Skull & Bones Spirit of 1670 Week Two
Last night, we finally sat down for week two of my Skull & Bones campaign. We only had four players attending, and I suspect that players five and six probably won't be part of the campaign; four is on the low end of what I'm comfortable running (I'd prefer five or six), but it's a party that works pretty well together. There's two strong fighters; a hougan spellcaster; and the navigator, who's a bit of a scholar but can hold her own in a fight as well.
The game picked up directly after the incident with the rats (see my previous entry about Week One). Randomly, the party encountered a merchant ship flying French colors. Captain Snickerton ordered general quarters, and readied the cannons. He strutted around the deck, explaining to anyone who would listen that France was still the enemy of the English crown, even though the two nations are technically at peace. He started talking about Cromwell's influence on the French, and how everyone had to be careful.
As the Queen's Justice approached the French ship, it became obvious that it was in pretty bad shape - obvious sail and rigging damage, plus a noticeable list. The masts were recently repaired, and it seemed like only a dozen or so men were on deck, trying to make what repairs they could. The French ship struck her colors, indicating surrender and flagging that they needed assistance. Claiming a Cromwellian trick, Lord Snickerton ordered a warning shot fired at the French ship. The crew grudgingly complied, and the shot obviously angered the French crew. After a brief debate, the Captain ordered them to sail on, having already committed what could be considered an act of war and involving the entire crew in the process. As a small act of rebellion, First Mate Connors and Commodore Brumwell dropped a few barrels of supplies over the side of the ship, hoping the French crew could use them.
That evening, after the officers ate, they met on deck to discuss the situation. Connors explained his plan: the Captain needed to be removed from command, from the ship, and possibly from this mortal coil. Brumwell said that he agreed with the plan, and the characters who sailed with Connors and Brumwell realized that the Commodore was speaking mutiny and treason, which meant the situation must be dire. After removing the Captain, Connors explained, there would be a general election for a new Captain, and since sailing for the West Amsterdam Company was no longer an option after the attack on the French ship and the removal of their appointed Captain, plus the fact that it would now be very difficult for the crew to find work with another merchant company, their best course of action might be to attempt to obtain a letter of Marquee and become privateers for the English crown.
Mr. Rontacourt spoke up and explained that he had connections in English society who could speed the process, and that he stood by the crew - in fact, he wanted to go with them, as it sounded like his style of adventure. With that decided, the officers knocked on the Captain's door. Angus, the ship's carpenter, had to remove said door from its hinges, and the Captain, surprised at the intrusion, fired his pistol at Connors and nicked him in the arm. The officers then stormed into the Captain's cabin. Commodore Brumwell produced his mighty Deltoid Blunderbuss, a specially modified gun that only he can fire correctly (Brumwell is six-foot-six and weights about 350 pounds, all muscle). Unfortunately, it exploded in his hand, but the noise snapped everyone into combat mode. Behind the scenes, Miss Zanna, the cook, removed a small doll from her skirt and jabbed a pin into it. Shortly after, Rodrigo de la Cruz stormed into the cabin with a flourish and demanded that the Captain halt - which he did (with a little help from Miss Zanna). Amazed at how well God protected and helped him, Rodrigo and Alieda the navigator bound the Captain with his own sheets.
After the spell wore off, the Captain, in a stream of curses, was dragged to the side of the ship. By now, the entire crew had assembled to watch, and not one of them offered a word as Brumwell picked up the screaming Lord Mars Snickerton, still bound, and tossed him overboard.
The next morning, after roll call, the crew assembled and took nominations for Captain. Rodrigo nominated Connors, who won unopposed. His first course of action was to outline the plan to the crew, and order the ship to make for Saint Augustine for provisioning and careening before the crew attempted to contact English authorities. The careening would take a minimum of six weeks (the goods in the hold helped grease the process), so the crew was left to its own devices.
Mr. Rontacourt met with his contact, Professor Alan Smythe, at a local school. The Englishman, a student of Spanish culture, was overjoyed to meet Rontacourt, who made up a story about the Royal Society being interested in Smythe's study of the Fountain of Youth. Smythe explained that the Fountain was impossible to find without a map to the Fountain itself, and he only knew of one such map, and that from scraps of legend and hearsay: supposedly, the map was inscribed on Ponce de Leon's silver conquistador's helmet. The helmet was buried by one of de Leon's men in the old sewers beneath Saint Augustine, which were used as catacombs to bury plague victims during outbreaks of disease in the city. Smythe himself was too old to venture underground, but recommended an Indian guide that people called "The Porcupine" to help Rontacourt venture into the sewers.
With a few weeks of preparation, the crew was ready to descend. They found The Porcupine, named because of his tendency to push long, thin pins into his skin during drinking games for money, in a bar and recruited him for the princely sum of 100 Pieces of Eight and all expenses paid. Rontacourt brought Rodrigo, Alieda, and Zanna along the next day at noon, when they descended into a tunnel in an old churchyard.
The catacombs, they found, were a dry, awful place lined with old bones. Skeletons sat in niches along the walls, while piles of less-important individuals were piled pell-mell on the floor. After descended deeper into the earth, things began to get moist. They eventually came to an underground river, where The Porcupine was dragged under by an enormous alligator while trying to swim across. With some luck, they pulled The Porcupine out, but the alligator, denied its meal, attacked the party. Rodrigo was amazed to feel God's grace fill him during the fight, and didn't notice Zanna poking pins into her doll behind the scenes. After a fierce struggle, where Rodrigo was almost dragged to a watery fate, they dispatched the creature. The party then rested for a time while Zanna tended to The Porcupine's wounds.
They managed to cross the river, using the alligator's body as a makeshift raft, and descended further. After a time, they came to a stone grate, which The Porcupine said they had to open to continue. Zanna's loa sent her a message of impending danger, so the party prepared for the worst to come swarming out of the grate. When nothing did, they tried to lower a torch down to see what horrors existed below. That's when two gargantuan centipedes dropped on them from the ceiling. The party fought bravely and dispatched the creatures with little trouble, but not after being poisoned in the process while taking some strong hits from the creature's large mandibles.
That's where the adventure ended last night, and they still have two more levels of my little funhouse, and it's only going to get worse from here on. Everyone seems to be having a great time, and I'm certainly having a good time writing it. This is really the introduction to the "meta" story for the campaign, which may or may not always influence adventures. I have a feeling that Captain Snickerton will be back in some form, and John Robinson is hot on the trail of the Fountain himself, so the party is going to have some competition... if they even want the Fountain at all!
There's also a great dynamic developing between the devoutly Catholic Rodrigo and the Voodoo-practicing Zanna; she has to keep her practices secret from him, but whenever he sees their effects, he becomes more and more convinced that God is blessing him. I can't wait to use that in a plot somewhere...
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Skull & Bones Spirit of 1670 Week Two