Sunday, November 25, 2012

Death before Dawn

Up before dawn for the Morning watch, with Mr. Melen in command on a cold grey morning, with fog and cloud blotting out star, sky and sea. At the forward rail we found the barbarian Warrior asleep in the air, being not used, as I imagine, to sleeping in Hammocks nor belowdecks; but, there being no Harm in it, nor reason to disturb him, we left him there, and returned to the quarterdeck. Whereupon, I discerning a Noise, but not able tell where it came, nor what manner of thing it might be, I ran up the Ratlines to the maintop, and spake with Laithoren, who heard it also, and hazarded that it came from off the starboard Quarter.
As I returned to the deck, a Thing flew past me, which had I seen in time I had caught, but in the Darkness I could not, so it shattered upon our Deck, and a cloud of Fog billowed out, and I cried out to Rouse the Watch, and Repel Boarders. We heard the glass of the galleries breaking, so I sent Greyson below, to Defend the great Cabin, and the Captain, who will be wroth, for the glass hath scarce been repaired for two days, and broke again. I cast Light upon the wheel, to aid us in our fight, and began to chant an old war song. Melen fell to a single arrow. No other Prospers being near, I took to engage the first boarder, he being a Raider of rough mien coming over the side from a long Boat at our starboard side. A quick feint and double thrust, and I slit him from knee to Crutch, and he fell.
An archer shot at me, but missed; about the same time I heard an aggrieved cry from Kanak, on the fo'c'sle, and wonder if the shot intended for Me, might have wounded the blue warrior. If so, it can scarce have done him much harm, for quick thereafter he gave a great roar, and I heard raiders cry dismay from the ship's waist, as he lept down upon them and with mighty strokes he cleft them in twain. I struck my archer foe, yet it little profited me, for two swordmen came to my right, and I chided them, saying, Lo, three great men, to face a single Halfling, be ye not Ashamed? but they wounded me. I took healing, a little, from my Belt, and  wounded the archer again, driving him back, but lo, behind me came two more of the foe, and over the rail, two more again, and I alone in the midst of them.
Having heard glass break belowdecks, I thought raiders might be in the Great Cabin, and the Captain in need of aid; and I misliked to stand and fight alone against six skilled warriors. Therefore, before my foes could strike, I vaulted the rail and, sliding down the tumblehome, landed atop a raider climbing. He, much surprized, lost his hold and fell into the Sea, while I stepped Lightly to the sill of the quarter gallery. Finding the Glass unbroken (although, I shall tell the Captain otherwise), I kicked it in  and stepped into the gallery, and thence into the Great Cabin, where I found Greyson at sword's points with a raider, and a second raider down, and Garrity also, sore wounded. Twas the work of a moment to drive steel into the foe. I tended the Captain, and sent Greyson forward to gather his men, thinking he would Lead them up to take the main deck. Yet in moments heard I the clash of steel on the Lower deck, and hurrying towards the sound, I found Greyson alone engaged with a Raider, and two more besides. I joined him, and dealt with one foeman and he a second. The third fled up to the Main deck, and I hounded after him, but I scarce had put blade to him than he tumbled back over me, cleft from shoulder to brisket, for Kanak stood at the top, and gore dripping from him. I hastened past him to the Quarterdeck, for our Marines were engaged there right hardly, rapiers to axes, and Arrows whirring left and right. We finished them, the last being the angry and wet raider who I had knocked into the Sea, and I offered him Quarter, but he would have none, and struck at me, but my blades were the quicker, and so he fell.
And then it was the weary business of tending the Wounded, bringing the longboat alongside, binding the prisoners, and making reports, and lo, the Sun not even risen yet.

The Men are telling tales of the fury of the half Orc, and if twere that I credited all they say, then Kanak slew fifty men or more, reaping three or four at a time with a single stroke, or tearing them asunder with his bare hands. I saw almost none of this myself, but, pouring the whey off the curds, the true tale, I believe, is that  the raiders clambering onto the Waistdeck, Kanak, in the foc's'l, hurled himself upon them and knocked them all ajumble, and slew three or four. The pirate chieftain being there, Kanak flung him into the longship, where there were still a dozen raiders, and Kanak, though alone and Feathered with half a dozen arrows, leapt down among them, and slew the Chieftain, and his lieutenant, and one or two more besides, and cowed the rest. The half orc then leapt back up to Prosperity's rail, a distance of eight Feet or more as I judge, and slew a man at the Foremast in succor of our archers, and another in the waist who nigh fell on top of me, and then one or two more on the Quarterdeck. And so I make the count to be as Many by his one blade as Greyson, and Laithoren, and I, all together.

That evening
The wind being fitful, the Captain ordered out the Boats to tow, the raiders, having been despoiled of Arms and armor and put back aboard their longship with Kanak to watch, serving also thus. At the end of a long and hungry day, still all a-mist and the Oarsmen weary, the Captain ordered, that the raiders should be released, and let to row away into the night and fog. This was more Mercy than I should have ordered, viz, a quick Blade, but belike he had some reasons.
Our woe that evening was not only over the fallen of our Company, but also for our Prize money, for despite the Travail of the fight, we had of it scarce enough Gold to cover the palm. Yet the Captain, being rueful, divided among us those small Trinkets of magics, which had been taken from the Foe, my own being a Gem of life drinking, the virtue of which, once bound to a weapon, is to heal the Wielder, each time the blade bites home. Tis but a small thing, and I scarcely satisfied at first, but on Reflection, it might fetch a few hundred gold, and moreover, since this voyage seems beset with Peril, I having fought spies and ghosts, robbers and beasts, in our few days out of Waterdeep, a trinket of healing may, perchance, be of some worth.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Under a Leaden Sky

First morning out from Moonshaes, was called to the Great Cabin to open that certain Box which I had looted from Silver Rose. I discovered by careful examination that said Box had a lancet armed with Poison; this Fang having been pulled, I was able, with much vexation, to trick the lock Open, although I was first obliged to sing a Spell, for to rake the lock required Three hands and so I must conjure for myself a third.

The box having been opened, we found what the Captain said were deeds to various properties, be they shares in a Dwarven mine or some northern Forest, or estates around Athkatla or Waterdeep. Of what use they might be, I know not, for were I possessed of the Estate, as I imagine agents of Sanremi must be, I would not easily give it up with just the waving of a slip of paper, but nonetheless I hope they are valuable. There were also within the box Ingots of precious metals; a carven Figurine of a falcon, wrought of some ebon stone and with a leather thong bearing a white Feather at the base; a plate of worked metal etched with Symbols; and a pouch bearing Coins of many nations, some strangely wrought, being squares or octagons with holes punched through, others graved with strange Letters from unknown tongues, some mere chips of stone with runic marks.  I had hoped and expected a share of the Wealth within the box, for without my Daring and skill it had still been safe ensconced on Silver Rose, but, alas, this has not come to pass.

Passed the forenoon watch with Mr Hazlitt, who must grudging admit that I know lines and knots, although there are many other facets of a naval Officer's education on which he stands ready for discourse.

We have added a new Crewman, signed aboard at Llewellyn, viz a half Orcen warrior who calls himself Kanak Angrod of Ashenfirth, who is nigh twice my height and six times my weight, and bears a sword as tall as he is. And this is a marvel, for his skin is a blue green like watered Turquoise, or the shallows of the clear Sea, and his hair like seaweed, and his breastplate has the sheen of Mother of pearl. He had difficulty facing Captain Greyson at this afternoon's sword play, taking many touches and giving, as I saw, only the one; yet I warrant that in battle, that one might cleave a man in twain. He is not given much to speaking and what words he has are blunt, but he seems honest enough. He reminds me of Laithoren, a fact I shall point out to neither of them, but this I think is because they both hail from distant lands and are, it seems, little familiar with cities. I like him well enough, but then I like all travelers far from home, as indeed am I myself.

Gunther, having examined the Slate that came with the keg of Dwarvish ale, and the markings thereon, said that the word it bore was Uzzik, viz Friend of the dwarves. At dinner, I and the midshipmen hauled out the said keg, and passed tankards all round the wardroom, not forgetting Gunther, and the company received it most gratefully.

Passed the evening in Study of the chart of the Moonshaes, and the mathematick arts, and, more happily, adding lines to the Lay of the Seawarder. And so to bed.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Father Paul

A character for a Monster Hunter International campaign, using Savage Worlds rules, set in Upper Canada in 1870. Father Paul is almost certainly a priest and may have been a cavalryman before that. He may be Polish, although he's not sure. He doesn't know why he's in Canada; indeed, he doesn't know his name.

  • Agility d6
  • Smarts d6
  • Spirit d8
  • Strength d4
  • Vigor d6
  • Charisma +0
  • Pace 6"
  • Parry 5
  • Toughness 5 (+1 leather coat)
  • Faith d8
  • Fighting d6
  • Healing d6
  • Notice d6
  • Riding d6
  • Shooting d6
  • Language 1:  Latin (Greek accent)
  • Language 1: French (Russian accent)
  • Heroic
  • Priest/Vows
  • Fractured Memory
  • Arcane Resistance
  • Arcane Background (Miracles): 10 power points
    • Boost/Lower Trait
    • Heal
Gear: Yataghan (STR+d6), knife, Starr revolvers (.44 cal, 6 shot), Colt Police revolver (.38 cal, 5 shot), double barrel shotgun, leather coat.

Weapon kit: ammo, lead, molds, powder, whetstone, oil, strop
Horse kit: horse, saddle and tack, grain, blanket, curry comb, etc
Priest kit: Bible, cross, liturgy book, wine, holy water, chalice, incense, vestments
Traveler kit: bedroll, rations, camp cooking gear, rope, tent, matches, lantern
Miscellaneous items:
  • half melted ropy silver thing, might have been a three branched candelabra 
  • ivory oval plaque carved with a raven
  • spyglass
  • dynamite, 17 sticks

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eshiel the Paladin

A character I played many years ago in a D&D campaign, Eshiel was a paladin. Two examples from his brief but glorious career:

The party was traveling through uninhabited lands, when we heard the cries of a woman in distress.
Uninhabited lands, note. We all knew it was a lamia or similar monster, something which would use false distress cries to lure travelers to their doom.So the party planned to bypass this and keep moving on...except Eshiel.

Eshiel: "I'm going to go investigate."
Party: "It's obviously a trap!"
Eshiel: "Yes, of course. Well, it could be a legitimate cry for help, in which case I ought to respond. Or it could be something evil which preys on travelers. In which case, I ought to respond."
Party: "...But we want to avoid it, not fight it!"
Eshiel: "I said I am going. I'm not trying to make anyone else come with me."
Party: "But if you go alone, you'll get killed."
Eshiel: "So? That's my god's problem, not mine."

The rest of the party, somewhat in a daze, found themselves following Eshiel to investigate. And of course it was a trap, but we wiped out the monsters handily.

Later on, we found ourselves facing a monster who could shoot magic missiles every turn and was tearing the party up. Eshiel was badly wounded but still on his feet. The elf was down and close to death. The monster launched another magic missile to finish the elf. Magic missiles are guaranteed to hit, which meant the elf was doomed--except Eshiel stepped in front of the elf and cast his last healing spell to keep the elf from dying, and took the magic missile hit himself. And died from it. But the elf insisted the party carry Eshiel's body back to civilization, and established a shrine in his honor.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sailing from Llewellyn

Scarce had I finished my previous entry when behold!, Alarums and Excursions on Silver Rose, the which is understandable in honor of their recent visitor, and also on Prosperity, rather less so, but with both vessels indulging in much marching of marines, lowering of boats, and making of sail, and Govan being conveyed back with haste to his own Vessel. And then, to our great Astonishment came two Dwarven war galleys, low and lean, past the Mole and bearing down on Silver Rose. As our jolly boat was by now close aboard Prosperity, I gave to Davon the Fisherman certain messages to return to Peony and Violet when he alighted ashore, and further, I passed the word for our Cook, the dwarf  Gunther, to come on deck, for, not knowing why the Dwarves were out in force, but desiring to encourage them in whatever Mischief they meant against Silver Rose, I spake with Gunther, whence he called across the water to remind his Cousins that Sanremi traffics with the accursed drow, which information I had that very afternoon imparted to Harda, as I have written before. Yet the war galleys did not strike, mayhap from confusion and some vile Sorcery, for I saw an evil and unnatural Fire kindled in the stern of one galley, the which caused much dismay amongst her crew.  Nonetheless Silver Rose dared not set out her boats, but only maneuvered with sweeps, which did profit her but little against the tide; while Prosperity's boats did, with much labor, tow her from the Harbor and to seaward, until she was able to catch the wind--a matter of some hours, but I, while at the tiller, did produce a song, which I shall call The Jolly Oarsman, and the same amused the men greatly, as well as keeping them on their timing, but would have Fra Veritan in a dead faint, an he were to hear it, which I hope he shall not.

At last returning from longboat unto Prosperity, I reported to the Great Cabin and gave the Captain what loot I had gathered. Of great interest was a Letter, written under the hand of Sanremi, to instruct Captain Govan to join with a second ship, the Courser, in supposition that she is now cruizing off the Isle of Ketabet, and in her company to take Prosperity, and to dispose of  prisoners in any manner Convenient. Captain Garrity was not as surprised  at this News as one might have expected, and says that we must indeed sail near this Ketabet, but that Courser is not about, and he hopes that we can outrun Silver Rose as he is not presently minded to spend the time necessary to Take her. I perceive some deep game is being played here, and could Wish that the Captain had told me more, before I went aboard Silver Rose, that I might more Effectually have discomfited her, but doubtless he had his reasons.

After midnight, found I our good Captain Grayson watching at my door, he said in ward of temptation, which puzzled me, yet in a moment all was revealed, for in my cabin was a cask of dwarven ale.
Atop it were two letter, the first, being a note from Govan's swordswoman, Jessa, to inform me that It is rude to keep a lady waiting. Which made me laugh, for tis true enough, but methinks she is no lady; and one day I may be able to tell her, albeit likely at swords point, that I indeed called upon the Silver Rose ths e'en, but did not find her there. The second, was a summons to the High Hall in Llewellyn, on charges of defamation and corruption of kin, filed by Hobart Waringford, father of Peony. This also made me laugh, for I neither defamed nor corrupted, love not being any corruption, and privily Peony no blushing maiden neither, but rather bold as brass, and indeed  it occurred to me, that perhaps Master Hobart was able so swiftly to transact this summons, because he has much practice of her. Yet despite the folly, in my eyes,  of the charge, I know I must deal with it, or avoid Llewellyn henceforth entire. I suppose I must consult the Captain on it.
The ale I suppose must have come at Harda's orders, although I know not why, nor what service I have done him. There is a slate with dwarven runes on it, which I cannot read; perhaps on the morrow Gunther will aid me, or Fra Veritan. Verily, I know many will be willing to aid me in the drinking!

Second Battle of Dover Strait

Ryan and I played two games of Destroyer Captain, using the "Evans of the Broke" scenario based on the Second Battle of Dover Strait. On the night of 21 April 1817, two British flotilla leaders (large destroyers) surprise six German torpedo boats at close range. Both sides start in line ahead going in opposite directions; each side will be passing the other's port beam. They meet at two-hex range, which is the maximum gunnery range at night. Due to surprise, the German ships may not fire torpedoes on the first turn, and are only allowed to make one 60° pivot on the first turn; the British are unrestricted. In addition, the British have a superior commander (Edward Evans) and know what the Germans will do with their first two movement points each turn (with maximum movement being five or six points), so the Brits are not in as dire a situation as the three-to-one odds would suggest. The scenario lasts four turns.

In round one, the Germans tried to evade the inevitable British torpedo salvo but couldn't move far enough; the Brits had unusually accurate torpedoes and sank two of the Kaiserliche Marine vessels. Both squadrons turned into the other, with HMS Broke trying to ram three times in one turn, leading to the situation in the photo and lots of point-blank fire. As HMS Swift circled helplessly with a wrecked bridge and jammed rudder, Broke finally rammed the lead German vessel and finished it with gunfire. The tally at the end of the game showed three Germans sunk in exchange for to heavily damaged Brits--a decisive victory for the Royal Navy.

We traded sides and played it again. In round two, the Germans split into two squadrons of three and passed through the British line, evading the opening torpedo salvo, at the cost of a collision. The lighter German vessel was crippled in the collision and Broke easily administered a coup de grace with gunnery; however, the Broke was herself seriously slowed. The German squadrons came about, launching torpedo salvos as they came, and closed with the British. HMS Swift turned to meet the lead squadron, ramming one vessel and nearly sinking it; Swift herself was undamaged except for a minor fire and a jammed rudder. She and the remaining member of that squadron traded shots; the cripple, between them, cringed as shells from both sides whizzed past, but managed to survive--until an errant German torpedo sank her. On the last turn of the game, the four surviving Germans went for Broke. A storm of shells converged on the British vessel...but only a few hit, and those did minor damage, knocking out a gun and starting two minor fires. The British returned the compliment, starting a fire on one of the German boats. And with the conclusion of turn four, the scenario ended, with the Brits clearly ahead; the only thing left was to douse the fires. The German crew quickly and efficiently put theirs out, with no additional damage. The British crews, on the other hand... they tried, and tried, and tried....Swift was heavily damaged by her fire but finally managed to contain it; the conflagration on Broke reached a magazine, and she went down in a blaze of ignominy. The bill was two Germans sunk and one scratched, for one Brit heavily damaged and one destroyed, and Evans killed--a significant German victory, and due almost entirely to the hapless British firemen.

In the historical action, Swift torpedoed and sank the German boat G85.  Broke, with Evans commanding, rammed G42; the German crew boarded but the Brits repelled them with pistols, fixed bayonets, cutlasses, and hurled mugs of hot cocoa. G42 snapped in half and sank, and the action ended with the remaining four torpedo boats escaping, Swift lightly damaged, and Broke heavily damaged and in need of a tow. Evans was promoted to Captain and awarded the DSO.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Secret Mission

   The Captain directed me to go theftily aboard Silver Rose for the end of spriting away her Log book, in aid of which, Lady Inae and I spake into the night of what Blessings and helps might she give me. One of which she feigned shouldst require that we twain be Intimate in body, and when, out of a perhaps misplaced gallantry, I demurred, she did laugh and admit that she but jested, which is a Thing she had scarce done before. Perhaps there is a lively person there within her? albeit verily hidden under layers of rules and proprieties.
   On the morrow I arose and made such preparations aboard ship as may be, viz, to gather certain tools and materials, chief among them being simple wedges and hand drills. Having done what I could, and being under Orders to take a liberty party of ten ashore, I took the men to the Sign of the Feckless Firbolg, where I left them, having first charged them most Straitly to remain therein, and to be ready at an appointed hour to return to the Ship, and set certain of them in Authority over the rest to ensure that they did. Then I hied me to the shipping office, passing in the street many bullyboys of the Silver Rose, whose swaggering made the townfolk timorous, although in truth I know of no scandal or riotousness the bravos made, despite the townfolk's many nervous expectations. At the shipping office my letter of Credit proved to be without worth, for there was no coin or specie was to be had, for many days yet to come. I was sore amazed that neither merchant nor moneylender had sufficient wit or Enterprize as to buy said letters at a discount and them redeem at full value, profiting thereby when the shipping offices coffers were replenished--but so it was, and nought to be done about it.
   Thence to the Smials. I found a goodly suit of clothing, jacket and trews of of sober brown and chestnut, which colors be difficult for the eye to see at night; and a second set, Red and gold, not of the Waterdeep fashion, but gaudy enough to play Cock o' the Walk in the port of Llewellyn; and indeed I soon profited thereby, catching the Fancy of two comely lasses, Peony the fair and doe eyed Violet, and spending some hours in pleasant dalliance with them. I left them most regretfully.
   I had yet some need to prepare for the adventure of the evening, and thus I spake again with Davon, the fisherman whose boat I had bought, and made certain arrangements; and spake also with a Dwarf of the Great Mole, which the folk of Llewellyn call the Quay, and has smithies and workshops in the depths thereof. This dwarf, named Harda, bought from me a little device which I had taken from Moffrey, and I warned them that Moffrey might come to them, or others of Sanremi might come, and that they had certain tokens of the Drow and were not to be trusted, and I had never thought it wise to sign aboard a Sanremi vessel, for some ships be more easily joined than left. At this news Harda and the other dwarves were very grave, and said that one of their number had that same day signed aboard Silver Rose, and they sent messengers after him.
   As dusk fell, I and my band of Men, and Davon who met us at the Mole by arrangement, went back aboard Prosperity. And captain Govan of Silver Rose and the woman Jess his lieutenant were already aboard and in the Great Cabin, dining with Captain Garrity who had acceded  to my suggestion and  invited them, publicly to return the compliment from our Dinner the night before, but privately to get them off Silver Rose and give me the opportunity to go aboard her.
   And so I did. We hoisted out the jolly boat, Davon took the oars and rowed us near the Sanremi vessel, and, with Inae's blessings, I swam from boat to ship. I clambered right readily up the Side to the gallery, found the stern lights latched but not locked, and swiftly invaded the Great Cabin. Being forethoughtful, I set wooden Wedges to block both doors, and screwed them to the deck boards with hand drills, so that I need not fear violent Interruption whilst I plundered. After that, twas a simple matter of searching the cabin, quickly and quietly, and indeed the log book was in the drawer of the captain's Desk, so easily found. Easily found, not easily obtained--for I had picked other locks here but this one Lock defeated me, and the joinery was too fine to obtain purchase, so I perforce must turn the desk on edge and verily hacksaw the latch to open it. But Perseverance was at last rewarded, and I gathered the Spoils and departed.
   And in the very nick of time, for as I reached the water I heard shouting and pounding on the door I had wedged, my burglary having been by some means Discovered. So I swam as hastily as I might, which was not very, for the boat where Inae and Davon were casting for squid--that being our pretext for the boat being on the water at night. The deck archers quickly espied me, and shot their Bolts at me as I struggled in the water, but the Luck of Longstaff held, for of a dozen or more arrows, only one struck me, the which did me but little hurt, and twice I heard my foes swearing most vilely as their bowstrings broke, which amused me greatly. Inae, seeing me close at hand, conjured a Fog for to hide us, and then it was a little matter of climbing over the gunwhales and into the boat, and rowing straight away, until we were out of range, and safe.
   So here I am once again, as I was scant days ago, in an open boat on the water at night, with Inae and a poisoned man--for remember as Captain Greyson and the men had been struck by vipers, so Davon's hand had been struck by some spiny fish, and not yet healed. Our profit for this adventure is certain papers from Govan's desk, and the log book of the Silver Rose, and a curious box or casket, made with gold and ivory inlay, which I shall examine more closely when we are back aboard Prosperity.
   Davon is casting his net, thereby to lend verisimilitude to our tale of innocent night fishing, and we have lit the lantern to lure the squid. It is by this light I write.