Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Shipwreck: The Expeditionary Campaign Session 1 part 1

Players and Characters:
Alexias Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1 played by Larrraitz
Ailil Shadowdancer Elf Male Assassin/Illusionist 1/1 played by Ridh
Andros Human (Mycenean) Female Fighter 1 played by Aimee
Boagris Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1 played by Silv
Euthalia Human (Mycenean) Female Cleric of Hestia 1 played by Caroline
Glykia Human (Mycenean) Female Illusionist 1 played by Elle
Ki Oman Human (Foreigner) Male Bard 1 played by Ali
Peliakos Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1 played by Coakley
Thanatos Human (Mycenean) Male Assassin 1 played by Fiona
Xenos Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter/Magic-User 1/1 played by Leoni

Antipater, Human (Mycenean) Male Ships Captain
Minerva, Human (Mycenean) Female Priestess of Hestia
Spareous Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter. Spare character to replace dead PC's,

The morning sun hovered bloody over the harbour of Mysos, staining the still, placid sea. Hawkers and porters yelled across the quays, ships captains roared into the throng, arguing with shore men, sailors and port officials like. Yet through the mad cacophony of the city docks, a silence, or at least a lessening of noise, accompanied a small troupe of priestly women and bronze-clad men. Where the women passed, the noise stilled. Men bowed or doffed their wide-brimmed, straw hats while the few women present lowered their eyes. The procession made it's winding way towards the largest ship in the harbour - a fifty oared quinquireme, heavy in  the water with passengers for good and trade. Though boarding proceeded quickly, the passengers and crew took some time to settle. Stood upon the stern, by the tiller, a noble-meigned man, black beard greying with age, watched the skies and fretted. Already past dawn, the ship had far to travel this day and no sailor on the Great Green, from the eldest grey-beard to most callow youth, spent a night at sea lightly.

Time passed, the great ship slide across the waves beneath a setting sun. Fretful, the captain entered the tented shade beneath the mast, withdrawing a small, spouted clay amphora. If he noticed the wax seal sat loosely around the cork plug that sealed the vessel he gave no sign. Instead, he moved to the prow, whereupon a hush descended across the ship, the single loud thump of the oar-master's drum hardly needed to call attention to the sacrifice. All eyes upon him, the captain upended the urn with a loud prayer for the protection of the Earthshaker, pouring the red, sanctified wine onto the placid waves below.

For a moment, there is silence. A relieved sigh forms upon the lips of the ship's company, the libation has been accepted.

And then the ground heaved. And the sea fell away. In a moment, the sea all about the ship rushed away from it, spilling the ship's hull onto the sharp corals of the sea-bed below. Men and women screamed, falling from rigging or rail onto the muddy sea-bed below. Even as those who could crawled back to their feet, a strange hush descended, the cawing of seabirds all but vanished. The escorting, noisy throng of gulls that accompanied any ship on it's journey vanishing into the deepening darkness of the horizon.

Looking about them, the ship's company marvelled at the walls of water, a hundred feet high, that surrounded the ship where it lay. Moans of terror turned to screams. A strange rushing noise akin to thunder  filled the air. A look out called the companies attention to the rear, when the wall of water seemed to surge higher, higher into the air, speeding towards the tiny, fragile ship and it's frail cargo of human flesh. "Kill the captain!" Someone shouts. "It's him He wants!". The ship is hurtled upwards into the air, riding the crest of the fierce, unnatural waters that first descend upon it in a fury then carry it aloft atop a wall of the Great Green a thousand feet high.

Hurtling along at an unnatural, impossible space, they see the lights of distant lands and ships flash by, mysteriously unaffected by the raging torrent that bears their ill-fated vessel aloft. Men and women move about the deck, the priestess Minerva, servant of Hestia and daughter of the Queen, clings tightly to the shaking, creaking mast. Euthalia, her attendant, dares to creep across the deck towards her but is shaken from her feet. Sliding the length of the canted deck towards the engulfing abyss below she is saved only by the quick actions of the soldier Peliakos, who trows her a rope to which he clings with all his might. Elsewhere, ships company cling for dear life, yet Shadowdancer, the elven outcast, confident of his acrobatics and balance leaps and tumbles across the deck to save a sliding Xenos from death, only to go tumbling into the darkness himself. Yet while the slaver is rescued by another rope, thrown by the dark-garbed Thanatos, so far from the ship does Shadowdancer tumble that he must clutch hard to an oar cast out by Alexias. But at last, the wave descends. A dark shadow, an unknown island, fills the horizon, to which the Persephone hurtles ever closer. Aghast, a man tied by rope to the prow calls out that rocks lie ahead.

Screaming his effort to the skies, the captain, Antipater, crawls across the stern deck, his nails digging deep grooves in the wooden decks. With a herculean roar, the old man throws himself upon the flailing steering oar, the noise of cracking ribs rising above the roar of the water. Fiercely he stands there, a man alone defying the Gods, and so the ships veers from a rocky death a mile from shore, to crash and splinter upon the sandy shores.

Alexias, begin to drag the wounded from the water-line, to a the shadows of a dune some scant thirty feet above the water line. Euthalia staggers away from her companions, searching frantically for any sign of her mistress among the many female bodies scattered along the beech. With a strangled cry of delight, she finds her, and calling upon the power of their Goddess Hestia, casts a spell of healing that soothes the unconscious Minerva's troubled breathing, though it does not serve to wake her from her tormented slumber.

Elsewhere, Peliakos seeks out the captain, certain in the knowledge that, if they are ever to escape this place, they will need Antipater and his knowledge of sailing and trade-routes. Yet even as Peliakos finds him, so does another. Sparious. Owner of the voice that called for the captains death. Peliakos' swift arm grasps the right-wrist of Spurious, that which bears a knife meant for the the captains throat, and with his silver tongue persuades the maddened sailor that they will need Antipater and his skills if they are to survive.

Meanwhile, once the many wounded and lamed, including Minerva and the captain (i.e everybody who was not a PC) are carried from the water-line to safety, those who carried them return to the waterline to salvage what they can from the wreck while thunder still sounded over-head and heavy rain battered at their weary bodies.

[At this point, having allowed every PC to save one valuable item that they had managed to keep in their grasp throughout their ordeal, I presented the players with about twenty sheets of memo-pad paper. On each sheet I had randomly determined six items that could be salvaged from the wreck, from the obviously useful such as weapons, and iron-spikes, to the more mundane such as rope, canvas, candles and even small casks of food. The players got to pick one each, without seeing what was on the list. Here's a couple of examples that didn't get picked:

Example 1
50' Rope
Small sack of 20 bruised Oranges, [the sack was the real prize here]
Small Bronze Bowl
12 Bronze Spikes
6 Wax Candles in a small wooden box
Ball of cat-gut

Example 2
15 square feet of canvas
12 Fishing Hooks in a small pouch
Block and Tackle
hammer (tool)
Linen Armour (soaked through)
1 Javelin

As you can see, some of the items were useless or near-useless without inter-character cooperation, trade, and the pooling of resource. For example, the fishing hooks and tackle in the second bundle were useless without the cat gut in the first. And the spikes in the first bundle will be a lot more effective when combined with the hammer in the second. I basically left for a toilet break at this point and told everyone that they had until I came back to sort out who was carrying what. And when I did we had our first real drama. And what a drama it was].

Shadowdancer was angry. Stranded the Everqueen knows where, he was soaked through, weaponless, without food, shelter or potable water and this fool human before him, with it's tall, hairy body and unsightly muscles, was refusing a perfectly reasonable trade. A hatchet and a bronze dagger were no use to him. He wanted real weapons. And this fool human had plenty. The luckiest of the salvagers, it had not only woken with a spear in hand, it had found a second spear, a javelin and some actual armour on all it's own when combing the beech. What was it planning on doing, charging foes with a spear clutched in each hand and a javelin between it's teeth? How infuriating. Well Shadowdancer had just the spell for this sort of nonsense.

Alexias stared slack-jawed at the skinny black-garbed figure before it. It all seemed so obvious now. And so reasonable. After all, if the slender one said the spear was his, it was only fair to give it back. Why had he been so unreasonable before. Sleepily, he handed over the spear. And wondered why the black-garbed figure was now sprinting down the beech, fast becoming a blurry image in the heavy rain that buffeted them all.

Then he recovered his senses. The scum had enscorcelled him (Alas, Hypnotism only lands 1 round plus 1 per level). Given that the thief was moving so fast, it didn't seem likely that he could be caught.  But when you have a javelin, why bother?

Behind him (but very close) Shadowdancer heard something thunk into the sand, accompanied by the loud cry of "Thief" that sounded in a particularly tiresome moment when the thunder had decided to hold it's peace for a while. He looked behind him to check for pursuit -and ran straight into a wall of flesh.

Boagrius, seven feet of bald muscle and aggression, placed a hand on the elf's shoulder, just as Alexius and Peliakos arrived. When the truth became clear, the elf tried to break free, only to be head-butted into a stupor by the mighty Boagrius and manacled by Peliakos. Meanwhile, unnoticed in the commotion, Thanatos had claimed the hatchet and dagger Shadowdancer had placed at Alexius' feet for his own.

It was in that moment, when the lightning flashed, that Boagrius the gladiator caught sight of the man who sold him into slavery, just now emerging from the rain to investigate the commotion. Quickly, Xenos the slaver turned tail and vanished into the rain, heading back towards where Eutharia and Glykia tended the many, many wounded.

Assembling by the wounded (after following the very-angry Boagrius) the plaintive cries of Eutharia and Glykia (not to mention the reasoned words of Alexius and Peliekos) swayed the group. The wounded would die in these fierce rains, and whipping, freezing winds. Putting aside their disputes the group (with the exception of the still manacled  Shadowdancer) set about gathering up bronze spikes, hammers, canvas and driftwood to make a shelter to protect themselves and the wounded from the elements. With the help of some oil, some flint and steel and some tinder held in a canvas wrap, they managed a small fire, around which they arranged the worst of the wounded, including Antipater.

Huddled in their improvised shelter, it was the eagle-eyed Shadowdancer who first noticed a light in the distance, but held his counsel. Eventually others, too, took note and a debate ensued. Light meant warmth and shelter -and possibly danger as well. The decision made, the group elected to wait out the remainder of the night in their mean shelter and investigate the light in the morning.

They spent a miserable indeed, many drifting in and out of conscious, yet miraculously none of the wounded perished, though many (including several players characters including -I think- Xenos, Andros the Blacksmith and Thanatos the bodyguard/assassin) were suffering badly from hypothermia (-2 to all dice rolls until dried out and warmed up). There was some debate over who should stay behind to guard the wounded, with Euthalia the priestess and Glykia the Oracle of Miranda both volunteering to stay behind with the wounded. However, Minerva had woken in the night and volunteered that duty for herself, electing to keep Sparious with her as a look-out). Reluctantly, the rest of the group (the PC's, in other words) left the wounded with their scant guard and climbed the dunes.

Atop the dune that had protected their shelter from the worst of the weather, the PC's took in their first glance of the island. Inland the terrain, first flat scrub land growing to hills and then mountains, seemed spare and un-inviting. The coast, curved further inland to the east and west. Yet hope shone before them. Not a mile stood a single marble edifice of alabaster white. A temple! Though the wind and driving rain, they could not establish, at this distance, to whom this Temple was dedicated. Certain now that salvation -or at least assistance- was nearby the group hustled forward, keeping a wary eye out for danger none-the-less.

Growing closer, a few details became clearer. Two statutes of the Meerax, the Goddess of Crafts, Cities and the Forge, warded the mighty bronze double doors leading deeper into the Temple. That on the left bore a smith's tongs in one hand and a hammer in the other. The right carried the more familiar spear and shield. The doors between were carved with scenes from the life of the Goddess, the doors open just a crack, big enough for a single person to slip through at a time.

Yet the eagle-eyed PC's were wary, for their were now no signs of life where once there had been light the night afore. Cautiously, Thanatos, Ki Oman, Euthalia and Glykia circled the temple, coming upon an overgrown garden with a single doorway and a well at the rear. Most of the trees were plum trees, with the sole exception of one, far larger tree near the rear door of the temple, which was of a type none of the four could identify. Moving closer, Ki Oman cautiously peered into the well before dropping a stone which dropped for several seconds before landing into the water far below with a barely audible plop. Almost immediately he were alarmed! Did this well go deep enough to reach the outer reaches of Hell? But the Oracle and the Priestess thought not and so, when the four completed their circuit and returned to the six guarding the door, there was much in the way of rejoicing! Fresh water to be had at last.

Alas for something to put it in.

A single PC [Boagrius I believe] crept forward to peer into past the doors but could see little beyond a small strip of white marble floor littered with dead leaves, snapped twigs and other, wind-borne detritus. Beyond the small space illuminated by light leaking through the door, all was wreathed in darkness. So it was that two salvaged lantern and some salvaged oil flasks were produced and, after finally freeing the protesting Shadowdancer from his bounds (and providing him with a weapon) the bedraggled, soaking group stepped bravely into the darkness, astonished at how easily the huge, awesomely heavy doors opened, in utter silence, at the least effort. Dwarf-make, the priestesses confidently confided. And then they were inside.

The ante-chamber had been magnificent once, with walls, floor and ceiling of white marble. Yet now the carvings etched into the walls by a master sculptor had been defaced. Crude letters, glyphs and profane images had been smeared upon the walls by an unknown hand. Alerted to danger now, the heroes gripped their weapons tighter and pressed on further.

There they came to the worship hall, it's pews and tables smashed to splinters, it's tapestries and rich hangings-save for a curtain browned with age and exposure- torn down and ripped asunder long ago. The Priestesses moved beyond the curtain even as the others searched the room for something useful. Coming to a seated statue of the goddess, her welcoming hand missing it's figures, it's face smeared with excrement and missing it's nose, it's body cracked and dented from heavy blows, they fell to their knee's in worship. But it was Glykia who placed three captured fish, caught in her net during the night, into the offering bowl. And then all present felt a warm glow suffuse them, drawing away their cold, their fatigue and even their many wounds. The head of the statue turned to regard them all, with a benevolent and reassuring smile, the curtains whipped aside by a single gesture from the statue's smashed and broken hand.

Then the Goddess began to speak.......

1 comment:

Ian Coakley said...

It's been pretty awesome so far.

Like I said, I was unsure of OSRIC to start, but it's really grown on me since I actually played it.

I'm running it, soon!