Friday, 7 February 2014

Pirates of the Thunder Sea 1x01 - A Salty Start to Adventure

These posts are from our DnD group's latest game.  The current adventure is a return to the world of Eberron, and specifically Xen'drik.  Although one character (the Dread Pirate Kami) has carried across between campaigns, the rest of the party is new, and the adventure has little bearing on the Drow game of old. 

The ship was sailing south, along the coast of wild Xen'drik jungles, towards the Gulf of Zantashk, despite some of the crews' strong resistance.  Tvennir in particular was muttering amongst a few of the other dwarves about the horrors he has faced over the past thirty-four voyages across the dreaded bay.  Still, despite his reluctance, the Dread Pirate Kami was able to convince him to stay with the group, thanks to some flowery promises of riches and wealth, and Tvennir's apparent lack of understanding as to basic mathematics.  

The elven crew that once inhabited the decks were all gone, save for one individual - Admiral Galinndan Duskwalker.  He had bargained, first for his life from Hassan Elfbane's axe, and then for his place on his captured ship.  Information was his main bartering good - he alerted the crew to a hidden valuable they were about to throw away, a small box hidden in a secret compartment of one of the chests of elven goods.  The box contained but a single item - a solitary card.  But the card had power - on its face was a flame, flickering back and forth as if it were real.  There was much power in the card, magical enchantments just waiting to be focused and used.  And Galinndan said he knew where they could find more.

Selling of Stolen Supplies
When they had arrived in Stormreach - almost a month ago, now - their intention was to sell off all the mundane elven-treasures found in the store below via Kami's usual fence.  It would not get them the best prices, but it would be quick, easy, and without questions.  This time, however, Hassan suggested trying his cousin Walid, whom he had ties with from Khorvaire.  Walid has trade contacts in Trolanport, Zilargo, and could get far better prices on the goods than any fence could manage. However, it would take time to ship them across to Khorvaire and get the money returned.  Whilst they waited, Walid offered them another job.

A simple scouting mission was all he asked - sailing down the the Gulf of Zantashk, map out the ruins, determine a safe path to the watchtower that overlooked the Gulf, discover the truth about the dragon sightings (for more than a few folk had started talking about the Argonessen folk being sighted along the shores of Xen'drik), note the safe harbours for ships to travel, and determine what sort of threats there were in the area (in addition to dragons, that is!). 
By the time they returned from such a scouting trip, their money - and their payment for their task - would be waiting them. 

A Few New Hands on Deck
Whilst in Stormreach, the ship picked up a few more crew members.  First, the dwarves came across a rowdy bunch of feral orcs, who had nearly torn a scaled man apart.  This thing was quite rare - the violence, and the scales.  Not many humans had scales, and almost all who did lived on Argonessen with the dragons, or Q'barra, with the other lizardfolk.  But there was a tribe of barbarians - the Takamaks - who sought to battle the dragons, and who took on scales through their primal magics.  The Takamak elder lived, and his son Urquilla, wanting to pay back the debt of his father's life, offered to join the crew. 

The other human to join the crew was an animal handler by the name of Regdar d'Vadalis.  He bore the mark of Handling, and saw with the eyes of Hawk and Owl. Naturally, he proved to be an excellent lookout, though exactly why he wanted to travel with them was never answered clearly...

Scaled Terror on the Seas
The dragons, clearly, had no such problem.  On the third day, Redgar called out to Kami, and the crew prepared for an attack.  Three dragons, including one monstrous white one, swept down from the cliffs towards the ship, swooping in close to allow their riders to jump and engage the crew.  Despite their ferocity, the dragons were ill-prepared for the skill and might housed on the vessel.  The riders were finished quickly, and the copper dragons only survived by keeping well out of reach, and fleeing when the battle turned.  The great white would have followed them, but for Galinndan's display of might - the eladrin caught the gargantuan dragon and held it fast atop the ship, blinded and immobilised by his own magic.  There, the crew (and especially Tvennir) cut into its unprotected belly, whilst Kami kept the ship moving just so.  The deck would need a good week of scrubbing, but the dragon's dead body fell to the side as it struggled for safety, and didn't deal too much damage to the ship.
The inland coast proved as harsh as the cliffs that met the sea, and it took them a further two days to find a safe spot to port.  Safe might have been a hasty word, for there were numerous wrecks sighted beneath the clear waters, but at least they could anchor the boat for cleaning and repairs, and send a party to investigate the land.

Landbound: Ruins and the Ruined
The town had been destroyed.  Tvennir was particularly saddened by the destruction of a favoured inn, but the entire settlement had been reduced to ash, burnt timbers and scalded stone.  Dragons had been through here, weeks, maybe months ago, destroying anything that dared to suggest interest in the ancient ruins.  And somehow, a hydra had been left to guard the way to those ruins.

Not wanting to face the four-headed beast just yet, the party elected to first make the trek through the forest, and up to the watchtower.  Before entering the dark forest, they camped and rested on solid ground for the first time in over a month. 

They weren't the first to camp outside the forest - small tell-tale signs of another group passing this way within the past few days were only too clear. A boot-print here, a scuffed tree there, some discarded waste behind a bush... Could they be survivors from the town?  Natives of the jungles further inland?  Scaled riders, or other allies of the dragons?

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