This post details the rest of the Random Encounters the party had during the voyage from the City State to Modron, each encounter is prefaced by the hex on Campaign Map 01 where it occurred.
An hour or so later, as the Blesinde navigated through the winding channels, whirlpools and eddies between the Confluence Islands, where the Roglaroon bends north and the Hagrost enters from the east.
With a shriek like grinding glass, the beast performed an Immelmann and sped back towards the ship, higher and forward of the first pass. Ysolt's arrows passed by the beast.
The ballista thrummed and the projectile slammed into the horse like head, followed by two stones from Mordacis' sling striking the beast fairly. The monster plunged into the estuary a hundred yards to starboard.
The oily slick where it landed was peppered by rocks and arrows and another ballista bolt to no effect before the creature flapped soddenly off in the direction it had first attacked from, pursued by a final futile arrow and sling stone.4
Hexes 3521 and 3522
Running free of the channel, they encountered Maelstrom again, who came close along side and spoke to the captain privately for over an hour before she turned and dove behind the ship as it slowly sailed against the flood tide.
The lookout shouted a warning and pointed over the port bow at two canoes angling towards the ship from the Dearthwood shore. The orcs in the canoes were taking advantage of the flood tide to close with the caravel struggling against it. With the ballista blocked by the ship itself, they quickly ranged one on each side of the ship and boarders began to climb. It was all over in a flash, with half the orcs and a third of the crew dead on the deck or floating in the estuary. The big orc with the red stripe tattooed diagonally across his face pulled the surviving pirates and the canoes back towards the Dearthwood shore.6 ore Adenin and Mordacis did what they could to heal the casualties as the caravel continued past the mouth of a river flowing out of the Dearthwood. 7
"Chiramnesind, Chiramnesind, I will be merciful", the orca declaimed from the water. The whale was covered in tattoos of eldritch figures in a bilious yellow on it's black forehead, "When the Dreamer Below wakens, apostates will suffer torment deeper than the Kraken dives! I would spare my old companion the suffering!"
"That incantation only works on Those from Without," replied the cetacean , "not such as I. The shantak will not be the last hunter. And now you have revealed your defense, so the others will not be affected! Your torment shall be great, as will that of your crew." The last word was burbled as the whale subsided back below the Roglaroon.8
Chiramnesind turned to the crew and shouted "Let's get to port, you swabs, first round is on me! That blubber eater is a bigger threat to the sea birds than to us in the goddess' harbor!" Which raised a cheer from the crew at the immanent prospect of beer vs a more distant prospect of grisly death.
Adenin approached the captain and questioned him about the curious sigil on the stone. He was rebuffed "If you know it not, priest, it's best you avoid it and return to your temple. There are things older than the gods that will eat your soul for dinner." Adenin returned to the group and sketched out teh curious sign when related the captain's warning.
As Blesinde made the harbor at Modron, the fin of a great shark circled the ship. Adenin approached the captain and asked permission to try shooting it with the ballista, explaining he had been raised in Baron Jaquob's household and had been trained on the machine's operation. "Fine, one shot, the bolts are expensive." was Chiramnesind's grudging permission. The bolt flew far wide of the fin before it splashed in the water. The shark followed close along until the mooring lines were passed over at the dock. Then with a flick of it's tail it swam swiftly to the mouth of the harbor and out of sight.9
Previous Posts in the Series
1. I had decided that the shantak would attack the helmsman as a way to disable the vessel. To adjudicate the attack required that I determine the level of the helmsman. Which is behind my post on creating long tailed distributions to simulate character levels in a population. (Everyone has levels in C&S!) That roll came up as level 10, unlikely that more than the captain would be that experienced, so based on the hex it occurred in I rationalized that he had taken the helm personally to steer through a tricky channel.
2. A shantak. Explains why I did that conversion, now doesn't it?
3. Werebears in C&S are implacable foes of chaos. I was all set for him to rip his armor off and change form - but he can't in sunlight. Good thing, with his abysmal dexterity he would have damaged it.
4. Combat breakdown.
Round 1. Ysolt and Mordacis get one shot each at close range as it attacks the captain. Both miss as does the shantak's single attack in passing.
Round 2. Set up - in a world where giant, hungry, flying creatures exist, defenses will also exist. So I posited that the caravel had a ballista that could be traversed at a reasonably high angle. Based on the diagram I used to create the drawing, I decided it was probably at the stern. I then spent a lot of time digging through various supplements and rule systems before I found that I had overlooked the ballista rules in the army battle section. It's a triple strength heavy crossbow (21+3d10 damage) with a 60% chance of a critical hit.
One of the peculiarities of C&S is that the higher the armor class, the more likely you are to get a critical hit when you do hit. The ballista rolled well enough that it would have been a critical for a regular heavy crossbow. Generally, criticals in C&S do 50% extra damage unless the target is in full armor. I ruled that the shantak's AC9 was the equivalent of full armor, so rolled the effect of the critical and scored a head shot, stunned for three attacks. Mordacis, in his three attacks scored an 01 and an 05 with the three shots sling, which is about what he needed to get for a hit anyway. Going back, I looked at my previous ruling and said, well that's conditional, because there's no way sling stones are going to cause a massive chest wound in a two and a half ton monster. So for them I did increase damage by 50%, but then reduced it by a third due to the shantak's heavy armor.
It had been intending to land on the yardarm of the mainmast and collapse it, but stunned, it overflew the caravel and splashed down in the estuary.
Round 3 & 4 Wrap up - all the subsequent attacks missed and the shantak having taken damage to one third of it's body flew off in defeat. The party splits the 3000XP with the ballista crew and captain for a base 300 XP each.
5. I rolled Maelstrom, the guardian of the estuary, three times in a day's journey. Two hexes back to back in this case. I had thought that she might become a deus ex machina to save the party from the shantak, but a ballista bolt to the head worked even better. I also think due to the distance from the first encounter to the next; either she can do 15 knots submerged or she has the ability to teleport anywhere in the estuary.
6. I had rolled up an encounter with buccaneers and decided to make them orcs. Rolling on my personal Random Encounter Generator tables, I determined that the encounter would be with a recurring NPC, hence was born 'Red Stripe' the orc pirate chief. Rather than slug out a mass combat with the individual combat rules, I went into Bireme & Galley and used the boarding rules. There were fewer orcs, but they were a lot tougher than the average crew. Still, the dice favored the crew and the pirates backed off due to excessive casualties. Bireme & Galley boarding actions play out in 15 second rounds (1/10th of the standard turn); after 30 seconds with the crew rolling high and the orcs low there was no real chance of pirate success. I probably should have allowed more boarders at time, but next time I'll calculate the length of the canoes better. Still the system is brutal with casualties every round.
7. Adenin can cast one Cure Minor Wounds a day and Mordacis has his Restore Vitality spell he can cast to remove Fatigue losses. Important to track these for experience later.
8. I had prerolled the encounters using the tables I had built earlier, then I remembered REG, my Random Encounter Generator that ensures that not all encounters are necessarily combat. So I rolled what kind of encounter this would be and got Gonzo -> Call of Cthulhu. Well, the Gonzo result dates before I started building my own Encounter tables, and I added it to give a touch of whimsy by bringing in other systems. Not really needed since I'm now building cross system encounter tables. BUT in this case, heck, yeah! A killer whale that is a Cthulhu Cultist, probably insane to boot! And it nicely called back to the shantak encounter and gave a reason why Captain CHiramnesind was attacked, he's an apostate cultist!
9. Adenin hasn't actually been trained on the ballista, he has observed it in operation on board the ship and at Baron Jaquob's castle. With a 20 Wisdom he has a base 40% chance of understaning the mechanism, his observations give him an additional 25% for a 65% chance. He rolls 63 and barely figures it out. Sharks aren't listed in C&S, but I'm assuming an AC2, which places it equal to a tiger,. A baliista fires as a Heavy Crossbow, at medium range it has a 50% chance of hitting + 10% for firing down at the targer - 20% for most of the target being under water - gives a 40% chance to hit. (C&S does not penalize non-proficiency, rather it rewards high dexterity with a proficiency bonus in a number of selected weapons. With Adenin's 1 Dexterity, he has no bonus.) Double Ought - is a complete miss, so I don't need to convert a giant shark to C&S.