Skull and Shackles

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV"

As we sailed away from the perilous island, it vanished behind us. Not that I had any intent of returning to that hellish place, but a disappearing island of monsters and danger? Pfft, no match for me and me crew. By now, there were probably folks looking to reclaim The Man’s Promise, including our old friend Captain Harrigan. Based on the maps left by Scourge and Plug, it looked like they were headed to a place called Rickety Squibs to get a new look and a new name for the ship. Seemed like a good idea to me so we followed the course. When we approached Rickety’s, we stopped when we saw a flag being waved from the lookout tower. We were approached by a ship with several armed sailors. One of them introduced himself as Rickety and asked to board the ship. I granted permission and we began to negotiate. After some smooth talking we arranged a deal. 2300gp to completely squib the ship and install a secret hold. We didn’t exactly have that kinda gold laying around but we were able to trade most of our goods to make up the rest, more or less. We also snagged a wand of healing out of the deal.

Squibbing would take several days so I intended to occupy my time in leisurely fashion. Quinn and Inam decided to do some hunting and Erlik, well, did Erlik things in the privacy of the woods. The two hunters managed to take down a tiger. The village was quite impressed with the deed. In fact, that evening, we were invited down to the river for a special treat. They’d been keeping a keg of beer in the water to keep it cool. As the amber treasure was being hoisted up with a rope, it was tragically yanked back down into the water by a naga. There were some vines hanging down over the river so I grabbed one and majestically swung out into the water after the beast. Quinn did the same but added a backflip to the maneuver. A little showy perhaps but not wanting to be outdone, I felt, shall we say, compelled, to swim back to shore and give it another go. In the meantime, Inam climbed out on a branch and started loading the monster full of arrows while Erlik also tried to swing on the vines, making an impressive dive face first into the muddy banks as his branch broke. I swung out again, this time doing a backflip with a twist, a trick I believe the locals now call a Karn’n’ball. We soon killed the beast and I brought the beer back up from the water. Oh, and Quinn rescued the local that got pulled in. One of the locals got pulled in as well. As a thanks from Rickety, he returned 500gp that we’d spent on the squibbing work. Erlik took the naga corpse into the woods. I think he might have brought Plugs corpse there as well. Interesting fellow that Erlik.

Later on, Inam showed us a treasure map that she’d got from some old sailor who said she’d reminded him of his old captain. He’d been to the marked location many times but never found anything besides empty ocean. Erlik looked at it saw a hidden message that said “Dive”. Might be worth checking out, hopefully with a load of loot to come back with.

Another day and Inam and Quinn were out hunting again. I was trying to enjoy a quite drink but was distracted by the flocks of birds scattering out of the woods. Soon after, we found ourselves under attack from some gigantic hornets. Erlik and I fought two of them off. We had a good system where he’d bring ‘em to the ground and I’d kill ‘em. Sure, he almost died but he didn’t and that’s what matters. His wounds may sting for a while but he’ll recover. Inam and Quinn had been tracking the insects back to the port and killed the remaining hornet. Rickety again discounted us another 500gp for our heroic deeds.

Soon after this, another ship sailed into the port. It’s captain and some crew were already on the docks in a defensive position. I approached them and the captain said he’d recognized The Man’s Promise. With nothing more than a cold stare, I convinced him that no, he was mistaken. He introduced himself as Free Captain Merrol Pegsworthy. Apologizing for his blatant mistake, he offered to Christen our ship for us. Supposedly, being Christened by a Free Captain is a sign of good luck. He also told us about an old fortress of sorts called “The Rock”, stating that anyone who is able to claim it will also find good fortune. It was odd, however, that his ship was allowed in at all considering ours was already there. The lookout should have told them to wait. Inam, Erlik, and Quinn decided to investigate. Quinn had already been out to the tower and met the watchman who went by the name of Lyle. Unfortunately, it seemed that one of the hornets had gotten him. His parrot, Gutrot, however, took a liking to Quinn.

At last, our ship was completed and Christened the Dread Double Doubloon, a name near and dear to my heart. We also took on a few extra crewmates looking for adventure. As we boarded, we discovered a crate filled with all manner of vile weapons and putrid concoctions. I guess that’s what Erlik had been doing with all the corpses, making a present for us. How sweet. Sickly sweet even. I decided the first thing we should do is check out the fortress that Pegsworthy told us about. Sailing up to it, we were flagged to approach carefully, with several ballistae pointed at us the whole way. We were met at the dock by a small party. The sergeant requested that we leave but I asked how he came to own the place. Turns out he wasn’t the owner so I requested to parlay with the person who did. He left and returned several minutes later informing us that we’d been invited to dinner. As collateral, they required that one of my crew be held prisoner until our business here was concluded so I let them take Quinn. We then met the proprietress of the property, Lady Smithy who asked the purpose of our visit. I tried to give her some cock’n’bull story about how we were just bards collecting stories but she knew exactly why we were there and made it clear that we were heavily outmatched. Erlik suggested that she sponsor our ship. She considered this but then countered with an offer of political marriage. However, we’d need to gain more infamy first for it to be worthwhile for her. So, after dinner, we once again headed out to sea, heading for Blood Cove in order to get some diving supplies in order to investigate the map Inam had received back at Rickety’s.

Along the way, we came across a merchant ship and decided it was high time we did some raiding. We got hit with a catapult as we approached but retorted by blowing the aft off their ship with a well-aimed shot of our ballista. We rammed into her forcing our ships side by side. Quinn had a boarding party attack while he set up a sneak attack from above. I told their crew to lay down their arms and they would live but they continued to fight like cows anyways. Erlik stinkbombed the officers and Quinn jumped down and attacked their captain just as he was stepping out of his quarters. At this point, the rest of his crew thought better of their situation and surrendered.

We looted the ship. Erlik carved DDD into the ship’s hull so others would come to know our name. Inam did the same but with the cheeks of the officers and captain. And me? I took the captains hat.

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. III" - continued

“…But there were still a few hours of daylight left so we decided to investigate the fort before settling in. There was some sort of shack within its walls. The door was checked for any traps and we discovered that it was guarded by some sort of healing spell. Odd. We opened the door and sure enough, we regained some of the vitality that we’d lost in the previous encounters with the local fauna. I probably should have been concerned about why someone would trap a door with healing but I find it best not to overthink these things.

So Inam, Erlick, and Owlbear went in to take a look around. Next thing I know, the door slams shut and I hear all sorts of screaming and pounding going on. I tried to get the door open while nimble Quinn climbed on the roof and found a way in that way. I followed and was soon able to rescue my crew from some nasty botflies by opening the door and shooing them outside. Turns out there was some guy who’d hung himself in an attempt to prevent turning into some undead monster. Poor sod didn’t even get that right. Just to be safe, we burned the body and then started a separate cooking fire for a hot dinner.
Quinn continued to look around and discovered a spyglass that looked upon a cove. Unfortunately, he also discovered some sea goblins fooling around with Sandra’s hat. This made him an insufferable bellyacher for the next few hours. There were suitable trees to patch up the ship here as well as a fresh supply of water. We had to decide to either bring the supplies back first and then come back to rescue the missing crew, or to rescue them first and risk not getting the ship repaired before the incoming storm. This, assuming they were even still alive at this point. After some debate, we decided it would be better to get the wood back first. The needs of the many and such’n’such. Quinn was not ok with this (and even gave me a poorly veiled and fairly poor threat) but I promised him that we’d return as soon as possible to rescue the others*. The fresh water ran out to sea near the cove so we’d also be able to come back for it fairly easily.

So at this point, we set up shifts for the night and got some rest. The night went uneventfully. Inam and Erlik told us they had heard some scratching on the gate but decided to ignore it and let us rest. Ain’t they sweet. When the sun’d come up, Erlik found that the scratching was in fact something being written on the door. It just looked like scribbles to me but after staring at it for a few moments, his head started to bleed. So, bad mojo, time to get off this island. We rigged up some gear to drag the lumber and made our way back.

On the way we were attacked a few times, ran across some whores, damn near set the whole island ablaze, and got the eventually got the wood back to the ship. You know, as one does. The crew was happy to see us, and ecstatic to see the lumber. But it was clear we could use more hands to man the ship. Also, the crew’s morale would be greatly improved if we could rescue their chums so I had Rosie and the crew work overnight to get the ship sailable by morning."

“At sunup, we sailed over to the cove. I had some of the crew make runs to shore to restock our water supply while I lead the rescue mission. Rosie and the rest worked on finishing up repairs. I told them that if we weren’t back before the storm, they were to head out for calm waters and come back for us. Upon arriving at the cove, we were at the top of its cliff like walls. There was a tunnel leading into some caves but they were currently flooded. We waited for low tide and made our ways down into the water and into the tunnels.

We soon came upon a cavern and in a moment of distraction, I got my leg got caught in some barbed seaweed. At that moment, we were also attacked by some of those gobliny things. As soon as I got free, however, they all took off in fear. Smarter then I gave’em credit for. They cave system was a bit of a maze but I trusted my instincts. We passed a small grotto that seemed to be perhaps a temple or something. We then moved on to the next chamber which we quickly learned was the lair of a devilfish. Erlik and myself were quickly pulled under the inky surface by its tentacles. I couldn’t see through the poisoned waters so I’m not entirely sure what I did next but somehow the giant fish was killed. I was later told that the sneaky Quinn might have played an important role as well.

There were several tunnels leading out of this area but only one that felt right. Following it, we came upon a large cavern. Hanging from the rocky ceiling were Sandra and Conchobhar. Still alive but neither looked in good shape. Both had silver ingots tied to them. There was also this gnarly part octopus, part shark, part Besmara’s ugly stepurchin in there. She starts screaming at us about how we killed some of her brood and she’s getting revenge and whatever and then cuts down our shipmates. The weighty ingots quickly pulled them under the murky, chummy waters. Inam and myself started to attack the fishy queen while the rest jumped in to save the sinking. Jerrick pulled Sandra and Conchobhar back to the caverns entrance but Erlik and Quinn hadn’t yet resurfaced. After a short while, there was a deep boom from underneath the water and they emerged amongst bits of blubber and ambergris. While Jerrick rescued them, Inam revived Sandra who then was able to heal everyone in the cave which swung the battle in our favor. The fish queen was super pissed at whatever Quinn and Erlik had done but it didn’t matter as she was soon slain. After brief reacquaintances with our rescued crew, we made our way back to the now fully repaired and stocked ship and sailed out just before the storm hit."

“I’ve got a ship. I’ve got a crew. It’s time to make a name for myself.”

/* Karn scholars debate whether he truly meant this or if he was just saying what he had to in order to get Quinn to agree with him.

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. III"

‘’…After successfully boarding and taking the Man’s Promise, we gazed upon a feisty lass who we later learned went by the name of Inam. She was surrounded by wounded members of our raiding party. Why she hadn’t killed them, I don’t know. She was approached by Plug and Scourge who were just about to kill her when the Captain ordered them to stop. I will admit to being suspicious of her, having spared her assailants and then not being killed herself. However, that suspicion was soon laid to rest.

I knew being under Plug’s command was gonna be rough. He gave me and my mates the shitty jobs. Arunyr questioned these assignments and found himself on the wrong end of a cat o’ nine tails. How foolish. And no rum rations! At least I got a chance to blow a final kiss to the lovely Cut-throat as our ships sailed apart.

That night, Arunyr felt that we had changed course and were no longer sailing for Port Peril. We suspect that we were headed somewhere to be sold off as slaves. We also got to know a little more about Inam. She can somehow sense what the weather will be a full day in advance. Truly a useful talent aboard a ship! She informed us that there was gonna be a hell of a storm coming up and after some discussion, we agreed that she should inform the captain. He didn’t seem to believe her. He did, however, tell her that she was to bunk with him from that point forward. A request that ultimately sealed his fate.

As Inam predicted, we found ourselves in a heavy storm. All crew were on deck, trying to keep the ship under control. As if things weren’t bad enough, we also caught a glimpse of some squidy gremlin looking creatures zipping across our the deck.

We successfully weathered the storm but with fewer crew than we started with. Among the missing were Sandra Quinn and Conchobhar. Oh, and there was also a huge hole in the hull thanks to the island that we ran into. Inam chose this moment to protest Plug’s earlier request by way of an arrow in the back. This triggered the beginning of our mutiny. It was a great fight. Artful swordplay, deadly arrows, biting insults and, um, stinkbombs? Plug went down and Scourge exposed his true cowardice as he tried to escape in a raft. Erlik wasn’t going to let him get away and threw a bomb square in Scourge’s face. Fortunately, my hat wasn’t hurt in the blast but was instead sent hurtling up into the air like a champagne cork. I gracefully dove from the ship and deftly caught it, thus saving it from needless water damage.

So now the ship was ours! Recognizing my natural leadership, the crew selected me as the ships new captain. We assessed the situation. The ship needed repairs. In addition to the giant hole, we also lost most of our drinking water during the storm. We needed to find some lumber and some fresh water. And we had to hurry because Inam informed us of another upcoming storm. So I lead an away party of Arunyr, Erlik, Inam, Jerrick, and Owlbear, leaving Rosie in charge of repairs and Cog in charge of the ship until my return.

We took the raft and rowed up to shore. We found a fishing village that looked like it’d been abandoned some years ago. We decided to head into the island bringing us to a swamp with an old broken up bridge. As we were discussing how best to cross, Erlik took Inam’s rope, tied it around himself, and bounded across the bridges remnants with an elegance not before displayed. Unfortunately, the rope was too short and the other end now lay in the murky swamp water, out of reach from us still on shore. Arunyr took it upon himself to take out another length of rope and tie the two pieces together. As he did this, we was violently pulled from where he was standing into the welcoming maw of a gigantic, carnivorous frog. He managed to wrestle free only to immediately be recaptured by the beast. We all jumped into action trying to recuse Arunyr, with Jerrick being captured by another frog in the process. He retaliated by summoning a squid to fight on his behalf, which, yeah, impressive.

After the frogs had croaked, we continued on and came upon a tent formed from and old sail. Inam and Arunyr snuck up to it and came back saying they’d heard a boar inside. We boldly decided to walk around it. Then we came to a field that had buzzing heads on pikes. We again dared to go around.

And finally we came to a fort built around a large tree. Inam and Arunyr were again scoping things out from a tree outside the fort’s walls when suddenly, Arunyr was was gripped by some vines and pulled into the fort. We all rushed in to once again save our friend. I made the tactically brilliant decision to also get pulled into the tree by one of these “vine chokers” in order to wrestle it to the ground where it was easily defeated. We made quick work of our foes and decided that the fort made a pretty good place to hole up for the night to recuperate.’’

Cut-Throat Groks

In order to speed things up a bit when we get to playing, and because Cut-Throat is in love with Errol, I’m going to list what’s available at her store.

Now that you have cash you can buy things from her shop at a discount 10% discount from whatever is listed on the d20pfsrd site. Here is what’s available.

Mundane Gear
3 flasks of acid
4 flasks of alchemist fire
3 sets of thieves tools
1 set of masterwork thieves tools
candle of truth
potion of barkskin
potion of cure light wounds
potion of haste
masterwork climbers kit
disguise kit
4 flasks of holy water
masterwork light crossbow
three cutlasses
31 daggers
3 masterwork daggers
4 saps
masterwork sap
120 arrows
20 masterwork arrows
6 +1 arrows
banded mail
2 chain shirts
masterwork leather armor
3 suits of studded leather armor
12 bucklers
2 masterwork bucklers
+1 dagger
masterwork warhammer
scroll of cure moderate sounds
scroll of mage armor
scroll of magic missile
scroll of scorching ray
scroll of sumon swarm
wand of bless weapon.

The Man's Promise

After capturing the Man’s Promise, some of the other ships crew were put into the bilges as prisoners for ransom, some were killed, and the rest were taken on as shipmates. The next two days are a full on party. Celebrations abound, and the original crew is definitely being split into two different factions. Those that are friends with the PCs and those that are Plugg and Scourges bootlickers.

The captain awarded loot and shares of the gold and plunder from the ship (listed in group items) and announced that Plugg and Scourge should get a skeleton crew together to take the Man’s Promise to Port Peril to be sold.

The Advendure Begins

The party woke up very hung over in the hold of a creaking ship, the smell of the ocean strong this deep in the belly of the ship. Just as they were waking up, Master Scourge and his cronies came down the steps, cracked the whip above their heads, and ‘welcomed’ them to the Wormwood.

The alchemist and wizard were able to determine that they had been the victims of taggit poisoning. Errol, the swashbuckler, was maddened to see that Scourge was wearing his hat. It was at that point that everyone noticed all their gear was gone.

After being led on deck, Captain Barnabas Harrigan gave the crew a motivational speech in which he told them to never, ever talk to him. After that, the senior officers climbed onto the aft deck and Mr. Plugg assigned the crew duties.

Jerrick, the wizard, was made a cooks assistant by pure virtue of having said ‘yes, I’ve cooked before’.

The next test was to climb the mainmast to see who would be a rigger.
Aronyr, the rogue, climbed up the mast incredibly smoothly and without any issues. He became the rigger, and everyone else became a swab.
Errol faked his attempt and fooled Plugg and Scourge into thinking he was trying.
Erlick, the alchemist, made it 5 feet up, and unceremoniously fell off the mast, flat onto his back. This would become standard operating procedure for Erlick. Scourge told him to get up and start climbing, and when Erlick didn’t he got whipped within inches of consciousness. This would also become standard operating procedure.

The next morning, some of Scourges toadies tried to stop the party from making it onto deck on time so that they’d get lashes. The party’s quick thinking saved the day, as Jerrick cast a fog cloud below decks, then Errol fooled everyone into thinking that the bell had run already. They all made it onto deck in time to avoid lashes.

Two days later, after a hard days work, Scourge thought it would be fun if they had a fistfight with his kept simpleton, Owlbear Hartshorn. He let the party pick their champion, and they picked Erlick. Erlick managed to beat the snot out of Owlbear in a very Sherlock Holmes (with RDJ) manner, then Owlbear started crying and backing away, but Scourge and his minions pushed him back into the fight. Erlick didn’t succumb to the taunting and chose to check over owlbear for injuries as opposed to finishing him off and gained a friend for life.

The next day the party ‘randomly’ got picked to go into the bilges to investigate a ‘rat problem’. It turns out it was a DIRE rat problem, though a bomb and some sword swinging later, all the rats were eliminated.

The party mainly played it safe, slowly influencing other people on the boat. Erlick tried to sneak around and find things, but managed to get caught sneaking many times and managed to get caught lying many times. He spent close to a full week getting whipped to unconsciousness every night.

A few days later, on a clear, beautiful day, the captain spotted a reef a few hundred feet away from the ship. Plugg and Scourge again ‘randomly’ chose the PCs to go fill some crab pots. Unfortunately for them, there were 2 reefclaws waiting underneat and they attacked. Erlick was damaged into negatives, but before the reefclaw had a chance to drag him to a watery grave, Jerrick stunned the reefclaw with a color spray. The party was able to bring the reefclaws back to the ship and everyone ate well that night.

A few nights later, a massive storm hit, taking the silver tongued gnome, Conchobar, overboard. Errol bravely dove in to save him, but the stormy seas made it difficult for him to stay afloat. Erlick and Errol grabbed a length of rope to throw to him, and Jerrick cast ‘Gift of the Sea’ on himself, allowing him to help everyone back on board.

A few days later Riaris Krine, the ships weapon master, taught the pirates how to board another ship. Some people did better than others. Aronyr was able to throw the grappling hook and climb up the rope without any issues. Errol and Jerrick were able to make it up shortly thereafter. Erlick could barely get out of the water. Being pelted with rotten food did not help. Eventually he made it, and got to repay the favor by throwing food at the other pirates as they climbed.

Day by day though, Scourge poisoned Pluggs ear and they grew to hate the PCs. The cook, Kroop, confided in Jerrick that Plugg and Scourge were not to be trusted and that the ship was metaphorically poison. Jerrick, who was already friends with Kroop gave him a bottle of expensive booze, which should have made him closer, but then brought up the word mutiny, which caused Kroop to take the booze and run to his cabin . Jerrick eventually made up for this slip, but it was a close call.

A few days later Erlick was chosen for bilges duty with 2 of Scourges toadies and in a surprise to no one, they attacked him in the bilges. He was without weapons, but fortunately, he snuck his mutagen down without anyone noticing. In a turn of good fortune, the rest of the party also saw what was going on and went down to help him. Errol took on the hardest and maybe most satisfying duty of distracting Plugg and Scourge. He used the tried and true, make fun of them until they beat me bloody method. It happened to work wonderfully as they got owlbear unchained (quickly because of forethought the night before) and killed the pirates that attacked Erlick. They were going to try to keep them alive, but Aronyr decapitated one. They all left, leaving Erlick in the bilges and he was put into the sweatbox where he was going to be put to death.

Until they saw the Man’s Promise. I won’t recount the battle right now because this is a lot of typing, but they played it very smart, and took the other ships officer alive. Also Erlick fell into the water.

Skull and Shackles Adventure Log
Pirates keep journals?

Our journey begins a little bit differently than that of our heroic brethren. Ours begins with a night of heavy drinking and debauchery at the Formidably Maid in Port Peril.


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.