one's real surprise) that the glowing gem was embedded in his forehead. Shenc decided he was close enough to try to shoot Firfox with his crossbow, and the rest of the explorers continued rushing down to the ship.
Wren got in another lucky hit and shattered one of Firefox's knees, but he continued to fight and seemed to relish the idea that his knee now bent through 180 degrees. He also seemed completely unfazed by the quarrel that Shenc had put into his eye. This was too much for the members of the deck crew, and several of them grabbed weapons and attacked the thing that had been their captain. Firefox turned his attention to his former crew, and found them much easier to kill than Wren, but they occupied him long enough for Dawn to attack with her bow, and for Plimsoll and Esmeralda to get close enough to attack with magic. With missile and magic support from her friends, Wren was able to stay on her feet until Lub was able to join the melee. Plimsoll then poured all of the magic he had into a level three "Take That, You Fiend!", and the tide of battle turned finally against the thing that had been Firefox. His burning body was smashed to bits, and the piece of his skull that held the glowing gem was manipulated into the magic box without anyone touching it.
Only one member of the deck crew survived, and since he was no navigator, Plimsoll claimed salvage rights on the Gossamer Gull. After some discussion, it was determined that they would return to Knorr and attempt to collect on the gem from Doc and Sardin, on the assumption that they would be somewhat more generous than the Khazanites.
The trip back to Knorr was uneventful, and Doc and Sardin paid a significant reward for the gem to everyone but Plimsoll. The dwarves went off in search of more adventure, and Esmerelda went off in search of easier gold.
Plimsoll entered into complex negotiations with Doc and Sardin Transfers (during the course of which he was briefly accused of piracy), and emerged with a 40% share of the Gossamer Gull and a full time job as a captain under D&S. He also received assurances that there really WAS a fortune in pearls waiting to be recovered on that island...
Paul Haynie, 8/13/2011
Based on a T&T game that took place at Trollcon in Mesa, AZ, on July 16 and 17, 2011.
The Guilty Parties:
James "Bear" Peters (Game Master)
Kris Miller (Shenc)
Lisa Markus (Dawn)
Doug Mitten (Lub)
Paul Haynie (Plimsoll
Laura Samuelson (Esmerelda)
Felicia Peters (Wren)