Pirates of the Shackles

Piratin' at Last!
18-28 Abadius, 4713

We all know what happened during your last days on the Wormwood, so I’m just going to make a simple list of that which took place on the Wormwood on each day of the month.

18th: PCs detailed to get a tasty crab dinner for the captain, and end up not only with four baskets of crabs, but also two reef claws. The captain, impressed, rewards Grims.

19th: PCs are detailed to be trained in boarding procedures by the foul-mouthed Riaris Krine, and spend most of the day in a jolly boat throwing grapples at the side of the ship and learning how to climb on board unseen. Mal demonstrates early mastery of the skills necessary. Red demonstrates that he’s not good with a grapple.

20th-21st: Typical days at sea; the PCs work on making more friends.

22nd: Ship ahoy, and a chase begins.

23rd: The Man’s Promise, a pirate/merchant ship crewed mostly by Rahamoudi, is chased down and boarded. Shrouded in a massive fog bank conjured up by Pepper Longfarthy, the two ships lock up with each other and the crew of the Wormwood boards. The PCs grapple across to the sterncastle, assigned with seizing and holding the wheel and preventing anyone from escaping in one of the two ship’s boats. Mal, due to his skill, is put in charge. The three, although outnumbered 2:1, fight cleverly and defeat their enemies. Red spontaneously manifests the ability to harm with a touch and bamphf! short distances. The PCs also capture the 1st Mate of the ship as she and some others try to escape. A big party ensues, lasting the better part of two days, during which the PCs are rewarded with coin and items for their work.

25th: Mr. Plugg is assigned as captain of the prize crew for The Man’s Promise, and tasked with selecting sailors to help him return the ship to Port Peril to be sold. Captain Harrigan makes plans to pick up this portion of his crew in a few weeks after attending to some other business. Plugg selects an interesting cross-section of the Wormwood’s crew to join him, leaving the other vessel with a mostly captured Rahamoudi crew.

It was clear by mid-morning on the 25th that although this was a new(er) ship, the same rules applied and the same or worse treatment could be expected from Mr. Plugg and his cronies. No rum rations hit Tilly Brackett hard, and the threat of punishment for anyone found on the weather decks at night was also an unpleasant surprise. The night duty roster was made for the next week – apparently the time required to get back to Port Peril – and everyone on it was one of Plugg’s stooges.

On the first day the crew oriented themselves with their temporary home and work station, finding the tools needed to perform their jobs. The ship had been stripped clean of valuables by Captain Harrigan, who’d kept all the good stuff with him on the Wormwood, leaving only the bare essentials in terms of food, water, and other supplies. Given that the ship was to be sold, it didn’t make any sense to leave additional supplies on board, anyway.

Mal, suspicious of Plugg’s motives and always eager to learn more, snuck out onto the main deck about an hour after sunset on the first day and listened as Plugg, Scourge, and a few others quietly discussed plans to keep the ship for themselves and sail it somewhere to get ‘squibbed’ before starting their own life of piracy. Sharing this news with Grims, Red, Rosie, and Sandara, he sought opinions about what to do. After a short, animated discussion it was decided that they would somehow seize the ship from Plugg and his faction…if there was going to be any keeping of a ship, it would be them who’d do the keeping.

Two more days passed with work as usual, and time to talk and explore the new ship. Grims and other others made fast friends with the mildly creepy Jaigo Mongangwa, a Mwangi sailor from The Man’s Promise who’d actually surrendered to them after offering no resistance during the fight for the ship. He’d served on board the ship for a few months, and was happy to find a new crew and the possibility of more freedom.

During this time Grims and Sandara confirmed to each other that the ship had changed course each night, and was not headed east of northeast, toward the Slithering Coast, clearly not on a return voyage to Port Peril.

Sailing ship storm

On the 27th a large storm rocked the ship, forcing all hands to work all day to keep her afloat and safe. Strong winds and sheets of rain and water cut visibility down to only feet, and everyone on the deck wore a safety line. Growing disgust with the Plugg faction motivated Mal to untie Fipps Chumlett’s line at its base, and share a designated signal with his compatriots: it was time that Fipps took a swim. Mal tried to ‘trip’ into the fat bully, but the rolling deck and water prevented him from getting close enough. Grims looked for an opportunity to ‘slip’ out of the rigging and knock the man overboard – to no avail. It was Jaigo who made the next move, calling down to the swab from in the rigging and chattering at him for a moment. Given the noise on deck it was impossible for anyone to be able to tell what words were exchanged, but it was obvious to anyone looking that the Mwangi had something important to tell the swab and had his complete attention.

The final step was taken by Red, who’d come above-decks to assist as needed. Approaching Fipps, he yelled something in his ear, to which the larger man responded with a slack-jawed nod – his usual affirmation of an order – and suddenly trotted toward the gunwale, jumping or slipping overboard. Only a few sailors noticed, and the alarm was slow in being sounded ship-wide, given the noise and water and rain and wind, and the fact that everyone was so occupied doing their work.

Fipps was seen twice, bobbing up and down in the water, drifting swiftly away from the ship, waving his arms. Within a moment’s time, he was gone. The storm continued for a few more hours, finally reducing in force to merely rough seas during the small hours, giving the crew and officers no chance to attempt a recovery – the Fever Sea had claimed another victim, no doubt not its last.


Early in the morning, before sunrise, riding rough seas the ship shuddered as it foundered on a rocky shoal, a hole smashed in its port side amidships. The light of day on the 28th showed that the damage, while significant, was not fatal and could be repaired on-site. Plugg, foul as ever and yet a competent sailor, ordered the remnants of the potable water cask, which had broken loose and smashed open, as well as part of the main deck to be disassembled and used to patch the hole in the hull, which poked through in the main hold.

During this same time it was discovered that two other members of the crew – Sandara Quinn and Jack Skrimshaw – were also missing, although no one had seen them go overboard, and in fact they’d been seen, assigned to the forecastle, during the small hours after the storm had abated around the time that the ship had struck the rocks. The only evidence found was a thick, black slime staining the deck near the port side gunwale on the forecastle, and Sandara’s holy symbol of Besmara on the ground near the stain.

As best as Grims and Jaigo could determine, based on what they’d heard, this looked like the work of grindylows – nasty goblin/octopoid creatures said to inhabit such small, remote islets. They were intelligent enough to be clever, vicious enough to be a threat, and supposedly numerous enough to pose a real challenge. If their two friends had been captured by these creatures, every moment was vital if they were to be recovered alive and intact.

For his part, (acting) Captain Plugg didn’t seem to care about any of the missing crew. The sea claimed her own, he said, and the crew can’t wait for the sailor. Besides, there was work to be done!

Lacking a supply of fresh water, he ordered Grims, Mal, Red, and Jaigo to take the two ship’s boats and several barrels, and find fresh water on the nearby island – a small, hilly piece of jungle-covered land about a mile south of where the ship had foundered.

Maneuvering the ship’s cutter, and towing the barrel-laden gig, the four sailors paddled toward the islet, discovering on the way a morbid welcome sign in the form of a human skeleton, held together with twine, covered in skrimshaw and bite marks, standing upright in the shallow waters, its feet anchored in the rocks. Several more of the things could be seen along the northern shore of the island, a curious and disturbing indication of what might be on the island, and what its intentions could be.

Meta 2
Use the comments to determine how you’re going to go about landing on the island, and where. Consider these sorts of things: you’ve got a boat, and can maneuver around the entire island if you want before deciding where to land. If you were on horseback and were trying to decide how to enter an enemy town or camp, you’d circle it – don’t forget those things because of the different in backdrop (water).

Dried Out At Last
the days after the storm, ending on 17 Abadius

Heading south for a few days after the storm, the Wormwood found moderately cloudy skies, fair winds, and following seas. All in all, it was a pleasant change from the rough seas leading up to and experienced during the storm. Work proceeded, blurring each day into the next. The new crew members were now used to the routine and their individual duties, and the crew as a whole was becoming a proficient single entity.

‘Bloody Hour’ still took place each night, as there were always infractions discovered by Mr. Plugg. The rum ration was bad, or good, depending on one’s perspective and mood. There was little land in sight – only a distant coast sometimes visible to the east, and a few small islets now and again on the horizon to the west.

This phase will last 3 days, giving each of you 3 daytime and 3 nighttime Ship Actions. I will roll for what jobs you get each day and whether or not you’re successful, which will determine whether or not you get punished each night. Instead of starting on the day after the storm when we next meet, you’ll start on the fifth day after the storm, which means you’ll all have been on board for two weeks by that point. Let me know what you do with your rum ration each night, too – remember that it’s mandatory to take it, and being seen avoiding it will earn the cat.

Anyway, list the actions for each day – just give me this: 1. work hard/entertain; 2. sneak around (place X on ship)/influence (name and means by which); 3. work hard/gamble (or whatever). Just list the three days and the two actions for each. I’ll then add details in the player secrets section and make any necessary changes to NPCs’ attitudes or other things going on onboard.

Remember that one of you has his whole kit back, and one has part of it. The other two are still empty-handed for the most part. Also remember that most of the crew is still ‘indifferent’ or worse in their view of each of you and you four as a group. You’ve got a small group of friends, but it’s small.

A proper storm
...and some well-deserved punishment

The previous post blurred the lines between day & night on that rainy day, as most of the party described night time Ship Actions in the Comments, and so this post picks up on the next actual day.

Please pay attention to the mechanical impacts of the day on your character, as noted in the Secrets section for each of you. The conditions and stats noted are in effect as of the day after the storm, when we’ll pick up in-session. As comments on this post you can let me know what your Ship Action will be for that day, and give any feedback or context or whatever to what’s described below.

The rain intensified throughout that night, building into a proper ocean storm by the next morning. All hands were ordered to their stations, with extra crew added into the rigging to make near-constant changes to the sails. The back-breaking work was made additionally dangerous by the high winds and occasional high waves that would leave almost walls of water suspended in the air as waves rose, broke, and grew again, and the now small-feeling Wormwood climbing suddenly steep water, or rushing down slopes a moment later.

The entire party – regardless of previous duty station – is ordered into the rigging. Although no one’s panicking, this is clearly a big storm and the safety of the ship is at risk. Red and Caesar are assigned to working lines – hoisting sails as needed. Mal is tasked with making repairs to rigging that’s broken or frayed. Finally, Grims is assigned to the upper rigging, and spends 12+ hours swinging back and forth in the wind, 50 feet above the main deck.

Ship in storm2 2

Everyone on board works through the day and into the night, leaving no time for any other activities. There is no break for meals, and dried biscuits are distributed to the crew instead.

By late in the evening – well after dark – the storm abates, transforming into just rough seas. The choppy waters aren’t enough to keep the crew awake, however, with only those assigned the midwatch having to stay up. Everyone else gladly goes to sleep after a 19-hour day of fighting the ocean.

The next morning at muster, Mr. Plugg addresses the crew.

“It was a rough day, and making it through took the work of everyone. I saw some people step up and really kick in – earned their share, I’d say!” Plugg gruffly shouts at the crew, pointing out some of his favorite cronies as having done good work.

“But I saw some slack, too, and on a ship slack can sink us all! I won’t take that! Cap’n won’t take it!” he shouts, his face turning slightly red as he works himself into a lather.

“Dammit I won’t take it! Shame’s what you should feel – and the cat’ll help put it there!!” he yells as he nods to Master Scourge and a few others, who quickly grab Red, Mal, and Tilly, dragging them to the mainmast, where they are tied as a group around the massive timber. Fipps Chumlett roughly pulls off each sailor’s shirt, taking a moment to linger next to Tilly and giggle before stepping back. “I likes what I’s sees..” he mutters, bovine sweat appearing on his quivering upper lip.

During this, Plugg continues his harangue of the crew, lambasting those whom he says let down the rest, all the while warming up his cat o’nine tails. Without any notice he begins beating the three sailors, walking around them while taking swipes, shouting their shortcomings and insulting them as he does.

Suddenly, as Plugg is on the starboard side of mainmast, Grims, opposite him on the port side, steps forward and, stripping off his shirt, moves to shield Tilly from the First Mate’s next blow. “These two are my crew. If I failed to teach them right, or they’re too stupid to learn, I deserve to be next to them. This one, I’ll take her place…” he calls out to all assembled.

Plugg doesn’t skip a beat, unleashing a stream of obscenities as of yet unheard in this part of the world, widening eyes and dropping jaws across the main deck. A beat behind him, Scourge lunges forward and knocks the young sailor to the deck, kicking him savagely once in the groin.

“Give’m what he’s owed, Master Scourge!” shouts Plugg, as Captain Harrigan looking down from the poop deck, nods in approval. Scourge draws out his cat and proceeds to beat on Grims, laying on the deck, until Plugg finishes with the others.

After a few minutes of being beaten and insulted the three are taken down, their bruised and somewhat bloodied backs splashed with warm salt water, after which they are immediately put back to work for the day. Turning to Grims, Plugg narrows his eyes and scowls.

“I decide who’s t’punish and what’s t’do in the punishin’ on this ship – not you!,” punctuating the last word with a hook to the mouth, knocking Grims again to the deck.

The rest of the crew, wary of Mr. Plugg’s harsh approach to discipline and already foul mood, snaps to and gets right to work, as well.

A rainy day
grey skies, some wind, lots of water

On the sixth day at sea, it began to rain, and with increasing intensity throughout the day. The wind wasn’t too bad, and so those working on the rigging weren’t at too much risk while going about their duties. Those working the decks actually had a slightly easier time at cleaning, helped along by the rainwater washing away the muck they were scrubbing off parts of the ship. The day proceeded as others days did, with the crew hard at work, and yet each with some time to focus on their own activities.

Nursing bruised sides and a black eye, Grims did his best to not show anyone his pain, and scurried up and down the rigging as best he could. He found himself on a detail for most of the day with Rattesberger, a halfling, and did his best to chat up the little man, trying to win him over with wit and assistance. After the day, the two had established a friendly rapport, and agreed to continue their conversation over the evening meal.

The somewhat rough seas made work below decks harder, too, and Red had his hands full with the completely drunken cook – taking over virtually all cooking duties for the day. His extra assistance and diligence to his duties that day did not go unnoticed by the half-asleep Fishguts Kroop, who, while seeing double, doubled his estimation of his new assistant.

Caesar, being both debonaire and sociopathic, desired someone to desire him, and so he talked kindly lies all day to Tilly Brackett, a flirtatious rigger, in pursuit of her favor. In the end, she was amused, but unphased, implying that further chat would be nice, but that was about it.

‘Lil’ Mal,’ as some of the other crew had taken to calling the halfling, also worked hard – or at least worked to appear that way, as he spent most of his time below decks finding and plugging leaks…and searching more of the ship.

The night brought more crummy food, more mild seasickness for some, and more opportunities to talk, sneak, and do other things.

The Fifth Day
day & night

The fifth day brings more work for everyone, and therefore options about what to do during that day. You can see your choices on this wiki page. Choose and let me know in the comments section and I’ll take care of the rolls. If you select something that requires exploration or sneaking or whatever, add the location and some details in the comments, too. Remember that I posted maps of the ship here. I’ll then add a comment that addresses any findings or results of your actions for the day.

Grims has already stated that he will work hard that day.

The night brings bad food (thanks, Red!), a rum ration that makes your right foot shake for a little while, and again more options for ship actions. As most of the crew sat in the warm evening air on the main deck, eating and talking, Mr. Plugg and a few of his cronies made a show of bringing Owlbear Hartshorn up from below. The large man, heavily muscled and still bearing the marks of a tar & feather treatment the crew apparently gave him a few weeks ago, hooted and shouted as he came into the night air.

“Swabbin’s good!” he shouted to no in particular, glancing around at the other people as he did. “Swabbin’s GOOD!” he shouted again, hopping on one foot and smiling. That one got some laughs.

Mr. Plugg stood next to the bruiser and spoke. “Owlbear needs some air and exercise, don’t you think? And it’s the proper thing to make sure our crew is trained, and so tonight we’re going to do both. ’Bear’s going to see what our new men are made of!” the First Mate shouted as Owlbear wooted and hopped up and down in one place, again shouting.

“So which one of you’s got the goods to stand against the ‘Bear? How about you, Grims? You’re a spry, fit young man! I think you’d make a fair dinner for our friend here,” Plugg taunted, pointing at the young rigger. The older crew members laughed.

“Fair dinner!” shouted Owlbear, grinning madly as he looked about again, making pretend eating motions with his hands.

Plugg continued. “It’s bare fists and wrestling here – and no killing! Last man standing wins. And to make things a little more exciting, I’ll cast the first wager – 100 crowns to the winner!” Plugg shouted as he skook a purse over his head, provoking cheers from the crew, many of whom began getting out their own coin to start a pool.

Meanwhile, Fipps Chumlett untied the hands of Owlbear and pushed him forward, inside a circle of crew that had suddenly grown around the hulking bruiser and the young Grims. Owlbear flexed his muscles, hopped up and down, and shouted.

“Eatin’s time! Grub that! Grub that!” he called out, looking to the crew for a response while watching to see what Grims would do.

The two men eyed each other for a moment and paced, looking for an opening. Owlbear, taller than Grims by several inches and outweighing him by at least 40 pounds, appeared to be a slow-moving wall of muscle. Grims saw an opening and took it, appearing to step in one direction while actually stepping in to attempt to trip the larger man. Misjudging the distance, Grims failed to make contact.

The bruiser lunged forward, swinging widely at Grims, who was able to get his head out of the way just before impact. Ducking the blow opened an opporunity for Grims, who landed a solid punch into Owlbear’s side. The close proximity required for the strike, however, enabled the larger man to land a blow of his own on the side of Grims’ head, ringing the teen’s bell.

Realizing that a toe-to-toe slug match would result in a beating, Grims danced out of the way and ran around the main mast, trying to lure his opponent through a pile of loosely-coiled rope. Owlbear displayed a surprising amount of agility, however, as he skipped over the tangle, hooting in satisfaction. “Cleanin’ house!”

Owlbear attemped a clumsy kick, and failed. Grims, meanwhile, jumped away, drawing his opponent forward into a a bucket, swinging by a rope from above. The larger man grunted as he knocked it aside and wiped a small amount of blood from his lips. “OO! OO!” he shouted.

Coming from the side, Grims tripped Owlbear as he fought with the bucket, sending him to the deck. Grims smiled and waved his arms at the crew, trying to rally support for his cause. Shouts of excitement came from all directions – the men had wanted a good fight, and this was shaping up to be one.

Turning his attention back to his prone opponent, Grims quickly considered his next move. Again, the larger man surprised Grims by suddenly reaching out and grabbing his feet, dragging him down into what would prove to be an unbreakable bear hug. Owlbear squeezed and hooted as the smaller man struggled, and could not escape. A quick shift in his hold and Grims was soon out cold, limp on the deck.

The crew exchanged coins and markers, and the Owlbear looked around for the purse Plugg had laid down, seeing after a moment that it was back in the First Mate’s hand.

The Dirty Dingy
story time with Grims

Story time with Grims…

Grims fashions a pipe, or at least a piece of wood that is a little pipe shaped.
During the evening of our rum rations, Grims waits for about half the rum to be consumed. He wants them just a little buzzed when he begins. Using a blanket he found in the sleep quarters, he drapes it over his shoulders, squints an eye, lights the oil he put on his faux pipe just to get it burning, and begins.

“So there I was, I tell you. Captain of the Orange Piquering. A finer lass of a ship Ye’ll ne’r see.” He blows out the flame allowing the ‘pipe’ to smoulder and look like it’s smoking. “There be the crew of a bunch of skurvy dawgs such as yer selves. On that boat for 3 months we be. Ne’r a sign o’ life but the fish we’s caught on the harpoon. It was night it was. The moon fulled to poppin. We had calm seas that day. A hot calm day it be. The cook who could ne’r slice a good halibut to save his miserable sodden life finally made a decent meal. We was full o rum n fish we was loungin on the deck, as I was smokin this here pipe.”

As Grims regails his tale, he walks amongst the crew looking them in the eye with his one good one.

“Over the dark water a song came. Smooth as mother’s milk it was. On a rock outta nowheres a lass, NAY! A lady lay. Singin’ there song. It was mezmerizzin it was.” He stands straight up hands outstretched as if reaching for a note.

“Themselves crew who had a dangle in ’is pants what when to the rail. All but ole man flour sacks, and meself. Ole sacks got himself caught in the riggin ’e did, and I dropped me pipe in the oil barrel.” He glares at everyone paying attention. “WOOSH!!! CAME THE FIRE FROM ’ER OIL” He lifts his arms in a mock explosion. “Knocked me on me duff it did, as I hear’d me the first splashes of the men’s Jumpin or’board. There was a lass what jumped too. When I’s came too, the moon had gone, so’s alf me crew. Thems wimenses folk tried to catch some of the men but they was jus too strong with the song in em. Tha’s was the best voyage we’s ’ad in a long time it was. The booty was spit to double the crew, and I ’ad me choice o lass I did.” Grims rubs up against one of the ladies that is hopefully mesmerized or at least enjoying the story. ’We’s put’s into harbor a fortnight later and that’s when the whole thing gots shot to the 9 ’ells. Aaargh!!!"

(Dice roller says… 18 + perform/story telling of 8 = 26!!!)

“Be bak ’er tomorrow fer the next chapter of the dirty dingy…”

The First Days at Sea
with beatings included

The Wormwood spent only a single night at Port Peril, coming in at high sun to re-provision and recruit more crew, and then heading out early the next morning. The four newest sailors – an elf, a surly halfling, and two humans, were put to work in the rigging, on the deck, and in the galley, and aside from a need for additional discipline for the halfling and elf, work wasn’t interrupted.

Old ship at sunset near swamp at the coast wallpaper

‘Grim’ proved quickly to be a fairly skilled rigger, clearly familiar with the sea-going life, at least in an academic sense. By day’s end, he and Sandara Quinn had worked out a reasonably friendly accord, and spent time near each other chatting about where they were from and how they’d ended up on the ship – she by impressment, as well, and only about two weeks before.

Redrum Dloc, a slight elf, attracted more punishment and attention than he might have wanted, due to his reticence and seeming inability to climb the rigging – or care to. Mr. Plugg thought he’d have a good time below, so he was assigned as the Cook’s Mate, to work with the ever-drunk ‘Fishguts’ Kroop. Still, there was something…off…about that one.

The other human, a wiry, nondescript young man, was given a scrub brush and assigned to the decks, as well, under Plugg, along with the halfling.

The day was hot and sunny, with few clouds to shield the sailors from sunburns. Work proceeded apace, with virtually no stops until ‘Bloody Hour,’ the time for punishments earned during that day. Jakes Magpie, a sailor who’d been locked up in the bilge for stealing from some of his shipmates, was brought on deck, treated to some choice words and jeers, and then slowly keelhauled. Jakes went over the starboard side; but what came up on the port side only barely resembled a human being, having been shredded by barnacles, fast-flowing water, and whatever else lurked below the ship. The carcass, after being displayed during dinner as an example to others, was thrown to the sharks, with Plugg reiterating the need for following orders.

The newest sailors were met the next morning by both the first bell and four other crew members attempting to beat them – was this some sort of initiation? An attempt at murder? Reasons aside, the four gave back better than they took, chasing off two of the attackers and beating the other two into unconsciousness – and still making it to morning muster on time. Redrum made a point to goad – throughout the day – one of his attackers, by making suggestive comments and gestures at her any chance he had.

Mal decided to spend his time working and eating over the next few days trying to attract the attention of Rosie Cozwell, fellow halfling and swab – and after convincing Cut Throat Grok, the Quartermaster, to give back all his kit and her fiddle, completely won her over, along with young Jack Skrimshaw, another swab.

More days of work followed, with some time for other activities on board. Grim was able to get back some of his kit from the QM after making a cheap mojo, which Grok happily took in trade. Redrum continued to antagonize Arreta, either looking to start a fight or get her to come around to his way of seeing things. The other guy was able to pilfer a few knives, in addition to the one that Redrum had lifted on the first day.

The the day at sea saw action for some of the new crew in the form of dire rats in the bilge. Jack Skrimshaw encountered and was attacked by them while on duty there, and Plugg ordered Mal, Redrum, and Caesar to deal with them. Five dead rats later and the bilge was secured.


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