Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Voyage of the Sea Ghost - Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Chapter 49

The sun was setting on the Azure Sea. A slight wind propelled the Sea Ghost sluggishly through the calm seas. The ship made little progress. Captain Alot, an automaton who had no need to eat or sleep and wore goggles that gave him excellent night vision, manned the helm. 

Suddenly there blew a strong wind from behind. Alot looked behind him and was surprised to see two waterspouts curling and writhing their way towards the ship. They had appeared without warning in the darkness with no hint of cloud or storm. 

He rang the ship's bell and called for all hands to batten the hatches and prepare for a storm. Within seconds the water spouts were upon the ship. These were no natural phenomena, they moved with intent!

To Alot's horror, suspended within each of the waterspouts was a massive man-eating shark! 


The C-Team:

  • Avastana "Aella" Kádár - Neutral, Half-Elf  Outlander and Storm Sorceress from Ket, daughter of the king of the sea elves, Deck Sorceress of the Sea Ghost.
  • Alot Aname - Neutral Good Warforged Fighter, ancient sentinel of a wizard's fortress, spent several decades deactivated underwater, Bosun of the Sea Ghost.
  • Craig "Blunderbuss" Oxworth - Lawful Good Dwarven Priest of St. Ogden (Cleric), sailor and shipwright.  
  • Cai'luin Manaan - Chaotic Good Sea-Elf Bard, member of the royal family of the tribe of Manaan.
  • Corvid Ravenson - Neutral Good Fallen Aasimar Paladin of Vengeance and Divine Soul Sorcerer, sent to Oerth to avenge those who wronged his angelic "brother", Auric Ravenson.
DM Note-
I'm running the adventure "The Kraken's Wake" so that we can get some actual use out of the naval rules in Ghosts of Saltmarsh. It fits perfectly in that 8th level dead zone between the Final Enemy and Tammaraut's Fate. It's also fairly light fare and not a deep time or brainpower commitment. 


Ship's Position: 16 miles southeast of Saltmarsh, just off Angler Island

The tempests moved aggressively towards the Sea Ghost in a way very much unlike a natural waterspout. The two waterspouts showed malicious intent! 

The crew had just enough time to strike the sails and return below deck before the whirling waterspouts reached the ship. Alot lashed the tiller fast and grabbed his magical dragon-hammer. He charged the closest waterspout and delivered a blow to the massive shark suspended therein. 

Aella, Craig, Cai'luin, and Corvid ran onto the deck. Craig said a prayer and sacred flame fell miraculously from the heavens onto the tempest but with little effect as the swirling winds simply blew away the column of fire. Corvid drew his magical sword and darted up the ship's ladder to attack the sharks. Aella used her storm magic to create a tidal wave to crash onto both water-spouts. 

The sea-elf Cai'luin quickly found himself trapped within a waterspout being attacked by a very large very angry shark but was soon saved by the interventions of his companions.  In exchange, Cai'luin cast a bardic spell onto the other tempest, creating an explosion of steam. 

The battle continued for some time until Corvid, with a prayer to the Raven King, God of Death, drove his magic sword into one of the tempests. His divine strike skewered the shark within. The remaining shark was quickly dispatched. 

The two whirlwinds persisted but were now harmless. The massive sharks were dead. They spun wildly within the whirlwinds. Without the guidance of the sharks, the whirlwinds drifted off to sea in random directions. 

Bell of the Depths

Ship's Position: 25 miles southeast of Saltmarsh, five miles south of Redshore

That night the crew slept while Alot manned the tiller and Craig and Cai'luin stood watch on the bow, scanning the darkness with their night vision so that they could sail through the night. 

Around midnight there was a sound of the ringing of a massive bell that reverberated throughout the ship. The crew was awakened. Every sailor on board knew what it meant - it was the Bell of the Depths, a sound of ill omen that spelled doom to any ship that heard its peal. The crew became uneasy and had difficulty sleeping so Cai'luin played a song to calm their frayed nerves. 

Young Green Dragon

Ship's Position: 30 miles out of Saltmarsh, 
10 miles east-northeast of Redshore and 13 miles southeast of Splitrock

The next morning saw calm seas and poor winds. The sky was blue and the sun was warm. The crew were in poor spirits but a pep talk from Aella helped alleviate their worries. 

Corvid stood on the forecastle and scanned the horizon. He caught a glimpse of a winged creature flying roughly 200 feet over the sea. It was a young green dragon and it was out hunting. Corvid alerted the crew and Captain Alot took the precaution of sending all seven of them below decks while the C-Team prepared their weapons.

The dragon took notice of the ship and altered its flight to an intercept course. It flew low and fast over the calm seas several hundred feet off the starboard side of the ship. At sixty feet out it dove under the water. Aella used her storm magic to cast a lightning bolt at the dragon as it swam just below the surface. The dragon dove deep and went under the ship. The C-Team prepared themselves for anything. Captain Alot lashed the tiller and looked around for his longbow. The longbow he had never used.  Alot cursed his luck. Why did they have to be attacked by a foe that could fly and attack from range? 

Cai'luin played a note on his lute and uttered a series of arcane whispers known only to bards. He knew that wherever the dragon was, it would know fear and would move away from the ship.

The dragon resurfaced off the port bow and flew over the deck towards the starboard side. Corvid hurled a magical bolt of fire at the dragon while Aella released a burst of magical burning rays. 

The dragon disgorged a cone of poisonous green gas onto the deck which engulfed Craig, Cai'luin, and Aella. 

Cai'luin cast another bardic spell and the air around the dragon exploded into watery steam. 

Corvid ran a few steps towards the starboard rail and disappeared into a puff of blue mist. He magically reappeared above the dragon. Corvid fell onto the dragon's back and grabbed its wing. The dragon remained airborne but was not longer able to maneuver. Corvid stabbed at the dragon with his free hand while the reptilian beast struggled to dislodge its attacker. 

"Corvid flexed his thews, muscles rippled across his chest. He crouched, and with the leap of a cougar, he closed the distance through the air and landed upon the dragon's back."
- The Tale of Aella, Chapter 3, by Cai'luin Manaan

DM Note-
Corvid's player, "I can either do something effective or do something stupid."

Me, "Do something stupid!"

Corvid's player, "Alright. I cast misty step and appear on the dragon's back. I grapple it! I believe its movement is now zero!"

Me, "Oh my god, I love it so much!"

Craig said a prayer of hope and everyone on the deck felt rejuvenated. Aella cast an electrical witch-bolt spell at the dragon which created a continuous arc of lightning. Cai'luin howled some insensitive remarks towards the dragon which hurt its feelings. 

Alot found his longbow and loosed an arrow. To his surprise it struck home into the dragon's mouth, penetrating its skull! 

DM Note-
Natural 20! 17 points of damage!

Corvid continued stabbing at the dragon with his magical longsword. Craig said a prayer to St. Ogden and a mighty spiritual hammer flew forth and struck the dragon.

However, it was Aella's ongoing lightning bolt that felled the dragon. It plunged lifeless into the sea. Corvid pulled it as he swam back towards the boat. The crew was recalled, lines were thrown, and the dragon's carcass was hauled onto the deck for harvesting. 

"...and with a mighty wave of her hand, the magical essences speared through the brain of the dragon and fell to the waves below. Never to rise again."
- The Tale of Aella, Chapter 3, by Cai'luin Manaan

A Ghostly Visitation

Ship's Position: 45 miles out of Saltmarsh,
15 miles east of Splitrock

The rest of the day passed uneventfully as the Sea Ghost made poor progress in the calm winds. Near midnight the following night, while Cai'luin stood watch and Craig manned the tiller, there came again the peal of the Bell of the Depths and once more the entire crew was awakened.

This time the sound of the bell was accompanied by a strange unearthly fog that arose out of the clear night. Captain Alot and the rest of the crew came onto the deck just in time to witness the fog manifest into a strange humanoid apparition made of mist. The apparition approached Captain Alot and held out a vaguely rectangular shape made of fog. Alot held out his mechanical hands to receive the gift. 

The apparition spoke in a haunting voice:
"To fight the ones who drowned her isle and home,
She pledged her ship, her crew, her soul, her bones.
For endless eons they now sail to fight,
To feed the devils’ everlasting spite.
Only honor can end this long reprise,
If honor there be left in her cold eyes.
To fight the ones who drowned her isle and home,
She pledged her ship, her crew, her soul, her bones.
for untold year she continues her fight,
To feed the devils’ everlasting spite.
Only honor can end this long reprise,
If honor there be left in her cold eyes."
The apparition put the rectangle into Alot's hands. It took solid form and became a leather-bound book with brass clasps. Alot thanked the apparition for the gift and the spirit disappeared. So too did the mysterious fog vanish and the Sea Ghost was once again drifting in calm seas on a clear night.

Alot spent the remaining hours of the night reading through the book. It was a captain's log written in old Suloisian, a language Alot could read thanks to his knowledge of history. 

 The book was the journal of Captain Morgana, the captain of the Faithful Defender, a ship that sailed in defense of Agroburg, an ancient Suloise city that was sacked and destroyed by the Dark Alliance over a millennium ago. Within the book's pages, Alot learned the following:
  • Captain Morgana was a conjurer who fought along with her crew to defend Agroburg against the Dark Alliance of evil humanoids.
  • When Agroburg was sacked despite Morgana’s best efforts, she swore everlasting vengeance upon the Dark Alliance.
  • She and her entire crew made a pact with Asmodeus. Though they condemned themselves to hell for eternity, they would sail the seas of Oerth to bring terror to those who destroyed Agroburg. 
Alot closed the book and gave a robotic shrug. "Well, that's not the Vengeful Tempest, so I guess that must not have anything to do with our mission."

DM Note-
Alot's player actually said that. You could hear the other players slapping their foreheads over the Discord channel. 

The Chaos Storm

Ship's Position: 50 miles out of Saltmarsh,
20 miles northest of Splitrock,
20 miles southeast of Anglar

With the coming of dawn the Sea Ghost saw increased winds which propelled them closer towards Gradsul. At mid-morning the skies began to darken and a few moments later a storm was brewing. Aella could sense the influence of chaos magic within the storm - this was no ordinary storm! Soon after the Sea Ghost was caught within an elemental maelstrom. The ship was pelted with ice, fire, rocks, and strong gales. Craig said a prayer to Saint Ogden and the ship became protected from the chaos magic around them. However, at the center of the storm was a flashing blue white light and a whirlpool was drawing the ship towards it. 

DM Note-
I described the light as, "Anyone here remember the strobing light in the movie the Final Countdown that hurled the aircraft carrier back in time? Its like that!"

Craig said another prayer but to no avail. The ship was drawn into the light and disappeared.

The crew of the Sea Ghost woke up on the deck. The storm was gone. The sky was clear and the sun shone brightly. It was still mid-morning. A coastline was visible to port. Alot immediately recognized it as the coast of Salinmoor in between Splitrock and Anglar. They had been teleported several miles off course. Luckily the captain found good winds and made up for lost time.

The Voice in the Deep

Ship's Position: 65 miles out of Saltmarsh, 
20 miles east of Waverock,
15 miles southeast of Rawnis

The captain had found some good wind and made good time. By sunset they were in between Anglar and Rawnis. The sun set in the west casting an eerie orange glow to the sky. Everyone in the crew were suddenly struck with a booming telepathic message.

The ominous telepathic voice demanded that the ship offer it a sacrifice. Three living humanoids must be bound and thrown overboard. Should they comply they could pass without trouble. Noncompliance would result in the destruction of their ship and the loss of everyone on board. 

Corvid commented, "Only three?" 

The seven crewmembers looked at Captain Alot with apprehension.

Captain Alot replied to the voice, "Go to hell!"

The ship was suddenly heaved upwards from the bow as if they had run aground. Massive tentacles wrapped around the ship's hull.

Cai'luin immediately played a dissonant chord on his lute and uttered a bardic spell. The sound forced the kraken to release the ship and move forty feet in front of the ship to escape the noise. Aella quickly cast a Chaos Bolt spell at the monster.

Captain Alot shouted orders to his crew, "Full sails! Ramming speed!"

Captain Alot piloted the Sea Ghost so that its recently added ram impaled the side of the massive kraken. The kraken howled and spit a massive blast of steam and mist into the air. It rolled off the ram and slid down the port side of the ship.

DM Note-
Using the rules in the back of Ghosts of Saltmarsh, ramming the kraken did 69 points of damage! Alot's player was ecstatic!

"He swung the tiller around and said, "Have at thee, Beast" as the Metal Man drove the ships ram straight into the sickly Kraken's heart". 
-The Tale of Aella, Chapter 3, by Cai'luin Manaan

Corvid Ravensun said a prayer to the Raven King and a loud sonorous bell pealed across the sea. The reverberations of which called the kraken to shudder in pain. 

The kraken's tentacles reached up onto the deck of the Sea Ghost. One grabbed Craig and tossed him into the air. Craig landed in the sea sixty feet away from the ship. 

The crew heard loud splintering and crunching as the mouth of the malformed kraken bit into the hull. 

DM Note-
Kraken do double damage to structures and objects. This was the first time running D&D that I was able to use this ability for any creature! That made me happy!

Cai'luin cast a bardic spell to shatter the kraken. The beast howled in pain. 

Aella cast a powerful lightning bolt at the kraken.  The lightning splayed across the kraken's malformed skin like oil off water. 

"Aella ran her fingers through her hair, and lightning crackled between her finger tips. Flinging the charge at the lurid beast, there was a gasp from all when the ball of electrical energy shorted into the water and dissipated" 
-The Tale of Aella, Chapter 3, by Cai'luin Manaan

Craig Oxworth bobbed in the ocean. He said a prayer to Saint Ogden and a massive whirlpool appeared behind the kraken. The swirling water tried to draw the kraken away from the ship and towards its center. The kraken held firm to the ship but was eventually drawn backwards.

 The kraken called down three bolts of lightning from the heavens to strike Corvid, Cai'luin, and Aella. 

Cai'luin cast his bardic "Water Hammer" spell onto the kraken. Aella cast another chaos bolt and Corvid sent a bolt of magical flame at the kraken.

As the battle progressed the Sea Ghost continued to sail on, leaving the kraken, the whirlpool, and Craig behind. Captain Alot grabbed the tiller and turned the ship hard to port. 

DM Note-
I kept having to make the Roll20 map bigger and moving the kraken, craig, and whirlpool tokens sixty feet down to simulate the ship moving away.

The kraken swam away from the whirlpool and towards Blunderbuss. The tentacles wrapped around the dwarven priest and hurled him into the air. Craig was thrown sixty feet. Craig emerged from the water and dismissed the whirlpool, only to form a new one immediately under the kraken. 

"The Kraken tried and tried to swallow the dwarf. The beak closed around his body, but to no avail. The dwarf grimaced and spat in the Kraken's face. "It'll take more than the likes of you to eat me!"  
-The Tale of Aella, Chapter 3, by Cai'luin Manaan

The kraken was sucked down into the whirlpool where it was torn apart. 

The Sea Ghost continued to circle back around to pick up Craig. Craig simply created a massive wave of water to pick him up and propel him towards the ship. The animated water deposited him onto the deck of the Sea Ghost. 

DM Note-
That was a really fun encounter! 

The Vengeful Tempest

Ship's Position: 70 miles out of Saltmarsh, 
10 miles east-southeast of Rawnis,
47 miles south of Gradsul.

That night the winds once more became calm and the Sea Ghost sat still in the placid sea. The moons of Oerth shone bright and full in the sky above.

Without warning, much as it had done the night before, a mysterious fog appeared around the ship. This fog, however, glowed with an evil orange hue and soon became a very hot humid miasma. 

Somewhere in the fog the crew heard the beating of massive drums. The crew was awakened and the C-Team took their positions on the deck. 

A dark shape appeared out of the fog 200 feet to stern. It was an ancient Suloisian design, painted black with the carved figurehead of a red dragon. Its tattered sails dangled uselessly from its yards. 

The 100 foot long black ship was crewed by 30 dark shadowy figures that appeared to be made of black fog or mist. On her deck were two hulking armored warriors wearing masks that resembled a porcelain doll's face and two humanoid creatures that appeared to be made of porcupine quills. Standing at the helm was a large beast made of gaunt bone with large insectile wings like those of a locust. The creature of bone wore a tricorn hat. 

It was the Vengeful Tempest!

To be Continued...

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