A Ship in need is a ship indeed

Objectives

1. Find a ship fit for pirate activities and capable of being sailed by a crew of the size you manage to amass.
2. Find a suitably motley crew of would-be pirates.
3. Acquire the chosen ship.
4. RUN!

Information

The privateer commander, dread Captain Slag of the S.S. Bellows has entered Stormreach. [DC 12] He and his crew reside in the Rusty Nail tavern in Forgelight, yet the location of his ship, S.S. Bellows, remains unknown. [DC 15] Captain Slag is a veteran of the Last War, and he continues to serve as a privateer for Queen Dannel of Cyre despite her demise during the Day of Mourning. [DC 18] Captain Slag is a capable commander who uses his men to the best of their abilities, while he prefers to lead from behind. [DC 18] His ship S.S. Bellows is an unique Cyran contraption: an elemental vessel with a bound smoke paraelemental and many House Cannith -made improvements. [DC 20]

A Bugbear captain lost his ship to a pair of Warforged jurists due to a dispute. He and his crew reside in the Leaky Dinghy tavern in Fisher’s Folly, at the docks. [DC 14] The captain in question is Ahab the Rancorous, and he leads a crew of ten Goblins. [DC 16] The Warforged in question are No Nonsense and Businesslike, and they reside in Forgelight. They now own Ahab’s caravel (Stormwrack 98), Piquet. [DC 17] Ahab is known as a dangerous but not too bright minor pirate. Essentially he is not worth the effort to detain despite being an outlaw. [DC 18] It is said that Ahab fights using a harpoon and a morningstar, impaling his prey and dragging it to have its head smashed. [DC 19] However, his most priced possession is actually his magical tricorne hat which is the symbol of his leadership. He is also a gambler. [DC 20]

The Wayward Lobster is a fine place to search for crew. The place teems with scoundrels with illusions of grandeur. [DC 8] Most are gin-addled loudmouths, though, and their participation may come to question the following morning. [DC 10] The tavern lies on the south side of the Koronoo river, near the Waterworks. [DC 12]

The Secret Cove is home to the true scourges of the seas while they visit land. [DC 15] It can be entered through certain ruins near the water’s edge, south of the Harbors (outside of Stormreach). [DC 16] Unless you come with a patron who knows the password, you will be skewered and fed to the Sahuagin. [DC 18] An entrance lies beneath a statue of a giant’s head; the head can be rolled away to reveal it (Str DC 25). [DC 23]

The Rusty Nail Tavern

The Rusty Nail is known as a tavern for Warforged, and it is run by “Petroleoum-Rand”, or “Randy” [DC 6], who is a renegade artificer of House Cannith [DC 18]. They serve juiced oils and alchemical fluids that make the Warforged tipsy [2sp-4gp, Alcohol (see AaEG 32, DC 11-14, affects Warforged; for others, acts as Retch (AaEG 37): DC 15 Nauseated 2d6min / 1d4 Con (obviously dangerous)]. There are no waitresses, but Randy keeps a few (3) Iron Defenders handy in case the customers become too rowdy. Normal drinks cost double the listed amount, and Randy only serves ale and cheap wine.

At the moment, the Rusty Nail is overrun with Privateer Commander, the dread Captain Slag’s crew, and the Captain himself is visiting. His Warforged are a rowdy bunch but their militant Captain’s presence keeps them from going overboard and from ransacking the place. Then again, they also realize that it is the only kip that would serve them, and they would probably recompensate Randy for any permanent damage to remain in goodwill with him. Slag has brought one of his mates, two of his officers, five elites and twenty standard pirates with him to the tavern.

Slag is actually in town for business: he is to meet with a representative of Lady Paolo Omaren regarding exchange of some of his treasure for asylum for his men in Forgelight. This is an annual happening, and Captain Slag understands its special importance now that the Iron Watch answers to the Omarens. He is carrying an extra 200 platinum pieces on his person for payment. The meeting will take place in a secret private sanctum of Rusty Nail, and Randy has been paid to keep his mouth shut. Knowing of Captain Slag’s contract with the Omarens requires a successful DC 30 Gather Information of Knowledge (local) check, although only realizing that he has a secret meeting lowers the DC for Gather Information to 24.

The Leaky Dinghy Tavern

Facing the bay, at the end of Fisher’s Folly, lies the Leaky Dinghy tavern, Stormreach’s saddest and cheapest alehouse. The way to the tavern is paved with poor fishermen’s stinking huts, drying nets and leaking skiffs. The tavern itself creaks ominously in harmony with the slightest breeze, and there are gaping holes in its mishmash plank walls. Mold can be smelt a dozen feet away but it is soon drowned by the stench of old barf. A furious roar resounds from within once the characters are by the door, causing a roof tile to splash in the waters of the harbor.

The tavern is owned by Spittoon-Fuddok, a venerable Half-Orc who is either seriously retarted or a sly charlatan of unknown motivations. [DC 5] Probably the first, though. [DC 6] He is an utter lickspittle for anyone entering his kip, especially the sea devils that come there to hire themselves as guides of the Thunder Sea. [DC 10] The tavern serves the cheapest of ales, meat of questionable origin (It actually comes from the Secret Cove and includes dispatched sods of various races; even the splintered remains of Warforged are sometimes mixed in for added fiber. [DC 25]), and the specialties of Khorvairean savages: Frenzywater, Orc Kragg, and Goblin Thudrud (AaEG 30-32).

The one roaring is none other than Captain Ahab the Rancorous who has lost his ship to a pair of no-good Warforged jurists. He originally won the ship in a game of Piquet, but since the rules are unclear about whether or not the only survivor is the winner by default, the Warforged were able to wrestle ownership of the ship from Ahab with the aid of the Iron Watch. [DC 18] He is currently venting his frustration on a pair of sahuagin – or rather, the remains of his skewered, thoroughly mashed opponent whose less than shrewd partner his lickspittlers are overrunning. Ahab wants Fuddok to cook the remains since they should probably taste better than average, and after the owner agrees, the bugbear sits down, throws his feet on the table (which creaks menacingly) and starts smoking his pipe. Thick, nauseating smoke surrounds him. The lickspittles have caught a case of enthusiastic bloodthirst and will bluster at anyone in the tavern.

Ahab wants his ship back. He can be persuaded to act as a first mate (for the time being) of either his own ship after it is returned or another vessel if need be, but only if he is overpowered either in armwrestling (opposed Str check, Ahab received a +2 bonus from his Profession (gambler) ranks) or in a game of “chance” (the bugbear cheats, of course, attempting a Sleight of Hand opposed by Spot). With enough persuasion of the liquid kind, he might even bet his precious tricorne hat.

The Wayward Lobster Tavern

The Wayward Lobster lies in the shadows of the Waterworks, on the south side of Koronoo river. The stench is indescribable due to the sewage that is dumped into the river just beside the tavern. The place itself, however, is surprisingly cozy (well, within these starting parameters, anything should be). It is run by Dover Homarid, [DC 6] a cunning, sneaky and utterly untrustworthy git with Aundairian roots. [DC 10] The thing depicted in the tavern’s sign is actually a Chuul [Knowledge (dungeoneering) or (nature) DC 15, a result of 21 or more warrants bonus information on Chuuls].

Wayward Lobster is home to the sneaky scum of Stormreach, [DC 8] or at least the losers who have not yet found their way to the Secret Cove. [DC 15] Most do not have the guts to pull off their grandiose schemes and the rest do not have the guts to withhold the remains of their gin the next morning, being brought to submission by crapula. [DC 13] Besides the lowlifes, the place is known for its surprisingly fine gin (Fort DC 12, 1gp a bottle) [DC 10]. The innards of the place are decorated with cheap, garnet velvet that has been patched with what random rags could be found, and a few chitin chimes hanging from the ceiling.

Potential crew members include Menna “Canvas” Culathun, a Dwarven woman whose interests include creating enchanted tattoos, Enilam Na├»lo, a Half-Valenar Elf with grandiose impressions of his capabilities in battle, and Stormrage, an Orc Shaman who simply enjoys the animal motif of this place (and has been thrown out of every kip except the Lobster and the Dinghy – and he still has some standards). Menna cannot stand Enilam’s antics, Enilam’s pride will not accept becoming an accomplice of Stormrage, and Stormrage thinks Menna is a weak woman. The last is the easiest to resolve, though, if not for the fact that Menna will hold a grudge because of the prejudiced bigotry.

The Secret Cove

The easiest entrance to the Secret Cove, of which the characters are likely to become aware of, is under the head of a statue of a giant in the hills east of Stormreach. It may also be entered through a hidden entrance in the side of the cliffs, facing the sea, guarded by Sahuagin. If the characters enter through the secret entrance under the statue’s head, they will face a multitude of traps along the way. If they persuade someone acknowledged in the underworld to act as their patron (Captain Slag, Petroleum-Rand, etc.), they will know how to bypass the traps. The traps on the way down include:

Roll 1d10 1d4+1 times to determine traps faced:
1 No trap. Found someone’s corpse and receive 1d100gp from his remains.
2 No trap. Found someone’s corpse stripped of all its valuables, including its boots.
3-4 Spiked Pit Trap (CR3): mechanical, location trigger, manual reset, multiple targets (first target in each of two adjacent 5-ft. squares). Ref DC 20 to avoid. 20ft. deep (2d6, fall), pit spikes (Atk 10 melee, 1d4 spikes per target for 1d4+2 each). Search DC 21, Disable Device DC 20.
5-6 Spiked Pit Trap (CR4): mechanical, location trigger, manual reset, multiple targets (first target in each of two adjacent 5-ft. squares). Ref DC 20 to avoid. 60ft. deep (6d6, fall), pit spikes (Atk 10 melee, 1d4 spikes per target for 1d4+5 each). Search DC 20, Disable Device DC 20.
7-8 Fusillade of Darts (CR5): mechanical, location trigger, manual reset, multiple targets (1d8 darts per target in a 10×10-ft. square). Atk 18 ranged (1d4+1 each). Search DC 19, Disable Device DC 25.
9 Feeding Chute (CR1): mechanical, location trigger, automatic reset. Ref DC 22 to avoid. 10ft. deep (1d6, fall). Search DC 22, Disable Device 22. Leads to a 30×30ft. room full of filth and two hidden (Spot DC 17) Otyughs which will both have readied a tentacle attack against whatever comes down the chute. There are no light sources.
10 Re-roll twice.

Inside, once all the traps encountered have been outlived, there will be a secret harbor housing a number of tightly packed ships. A secret market is bustling with illegal goods such as poisons, drugs and slaves, and there is an office where the guards will guide the characters to be branded and instructed in how to bypass the traps the next time they enter. If the characters refuse, the guards will attempt to take them down, trusting in them being weakened enough by their encounters on the way down.

Any ships bough here will be available at half the listed price for they are illegally captured vessels. Any given standard type of ship has a 60% chance of being available at any given time.

There are also a number of owned ships, mostly the small kips of smugglers but also a true beauty: S.S. Bellows. It is perpetually covered in smoke and loud screeches of its mechanikal workings can be heard even when it is docked, almost as if the elemental was screeching its steel teeth in frustration. The ship is being guarded by Rusty Pete, his six Mechaniks, two elites and ten standard pirates.

No Nonsense & Businesslike

No Nonsense and Businesslike reside in Forgelight [DC 12]. No Nonsense is an Inquisitive [DC 15], and he has contacts with the Iron Watch [DC 18] in the form of a soldier called Vigil and with the owner of the Wayward Lobster, Dover Homarid [DC 25]. Businesslike is a small Warforged [DC 10], and he uses mind-magic [DC 18].

If the characters agree to help Ahab with the recovering of his ship, and they mention this while in the Wayward Lobster, No Nonsense will know of their intentions within one day and prepare accordingly. He will use Vigil to set a patrol of the Iron Watch to ambush the party if they enter his and Businesslike’s property. If the Iron Watch is resisted with deadly force, this will result in a backlash from their higher-ups.

Piquet is still in the Harbor but it is being guarded by 3 full patrols of the Iron Watch, one of which is always patrolling its immediate perimeter. If No Nonsense has called Vigil to ambush the party in Forgelight, his patrol will be deduced from this number. There is also a captain of the Iron Watch aboard.

Captain Ahab can retake possession of Piquet if he pays a warranty of 6000gp to the Warforged jurists, and he is aware of this. On the other hand, if the characters are willing to negotiate, they may gain ownership of the caravel from the Warforged by running errands for them: They need to have a private conversation with Privateer Commander Slag regarding the latter’s business in Forgelight, without his crew knowing about or interfering with this. They also want Captain Ahab the Rancourous off their tails, one way or another. If the characters manage to complete these tasks the Warforged are willing to drop the price to 3000gp.

A Ship in need is a ship indeed

Eberron: At World's End (Xen'Drik Pirates) VariSami