The Middle Isles

Session #1: The Sea Slug

Companions-in-Arms Meet And Triumph

The party met in the halls of King Rorem, where the conscripts brought in to serve were being fed solid, if unspectacular fare and decent mead. At a table far from the front of the hall, our party meets.

Kook, the dirty, eccentric hedge wizard, made a scene of collecting fish bones from the meal (he uses them in his Folk Magic). Meanwhile, “Owen”, a suspiciously genteel-looking youngster, shared his ebullience with the crowd. Halia, the daughter of a local fisherman, was gracious enough while sitting next to kook. The brothers, Tyrael and Verran, looked to be two of the more ready and experienced characters in the group (no doubt a reflection on their sterling upbringing), while the Vanguard Isles merchant Richter Zallan exchanged frank small talk with the bluff and hearty Masago and the others.

Also at the table were the three brothers from the village of Stony Point; Oddin, stout, wildly whiskered, always scowling and making crazy statements about military strategy, Boddin, his baldheaded brother, nervous and immensely pessimistic, and Noddin, their younger brother, friendly and cheerful in the extreme. The entire crew was joined by Old Dorvi, the seasoned, somewhat over-the-hill warrior, who had been brought back to captain the Sea Slug, the worn ship that this crew would serve upon.

Meanwhile, at the front of the hall, King Rorem received the terrible news he had been expecting—the Aquonan fleet had met the terrible Krenag raiders, and had managed only a bloody stalemate that crippled their naval strength in the short term. Prince Ethred, the King’s oldest son, reported to his father, with the rest of the fleet limping back to the port. They were interrupted by Prince Brand, Rorem’s younger son, who was clearly inebriated. The two nearly came to blows before Rorem stopped them, and Brand stumbled from the hall.

Dorvi let the crew know to report at dawn to the Sea Slug; their mission was to patrol for raiders and pirates in the fertile fishing ground of Gate Rock, a small bit of land only a few miles from the north end of Aquona.

Owen was first to report in the morning, responding with overeagerness to every duty a somewhat bemused Dorvi put upon him. The Sea Slug was leaky, and Kook soon found his calling, baling water time and again. The others showed up, with Oddin talking about his “double cut” naval strategy, and becoming incensed when Kook suggested a “triple cut”, calling it foolishness.

Soon enough, the ship was underway, and the crew made good time, once Owen’s overzealous rowing was tempered. The crew ran across a fisherman who said he had fled from some bandits in an old fishing vessel earlier.

Coming to the area around Gate Rock, they found a small ship on the shore, with footprints leading away. Verran took the main party into the light woods, hoping to find who the boat belonged to, while Dorvi, Oddin, Boddin, and Noddin all stayed behind to search the beach and secure the vessel.

Kook perceived there were individuals in the clearing ahead, but unfortunately decided to trumpet the news. As the party burst into the clearing, it was a standoff, as they faced a mealy group of pirates, crude weapons drawn.

Attempts to talk soon broke down, and battle was joined. Owen, who initially held back while he examine the found vessel, crashed through into the clearly and made his first kill, an extraordinarily messy affair. Meanwhile, Kook used his folk magics to zap and hinder the pirates, while Verran kept up an accurate fire with his bow.

Halia attempted use the magics at her disposal to calm the pirates; it worked to an extent, but not enough to stop the battle. She then cast a sneaky spell to put a glamour on one of the pirates, causing a distraction that allowed Richter, Owen, and others to quickly vanquish their foes. Even after throwing his axe, Tyrael was equally deadly with the bludgeoning might of his shield.

Disarmed early in the fight, Masago showed his unarmed prowess by punching a man to death, in perhaps the most disturbing display of the day. Finishing the battle, Tyrael exhorted the Sun Lord to smite his foes, and a blast of divine energy barked out from the sky, charring the final pirate. The victory was total. Owen did not take some of the gore well, becoming physically ill.

Halia was able to find some wartbark on the small isle, which she identified as a fine hangover remedy. She secured enough to prepare about 4 doses. The other loot was minor, with a couple of silver pieces, a bottle of decent wine, and a couple of knives the most notable additions.

The voyage home was short and uneventful, and Dorvi reported their success to Holmar, famed warrior of Aquona and one of King Rorem’s trusted warriors and best friend. However, there were other distractions, as the fleet that had been in battle against the Krenag raiders returned home.

While Halia returned to her home to rest and Verran did the same to his home, Tyrael, Masago, and Kook decided to go to the tents where Chara, mystic and cousin of the King, was helping care for the wounded. Chara was deeply impressed with their assistance, and the three warriors gained an Ally as a consequence.

Meanwhile, Noddin accompanied Owen to a nearby beer hall, where plenty of soldiers and conscripts were drowning their sorrows and resting. Richter followed, and quickly perceived Owen was not the simple farmer’s son he claimed. Still, he was polite enough not to delve too deeply in those matters.

The next morning, Dorvi let the crew know they had been tasked to sail to Greenwater, a flyspeck of a settlement some 20 miles away. Greenwater paid Aquona tribute for “protection”, usually in the form of dried fish and mutton, as that is all they had. With Rorem’s fleet returning, having food was a necessity, so the crew set out to collect.

However, upon arriving, they found the village had been attacked in the middle of the night. The villagers had little, but the tribute for Rorem had been largely destroyed. A necklace was founded, one that the theologically-inclined in the group identified and the three-eyed pyramid of the fallen god Vaor. It seemed likely the Vaornans had again raided in these waters, but there was no sign of them, and no opportunity to pursue.

Rather than return home empty-handed, Owen and Richter managed to get four of Greenwater’s men to volunteer service for King Rorem, with the reasoning perhaps they could send back money and spoils to their near-ruined village.

Sailing back with these new recruits, the crew of the Sea Slug sailed back to the port town of Aquona, where the damaged fleet of Aquona was still being attended to. But Halia recognized a ship she had not seen since she was a girl, one she recalled her adoptive father telling her was from the Decenian League. Dorvi spoke to one of King Rorem’s men who at the dock, and turned to the party, grim-faced. It appeared bad news had come from the west, and he suggested they all head to King Rorem’s longhouse to see what was going on…

GM’s Notes: What a great first session. Combat was a sort of “training wheels” session, but it went remarkably well. Combat was tactical and exciting, with players really using Special Effects well (and being at the unfortunate end of the same on at least one occasion!). Closing distances and parrys were also basically issue-free. We had to look up a couple of minor items, but nothing too drastic.

The players roleplayed their characters wonderfully, with Schuyler (Owen) winning the group MVP award for a week after a close runoff vote. Honestly, it could have gone to any one of them. I think it was a splendid first session to build on. Hopefully, a few more NPCs are introduced next time, as events take an even more serious turn…

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