[1 Tarsakh 1372]
Morning comes with the group of shipwrecked adventurers camped outside the now burned-out tower, a former temple to the dead god Myrkul. The group begins the trek back to the beach, and arrive without incident. There, they inform Illanus of Borya’s death and discuss the best way to escape the island. The consensus is to build a large signal fire. While Rolen, Fargrim, and Tazi try to find enough edible plants to keep the group alive, Cain and Nakor begin chopping wooden planks out of the hull of one of the wrecked ships. The foragers and the wood-gatherers each have good luck, and soon a roaring fire is built on the beach. Yet no ship comes.
[2 Tarsakh 1372]
Another day passes as the one before, but the foraging party has little luck and the food supply is running low. Another signal fire is built, but no ship is in sight.
[3 Tarsakh 1372]
The party’s food supply is exhausted and things look grim. But late at night, a ship is spotted, its lanterns burning brightly over the darkened sea. The group rouses from their slumber to see that the ship has dispatched a longboat and it’s headed in their direction. As the longboat approaches, its obvious that several armed figures are aboard, aiming crossbows at those on shore. The leader of the armed men jumps down onto the beach and addresses Nakor, whom the group have named as their representative.
Nakor quickly takes stock of the stranger, and decides he’s the sort who would cut his mother’s throat for a silver piece. In order to keep the man, who identifies himself as First Mate Gristle, from ordering his men to attack, Nakor promises that if he is returned to civilization he’ll arrange a sizable award from his family in Sembia. Further, at Nakor’s signal, the other adventurers assume an intimidating posture, and it’s enough to keep Gristle hesitant. He decides to go along with Nakor’s proposal, at least for the time being, and orders everyone on board the longboat while his men go to quickly plunder the merchandise left aboard one of the wrecks.
On board the main vessel, The Woeful Tide, the group quickly realizes they’re on board a slave ship. Dozens of slaves are chained to the oars, while others, intended for sale, are chained to central posts below decks. A few square feet of rough wooden planks are set aside for the adventurers to make the most of.
[4 Tarsakh 1372]
Nakor bribes one of the crew to provide food for the group. Fargrim has an important conversation with the leader of the dwarf slaves, a kidnapped merchant courier from Fireshear named Grindlestone Threebeards. Threebeards says that with the newcomers’ help, the slaves could revolt and take control of the ship which is currently headed for Luskan. Fargrim seems sympathetic to his fellow dwarf’s plight, and decides to share the proposal with his companions. At first, some are reluctant, but the possibility of being able to loot the unseen and mysterious Captain Scummock’s cabin provides enough incentive for them to go along with the plan. Nakor tries to enlist the handful of elven slaves to join the revolt, but they refuse to communicate with him after the half-elven Rolen’s constant mockery of their plight. It is clear there is little love lost between the monk and elvenkind.
Soon, a multi-step plan is put into place. Careful observation shows that First Mate Gristle has a key-ring that presumably would unlock the slaves’ chains while another guard has a key to the storeroom. By questioning an inept spy put to watch them, the adventurers learn that the First Mate has a weakness for hard spirits. A fake fight is arranged, in which Fargrim is to cuff Rolen, who is supposed to fall into the guard with the key to the storeroom allowing for Nakor to steal the key from him. Fargrim goes through with his part of the plan, but Rolen is staggered by the punch and slips onto the deck without running into the guard, hurting his hand in the process. Nakor still manages to steal the storeroom key under the guise of needing help to get Rolen to his feet.
With key in hand, Nakor waits until night falls and most of the slaves and crew are asleep. He then sneaks up to the main deck, stealthily makes his way into the storeroom, and exits with several bottles of rum. He makes a loud noise when trying to lock the door after him, however, and one of the guards is alerted. Fortunately, Nakor convinces the man that Gristle sent him, and after a small bribe the guard is satisfied. Nakor’s task isn’t finished yet, however, as he then has to convince Gristle to start drinking when it’s become abundantly clear that it’s explicitly against the Captain’s orders for the crew to drink while at sea. The Sembian rogue’s persuasive powers prove up to the task, as he arranges with Gristle for the First Mate to “confiscate” the liquor from an illicit below-decks party. Within a few hours, Gristle is stunningly drunk and is an easy target for Nakor’s pickpocketing ability.
With the keys now in their possession, the adventurers decide to wait a couple of more hours to make sure everyone else is sound asleep before freeing the slaves and beginning a battle for control of The Woeful Tide. On their side is the element of surprise and small group of dwarves ready for a fight. Opposing them, however, is fifteen cut-throat pirates and slavers used to fighting tooth and nail . . . and the mysterious Captain Scummock, who still has not shown his face.
--------------------------------------------------------------------Director's Commentary (May 10, 2013)
Excellent role-playing in this session, and a good example of how a session can be a lot of fun and exciting even without any combat. Nakor's ability to bluff and manipulate is on full display here, and would lead to him being called "Silvertongue" as a nickname. After his player's departure several sessions from this point, the group eventually gets other rogues but none that have his same ability to flatter, wheedle, blackmail, and connive every NPC (and some PCs) he meets . . .
This was an enjoyable session for me because I got to put the pieces in place (a slave ship, a "rescue" boat, a mysterious captain) but with no idea how events will transpire. The intimidation of the long-boat party was the result of some extremely high rolls, and left the PCs in the unusual position of being passengers on board a ship full of slaves. It's not 100% clear to me exactly what motivated them to lead the uprising: I don't think it was necessarily out of concern for the plight of the slaves, but, in any event, they had a fun plan and managed to make it work despite some complications. Of course, the actual battle itself takes place in the following session, and that didn't turn out quite the way the PCs intended.
As for the mysterious Captain Scummock, it's enjoyable as a director to have some secrets from the players. I still hear speculation once in a while about who/what he was: undead, a beholder, a fake invoked by Gristle to keep the crew in line? I'll never tell, unless the PCs happen to find themselves back on the Sword Coast seeking revenge. . .