Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Interlude and a Feat

Today's post is another interlude, this time involving a press gang, along with a feat that can help the villains subdue the heroes--all for the sake of the story, of course.

To those who celebrate them, whatever they may be, happy holidays.


Interlude: The Press
Many a former landlubber has had his first taste of seafaring against his will, when a chance encounter one evening led to waking up the next morning as part of a ship's crew. Those unfortunates fell prey to a press gang, and through trickery or force found themselves living the life of a sailor.

This encounter is most likely to occur during a night in port. It could occur for any number of reasons, including the following.

*The PC's might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time, victims of circumstance. This could serve as the start of a new campaign, or perhaps as a major complication for an existing one.
In this way, the encounter could serve as the introduction to any number of sea voyages, including, possibly, some of the adventures detailed previously.
*On the other hand, they could be specifically targeted because of their abilities or because of past activities. This might happen based on their reputations alone, or perhaps because an old enemy seeks revenge by hiring someone to shanghai them.
*This might lead into other adventures, including the opportunity for the PC's to become familiar with their new fellow crew members, and perhaps to win the loyalty of these erstwhile associates and thus turn the tables on those who pressed them into service.
*In these ways, this situation could easily be woven into the events of an existing campaign, or could serve as the launching point for a new one.

The encounter itself, of course, requires that certain NPC's stage an attack against the PC's. Detailed below are a number of different characters from which the GM could choose, depending on circumstances.

The Lieutenant
This person is the chief representative of the captain in whose crew the newly impressed sailors will serve. For that reason, the lieutenant's appearance and personality could vary a great deal, from an imperious Royal Navy type to an unpredictable pirate, a privateer somewhere in between the two, or something else entirely.

Sea Dog 4/Sea Officer 1; CR 5; Size medium; HD 5d10-5; hp 27; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +5 (1d6+1, cutlass) or +6 (2d4, pistol); SQ Superstitious, Close Quarters +1, Favored Ship (varies), Mobility, Skill Expert +1 (Sense Motive); AL Varies; SV: Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +6; Str 12, Dex 14, Con 8, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 13.
Background: Pressed Man.
Skills: Knowledge (local) +8, Knowledge (navigation) +8, Knowledge (sea lore) +8, Listen +5, Profession (gunner) +5, Profession (sailor) +11, Sense Motive +12, Spot +11.
Feats: Dodge, Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot.
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Dueling jacket, cutlass, pistol.

The Crimp(s)
This individual is a fast-talking soul, quick to win a person's confidence before betraying the unfortunate.

Rogue 1; CR 1; Size medium; HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk -1 (1d6-1, club) or +2 (2d4, pistol); SQ Sneak Attack +1d6, Trapfinding; AL CN; SV: Fort +0, Ref +4, Will +1; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 15.
Background: Pressed Man.
Skills: Bluff +9, Disable Device +5, Disguise +8, Forgery +8, Gather Information +6, Hide +6, Knowledge (local) +6, Move Silently +6, Profession (gunner) +3, Profession (sailor) +3, Search +5, Sleight of Hand +6.
Feats: Deceitful, Skill Focus (Bluff).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Dueling jacket, club, pistol.

Rogue 3; CR 3; Size medium; HD 3d6; hp 13; Init +6 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 dueling jacket); Atk +1 (1d6-1, club) or +4 (2d4, pistol); SQ Sneak Attack +2d6, Trapfinding, Evasion, Trap Sense +1; AL CN; SV: Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +2; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 15.
Background: Pressed Man.
Skills: Bluff +11, Disable Device +7, Disguise +9, Forgery +9, Gather Information +8, Hide +8, Knowledge (local) +8, Move Silently +8, Profession (gunner) +3, Profession (sailor) +3, Search +7, Sleight of Hand +8.
Feats: Deceitful, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Bluff).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Dueling jacket, club, pistol.

The Thugs
These toughs are hired for their combat prowess—the ability to beat those who resist into submission. As such, they don't feel too strongly about the cause behind the ambush, and clever characters could exploit this lack of loyalty. In combat, the thugs tend to be nasty, brutish, and short of cleverness.

Fighter 1; CR 1; Size medium; HD 1d10+2; hp 12; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +4 (1d6+2, club) or +2 ranged; AL CN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Pressed Man.
Skills: Climb +6, Jump +6, Profession (gunner) +3, Profession (sailor) +3, Swim +6.
Feats: Power Attack, Versatile, Weapon Focus (Club).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, club.

Fighter 3; CR 3; Size medium; HD 3d10+6; hp 27; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +6 (1d6+2, club) or +4 ranged; AL CN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Pressed Man.
Skills: Climb +8, Jump +8, Profession (gunner) +3, Profession (sailor) +3, Swim +8.
Feats: Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack, Versatile, Weapon Focus (Club).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, club.

The last thing the press gang wants is a fair fight. As such, they exploit any possible means for gaining the upper hand in a situation. Usually the crimp is the first to approach the PC's, hoping to win their trust before the inevitable betrayal. He might buy a round of drinks or two. Indeed, one option is for him to purchase a lot of alcohol, using this to soften up the PC's before the attack. Refer to the rules in the article “Of Rum and Drunkenness” in Buccaneers & Bokor, issue 5, for more details about the debilitating effects of alcohol. The crimp himself, of course, sticks with watered-down beverages so that he is not so impeded. If the PC's are particularly tough individuals, the crimp could even poison their drinks in order to soften them up before striking.

For a twist on the above, these introductions could lead into the kinds of friendly tavern competitions described in a previous Interlude. That could provide the opportunity for the thugs to move into position, surrounding the PC's before attacking.

New Feat—Versatile
You are adept at using ordinary weapons to inflict nonlethal damage on opponents.
Prerequisites: Base attack bonus of +1 or higher.
Benefit: You suffer a -2 penalty when using normal weapons to inflict nonlethal damage.
Normal: You suffer a -4 penalty when using normal weapons to inflict nonlethal damage.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yet Two More Treasures

Today's post details two more treasures, one magical and one not. The first is based on an old folktale, while the second is inspired by a story almost more fantastic than the legend.


The Dead Man's Lantern
An old, old folktale tells of a man named Will, a very wicked fellow. The story has it he lived such a bad life that he was refused entrance to heaven upon his death. Because he had once tricked the devil himself, however, Will was also denied admittance to hell, and thus was forced to wander the earth as a spirit for all time. As a kind of recompense, however, the devil gave him a single coal from the fires of hell with which to light his way.

While this tale is usually dismissed as a fiction, those who have seen the dead man's lantern can wonder that it might be true. The lantern contains a single coal, one that has been burning for years without having anything added to fuel it. It functions with the effects of a continual flame spell, except that it gives off a steady supply of light and heat, just like an actual torch. The flame is enclosed in a bull's-eye lantern, however, making it more portable. This makes it a highly valuable asset, albeit one that must be handled with care—for at least two reasons. First of these is the risk of fire that is always a worry aboard a ship; second is the possibility that, if the folktale is true, one of the previous owners might come looking to reclaim the lantern.

The Sailing Charts of Zheng He
The Chinese admiral Zheng He was born in 1371 and lived during the Ming Dynasty. He was a skilled sailor and navigator, rising to the position of commanding a legendary treasure fleet. This group of ships, of unprecedented size—some of the vessels are described as having nine masts and four decks, capable of holding five hundred passengers or more—visited such places as southeast Asia, India, Arabia and eastern Africa. It carried out missions of trade and diplomacy, bringing many valuable cargoes back to China. Some even speculate that his ships travelled beyond the Cape of Good Hope, venturing into the Atlantic Ocean beyond it. Evidence for this assertion comes from a tablet he had inscribed with a cryptic clue:

“We have traversed more than 100,000 li (50,000 kilometers or 30,000 miles) of immense water spaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors...”

Just what those locations might have been remains open to speculation. Some maintain that ships from the admiral's fleet might even have reached the New World, perhaps even places not yet discovered. The admiral did not survive his seventh and final voyage, and was buried at sea. Some of the information form his charts was depicted in a book called the Wubei Zhi, but rumors persist of other charts that were kept secret upon the captain's death, ones that depict even more far-flung locations.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two More Nautical Treasures

Today's post details two more magical items, ones based on the sea witch class that I created for Buccaneers & Bokor issue 7. (As a cheap plug, those who are interested can find it for sale on and similar websites.) The first of these items is an important tool, while the second could be the object of a series of adventures.


Wind Cord
There are times when the career of a pirate can be made or broken based on just the capricious nature of the wind. The doldrums can leave a ship stranded; worse yet, a storm might trap a vessel in the harbor, or even send it to the bottom of the sea. This has raised all kinds of superstitions, especially those having to do with mysterious women who can command the winds themselves—the sea witches.

The first ritual learned by a seq witch is tying the wind cord, imbuing it with the power to conjure up a breeze or a gale. It is usually made from a piece of ribbon or rope, with three knots tied into it. In game terms, untying the knots unleashes winds of increasing power: first moderate, then severe, and finally with the force of a hurricane. Each ribbon can be used up to three times, once for each knot.

Ship Model
Amongst the sea witches, the second ritual learned is the crafting of a ship model, a crude representation of a specific vessel. Sometimes it is marked, painted or inscribed with the name of the ship in question; at other times, there is no indication of the one it represents. The person who controls the model can cast a control weather spell which affects only the depicted craft, to a radius (and with other effects) as indicated by the spell.

These items could of course be quite valuable; this is especially the case when it comes to models of renowned vessels. For example, a model depicting Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley, the Queen Anne's Revenge commanded by Blackbeard, or even the legendary Flying Dutchman could become a prize that many would go to great lengths to acquire.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Interlude--The Pygmies

Today's post is an encounter with advanced pygmies, one that can be a mere diversion or an outright danger for the PC's.


Interlude: The Pygmies
It's a difficult thing, provisioning a voyage by sea. For one thing, limited space prevents a captain from stocking as much food an water as a crew would like to have. For another, the vagaries of traveling time make it nearly impossible to predict just how long a journey will last. Even worse, the risk that water might go foul, or food might spoil or become infested with vermin, is always a danger. For all of these reasons and more, it often becomes necessary to stop on remote island and restock the provision aboard a vessel.

Even these remote landings are not without their own hazards, however. Seemingly deserted island can be home to wild animals or—what is worse—hostile native tribes. Detailed here is one such encounter with a band of pygmies, one that could be an irritating distraction or an outright threat to the party's survival, depending on circumstances and the needs of the game.

For the most part, use the sample stats given for pygmies in the Skull & Bones rulebook. To increase the danger for more experience characters, however, a couple of more advanced characters are presented below.

Pygmy Battle Leader
Ranger 3; CR 3; Size small; HD 3d10+9; hp 30; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 20 ft.; AC 14 (+1 size, +3 Dex); Atk +3 (1d4, small shortspear) or +6 (1d4, small shortbow); AL N; SV: Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +1; Str 11, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Climb +6, Hide +9, Move Silently +9, Survival +6.
Feats: Ambush, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Track.
Fortunes: None.
Special Qualities: Favored enemy (humans), wild empathy.
Equipment: Short bow, quiver of arrows, short spear, knife, vial of poison.

Pygmy Battle Leader (Advanced)
Ranger 5; CR 5; Size small; HD 5d10+15; hp 47; Init +4 (+4 Dex); Spd 20 ft.; AC 15 (+1 size, +4 Dex); Atk +5 (1d4, small shortspear) or +9 (1d4, small shortbow); AL N; SV: Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +1; Str 11, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Climb +8, Hide +12, Move Silently +12, Survival +8.
Feats: Ambush, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Track.
Fortunes: None.
Special Qualities: Animal companion, endurance, favored enemies (humans, hairy wild men), wild empathy.
Equipment: Short bow, quiver of arrows, short spear, knife, flask of poison.

The advanced leader should also have an animal companion; a wild (riding) dog is perhaps the best fit, but other types of creatures could work as well. The whole party of pygmies could be outfitted with any number of poisons; this list contains just a few of the possible options.

Animal and Poison
Centipede—DC 10 or 11; damage 1 Dex, initial and secondary
Snake—DC 10 or 11; damage 1d6 Con initial and secondary
Spider—DC 10; damage 1d2 Str initial and secondary

Tactics are important here to make for a challenging encounter. The pygmies should use surprise whenever possible, attacking from covering and using movement to their advantage. Some might even climb up into trees, sniping from high ground where it is difficult for characters with melee weapons to reach them. At the GM's discretion they might even use more advanced tactics, such as dropping nets onto characters and the like.

This encounter could develop in a number of ways. Depending on how the PC's handle it, they might overwhelm their enemies or be forced to flee. In the prior case, they might set out to find the pygmy village. That, in turn, could bring discoveries that lead to other adventures, such as finding a long-lost party of travelers who possess a map or some other kind of secret.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Feat for Onijegi Characters

Today's entry is a new feat that allows onijegi and similar merfolk to be used as Player Characters.


By Land or by Sea
You are one of the rare type of onijegi who can alter her form, from having a fish-like lower body to having actual legs.
Prerequisites: You must be an onijegi or other type of merfolk.
Benefit: Once per day per character level, you can change your form.
Normal: You cannot change your form.
Special: Changing form takes a full minute, and requires at least a gallon of freshwater (for changing to legs) or saltwater (for reverting to a tail) with which to wash the desired area.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interlude--The Articles

This article describes the articles use aboard pirate ships, along with ways that they can be used to create roleplaying opportunities in a game.


Interlude: The Articles
Amongst pirates, it's common practice, before setting sail on a cruise, to write up the ship's Articles and have all of the crew members sign them. They serve both as a business contract, detailing how many shares each person should receive after successful action, and as the rules by which all operate while at sea.
In this way, the Articles can be used to create a number of good roleplaying opportunities. One such is the initial negotiations, with different characters bargaining for their proper number of shares. This can include the PC's as well as any NPC's with special abilities, such as a carpenter, surgeon or musician. The GM might bring a prepared list if the PC's are not in charge of the vessel, or the players could devise their own before signing them.

Another possibility is when infractions of the rules occur. There might be temptations for the PC's, such as the chance to do some prohibited gambling. Any female PC who lives in the guise of a man would be in violation, as would those who know her secret but choose to keep it. In a similar manner, the PC's might, as part of their loot, find an item of value that they need to keep hidden from a vicious captain or other untrustworthy crew members. Said rivals could make unobtrusive attacks, while direct retaliation is forbidden. Any violations of the rules, if discovered, could lead to punishment such as flogging or worse.

Sample Ship's Articles
Detailed below are the articles used aboard a ship commanded by the notorious Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts.

Article I - Every man shall have an equal vote in affairs of moment. He shall have an equal title to the fresh provisions or strong liquors at any time seized, and shall use them at pleasure unless a scarcity may make it necessary for the common good that a retrenchment may be voted.

Article II - Every man shall be called fairly in turn by the list on board of prizes, 
because over and above their proper share, they are allowed a shift of clothes. But if they defraud the company to the value of even one dollar in plate, jewels or money, they shall be marooned. If any man rob another he shall have his nose and ears slit, and be put ashore where he shall be sure to encounter hardships.

Article III - None shall game for money either with dice or cards.

Article IV - The lights and candles should be put out at eight at night, and if any of the crew desire to drink after that hour they shall sit upon the open deck without lights.

Article V - Each man shall keep his piece, cutlass and pistols at all times clean and ready for action.

Article VI - No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex and carrying her to sea in disguise he shall suffer death.

Article VII - He that shall desert the ship or his quarters in time of battle shall be punished by death or marooning.

Article VIII - None shall strike another on board the ship, but every man's quarrel shall be ended on shore by sword or pistol in this manner. At the word of command from the quartermaster, each man being previously placed back to back, shall turn and fire immediately. If any man do not, the quartermaster shall knock the piece out of his hand. If both miss their aim they shall take to their cutlasses, and he that draweth first blood shall be declared the victor.

Article IX - No man shall talk of breaking up their way of living till each has a share of l,000. Every man who shall become a cripple or lose a limb in the service shall have 800 pieces of eight from the common stock and for lesser hurts proportionately.

Article X - The captain and the quartermaster shall each receive two shares of a prize, the master gunner and boatswain, one and one half shares, all other officers one and one quarter, and private gentlemen of fortune one share each.

Article XI - The musicians shall have rest on the Sabbath Day only by right. On all other days by favour only.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Into the Shadows

At long last, here is the next scenario in the series.


Into the Shadows
This scenario is Part 8 of the Come Hell and High Water campaign, an adventure series for the Skull & Bones historical setting, for use with the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game version 3.5. It is intended for a party of fifth-level characters. Although it is intended as part of an ongoing collection of scenarios, it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure.

There's trouble brewing in the New World, of a kind not seen since the Old World almost four centuries ago.

It all harkens back to the fateful hours before Friday, 13 October 1307. That was when Pope Clement V and King Philip IV of France conspired to destroy the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon—the Knights Templar. The Pope branded them heretics and traitors, and thus the king called for all members of that organization to be arrested. Secret orders were sent out in the middle of the night, to be enacted the next morning. In a well coordinated and sweeping initiative, most of the knights were caught and imprisoned. Over the next weeks, months and years they stood trial for their alleged crimes, and many were executed. This legal action was not entirely successful, however. Someone must have leaked word to the Templar fleet lying in harbor in La Rochelle, for it managed to disappear. Aboard it, rumors claim, was a treasure worth hundreds of thousands of gold coins.

In the years since the destruction of the Order, many have speculated about what the real motives behind the action might have been. Some claim that the Pope and King were just greedy and jealous of the knights' power, and sought the Templars' wealth and influence for themselves. In truth, however, the allegations were justified. A core group of the knights had begun to practice diablerie, having acquired the legendary Clavicula Salmonis during excavations beneath the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. They sought to increase their power by making deals with demons and devils, and that was why the Philip and Clement ordered their arrest.

The threat that this group presented, while diminished, is not truly ended. Recently a group of explorers, possibly including the PC's, discovered the derelict vessel L'Etoile stuck in a drifting iceberg far to the north. There they encountered and unwittingly released the spirit of one of the knights, Jean de Montsegur (refer to the events of “Beyond the Pale”). Although they defeated the apparition, it was only a temporary victory. In this way the ghost was able to follow the explorers back to the Caribbean, where it sought out a new host. For a time it possessed the English scholar and spy Edward Chapman, and thus came into contact with Mabhena the bokor. Controlling one and leading the other, Jean's spirit was able to visit a lost shrine on the mainland, one dedicated to the worship of Mayan demons (refer to “Diabolical”).

Armed with new knowledge from these sources, the ghostly knight is nearly ready to resurrect his order and call it back to battle. Montsegur's plan is to use vodoun to resurrect his comrades who were lost at sea. Instead of divine hosts to occupy their bodies, however, it will be demons who do so. Thus he will raise an army of fiendish undead to do his evil bidding. To make this happen, however, he still requires one item—the dedicated compass—but through investigation he knows where to find it, and he's found a person who can unwittingly help him in doing so.

The compass that Jean requires lies buried in the slave cavern beneath Cape Coast Castle. There it was hidden some years ago, when the fortress was still owned by the Swedish. This was in the aftermath of the Thirty Years' War, just as the Danes were seizing control of the place from Sweden. A Swedish soldier hid it there, hoping to be able to retrieve it later, but was killed before having the chance to do so. His secret survived him, however, passed on by an African acquaintance. Over the years it has been passed from person to person, and now has reached the Maroon pirate Captain Nneka. This buccaneer is more interested in liberating his fellows, but still knows the value of the item. He has also, sadly, been possessed by the spirit of Jean de Montsegur, who seeks the compass to complete his own plot.

This adventure can begin for the heroes in a number of different ways, depending on their history with Nneka.

Should they never have met him before, the Maroon might approach them in a tavern or a similar place of rest and relaxation for them. In this case he has learned of them by reputation, by hearing tales of their previous deeds. (Hopefully there is at least one such good story for him to have heard in this manner; if the PC's are generally wicked sorts, Nneka would have to be pretty desperate in order to recruit their likes for such a mission.) He approaches them in a very businesslike manner, negotiating shares for the cruise in the traditional pirate manner.

On the other hand, if the PC's have participated in the events of “Reprisal,” “Out of the Darkness,” “Trial by Fire” or “Diabolical,” then the Maroon is already familiar with them. In that case he is much less formal, buying a round of drinks to celebrate past victories before proposing new business. He mentions the following details.
*Over the past many months he has been developing a network of spies, informants who watch for the opportunity to help slaves escape their bondage.
*Recently one of his agents learned the itinerary of a large slave ship, the Redoubtable, that is due into the Caribbean in the next few days.
*This vessel is known to make runs to the English slave market at Cape Coast Castle.
*What is more, he's learned a rumor of a valuable magical item buried there, the dedicated compass.
*According to legends, that compass can be used to help people find any item that they seek.
*His information says that the item “is hidden beneath fiery words, in a place akin to Hell itself.” He is not sure just what those words could mean.
Once he's told his story, Nneka makes his offer. He'd like to recruit the PC's to provide a second vessel for attacking the Redoubtable and freeing its human cargo. If that effort is successful, he would then like for them to accompany him on a voyage to Africa, to raid Cape Coast Castle, free the slaves there and claim the buried treasure.

As far as payment goes, Nneka insists that all slaves be freed; in this he is adamant. Beyond that, he'd like to split the value of all gold, silver or jewels taken. In trade, however, he offers to let the PC's keep the Redoubtable, providing them with a larger vessel than what they currently claim. He is willing to negotiate the latter parts of the deal, but not the first. If he and the PC's can come to an agreement, all can begin to prepare for the upcoming cruise.

Encounter 1—Plotting and Preparing
This business can take as long as the players want. Some might like to pore over the details of cargo and equipment aboard their vessel, while others could prefer to move more quickly on to the action. However they prefer, they should provide for at least some of the following items.
*Figure out the number of people to be transported, times the number of days for provisioning, and do this for each direction of passage; every six people-days cost one piece of eight
*Buy any necessary weapons, with an emphasis on swivel guns or cannon loaded with chain shot so that the slaver can be taken without risk of sinking it
Although this kind of bookkeeping might be tedious for some players, spending a little time on it at the outset can keep them more accountable if something goes wrong later in the scenario. Considering that it takes thirty or forty days to cross the Atlantic, the PC's shouldn't undertake this passage lightly.

Once they've made the necessary arrangements, the PC's, along with Nneka, can go in search of the Redoubtable. Of course, they may need to make similar preparations again if they succeed with the first part of their plan.

Encounter 2—Battle at Sea
According to Nneka's informant, the slaver is due to approach the Caribbean by way of the Virgin Islands. His plan, then, is to lie in wait near those islands, and then to strike when the opportunity arises. To that end, characters with good Search or Spot checks can take to the crow's nests, aboard his ship—the Liberty—or the party's. The Redoubtable arrives just before evening on the second day of lying in wait. The downtime could provide opportunity for roleplaying interactions, or the GM and players could move past that to the battle.

Giving Chase
Once the slaver arrives, the PC's and Maroons can approach it with a couple of different strategies. One option is simply to give chase, in which case the opening distance should be determined as per the rules in the Skull & Bones or Corsair books. After that, the respective captains/sailing masters/pilots should all make Profession: sailor checks. Each time the PC's and/or Nneka beat the Redoubtable's result, they gain half a mile on that ship. Given that they are probably using vessels that are smaller, faster and more maneuverable than the slaver, this chase shouldn't take long. At the GM's discretion, the PC's or their allies might gain bonuses to their checks by using spells or magical items appropriate to the situation.

A Ruse
Another option, however, is for the PC's and/or Nneka to lie in wait, pretending to be a friendly ship or even a vessel in distress. In that case the slaver approaches to withing hailing distance, a hundred yards away. One of its crew calls out to the other ship, at which point some Bluff checks opposed to Sense Motive efforts are needed to see if the crew of the Redoubtable is fooled. This is likely to require a fair amount of adjudication on the part of the GM, but could give more party members a chance to show off their talents.

Ship-to-Ship Combat
Once the battle is joined, it should provide plenty of action. As mentioned above, Nneka has advised using means that won't risk sinking the Redoubtable and thus drowning the slaves. The slavers have no such compunctions, however, and fire away in hopes of incapacitating their enemies with their swivel guns. They are not so zealous as to throw away their lives just to protect their cargo, however; once more than half of their number is incapacitated, they throw down arms and surrender.

After the smoke has settled and the PC's have tended to their casualties, they can decide how to proceed. Many of the slaves are eager to join up with Nneka and his allies, and could be used to replace crew members lost in the fighting. The others can be taken to Jamaica, where the Maroons arrange for them to join up with their village. At this point the characters can rest and recuperate, and then resupply for the second part of the plan.

At this point, the characters should also make some decisions about just how they're going to liberate hundreds of slaves from a mainland fortress. For one thing, there are not sufficient docking facilities at Cape Coast Castle to land the slave ship. Instead, the ship's boat must be used to ferry passengers and slaves to the shore. One option here is for the slaver to carry numerous piraguas (canoe-like craft) that can be secretly put into the water on the seaward side of a ship at anchor, then rushed into position when the time is right. There is also the matter of having a cover story ready in case the locals ask difficult questions. As always, it is never possible to anticipate all of the intrigues that the players might devise, so a fair amount of adjudication is likely to be needed.

Encounter 3—Crossing the Atlantic
Here again, this part of the adventure can be as uneventful or as filled with difficulties as fits the desires of the GM and players. A few of the possible events are detailed below.

The Mutineer
This adventure, and the campaign of which it is a part, assumes that the PC's are scoundrels with hearts of gold—that they fight the good fight rather than just looking out for their own self-interests. (Should that not be the case, this event might need some adaptation by the GM.) Not all pirates are such upstanding citizens, however. This includes one member of the party's crew, a fellow who doesn't like doing “charity work” by helping Nneka free slaves. After all, in his opinion, the slaves are “a valuable commodity” and should be sold for profit instead of “just being thrown away.” He starts his grumbling amongst the lower-ranking members of the crew, and more than a few souls agree with him. As the objections of this mercenary minority begins to mount, the PC's must deal with it.

The rules for Sway in the Skull & Bones book provide a good means for dealing with these cutthroats. This situation could also make for some dramatic roleplaying, however, and might even erupt into physical conflict between the PC's and the mutineers. After all, a good show of force helps to remind the scurvier dogs amongst the crew of just who call the shots aboard this vessel.

The Doldrums
This event could occur in conjunction with or separately from the one detailed above. At some point during the voyage the wind fails, leaving the ships drifting on the open sea. If the PC's have access to appropriate magic—especially if one of them is a sea witch or if they possess items such as wind cords—they can deal with the problem in a quick and easy manner. If not, then they're in bigger trouble.

At the GM's discretion, this event could be used to create some real hardship for the crew, or to add complications once they reach their destination. After all, the supplies they carry might not be adequate for a prolonged time, and the PC's might be forced to institute rationing. This could lead to additional drama, or even begin to affect the fighting prowess of the crew if they become hungry or dehydrated.

For a change of pace, the ship or ships might encounter a band of sirens, perhaps on one of the rocky outcroppings amidst the Cape Verde islands. They use their captivating song to lure victims toward a rocky demise, and it is up to the PC's to devise a means of avoiding it.

This encounter could even lead into others, such as the Interlude “The Wreck.” After all, the sirens are likely to have encountered other vessels before this one, and the remains of those unfortunates could contain items of value worth salvaging.

The crossing of the Atlantic is also a chance for characters to test their navigational prowess; after all, if they can't plot the correct course, the PC's could find themselves far away from their intended destination. Finding the right way requires a series of DC 18 Knowledge: navigation checks. Refer to the appropriate section in the Skull & Bones book for further details regarding navigation while traveling.

After a suitable amount of time has passed (at least thirty days at sea), those who are in a position to do so can make Spot or Search checks; the highest result is first to notice land.

Encounter 4—Entering Cape Coast Castle
Once the PC's arrive at their destination, refer to the map and area descriptions in the article on Cape Coast Castle for details to support the following events.

Making Contact
Upon arrival, the PC's and their allies see an imposing sight. Cape Coast Castle stands with walls of stone and the barrels of numerous cannon pointing out toward the sea. This should remind them just how difficult the task is that they face. With that, the castle fires one of its guns (powder only, of course) as a welcoming salute, and then a party comes to the shore to await the ship's boat and its ranking officers. Whatever has been done with the other Maroons, Nneka insists on joining the PC's in this endeavor. Given the circumstances, of course, he is willing to play the part of a slave.

Now is the time for fast-talking PC's to shine. The party is met at the shore by a lieutenant and a squad of eight soldiers. In theory this is a show of respect, but it is also intended to circumvent any possible trouble. The lieutenant introduces himself as Maxwell Higgins, then allows for the PC's to introduce themselves. He also inquires into the nature of their business. Moreover, since he knows Captain Hodges pretty well, he is curious to know why that individual or his first mate, Mister Newman, is not present. This should require a Bluff attempt opposed to the lieutenant's Sense Motive check, with a bonus or penalty based on roleplaying.

As long as the PC's can talk their way past this initial reception, they are invited into the castle. Assuming that they are claiming to be in the market for slaves, they are shown into the castle through the main gate (Area 1), the spur (Area 2) and the tower (Area 3) to a private apartment (Area 10). There they have a little time to refresh themselves before meeting with one of the castle's merchants. This is one of the few times when they are without escort and can thus make plans for further activity.

Down to Business
Normally, prospective buyers wait out in Greenhill Pointe to inspect slaves who are brought up from the dungeons below. If the PC's wish to gain access, however, a suitable argument (and another Bluff check opposed to the merchant's Sense Motive effort) can create an exception. This allows the PC's to take a look around the place and gain a better idea of how to proceed. It should also be a difficult experience for Nneka and the PC's, given the amount of human misery to be found here.

Amidst all of this is the small matter of the magical item buried here. As mentioned above, the PC's have one clue as to the whereabouts of the compass—It “is hidden beneath fiery words, in a place akin to Hell itself.” As long as they can reach the dungeon, they can see that it is covered with all kinds of graffiti; refer to Appendix 2 for a list of examples.

In addition to this business, the PC's would do well to take a close look at the fort's defensive structures and personnel; this information could be vital as they plan how to proceed.

Encounter 5—Finding the Lay of the Land
The GM and players can handle this business in a number of ways. Some groups might like to roleplay this activity, with characters moving around and interacting with the NPC's involved, while others might prefer to make some skill checks to gain the desired information. However everyone chooses to proceed, a few of the crucial details are mentioned below.

Various squads, consisting of eight soldiers and a sergeant, are stationed throughout the place. One is posted at the main gateway (Area 1), and another at the tower (Area 3). Two more are stationed in the towers (Area 7), with a fifth along the wall facing the shore (Area 13). All of these groups move to seal the place against intruders—insider or outside—should they be discovered. Another squad is usually posted around the dungeons (Area 19). At the same time, a similar number of troops are off duty, usually in the barracks (Areas 6) or the mess (Area 4).

At the same time, characters who are looking to reduce the enemy's firepower would do well to consider the cannon emplacements (Area 13) and the armor (Area 14). Options here might include tunneling into the armory and setting off a massive explosion (but only once the slaves are freed from the dungeon), pouring water into the cannon do delay their firing, replacing powder charges with ones containing floor or sand, and the like.

As always, of course, it's never possible to anticipate all of the stratagems that the players might devise. These inspirations might include any of the following possibilities: obtaining uniforms and impersonating new recruits; taking a hostage to use as a human shield; staging some kind of distraction; incapacitating the soldiers through strong drink; and more. Here again, a fair amount of GM adjudication is likely to be necessary.

Added Complications
A GM who is feeling creative (or vindictive) might choose to add encounters to this part of the adventure. One possibility is to bring back a familiar but unfriendly face, one that the PC's are not pleased to see here. For example, characters who participated in the events of “Reprisal” or “Diabolical” might run into Sergeant Burns or Captain Henderson, either (or both) of whom could have been transferred to the fort as punishment for previous failures.

Another possibility is to have another ship show up in harbor, this one filled with a new batch of military recruits. In such a case the GM could use the deck plans for the slave ship from “Out of the Darkness,” but have it carrying a contingent of forty soldiers, five sergeants and a lieutenant. This vessel could reinforce the personnel in the castle, or give chase as the PC's are trying to make their getaway.

Time for Action
Once they've had a chance to look around the place, the PC's should be able to finish their planning. However they choose to proceed, continue with the next section, below.

Encounter 6—Making an Escape
As mentioned above, there are any number of ways in which this scene could develop. By and large, however, it should play out as a running battle instead of a stand-up-fight. The sheer carnage that would be required to defeat every soldier occupying the fortress would probably become tedious, not to much that it would be a gruesome display of bloodletting.

Instead, the PC's would do well to take their shots but keep on moving. It is necessary, of course, that they free the slaves and move them aboard the ship. Unless they're actually willing to pony up the cash to do so, they'll likely need to rely on some chicanery followed by the use of force. In this way the PC's should face legitimate danger, but should also be given the benefit of the doubt if they can think of creative tactics to use.

Homeward Bound
Depending on time and preferences, the PC's could be scot free once they set sail, or they might face other difficulties on the return voyage. These might include any of the events detailed above, complicated now by the addition of dozens of hungry mouths as passengers aboard the ship.

If they are successful, the PC's can score a major coup. Not only do they acquire a much larger vessel; they also bolster a valuable ally and increase their own notoriety. They should receive enough experience points to advance halfway through a level (to sixth, if this is part of the Come Hell and High Water campaign), and a point of Fame for succeeding in the raid.

Further Adventures
The action need not stop here, however. A number of the elements in this scenario could be adapted into new plots; a few of the possibilities are detailed below.
*The dedicated compass, if the PC's obtained, can indeed be used to seek out any item desired by the one who uses it, provided that a suitably connected item can be found. In addition to leading to any number of pursuits, this item could also bring on jealous others who wish to obtain it.
8There is also the matter of retribution on the part of those who inhabit Cape Coast Castle. They might post bounties for the PC's and Nneka, or even send soldiers or spies looking to bring them to justice.
*As mentioned above, a wreck near the sirens' islet could also contain a link to a further adventure.
*Finally, there is also the matter of the possessed Nneka. To allow the PC's a sense of unblemished victory, it is best to save his next move for another time.

Appendix 1—Dramatis Personae

The Ghost of Jean de Montsegur
Cleric 4/Fighter 4; Medium incorporeal undead; CR 10; HD 8d12; hp 51; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 30 ft., fly 30 ft.; AC 16 or 20 (+6 armor; +4 Charisma bonus when manifesting); Atk +12/+7 (1d8+6, longsword +2) or +7/+2 (ranged); SQ Ghost abilities, spells; AL LE; SV: Fort +12, Ref +2, Will +9; Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 18.
Background: Religious.
Skills: Concentration +13, Hide +8, Knowledge (religion) +11, Listen +10, Search +8, Spot +10.
Feats: Cleave, Combat Casting, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: none.

At one time, Jean de Montsegur was a Knight of the Order of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. As a Templar he fought in the crusades and travelled the Holy Land, learning occult secrets from many sources. It was this knowledge that eventually led to his downfall, when he came into possession of the Clavicula Salomonis. At first he believed that he could harness its power as a weapon against the enemies of the Catholic Church, but soon he was using it for his own gain. When the Pope and King disbanded his order and called for its members to be arrested, he fled with the rest of the fleet. They made it as far as the mainland of North America, but hostile natives and an unforgiving climate eventually led to their demise.

Such was the knight's obsession, however, that his spirit could not rest.

Maroons (and Slaves)
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +3 (2d6, short musket) or +2 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

These warriors are gathered from many different tribes and places, but all are dedicated to Nneka and his vision of freeing others from bondage.

Ranger 6; CR 5; Size medium; HD 6d10+12; hp 50; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +9/+4 (2d6, short musket) or +8/+3 (1d6+2, buccaneer knife); AL CN; SV: Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +4; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Native.
Skills: Heal +7, Hide +14, Listen +11, Move Silently +14, Spot +11, Survival +11, Swim +11, Use Rope +12.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Endurance, Far Shot, Manyshot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Stealthy, Track, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: Doll’s Eyes.
Equipment: Short musket, buccaneer knife, backpack.

Nneka is one with the wilderness, a warrior who can appear from the jungle to strike and then disappear just as quickly. At times when he can pause from his duty to his people, however, he is a downright jovial soul who enjoys the simple pleasures of life. His avowed purpose is to liberate as many of his people as possible from life as slaves.

Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6+2, belaying pin or gaff hook) or +2 (ranged); SQ details; AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Seaman.
Skills: Climb +6, Knowledge (sea lore) +3, Profession (sailor) +5.
Feats: Power Attack, Seagoing.
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Sailor's clothing, gaff hook or belaying pin, miscellaneous possessions.

Slaver Captain
Expert 5; CR 4; Size medium; HD 5d6+5; hp 25; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6, cutlass) or +2 (2d6, pistol); SQ details; AL LN; SV: Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 14.
Background: Seaman.
Skills: Appraise +9, Climb +4, Diplomacy +10, Knowledge (navigation) +9, Knowledge (sea lore) +9, Listen +13, Profession (sailor) +14, Sense Motive +11, Spot +13, Survival +11.
Feats: Alertness, Seagoing, Skill Focus (Profession: sailor).
Fortunes: Been-Round, True Thomas.
Equipment: Sailor's clothing, cutlass, pair of pistols, logbook, pouch with 100 poe, pipe and tobacco.

(Refer to the article about Cape Coast Castle regarding statistics for characters to be found there.)

Appendix 2—Graffiti
Detailed here are examples of the graffiti written on the walls of the dungeon beneath Cape Coast Castle. At the GM's discretion, it might work best to make a copy of these and then cut them up as handouts for the players to peruse.

Nneka was here.

Long live the King!

Death to the King!

God save the Queen!

Abandon hope all ye who enter here!

Home sweet home.

Samuel loves Seymour.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Interlude--The Competition

Today's post is another interlude, a bit of action that can be dropped into the middle of another scenario or perhaps used as a springboard to further activity. The next adventure, "Into the Shadows," is progressing nicely and hopefully will be completed by the end of the month.


Interlude: The Competition
Sooner or later, the PC's in a pirate-themed RPG campaign are bound to end up (or start off) in a tavern. While this is usually just the backdrop for other adventure-related activities, it can also be an opportunity for a little entertainment. Alternately, some of these activities could also be used to kill some time during a voyage at sea. These moments can provide chances for characters to use their abilities in non-combat situations, albeit ones that can be just as entertaining as the fiercest fight.

Detailed below are some ideas for how to incorporate such contests and competitions into a session.

Drinking Contests
For more detailed information about the potencies of various beverages and their effects on drinkers, refer to the article “Of Rum and Drunkenness” in Issue 5 of the Buccaneers & Bokor e-zine. These guidelines use a modified version of the rules from that article.

Essentially, each time the characters take a drink, they must make Fortitude saves. The DC's for these vary from 10, for ale or rum punch, to 14 for straight rum. Characters begin as sober; the first failure leaves them lit, and the second makes them thoroughly drunk. A third failure causes characters to fall unconscious. In this way, all characters should proceed with one drink at a time until only one is left standing.

Use the rules for Grapple attacks to resolve a wrestling match. The two combatants, after a bit of circling, should roll for initiative. At that point one can strike, attempting a melee attack. Success allows that character to attempt a grapple, making an opposed check with the enemy. Failure gives the initiative to the other combatant.

Once the grapple is established, the opponent must break it or continue to suffer. The character in control, on the other hand, can choose to damage an opponent or attempt a pin. This process continues until one character wins. Before the match the combatants should decide what condition constitutes a victory, such as being pinned, being reduced to unconsciousness or something else.

Refer to the lists of pregenerated characters provided on this blog for some possible opponents. Another option, of course, is to work in named NPC's, ones who could become ongoing rivals for the characters. For a twist, an NPC could even bring in a wild animal against which to wrestle.

Knife Throwing
To start this activity, someone hangs a target on one wall, then chooses a distance for throwers to stand away from it. Each of the three rings on the target has a different AC—15 for the first, 20 for the second, 25 for the third and 30 for the bull's eye. The different rings are worth one to four points, respectively. Characters throw three knives per round, for a set number of rounds; the victor is the one who scores the highest number of points.

For a fun variation on this, especially once a little rum is involved, the characters could try pistol or musket shooting. In this case, five empty bottles are lined up on a table; characters fire at their AC of 13, modified by range. The one who hits the most of them wins.

If any of the characters is a shantyman, or otherwise trained in the Perform skill, another option is to stage a contest of playing and/or singing songs. This can be conducted through skill checks, perhaps for one to three performances. In addition to dice rolling, however, this could give players who enjoy it a chance to do some roleplaying. There are numerous appropriate songs that one might sing; the two-CD anthology Rogue's Gallery, or a bit of online research, can provide many good examples.

Finally, enterprising characters might be able to turn a tidy profit if they can convince other characters to wager against them on the competitions, at the GM's discretion.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Medallion of Saint Elmo

Here's another new magical item, based on ones actually carried by mariners.


Medallion of Saint Elmo
More than a few sailors braving the waters of the earth carry some sort of lucky charm; a common one is the medallion of Saint Elmo. Most of these are no more effective than belief can make them, but others have actual benefits. According to legend, these ones are made from lead taken from the very mauls with which Saint Elmo was beaten. Indeed, even more powerful ones are believed to contain one of the saint's teeth, which were removed as part of the tortures that he suffered.
The lesser version of this item provides the effects of a resist energy spell with a caster level of 3; the greater one gives the benefits of a protection from energy spell with a caster level of 5. Both function against electricity and fire only.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Magical Item--The Dedicated Compass

This post comes after too long of a delay. It's been a busy couple of months, with Gen Con and other summer activities, followed by the beginning of a new school year. I'm still working on the next adventure in the series, but for the meanwhile I have a new magical item.


Dedicated Compass
Compared to ordinary devices of its nature, this item seems grossly oversized. It is six inches in diameter, and about two in thickness. This is due to the fact that its needle is actually hollow, with a small cap on the blunt end that can be opened and closed as necessary. The dedicated compass can be used to point the way toward any person, location or item desired, as long as something connected to the desired target is placed inside the needle. For example, sand from a lost island, a lock of hair from a person or a small scrap of parchment from an ancient map could all serve the purpose. Once that is done, the compass points unerringly toward said target.
According to legend, this item was built by a Swiss watchmaker who studied the occult arts and was rumored to have made some diabolical deal for it to work. Whether that is true or just a bit of superstition is, of course, not known for certain. Its efficacy, however, is undoubted.
Naturally, this function makes the dedicated compass a highly desired item. Many have been the plots and double-crosses undertaken in order to acquire it, and when possessed it is guarded with the utmost effort. As such it could become an important prize in an adventure, the key to finding something, somewhere or someone of even greater importance.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doing Things a Little Differently

Detailed here are six new feats for use with any D20 System game.


New Feats

Force of Personality
This character has such a strong personality that she becomes more resistant to magic and other mental influences.
Benefit: The hero applies her Charisma modifier rather than her Wisdom modifier to her Will save.

Mental Acumen
This character is so intelligent that he has built up unusual defenses against influences that would affect his mind.
Benefit: The hero applies his Intelligence modifier rather than his Wisdom modifier to his Will save.

Sharp Eye
You have a good eye for details, and are able to notice small signs of others’ passage.
Prerequisites: Track feat.
Benefit: When using the Track feat, you may use your Search skill for any relevant checks.
Normal: Usually you must use the Survival skill for checks involved with the Track feat.

Spiritual Determination
Stubborn is one way to describe this character. When she decides on a course of action, it becomes physically more difficult to force her to do otherwise.
Benefit: This hero applies her Wisdom modifier rather than her Constitution modifier to her Fortitude saves.

Unusual Aptitude
Now and again a character possesses some sort of talent that seems completely out-of-the-ordinary for his profession or background. A man of the church might be a highly skilled gambler, for instance, or an enforcer might be particularly knowledgeably about Renaissance art.
Benefit: The hero may choose one skill that immediately becomes a class skill for him.
Special: This feat can be selected multiple times. Each time it is selected, it allows an additional class skill to be acquired.

Unusual Approach
There are also times when a character can perform a particular task in an extraordinary manner.
Benefit: The hero may designate a new ability modifier that is applied when using a particular skill, selected from the list below.
Special: This feat can be selected multiple times. Each time it is selected, it allows another skill to be affected.

Old and New Modifiers for Skills
Climb--Strength can be replaced by Dexterity
Concentration--Constitution can be replaced by Intelligence, Wisdom
Craft (visual arts)--Intelligence can be replaced by Wisdom
Craft (writing)--Intelligence can be replaced by Wisdom
Diplomacy--Charisma can be replaced by Wisdom
Handle Animal--Charisma can be replaced by Wisdom
Heal--Wisdom can be replaced by Intelligence
Intimidate--Charisma can be replaced by Strength
Knowledge (religion)--Intelligence can be replaced by Wisdom
Listen--Wisdom can be replaced by Intelligence
Perform (dance)--Charisma can be replaced by Dexterity
Perform (instruments)--Charisma can be replaced by Dexterity
Ride--Dexterity can be replaced by Strength

Monday, July 25, 2011

Clerics in the New World

According to the Skull & Bones rulebook, clerics are not suitable for use as Player Characters because they have lost the ability to cast divine spells unless they possess a holy relic. While this helps to create a gritty, low-fantasy feel for a historical pirate campaign, it also prohibits what can be a fun type of character to play. For example, a Robin Hood type preacher who sails with pirates but tries to do right by the Lord could provide many chances for good roleplaying.

To facilitate these kinds of opportunities, this article presents a variation in which clerics can cast spells, but only ones that do not have perceivable effects. This gives them a subtle influence over the world around them, but reflects the fact that they no longer wield the power that was once common.

Subtle Spells
Refer to the following list for spells that are still permitted.

Level 0—Guidance, Resistance, Virtue

Level 1—Bane, Bless, Divine Favor, Doom, Entropic Shield, Magic Weapon, Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law, Shield of Faith

Level 2—Aid, Align Weapon, Bear's Endurance, Bull's Strength, Consecrate, Desecrate, Eagle's Splendor, Owl's Wisdom

Level 3—Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle Against Chaos/Evil/Good/Law, Magic Vestment, Remove Curse

Level 4—Death Ward, Divine Power, Greater Magic Weapon, Spell Immunity

Level 5—Atonement, Dispel Chaos/Evil/Good/Law, Hallow, Spell Resistance, Unhallow

Note that, because there are so few appropriate spells beyond 5th level, it is recommended that the cleric class caps at 10th level.

The D20 SRD presents many different domains to represent a diverse pantheon of deities. Among these, only a few (Good, Law, Protection) are appropriate for representing the major established faiths of a historical game. Others could be used to represent non-European or Middle Eastern traditions, such as a Mayan priestess.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Slave Ship

One of the unfortunate but undeniable aspects in the history of the New World is the institution of slavery. It was a business that destroyed lives and exploited human beings, subjecting them to toil without reward and brutal punishment for trying to regain their freedom.

In roleplaying games, however—and especially in ones with a focus on historical piracy—slavery does have one benefit: it provides a good group of enemies and opportunities for the heroes. Vessels carrying slaves across the Atlantic provide good targets for pirate raids, and the repercussions of such actions can make for hours of thrilling and engaging adventures. For this reason, detailed here are the deck plans for a fairly typical slave ship.

Note: In game terms, use the stats for a schooner (as presented in the Skull & Bones and Corsair books) to represent this type of ship. The exception is that slave ships generally were not armed, although that certainly could change if the PC's were to come into possession of one of them.

Deck Plans
Refer to the appropriate map for the following location descriptions.

1. Main Deck
This broad open space is generally unremarkable, except that it provides access to other parts of the ship. From here, stairs lead up to the fore- and sterncastles, and a wide hatch opens to the cargo decks below. There are also ladders leading belowdecks, and doors to the rear compartment for officers and the crew quarters before the mast.

2. Special Hold
Just aft of the main deck is this small chamber, with shelves for holding prisoners. Some captains kept specially chosen prisoners here to serve as “bellywarmers,” although the area could just as easily be converted into extra cabins for passengers.

3. Captain's Cabin
By far the most comfortable quarters aboard the ship is this, usually with a comfortable bed and a table for studying charts and taking meals, and perhaps even a wardrobe against one wall.

4. Mates' Cabin
Depending on the number of lower-ranking officers on board, this room usually contains a double bunk and another table, along with sea chests for holding personal items.

5. Crew Quarters
A surprisingly large number of hammocks are hung in this area, providing places for ordinary crew members to sleep. There are also a profusion of sea chests for individual possessions, creating something like a hive in which, at any given time, at least half a dozen people are sleeping. Another ladderwell leads from here to the mess and cargo hold, below.

6. Bowsprit and Head
This area sits in front of the forecastle, open to the wind and spray. The ship's toilets are located here, and it is from here that the ship's bowsprit protrudes.

7. Forecastle
Most of the time, this area serves little purpose other than providing a place from which to watch the passing sea. In times of battle, however, it can function as high ground, and at the GM's discretion a ship might carry a couple of swivel guns mounted near the stairs to deal with boarding parties or unruly cargo.

8. Sterncastle
This raised platform is a center of activity when it comes to sailing. Crew members man the ship's whipstaff here, steering the vessel. The captain or a mate is also often present, setting the course and shouting orders to the crew.

9. Upper Hold
Two rows of wooden shelves line the walls of this area, providing extra space for the ship's human cargo. This makes for really tight quarters; most slaves can sit up, but not stand, and are crammed in shoulder to shoulder with their fellows. The smell of sweat and other bodily functions is overwhelming.

10. Storage and Mess
Foodstuffs are kept in this room, which is ventilated by the sea breezes so that the smell of the cargo hold is not so strong. There is also a small but effective kitchen, allowing for the preparing of the rough meals that serve to keep the crew and passengers functioning.

11. Lower Hold
This area is set up in the same way as the upper hold, above, except that it is darker and receives even less fresh air.

12. Cargo Hold
Any non-living cargo is stored here.

Monday, June 27, 2011


This scenario is Part 7 of the Come Hell and High Water campaign, an adventure series for the Skull & Bones historical setting, for use with the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game version 3.5. It is intended for a party of fifth-level characters. Although it is intended as part of an ongoing collection of scenarios, it can also be run as a stand-alone adventure.

During their last voyage, the PC's sailed to an islet off the coast of Martinique in order to secure a type of narcotic liana needed to treat Captain Nneka and his crew of Maroon pirates. This was all part of a much larger conspiracy, however, orchestrated by a wicked bokor name Mabhena. He dispatched an old pirate who also sought revenge on the PC's, to stir the islet's natives into a frenzy in hopes that they would eliminate the common enemy. Although the PC's have managed to survived this trap, they're about to learn that it was only a small part of the bokor's plan.

While they were distracted, Mabhena sought out Edward Chapman. The bokor then arranged to drug him with the dreaded zombi poison, who, upon ingesting it, fell into a death-like stupor. Local medical experts, not recognizing the true nature of his condition, declared him dead and had him interred in the family crypt beneath St. Paul's church. Later, under the cover of night, Mabhena returned to complete the process of zombifying the Englishman, leaving the crypt empty. The two then set sail, heading for the island of Turneffe. At the same time, the bokor planted evidence that Nneka and his Maroons were responsible for poisoning him. Now a fiery Puritan minister, Jonathan Gow, has rallied the people of Port Royal to seek justice for the slain and punishment for those he believes are responsible.

The bokor's ultimate aim is this. By taking control of Chapman, he has gained access to the Clavicula Salomonis, a book of powerful secrets regarding the summoning and control of demons. With this he intends to summon a Mayan demon, one that will help him discover even more dangerous lore. That is the situation when the PC's return to Jamaica, with Mabhena and his thrall sailing for the mainland across from the island of Turneffe.

What the bokor doesn't know is that Chapman is already set by an evil force from beyond this world. When he acquired the Clavicula Salomonis, he gained the enmity of the ghost of Jean de Chartres, a Templar Knight. That spirit still lingers around the Englishman, waiting for an opportunity to take control of him. When that chance does arise, the ghost intends to dominate him and thus acquire his newly found insights, with which he could begin a reign of terror unlike any the world has seen.

Introduction—The Long Arm of the Law
Just how this scenario begins for the PC's depends on how they left things before sailing for Martinique. In particular, it's important to know whom they asked to watch over Nneka and his sickened crew. Unless they took some extraordinary measures for protecting the Maroons, the chances are good that they've fallen into the clutches of Minister Gow. He, in turn, has called for a hasty trial and is now about to oversee the Nneka's execution.

Note: For a good map of Port Royal, refer to Issue 3 of Buccaneers & Bokor magazine, available through online sellers. Alternately, Wikipedia has a passable version, available at .

The PC's receive their first inklings of this situation as they are approaching Port Royal harbor. Those who are perceptive (DC 18 Spot checks) can notice two important details. One is a large crowd gathered in the midst of High Street; in their midst stands the gallows. The other detail is a guard of uniformed soldiers posted on and around Nneka's ship, which is docked. Closer examination of each of these situations (DC 21 Search checks) reveals that the Maroon captain is in chains, standing next to the gallows; nobody but the soldiers are visible aboard the Liberty.

Event 1—Judge, Jury and Executioner
Just how this situation develops depends largely on how the PC's react to what they see in the harbor. Given that there are two situations with which they probably need to deal, and they likely must deal with each at the same time, it could very well be necessary for them to split the party.

Regaining Liberty
A squad of eight local soldiers, led by Sergeant Burns, stands guard at the dock over the Maroons' ship. He has orders not to let anyone on or off of it, and brooks no nonsense in following that command. Four of his men are positioned at the top of the ramp, while four more stand with him at the bottom of it. Although they can not be seen from afar, the crew members are below decks behind hatches sealed from the outside.

The PC's have a few options in approaching this situation. Perhaps the best is to use stealth, perhaps having a rogue or someone similar slip aboard and free the prisoners. Keep in mind, however, that the Maroons are still sick, so they can't move very quickly. Trickery might also work, but it takes a good story to slip past the wary guards (+2 circumstance bonus to Sense Motive checks). Failing these ideas, using force is another possibility.

However they manage to do it, if the PC's gain control of the Liberty, they must then decide what to do with it. As long as they can slip enough people aboard to crew it, they could sail it away. Transferring prisoners onto their own ship could also work. As usual, it's never possible to anticipate every decision that a party might make, so a little GM adjudication is likely to be necessary. Keep in mind here that the local authorities can bring at least six more squads of soldiers in as reinforcements, and perhaps even an elite squad if the PC's are putting up a strong resistance.

Out of the Clutches of Death
In many ways, approaching the hanging is the same as trying to slip aboard the ship. The soldiers here know that nothing is supposed to interrupt the execution, though, so attempts to fast-talk them are at a -5 circumstance penalty. They stand in a ring around the gallows, holding back the drunk and hostile crowd. Minister Gow himself is also present, reading the last rites to the bewildered victim, and the executioner presents another challenge. It is important that the PC's act quickly here, since the execution proceeds until they disrupt it. In game terms, Nneka is hanged five minutes after the PC's first become aware of the situation.

Assuming that the PC's do disrupt these proceedings, they earn the immediate enmity of the gathered spectators. Those who are present—and who didn't use them as Nneka was being lead to his final reckoning—hurl their remaining rotten fruits and vegetables. The people in the crowd have +2 to their attack rolls, against the characters' touch AC's. Although the attacks do no damage, this can add a little bit of fun to the scene. Here again, the authorities can call in reinforcements if need be.

Once again, the PC's would do well to have a plan for extracting themselves from this situation after they intervene.

Making an Exit
Both of the situations detailed above put the PC's into a difficult positions. They are violating local law by intervening, so they would do well to leave the area. Sailing away is one option, as is making a run through the streets of Port Royal. In the latter case, those who think ahead might procure some horses. Otherwise, a DC 18 Search check allows characters to notice a party of mounted commoners, while a DC 21 check lets them locate an influential local with a carriage.

Since the authorities have not anticipated any kind of resistance to these proceedings, they are not prepared to pursue escapees. Although they can certainly give chase on foot, the PC's can easily out-distance them if they procure horses or take to the sea. Even so, escaping from the immediate danger still leaves the PC's facing an important dilemma. If they are going to find out just what has happened, they must find a safe place where they can reconnoiter in order to do so. There is also the difficulty of bringing together characters, if the PC's have split the party.

There is always the possibility that the PC's choose to talk instead of fighting. Just how this develops depends on a number of factors. Roleplaying should be an important consideration, as is any positive history that the PC's might have with the powers that be. On the other hand, any reports of the PC's helping to free slaves count as a mark against them, as does any other conflict they might have had with the authorities.

The best chance for the PC's, especially if they suspect the involvement of an enemy bokor, is if they insist to see the body. Should they think to do so, they might be able to convince the authorities to visit the Chapman family tomb; see below for details about resolving such a situation.

Event 2—Investigations
Hopefully the PC's are familiar with Jamaica, so that they can find a decent place to hide. A DC 15 Knowledge: local or geography check allows characters to think of a decent bay in which they can hide the ship. If they are on foot, a similar check, or perhaps the use of contacts or information from previous adventures, allows them to find a place in Port Royal to hide. (For example, those who are in good standing with George Hughes or Maggie McGraw at the Sign of the Boar's Head could take shelter there.)

Once they are able to reconnoiter, the PC's should have a number of questions to ask. For his part, Nneka, if he has survived, can answer a few of them.
*He was arrested by Sergeant Gerald Burns, who accused him for the murder of Edward Chapman.
*At that point, his ship was put under quarantine.
*Nneka did meet with him, while the PC's were away, to see if he could provide assistance—but the Maroon only did this after he knew he was healthy.
*Shortly after their interaction, Edward Chapman took ill and died.
*Witnesses testified that Chapman had met with a man of African descent, and thus the locals authorities came to suspect Nneka. Some were uncertain if the contact was Nneka, but the judge seemed sure enough to convict him and sentence him to die.
*He suspects that his history as an escaped slave, and one who has helped liberate other slaves, counted against him during the legal proceedings.
Although it is up to the PC's to make the connection, this should be another clue that Mabhena is working against them. The news of Edward Chapman's death might come as a shock, but skeptical characters should have their doubts. If they want to see for themselves, however, they face a significant challenge.

Back to Town
In order to learn more about the situation, the PC's probably need to go back to Port Royal. Knowing that they are now fugitives, they would do well to don disguises or otherwise conceal their identities before returning there.

If they do go back to the city, they find patrols of soldiers searching the streets for them, and wanted posters with crude depictions and the promise of a reward—five hundred pieces of eight per fugitive—posted in common areas around Port Royal. If they run into a patrol, the PC's should have their Disguise efforts tested against the soldiers' Search checks, with modifiers based on the roleplaying that occurs.

Old Haunts
As mentioned above, the best way for the PC's to find out what is going on here is to visit the tomb of the Chapman family, underneath St. Paul's church. (Those PC's who participated in the events of “An Ill Wind Blows” should be familiar with this location; otherwise, a DC 20 Knowledge: local check, or a DC 15 Gather Information check can provide this information.)

Refer to the map of the church for a layout of this area. The double stone doors now show signs of recently being opened. Characters with the Track feat can, with a DC 15 Survival check, recognize one pair of booted feet, and half a dozen pairs of bare ones, entering the tomb. The boots walk over to one tomb, which now stands empty. Given that the bodies of Chapman's mother and father are still present, it should be apparent that his body has been removed.

Close inspection of that tomb (DC 10 Search or Spot check) reveals the presence of streaks of blood, along with a fingernail, smeared across the stone of Chapman's burial chamber. This should be another hint to the fact that the PC's are pitted against a bokor. If the PC's think to ask, two sets of booted feet, along with the barefoot ones, lead from there back to the tomb entrance, and from there a few feet into the street before disappearing; only one pair of footprints of each type lead from the entrance to the burial niche. (It is up to the PC's to deduce that this is because Mabhena and a zombie entered the tomb and recovered the now controlled Chapman, then all three exited the tomb, boarded a coach and departed.)

With this in mind, the PC's should want to take a closer look at the carriage's tracks. They lead from the church down toward the harbor, and three DC 15 Survival checks allow one to follow them from the church down to one of the docks in the harbor. At that point, a DC 15 Gather Information check allows characters to discover that a ship named the Intrepid had until recently been docked there. Armed with that knowledge, the PC's can do some more investigation. Asking question around Port Royal (DC 20 Gather Information check) can reveal that Captain Wallace recently mentioned that he was preparing for a voyage to the Spanish Main, and more specific questions (DC 25 check) reveal that he had asked specifically about Turneffe Island. At the GM's discretion, the PC's can earn a circumstance bonus to these checks by spending some money while they make their investigations.

Event 3—Hunters and Hunted
It takes a DC 15 Knowledge: geography or sea lore check to recognize that Turneffe Island is a place inhabited by pirates, buccaneers and others who prefer to stay way from civilization. Some would describe it as a squatter colony, inhabited only by ne'er-do-wells. A DC 20 check reveals that the main settlement on the island is a crude village by the name of Squatter Bay.

Paying a Visit
Refer to the map of and article about Squatter Bay for the layout of the settlement. The PC's, as they approach, find it deserted. This is because of recent animal attacks, ones that can provide yet another hint to the nature of the threat that the PC's face.

Allow the PC's a little time to look around, finding none of the local inhabitants. After that they should make Spot and Listen checks, while the prowling fiendish boars use Hide and Move Silently efforts as they try to sneak up on their prey. Once they're as close as possible, they charge to the attack. During the combat, it should become apparent to the PC's that these creatures are tougher than expected. This is yet another hint to the true nature of the enemy that they face.

Talking to the Locals
Once the PC's have dispatched the boars, the locals emerge from hiding. They thank their saviors for dealing with the unholy threat, and invite them into the Ebon Terrapin to discuss business. The proprietor, Miles Jameson, serves up glasses of rum and steaming bowls of salmagundi before the discussion begins. At that point, the PC's can learn the following details; they should be revealed in a conversational manner.
*The fiendish boars began preying on the settlement about a week ago.
*They seem to be corrupted by an unholy influence.
*A local priest, Brother Rafael, disappeared some six weeks before that.
*He had taken an interest in a band of logcutters working across the sea on the mainland.
*One local recalls that he was concerned about something they'd found, something he felt was “an evil unlike any he'd encountered before.”
Nobody knows just what happened to him, but if pressed they think he might have crossed over to the mainland to seek out whatever it was that the logcutters found. This isn't much information with which to work, but it should give the PC's an idea of where to go next. The GM could add some wilderness encounters to the journey, or could let the PC's reach their destination without difficulty.

Event 4—Into the Mouth of Hell
The voyage to the mainland is short but uneventful. Once the PC's arrive there, a DC 15 Profession: sailor or Knowledge: sea lore check allows them to recognize the most like place for building a camp, a small harbor with a trail leading up from it into the jungle.

The tracks, if the PC's can find them (DC 15 check) indicate that the party from the shore landing explored the bay area, then headed further inland. They lead further inland and eventually into a cave, one that was once buried but that has recently been unearthed. From this point forward, the trail disappears into darkness. From this point onward it is important to note what kind of light sources the PC's have, along with who carries them and what marching order everyone maintains.

1. Cave Entrance
The cave entrance is occupied by a delusional and aggressively defensive priest. He fires on the first target appears, shouting a righteous battle cry as he does so—“Stand back you fiends from the bowels of hell, or feel the holy vengeance of the Lord!” It takes a DC 25 Diplomacy check for the PC's to talk him down from his last stand, or they could just incapacitate him and ask questions later. Once they've managed to pacify the priest, he can answer the characters' questions.
*He has indeed been investigating the activities of the logcutters, because he believes they've found “an ancient secret that is terribly dangerous.”
*Recently he found one of the buccaneers who'd managed to cross over to Turneffe, and began the rite of exorcism over him.
*He was able to cast the possessing demon out into a pig, but it ran away before he could kill it.
*Following these difficulties, he sent a letter to Edward Chapman of Jamaica, an old associate and ally he knew was interested in the study of demonology.
*At the same time, he decided to visit the mainland to learn more about the situation.
*He ran into more of the logcutters in the cave, but managed to defend himself. He has been unable to venture farther into the cave, however, since the possessed buccaneers have repelled him each time he tried to do so.
Rafael has no recollection of anyone else entering the caves, but this is because Mabhena used a sleep spell to incapacitate him before he was aware of any threat.

2. Chasm
The tunnel leading from the entrance ends abruptly at a small cliff, opening onto a broad and deep pit. An old rope bridge spans the gap, covering almost a hundred feet of space. In game terms, it has hardness 0 and 15 hit points. This should become important when the possessed logcutters come out to defend it. That happens once one character passes the halfway point, at which time the enemies walk out and shout a challenge. The first of these charges the PC in front, engaging in melee combat.

Should the battle turn against the lead sentry, the other one takes more drastic measures. He turns his cutlass against the bridge, hoping to cleave it twain and send everyone to their deaths. Considering that this is a fifty-foot drop, it causes 5d6 damage to all who cannot catch hold by making a DC 15 Reflex save.

If the bridge is cut, it takes DC 10 Climb checks to scale each of the walls. Any surviving logcutters use their ranged attacks to fire at climbing characters; hits force additional checks, with a DC equal to 10 + damage suffered, possibly causing dangerous falls.

3. Lake
Once again the tunnel ends on a small platform, this one opening onto a chamber filled with murky water. The walls are sheer and the water is twenty feet deep, meaning that characters entering it must make DC 10 Swim checks in order to move. This passage is also inhabited by a fiendish constrictor snake, which attacks anyone who enters the water.

4. Crypt
Here the tunnel opens up into a broad chamber, one filled with columns of stone that stretch from floor to ceiling. What is more, a number of stone doors line the otherwise natural walls, and piles of bones fill the spaces between them. Closer inspection of the corpses reveals that many of them where either old-fashioned Spanish armor, the same that the conquistadors wore, or simply the brown robes of a Franciscan friar.

What is not readily apparent is that the air in this chamber is fouled. Any character who enters should make a DC 15 Survival check to realize this. After three rounds, those in the area must make a DC 10 Fortitude save, and a similar check on each subsequent round to remain conscious. Those who fail are treated as drowning.

Among the many doors, the sixth is the key to escaping. A DC 20 Search check allows a character to identify it. While it is possible to take twenty on this check, keep in mind that such an effort takes twenty rounds to accomplish.

Along one wall is a side cavern which, with a DC 12 Spot check, the PC's notice contains a glint of silver. This proves to be the cutlass, helmet and breastplate of a Spanish soldier, now tarnished by the passing of a century and a half. While this does not present any actual danger, it should give the PC's an idea of just how much history lies buried in these caverns. Additionally, each of the items in question is engraved with religious phrases (in Latin) and functions as a +1 item.

5. Shrine
Here again the passage ends abruptly, this time in a roughly circular natural chamber. Mabhena, Chapman and half a dozen logcutters are present; the latter individuals work at smashing the various holy symbols attached to the walls. The walls themselves are engraved with bas-reliefs carvings and Mayan glyphs depicting various demons and other supernatural entities.

Mabhena's intentions here are twofold. On the one hand, he has already caused Edward Chapman to become possessed. (Given that the Englishman had already lost his soul to the bokor's use of a gros bon ange, and that Mabhena has gained the lore of the Clavicula Salomonis, Chapman fell easy prey to one of the Mayan demons.) On the other hand, he hopes to unleash the demons and let one of them “ride” him in the manner of a loa.

This scene should make for a tough battle. The fiendish logcutters charge to attack while Mabhena uses his magic to the best affect. If need be, Chapman can even interject on behalf of the PC's in order to help win their trust.

Once they have dealt with the bokor and his minions, the PC's should have a sense of accomplishment. They can make their way back out of the tunnels and back toward the coast, and then from there wherever they choose. Chapman, once restored, thanks them profusely for rescuing him. This is all a ruse, however, because the ghost of Jean de Chartres intervenes to take control of Chapman's body.

Astute players may ask about the Intrepid, which brought Chapman and Mabhena to the mainland. Captain Wallace has taken his ship to survey the coast, looking for more sources of the valuable logwood. If the PC's ask about him, they could have an encounter that can be resolved through roleplaying.

By the end of this scenario, the PC's should earn enough experience to gain 6th level. Additionally, Chapman presents each of them with a reward of one thousand doubloons for saving his life. At some point it may be necessary for the PC's to return to Port Royal, in order to clear Nneka's name. If they do so, the possessed Chapman proves enough evidence to exonerate everyone involved. This could be something that happens behind the scenes, after the conclusion of the adventure, or it might provide an opportunity for some elaborate roleplaying.

Note that the PC's should feel like they have succeeded, but that is not entirely the case. While this is an unfortunate end to the scenario, they'll have a shot at redemption in the future, one the true nature of the threat they face has been revealed.

Continuing Adventures
This scenario could provide numerous opportunities for further adventures, however; a few of the possibilities are detailed below.
*There is still the matter of curing the Maroons' disease, a task that requires a DC 15 Heal check per affected character. As usual, this could be resolved through dice rolling, or could provide a chance for some good roleplaying.
*More of the infected boars could still haunt Turneffe, requiring hunting parties to venture into the jungles to find and eliminate them.
*This could lead to further interactions with the people of Squatter Bay, too. The settlement could serve as a hiding place or resting place for the PC's when they need it.
*The dead body of a Spaniard in the tunnels might possess a scroll with important information of one kind or another, some piece of business that he left unfinished at the time of his death.
However this scenario is resolved, there will be more pressing business when the possessed Edward Chapman unleashes the full power of his new knowledge, as will be detailed in the next scenario in the campaign.

Appendix 1—Dramatis Personae

Port Royal Soldiers
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +3 (2d6, short musket) or +2 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

Elite Port Royal Soldiers
Warrior 2; CR 1; Size medium; HD 2d8+4; hp 16; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +4 (2d6, short musket) or +3 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +4, Jump +4, Survival +4, Swim +4.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

Both the regular and the elite soldiers of Port Royal consist of disciplined fellows who take their jobs seriously. They follow orders to the best of their ability, but aren't stupid and don't sacrifice themselves needlessly when confronted by a superior foe.

Warrior 4; CR 3; Size medium; HD 4d8+8; hp 29; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 armor); +7 (1d8+3, boarding axe); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +10, Jump +10, Survival +8, Swim +10.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Cleave, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (boarding axe), Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: Doll's Eyes.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

At one point this fellow was just doing his duty in carrying out executions, but now he has actually come to relish the job. As such, he has a grim and joyless personality, and is prone to drinking when not on the job. In combat he is merciless, viewing all opponents as personal enemies with whom he must settle the score.

Sergeant Gerald Burns
Warrior 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d8+6; hp 23; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +5 (2d6, short musket) or +4 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +5, Jump +5, Survival +5, Swim +5.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

Sergeant Burns is brusque and pompous, with an inflated idea of his own importance. This is plainly evident in his impeccable uniform as well as in the elaborate mustache and connected sideburns that he wears. Even so, those who win his respect, even begrudgingly, find him to be a stout friend.

Captain Josiah Henderson
Warrior 7; CR 6; Size medium; HD 7d8+14; hp 49; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +10/+5 (2d6, short musket) or +8/+3 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 12.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +11, Intimidate +11, Jump +11, Swim +11.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (pistol), Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass, pair of pistols, spyglass, whistle.

The captain is a resourceful and capable officer but, sadly, one who is all too susceptible to the biases of the time. As such, he is quick to believe that the Maroons are a deadly threat. This prejudice is only exceeded by his very low opinion of pirates. Because of this, he is quick to judgement and sees himself as a bastion of protection and civilization in Port Royal. His precise military bearing and plain good looks reflect his ideas of his role in the world.

Minister Jonathan Gow
Expert 4; CR 3; Size medium; HD 4d6+4; hp 20; Init -1 (-1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (-1 Dex); Atk +3 (1d6, walking stick) or +2 (ranged); AL LG; SV: Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 14.
Background: Religious.
Skills: Decipher Script +8, Diplomacy +12, Gather Information +9, Heal +12, Knowledge: local +5, Knowledge: religion +11, Listen +9, Sense Motive +9, Spot +9.
Feats: Skill Foci (Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge: religion), Weapon Proficiency (simple).
Fortunes: Code of Honor.
Equipment: Vestments, scripture, religious paraphernalia.

Jonathan Gow is a devout and zealous Puritan minister. He sees Port Royal as “the wickedest city in the world” and is determined to help its people find the path of righteousness. Barring that, he intends to see that they receive the punishments he believes they deserve.

Fiendish Boars
Magical Beast; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d8+12; hp 25; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 40 ft.; AC 16 (+6 natural); Atk +4 (1d8+3, gore); SQ Ferocity, Low-Light Vision, Scent, Darkvision 60 ft, Cold and Fire Resistance 5, SR 8, Smite Good; AL NE; SV: Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 15, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 3, Wis 13, Cha 4.
Skills: Listen +7, Spot +5.
Feats: Alertness, Toughness.

These vile creatures lurk in the shadows of the jungle, watching for prey, and then rush out to attack when an opportunity presents itself.

Fiendish Logcutters
Buccaneer 1 (Outsider); CR 1; Size medium; HD 1d10+2; hp 12; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 Dex, +2 buff coat); Atk +4 (1d8+2, boarding axe) or +2 (1d6+2, throwing axe); SQ Survivor +1, Smite Good, Darkvision 60ft, Cold and Fire Resistance 5, SR 6; AL NE; SV: Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Sea Devil.
Skills: Climb +6, Heal +5, Jump +6, Profession: sailor +5, Survival +5, Swim +6, Use Rope +5.
Feats: Cleave, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (boarding axe).
Fortunes: Superstitious.
Equipment: Buff coat, boarding axe, two throwing axes, miscellaneous personal items.

Normally these are fun-long individuals, capable of hard work when it is necessary, but preferring the simple life of the wilderness. Now they have fallen under the influence of Mayan demons, however, and have become violent and aggressive.

Half-Fiend Edward Chapman
Male Rogue 6 (Outsider); CR 7; Size Medium; HD 6d6+6; hp 30; Init +4 (+4 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 16 (+1 Fencing jacket, +4 Dex, +1 natural); Atk +6 (1d6+2, rapier) or +8 (2d4, pistols); SQ Trap Sense +2, Sneak Attack +3d6, Trapfinding, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Smite Good, Darkvision, Poison Immunity, Resistance to Cold, Acid, Electricity and Fire 10, DR 5/Magic, SR 16; AL LE; SV: Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +2; Str 14, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 20, Wis 10, Cha 19.
Background: Gentleman-Adventurer.
Skills: Bluff +12, Decipher Script +12, Diplomacy +14, Disable Device +11, Disguise +14, Forgery +15, Hide +14, Knowledge (local) +13, Knowledge (religion) +13, Listen +7, Move Silently +14, Search +13, Sense Motive +9.
Feats: Deceitful, Leadership, Negotiator, Stealthy.
Spell-Like Abilities (As level 6 sorcerer): Darkness 3/day, Desecrate 1/day, Unholy Blight 1/day.
Fortunes: Cause, Obligation.
Equipment: Gentleman's clothing, dueling jacket, pair of pistols, rapier, stiletto, pouch of 200 poe, various books, vials of ink, quills and paper.
Note: This character uses the half-fiend template, but none of the overt changes—bat wings, claws or fangs and the like—are manifested. Rather, he represents a non-corporeal demon in control of a human host.

Edward Chapman is, on the surface, a proper young English gentleman, albeit one who is not particularly striking. He has dark hair and dark eyes, and is of medium height and build. Normally he dresses the part of a young aristocrat, although his natural charisma makes him equally home among the lower classes when he deems it necessary.
Chapman is highly educated, having studied at Oxford and abroad, and has recently even been accepted as a member of the Invisible College in London. In fact he serves as an agent of the Majesty's government, although the exact nature of his business is a closely guarded secret.
All of this has changed, however, now that he is possessed by a Mayan demon. Now he intends to use his knowledge and powers for evil, and all hell is going to break loose.

Bokor 7; CR 7; Size medium; HD 7d6+14; hp 41; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Atk +3 (unarmed) or +5 (2d4, pistols); SQ Djab's Call; AL NE; SV: Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12.
Background: Scum.
Skills: Bluff +11, Concentration +12, Craft (alchemy) +11, Hide +4, Knowledge (alchemy) +11, Sense Motive +11, Sleight of Hand +4, Voodoo Ritual +11.
Feats: Create Zombi, Point Blank Shot.
Fortunes: Doll's Eyes.
Wanga (3/2/2/1/1): Daze, Detect Poison, Resistance; Mage Armor, Sleep; Cat's Grace, Summon Swarm; Greater Magic Weapon; Haste.
Equipment: Clothing, brace of pistols, gros bon ange of Edward Chapman.

Mabhena is the rare kind of person who has embraced evil for the sheer love of committing misdeeds. It is for this reason that he accepted the wicked patronage of Baron Samedhi, serving that loa and in turn gaining greater power to pursue his own evil plans. He can act in a friendly manner when it suits his purposes, but there is not a spark of love for his fellow humans left inside him; the only think that matters to the bokor is gaining even greater power.