Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Savage Worlds - Vampirates of Caribdus - Session 1



To Sea


After much reading, planning, and preparation, my Tuesday night crew set sail on a journey to some Savage Worlds.  I discussed this mash-up of Melior Via's Accursed campaign setting with Pinnacle's 50 Fathoms in my last blog post.  The players in this new campaign would build characters using rules from the former, while I would run the plot-point-campaign from the latter.  Still, there was a bit of cross-over between the two books.  +Jeremy Land's witch took some air elemental spells, while +Craig McCullough's Ophidian took an edge from 50 Fathoms.  

I found myself challenged with a starting location for this campaign.  The 50 Fathoms plot point campaign starts, obviously, in Caribdus, but the player characters would all hail from Accursed's Morden.  Rather than make everyone come up with even more elaborate backstories on how they came to a new fantasy realm, I thought we'd play an "origin story" style adventure, telling the tale of how these characters followed the Maiden to Caribdus.  

I must have several hundred hours invested in Sid Meier's Pirates!, so when I was trying to think up a starting point for the campaign, the idea of a tavern full captains looking for crew came to mind.  The players could choose which captain to follow, with each offering a different experience as they sail across the Discordian Sea... right into Caribdus.  

I promise, this will be more sandboxy as we go on, but I had to railroad the players a little to get them into 50 Fathoms.  Sorry!  

Before we get any further, let's meet the characters:

The Crew


Ship's Log

Episode 1:  A Captain's Barque


Summary

Five Accursed souls booked passage aboard the Carrion's Call, departing from Manreia on Morden's mainland, and bound for Port Sorrow for work as sailors, fishermen, whalers, and possibly privateers.  During the journey they learned a bit more about each other's backgrounds, and told tales of their past.  Eventually Captain Conner's barque arrived at Port Sorrow and the Accursed were given directions to the Harrowed Hall, an inn and tavern that catered to those bearing witchmarks.  


Before entering the inn, Marie reconnoiters the building's perimeter noticing a strange figure wearing a plague mask standing on the side of the building.  Nolan follows the figure into a side entrance while the rest of the party enters the stereotypical nautically-themed inn.  The figure is a captain, and he has a discussion in a backroom of the Harrowed Hall with another captain about which of the newly arriving Accursed would best serve on their respective vessels.  

Inside the Harrowed Hall the party meets Landis Marne, a colonist originally from Morden who fought in the Bane War.  Landis tells the Accursed that his tavern is a fine place to sign up for work on the Discordian Sea, and that two captains are currently hiring: Captain Scream and Captain Alia.  Captain Scream (the figure in the plague mask) is an alchemist looking to partake in a whaling expedition for Flask Whales.  Captain Alia claims that she is a merchant who does business along Morden's southern coast.  

After speaking briefly with Captain Alia, the party sits down with Captain Scream and learns of the potential riches of Flask Whales.  Each whale is full of a powerful oil that burns hotter than coal.  The party of Accursed signs on with Captain Scream, and are taken to the Darkmaiden's Dance.  

After a few days on the Discordian Sea, Nolan spots a small pod of Flask Whales.  Captain Scream orders Sobek to steer the vessel close to the whales, and the party snares the smallest of three.  Kor uses brute strength to reel the small, baby Flask Whale onto the deck of the ship, but then the creature's parents arrived.  Two fifty foot long Flask Whale adults crush the keel of the Darkmaiden's Dance, almost ensuring that the vessel would sink quickly.  All hope was lost until the ethereal Maiden appeared in the nearby fog.  

The Maiden calls to Sobek, and asks him to approach.  The crew set the last remaining sails so that the sinking Darkmaiden's Dance could break free of the whales.  Just before the craft plummets beneath the waves, the Maiden disappears, and a loud crack of thunder was heard from all aboard the vessel.  



Notable Moments

  • To set the mood for the adventure my daughter Carrie came on camera and played her rendition of "Drunken Whaler" from the video game Dishonored on her violin.
  • I loved how each player described their characters:
    • Nolan is moody and annoyed by charismatic party members.
    • Sobek is quiet.  Really quiet.
    • Fenster, a glass golem is a bookish yet upbeat Manreian supremacist.
    • Marie is gregarious and extremely friendly.
    • Kor has a giant anchor permanently attached to his ankle, but he can use it as a great axe.  Also, the party wasn't sure if Kor was just dumb or extremely forgetful.
  • At the beginning of the session I had each player tell me about their most expensive piece of equipment.  Then I told them that they could erase the gear, as it was used for trade to get on board the Carrion's Call.
  • Marie used her witchcraft to guide the Carrion's Call into Port Sorrow despite the poor seas, earning a few silver from Captain Conner.  Once the trip was over, Kor explained to the captain that he wanted his fine leather coat back, the piece of gear that he traded to travel from Morden to Port Sorrow.  I felt sorry for the poor revenant, since he didn't know the trade was for keeps.  Fortunately, Marie used her hard-earned silver to pay for the coat, and gave it back to the big lug.
  • Captain Scream eventually took off their mask revealing that instead of a single face, the entity had four faces stitched together.  Without the mask, each voice was quite distinct, but while wearing the mask the voices blended together.

Interludes


Interludes are a Savage Worlds mechanic that prompt players to tell stories about their characters' past.  While the player characters were on the Carrion's Call, I let each player tell a tale.  A typical interlude is generated randomly: love, tragedy, victory, or desire.  Alternatively, I offered the players a chance to tell everyone why they were fleeing Morden.  We got some interesting stories...

Kor (speaking of a "Desire"):  "One time Kor down by water and Kor see boats and Kor think boats look pretty and Kor go to boat and give borrowed jacket to nice talky man and then he get on boat."

Sobek (discussing his flight from Morden): "We all did lots of things that weren't very good in the war.  That's the old me.  I left him there.

Kor (commenting on Sobek's story):  "What war?"

Fenster was supposed to tell a tale of Victory, specifically his own victory, but instead, he wove this long yarn about a Manreian prince turned king (not Fenster), and how he had to pay tribute to another kingdom, sought advice from a witch, and trusted the witch to make war-snowmen.  Frank spoke way too fast for me to write this all out, but it was a pretty long story.  With war-snowmen.  

[GM's Note: Come up with stats for War-Snowmen.]

Marie (speaking of "Love"):  "Well, back in the wars I and my kind, since we look so human, we were often used as spies.  I infiltrated a community and relayed information back to the creature that I served.  Eventually I fell for one of the guys who was working in the area, his name was Hargrove, where I was stationed.  As the war progressed I came to learn that there was going to be an attack on the town.  I warned this person who had grown so special to me.  Hargrove fled across the sea.  That's why I'm here.  I'm hoping I can catch up with him and be reunited."

I have to thank Jeremy for giving me some awesome material to work with!  

While I love all my player's characters equally (most of the time) my favorite Interlude came from Andy.

Nolan (speaking of a "Tragedy"):  "We all came from this war and there is plenty of tragedy to talk about.  We all have gifts, and sometimes these gifts take things away from you.  I had a girl once.  She was a good looking girl.  She didn't know about me.  I tried to keep what I had under wraps.  Unfortunately she was an animal lover, and she had this cat.  I liked the cat alright.  But a man's gotta eat.  One night the curse took me, and I woke up.  I was covered in fur and I didn't know what I did.  She knew what I did.  She didn't keep me around after that.  She chased me away pretty quick.  I haven't been in that town ever since.  You know, I kinda fell for that cat too and things happen.  I lost the cat, and the girl, and my home all at once."

That's right.  Nolan fled Morden because he ate his girlfriend's cat.  

Quotes


"Nolan's a very unkempt person.  He has clothes on." - Andy describes his Vargr perfectly.  Unkempt with clothes.

"Marie is also gregarious... apparently this is a noisy boat." - Jeremy describes his Dhampir.

"So 'Kor' is all you could get out of this guy.  He is seven and a half feet of undead muscle." - Marc describes his meaty character.

"If you could imagine Andre the Giant from the Princess Bride having an anchor chained to his ankle, its something like that." - Marc continues describing his character.

"Kor's not convinced he really went anywhere.  He thinks he just went on a long boat ride." - Marc speaking for his character.  

"Well I'm not quite ready to sell any of my compatriots just yet." - Marie to the boy at the docks.

"Good news, shiny man, Nolan back!" - Kor  

"I'm not sure if they're looking to employ us or buy us." - Nolan was wary of the captains at the Harrowed Hall after spying on their backroom dealings.  

"Kor go with Marie." - Kor

"I pick things up... I put them down." - Kor

"Hey, there are the whales!  Whale ho!"  - Nolan alerts the crew of the Darkmaiden's Dance.

Jim - "... and the whale got a joker."
Andy - "Did we decide to attack Moby Dick on our first tryout?"