Tradewinds - Secrets of the Black Heart - Part 2

written by Ivan

Game summary for 2 January 2010 at Andrew's place. Document version 1.0 dated 26 May 2010

First Sighting of the Black Heart.

1. The storm and the waves toss the Crest Dancer around like a toy. It is almost impossible to move around deck without being swamped by a wave. You and the crew are only stopped being washed overboard by of your safety lines. Without the benefit of Lenovo’s weather control spells the ship is now in danger of sinking. Then the safety lines will help no one. Those not on deck are in a bucket chain trying to bail out the lower decks.  

2. Above the roar of the storm, a cry is heard from one of the mates at the bow of the ship. You can’t make out what is being said. You battle your way to the bow to find out what is happening. You are standing a few feet from the shouting mate and you still cannot hear him.

3. He grabs your arm and points out to port “There” you hear him shout. In the distance sky you can see what looks like a sun beam. As you strain your eyes you see that it’s not a beam but an area of the sea that seems to be out of the storm. Maybe it is land! You tell the Captain who shouts barely audible orders to the crews. After a few minutes the Crest Dancer has changed its course to the area of calm.

4. You stand at the bow waiting to see what is ahead. You brace yourself against the constant bombardment of waves. Several times you are knocked over. How far away this area of calm was, you cannot guess. It must be close as the storm seems to be getting brighter.

5. All of sudden, the ship sails into calm waters. It is a relief to your systems. The ship has entered a 500 yard diameter area of calm seas. In fact, the weather in this area is perfect for sailing. There is a constant breeze coming from the South East. The temperature is warm and the sun starts to gently dry your damp clothes. It is a sailor’s heaven. One of the crew fails to his knees and starts crying. “We must be dead. This is the after life”. One of the more mentally sturdy crew tells s him to get it together. You take a moment to enjoy being out of the storm.

6. The moment of reflection is broken by the Second Mat, “This could be trouble”.

7. Dead centre of the calm is a Ship of the Line. No where near as big as the Resolute. It looks sleek and fast but it is still definitely a fighting ship.  You look for its colour. From the top of the mast flies a blood red flag with a black love heart centre. The second mate gasps and then calls out to the captain “Sir, Pirates! It’s the Black Heart”.

8. The captain calls the crew to arms.  The crew are near breaking point. Two weeks in Storm seas while crossing the Deep has left their nerves shattered. Ten minutes of tense stand off passes. There seems to be no action happening on the other ship. In fact something is out of place. The sails of the other ship flap chaotically as if unattended.

9. The Captain calls the Second Mate and the party two his cabin.

10. The captain asks for opinions. He thinks it is suspicious that the pirates haven’t acted as yet. There is a possibility that the ship has been abandoned. Whatever has happened to the Black Heart is using magic that is keeping away the storms. The Crest Dancer either needs that magic or to stay within its protection.

11. He asks the party to act as emissaries to the pirates. Negotiate for protection and safe passage for the ship to the Shallows. The captain has markers for 20,000gp held in Jackson port that he will sign over to the pirates if they help.  If the ship is abandoned, see if it salvageable, if not find the storm nullifying magic (usually it is a magical band around the base of the mast). If it is salvageable, he offers to split the profits with the party 50/50.

12. The Druid and Captain give the party the following items to assist:-

13. The party rests and learn their spells. Before retiring, the princesses remember to use the “Receptacle” function of their armour to store psionic points.  The party make their way to the long boat before dawn.

14. Using a spy glass Harmony surveys the Black Heart. The sails move chaotically, as if f they haven’t been attended.  It appears that there may be a humanoid figure at the bow of the ship.

15. The party row across. The Captain has sent Myfinger across with you to guard the ship and your escape if need be. The party decides to take a spiral path to the ship, instead of a straight line. All the time Myfinger waves a white flag signalling you wish to parley

16. As you move around the Black Heart, the party looks for clues as to what has happened. The party realises that the port and starboard gun hatches have been smashed off. You cannot ascertain if they were smashed from the inside or the outside.

17. Harmony tries twice to use her heighten senses ability. When the party is down wind of the Black Heart she smells death and decay.

18. The party arrives at the Blackheart. Kelp casts a Find Traps spell to make sure there are no traps where you are getting on. There is none. Harmony uses Farflown the Dagger to board the ship. She places a ring from the dagger on her finger. As she throws her dagger, a thin strand flies out from behind. IT takes her four goes to hit her mark, each time the dagger comes back to her. When she finally hits it, she puts her arms around two of the party and the strand retracts pulling the three up to the deck.

19. While Harmony brings the rest of the party up, Kelp scans the deck for traps. She detects a trap under the stern awning in the darkness. The party check out the main deck.

20. The main deck is covered in blood tracks. There looks like drag marks from everywhere but also more unusual is large clawed footprints that are over 12 inches wide.

21. The stairs to the lower decks have been blocked with the long boats and other crates and boxes. It is not possible to pass this way without removing the blockage. At the bow and stern ends of the main deck are stairs leading to the forecastle and quarter castle. There are also entrances to areas under the forecastle and quarter castle.

22. The cover to the hold entrance is double locked with heavy locks.

23. Harmony uses Farflown to check out the crows nest. In the crows nest is a dehydrated corpse holding a crossbow and 10 bolts. She also finds a Star gem and a circle gem

24. The party goes to the forecastle so Kelp can scan for traps. The party see at a glance two figures on the forecastle. One is standing; the other is lying on the ground. The party then goes to the aft castle so Kelp can check for traps. No traps are found. The party at a glance see the Mizzen mast, the helm and nothing else.

25. The party makes its way to check for traps under the forecastle. The still breeze and unerring calm are broken by the low growl coming from the area under the forecastle. You can hear padded claws walking on timber. At the same time the air is permeated with the smell of decaying meat and wet fur. 

26. From the shadows merge the horrific sight of a dog the size of a bear. What is more frightening is that it has three heads. Even though it is huge you can see that is lean and the ribs are clearly visible. In one of the heads is chewing on a bone the size of a femur. All three heads look at you and growl. Large lines of drool are dripping from its mouths. It looks hungry.

27. It pounces on one of Andrews characters knowing her to the ground. However the creature is outnumbered and the party makes quick work of it before it can do much damage.

28. The monster finally stops twitching. Several seconds later, you are met with a strange site. The monster’s corpse morphs into human form, still dead and the wounds that it received in dog form. The corpse is wearing pirate clothes. On searching the body you find:

29. The page reads thus…

30. None of the crew can read the dialect on the sarcophagus. Shrub believes he has seen it before. He thinks it is an ancient Dwarven dialect. I have given him the task of deciphering the sarcophagus. Apart from the dwarven machines, this “rescue” has been lean on spoils. This sarcophagus had better hold something worthwhile. Otherwise, it has been three weeks wasted for nothing.

31. Shrub has given his translation. It has taken the Cretan a week. “Here lies Ardak the Greedy and his treasure, the Curse of Ardak.  The Curse will only bring pain and sorrow”. This translation has made some of the crew uneasy, spineless fools.

32. Damn that treasure, I have lost seven crew trying to open that sarcophagus. I have reassigned the Doctor and Merralox to open the sarcophagus.

33. I should have taken more “survivors” from the Anvil. Four dwarves have chosen death over divulging the secrets of the sarcophagus.  Bloody Dwarves, gimme me elves any day. They break like twigs.

34. The party check out the forecastle storage areas. The smell is unbearable. It takes all your control to try not to vomit. This looks like it may have been a storage area. There is dog shit everywhere and what a pile of rags where it may have slept.

35. There are barrels and crates galore in this room. They are all sealed and watertight; however, most have some sort of markings on it. There is the Ship’s emblem and the contents written on the container. There are emblems from many different ships. It is obvious that this is part of the ships bounty.

36. The party finds [to be filled in by party].

37. The party goes up on the forecastle to check out the two bodies. A strange eerie silence falls on this macabre scene. Lying on the deck is the bloodied battered remains of a half elf. A metre around the body, the deck is stained with a rich, dry, claret colour. It suggests that the corpse has bled to death. The corpse is wearing rich robes that have been cut and hacked in battle. Around his neck is a rabbit’s foot on a chain. His eyes stare in a death gaze up at the sky. His right arm is outstretched towards the bow of the ship, almost if pointing to the other figure. Near his left hand are the powdered remains of something. 

38. The standing figure is in the middle of golden circles engraved into the deck. At its feet is a gold pendant. The pendant is in line with the standing figure and the dead body’s outstretched arm. The standing figure is gaunt to the point of being skeletal.  Dark tanned skin clings tightly to this bony figure. Its jaw hangs slackly and its gaze, if you can say it has a gaze as its eyes have started to roll into its head, stares out to sea. It wears the tattered remains of rich red robes. The only thing that suggests that this figure may have been human is the long grey hair that is tied neatly into a pony tail and held by a gold clasp.

39. On the deck are several bloody footprints similar to the ones on the main deck.

40. The party tries to get a response from the standing creature with no luck. They try to pick up the pendant but find that the standing creature and the pendant are behind a force barrier of some sort.

41. One of the characters tries to use telekinesis to bring out the pendant. After several minutes, with sweat dripping like a river from her forehead, she manages to retrieve the pendant.

42. When the pendant is touched, the silence is broken by a pair of lips appearing on the pendant. The lips start to speak:

43. “Stranger…I throw my hand in with your lot… Save …me and my master… Merralox the Conjurer…I am dying …there is means to raise me in the… (Cough)… vault… (long pause)… In return I will pledge my allege….”

44. One of the party notices that when the name Merralox is mentioned, the standing figure raises its arm and points out to sea. The party tries this several time for their own sick amusement.

45. The dead body is searched. It carries a sheet of paper and a bottle with magical writing on it.

46. The page reads thus…

47. Merralox has lost his mind. I have had him confined to quarters, only to be attended by Rabbit Foot. If the crew hear of this latest catastrophe, then they may start believing the treasure is cursed.

48. The cook is gone mad. What is getting into my crew? He screams of monsters being after him. I have given double rum rations and locked him in the hold, till I work this out. His food is disgusting anyway.

49. The part goes down to the aft castle for a proper search. The aft castle contains the mizzen mast and the helm. Inscribed in gold around the helm is a series of concentric circles, with lines joining the circles. Similar to the patterns on the pendants.

50. You can see through the grated window into what must be the Captain’s quarters. You can see through the window a room in disarray. The party goes down to the doors to the aft section of this deck.

51. Harmony searches for traps. She feels some resistance on the door. She tells the party that she can’t disarm it, but she thinks she can detonate it safely. Everyone stands back as Harmony opens the door. A crossbow flies out at waste height and thuds into the other end of the boat. The party enters the room cautiously.

52. This looks like it is the antechamber/ Captain’s Stewards bedroom. The bench doubles as a bunk. The bedding and clothes that were in the bench have been strewn across the small room. The bedding has been cut open and also thrown around. . There is a chair with a crossbow on it that is/was rigged to fire when the door is opened. There are two doors on the opposite wall; one is a set of double doors. The Mizzen mast goes through this room.

53. You check both doors for traps and find none. You enter the double doors.

54. This looks like it could have been the captain’s cabin. There is all the equipment one would find in a normal captain’s cabin; however, it is strewn around the room as if there had been a battle. Actually, on closer examination it’s as if this room has been set up to repel attackers. The captain’s table has been overturned and is blocking what looks like could be stairs to the lower decks. There are chest boxes, logs, anything heavy on top of the table. In a chair sits a corpse holding a knocked crossbow. The chair is positioned to cover both the doors and the stairs. All the portholes have been latched down and jammed. On the walls is what looks like war trophies. There is a painting of a ship named “Barracuda”, some ivory tusks, the head of an ogre, and various weapons on the wall.

55. The corpse holds a loaded crossbow (that you later learn is magical). His body has no wounds. It looks as like he has died of dehydration. He holds in his hand a piece of paper. The words are a little smudged;

56. Ptain, I wait for you l-yal as always. I was never the traitor. Your servant

57. On searching the room you find:-

58. The corpse also has a part of the captain’s log, which reads as follows.

59. I have restricted access to the sarcophagus to just the officers. The crew are getting uneasy about what lies within. They are starting to question whether it is worth the lives it is costing.

60. Success at last. Doc and Merralox have removed the magical protection on the Sarcophagus. I have sent in the engineers to check for normal traps.

61. Bloody Dwarves. A curse on all dwarves. The magical protection has been removed and that bloody sarcophagus has taken the lives of three men. The engineers assure me that it is cleared. They better be right otherwise, they will be having a Deep sleep.

62. I have called a meeting of the officers. Tonight we open the sarcophagus.

63. The Dwarves are cowards and nancy boys. We have opened the sarcophagus and taken Ardak’s treasure. As a precaution will get a powder monkey to take the first share of the treasure.

64. The party checks the other door leading from this room. They find the galley. Bottles of broken herbs and spice are smashed over the floor. There are no signs of any edible food in the galley. The stove has been pushed against the door and then also barricaded with logs meant for the stove.

65. The party ponders on whether to unblock the stairs and go down to the lower decks. Harmony suggests that she could phase out and see what was going on down stairs. The party agrees.

66. Harmony uses her psionics to go “out of phase”. She goes through the stairs and onto the next level. Shafts of light come through the two portals at opposite sides of the room. The shafts move back and forward in rhythm with the swaying of the boat. It looks like this area was used as a mess area. She starts to check out the doors leading from this space.

67. All the doors are closed. One of the doors has a relief carving of some sort of face. The other door is a standard door ornate with religious symbols. Harmony checks out the ornate door. When she turns around to walk away she notices that the light is moving in and out of the room very fast. When she steps away from the room, the light goes back to normal speed.  She “phases in” into the watch she thinks is the officer’s mess.

68. Once she is in phase, Harmony almost wretches. A strong smell of decay hits her nose. She starts to examine the room. There are plates, knives, forks, mugs, etc on the floor. Some of the items looked bent and dinged. There is a carpet on the floor with a dragon motif. There are patches of blood on the carpet. There could have been a melee or two in this space.

69. While Harmony was exploring, the rest of the party started to feel concerned. Harmony thinks she has only been two rounds exploring; however, the rest of the party thinks it has been fifteen minutes.

70. Harmony goes to one of the portals. She places the ring from Farflown, and tries to throw the dagger into the aft castle. Once she has done this, she allows herself to be pulled to the aft castle. She then goes back to where the party waits. They ask her what took her so long. As they discuss what happens, everyone realises that there is a time discrepancy around the ornate door.

71. The party discusses what to do. The general thinking is that the stairs are blocked to keep something coming up, but what? How to get to the lower decks? If they clear the stairs they can get in and out quickly, but so could anything else down there. In the end the party decide to clear the stairs.

72. Once the stairs are clear, the party makes its way to the next deck. The smell is overpowering. The party check out the space and the doors. Harmony walks over to the door while the party count how long she takes. The party work out that time around the door is slowed by a factor of 10 (10 minutes passes for every minute at the door) and the area of effect is roughly two feet around the door.

73. The party decides to go over to the door with the relief carving. As the party moves closer, the light looses some of its brightness. It also feels slightly cooler. In front of you is an oak door with metal bindings. Carved out of the door is a huge relief sculpture of a demon’s face. Its eyes scowl in frozen menace. Its mouth is open showing large sharp teeth. In the centre of its mouth is the door’s handle.

74. As the party examines the door, one of the party thinks that the demon’s eyes blink. The party stares at the door for a minute and the eyes do blink! Coral thinks it is an illusion. She places one of he fingers on the demon’s eye. When the eye blinks next she feels no pressure on her finger. She concludes that the blinking is an illusion.

75. DM’s Note: Phantasmal Force is the weakest illusion. All other illusion spells are greater forms of the Phantasmal force. In the spell’s description for Phantasmal Force, the spell “creates the illusion of any object, creature, or force, as long as it is within the boundaries of the spell's area of effect”. If the caster had designated that the blinking eye did exert a force than Coral’s assumption would not have worked. However, it has not been designated and Coral assumption was correct. Also note that unless stated in the spell description, Phantasmal Forces and its cousins are sensory illusions and do not affect the mind.

76. Harmony checks for traps and finds none. The door cannot be opened. Coral casts a “Knock” spell and both doors go click. Harmony listens at the door and hears nothing. The party opens the door and quickly peer in to see a deceptively large space, desk, standing suits of armour and a bed. The party enter cautiously.

77. On entering this room, the party gets a sudden feeling of motion sickness. After a moment you realise that this room does not follow the same rolling motion of the ship. It is perfectly still. Also it appears larger than you thought. This room appears to be the size of the whole stern.

78. This room is tidy and richly furnished. It contains a writing desk with various items on it, a hammock, a brassier with a flip lid (a fire burns in the brazier). Along the wall stand three suits of plate mail (one gold, one silver, one bronze). Each suit also holds a body shield and has spear. The suits are plain but the shields are ornate with a crest showing three mountains. The Body Shields are smaller than normal body shields and bigger than a medium shield (similar to what you see in castles). The strong overpowering odours of the ship do not permeate this room. There is a soft trace of incense on the air.

79. The party checks out the desk.

80. In the centre of the table opposite the desk’s chair is a whale bone carving of an elegant lady standing on a clam shell. There is a pile of papers and scrolls that are in different hand writings. They seem to be notes and diaries from command staff of different ships. There is also a slightly less orderly pile of papers that are written in another language.

81. One of the party decides to cast detect magic on the room. The following items are magic:-

82. The party makes its way to the armour. When you get closer each suit looks like it has a door and a key hole in its chest.

83. Kelp casts a find traps spell on the room. There are traps on the doors in the chests of the suits of armour.  Harmony moves close to the suits of armour. She goes to the Bronze suit of armour and takes its spear. She then takes its shield. Using the spear she tries to touch the door of the unarmed suit. When the spear gets to within a few inches, the suit becomes animated and smacks away the spear. All there suits become animated. The Bronze suit steps back while the other two step forward with spears brandished. They stand their ground in defensive position.

84. Someone thinks that diplomacy may be in order. In an act of good will, the shield and the spear are slid along the floor to the Bronze suit.  The suit picks up the items and then forms a shield wall with the other two. The Detect Magic spell is still going, and it reveals that the Shields have a stronger magic when in a shield wall is formed. All three suits start to advance on the party. The party decides to leave the room (leaving something in the door to keep it ajar).

85. Once outside the party decide to re-enter the room. All three suits are standing where they were originally. This time the party decide diplomacy is not the way to go. They take all the shields and spears. For good measure, the party decide to use the shields. Three of the party make a shield wall. When the shield wall is formed, each shield has a small glowing circle section on the inside of the shield. The party decide to press them in case it gives extra bonuses.

86. Harmony uses the spear to try and set the armour off. The suits animate and advance on the party. This time the party does not retreat and the suits try and pummel the party. However, the suits only land one or two blows. The suits are soon bludgeoned till they stop moving.

87. The Find Traps spell is still working and the suits are checked for traps. The door of the Bronze suit is not trapped. Harmony opens the door and there is a trap inside. There are, what appear to be, three spell books. Coral has several orgasms when she sees the three magic books. She fails to register that each book is HEAVILY TRAPPED. Resting on the books is a severed hand. From the door frame a drop of blood falls. The hand is trapped, mechanical and magical.

88. Coral uses Telekineses to remove the hand from the books (and avoids are a potentially nasty trap (curses foiled again).

89. Kelp uses her psionics to “soften” the metal at the back of the other two suits and pulls out their treasures (curses foiled again).

90. The gold suit contains lots of spell components.

91. The silver suit contains:

92. The shields are carried and used by Mystery Coral and Kelp.

93. The party picks up the statue from the desk. Once they do that the room shrinks to its normal dimensions pushing everything to the middle. It is placed back on the table and the room expands. The party pick this up and leave the room. They decide to leave a spear in door to keep it ajar.

94. The party goes and gets Rabbit Foot’s body and cast from the scroll “speak with dead”. Questions to Rabbit foot from scroll (speak with dead)

Q1: What is in the vault that will raise you?

A1: Doctor had magical items

Q2: Where in the ship is the vault?

A2: Entrance in hold

Q3: What was in the sarcophagus?

A3: Remains of Ardak and his most treasured possession.

Q4: What is Ardak’s treasure?

A4: Not allowed to speak about it. It’s a boon and bane. Resist it as it seduces the weak.

95. Once out in the mess, they put the statue down on a flat surface. The dimensions of the officer’s mess double. The statue is picked up and the room shrinks back to normal.

96. The party decide to check out the time trapped door. Harmony phases out and goes through the door. She sees that all the stuff in this room was thrown against the door. At the other end there is a big black vertical two dimensional oval (inverted eye shape). She phases in and explores the room.

97. The furniture and effects in this room have been thrown against the door, bed, chairs, chests, etc.  It is obvious that it was done in a hurry. The Captain’s gallery was barricaded to maximum effect, chairs under door handles, etc; however, the stuff in this room is chucked in no order. It is very hap-hazard. The windows have also been shut and barred. It looks like the occupant was trying to keep someone or something out of the room, but there is no occupant.

98. It looks like this room belonged to a priest. On the ground is a very fine carpet with religious motifs. Around the walls hang various religious paraphernalia.

99a. There are also other implements and items around that suggest that this is the doctor’s room. There are scalpels on the floor, a healer’s bag, and an upturned cupboard with bandages, etc on the floor.

99. The rancid smell throughout this level of the ship is not evident in this room. A slight breeze fills the room. You turn to find out where it is coming from as all the windows are locked shut. You cannot find where it is coming form but you can tell it is heading towards the pitch black two dimensional oval/inverted eye shape against the wall at the back of the room.

100. Harmony phases out, exits the room, phases in and rejoins the party. “Let’s skip this room for the moment”. The party goes to the door to the mid section. Harmony hears nothing at the door and no traps are detected. The party opens the door and enters after checking for immediate dangers.

101. The rancid smell throughout this level of the ship is strong in this room. A slight breeze fills the room. You turn to find out where it is coming. It is heading towards a pitch black two dimensional oval/inverted eye shape against the wall at the back of the room, similar to the one in the time trapped room. Many Ropes tied to the opposing walls converge on the blackness and disappear into what appears to be a hole.

102. Shafts of light come through the two portals at opposite sides of the room. The shafts move back and forward in rhythm with the swaying of the boat. The swaying light reveals that the walls of this room are pitted, scorched and covered in bits of rotting meat and dried blood. The floor looks like it is like the walls but with large scratches on the wooden floors as if something heavy has been dragged. The scorch marks and pitting seems to radiate out in a cone shape from the black hole.

The Black Hole in the Capstain.

103. This seems to be a rip in the fabric of space. Drifting in this void is a “cubby house” made of crates, cannons, etc. In the cubby house, the party find a group of “Powder Monkeys” and some young dwarves: (Powder Monkeys) Jones, Nesbith, Mickey,  Rolt (leader); (Young Dwarves) Forn, Tharl, Narl. They are scared and you try and convince them to come with you. They say that if your ship is fixed they will come. Until that time, they are staying where they know they can defend themselves.

104.  They have taken refuge here from the “monsters” which come out at night. The monsters came all of a sudden and took over the ship. The young dwarves were captured from the Dwarven ship “The Anvil”. The Anvil was carrying the sarcophagus of Ardak. In discussion you learn that the inscription on the sarcophagus has been translated wrong. It does not say “curse”, instead it says “folly”.

105. 1st Lieutenant’s quarters.  This room is Spartan but clean. There are three sea chests stacked on each other. The desk is bare. A bed roll is neatly next to the desk. In the weapons rack is a trident, spear and net. The porthole is nailed shut.

106. 2nd Lieutenant’s quarters.  This room is Spartan but clean. There is a wardrobe with double doors, a carpet, a chamber pot in the corner and a bed. The porthole is nailed shut.

107. You listen for nose and search for traps on the door to the Midsection. There is nothing. You open the door cautiously and see a large space with a large covered mound in the centre of the room. The party enters cautiously.

108. This is a large storage section with a door a 5 x 5 corridor with two doors and an opening in the forward.  Columns of light gently move in and out of this space as the ship slowly rocks. The light stops at a large mass in the centre of the room. Covering the mass is a sail. You deduce that this room may have had cannons but there are none to be seen. Deep gouges in the woodwork from each cannon hatch suggests that they were dragged out of this room into the aft mid section. The hatches that normal are closed when the ship is not “to quarters” have been smashed off.

109. The stairs from above are barely noticeable. The stairwell is filled with the longboats, crates, barrels, etc. A block and tackle hangs from the outer gratings overhead.

110. The party pulls the sail of the mound to reveal stacked crates and barrels to form a wall around the stairwell to the stairwell to the lower deck. From your little time on ships, this stacking arrangement seems inefficient.  As you get closer to the lower deck stairwell the stench becomes more putrid and overpowering.

111. The party pauses at the top of the stairs to decide what to do next. From the deck below a male voice is heard “Captain, Is that you Captain? Your men need you.”

112a. The party starts to ask questions of the voice (I can’t remember what happened here). Mystery gets a strong feeling from the Traitor’s Staff. The staff wants to feed.

112. Out of the shadows step the remains of a man. He is gaunt and scraggy looking. His clothes are in rags. He looks similar to Merralox, except there is emotion in his face and eyes. It is pure evil. He smiles maliciously “You’re not the captain. Get them men”.

113. A stampede of many feet is heard and from the shadows emerge many creatures that look similar to the creature that just talked to you. They start to rush the stairs. The Shield holders form a shield wall at the top of the stairs. Even though the party is out numbered, the crates form a bottle neck at the top of the stairs allowing the party the advantage.

114. The party holds the top of the stairs while Guest Star climbs some crates and fires arrows into the mob trying to take the stairs. After a couple of rounds fighting, Coral is hit by one of the assailants. The attacker lets out a satisfied scream of pleasure; while Coral feels like she has lost a part of her life essence (she has lost one level).

115. Fear grips the party as they realise that they are fighting at least 8 energy draining creatures. An angry voice is heard from below “Fools, feed on them and I’ll kill you myself. Take them alive so we can all feed.”

116. Luckily, no one else is injured by round five; whereas, 2-3 of the enemy have been slain and Mystery has two charges for her staff. The voice from below deck calls out “Fallback men”. That round the enemy retreats. The party tries to decide whether to fight or retreat, when they hear the voice call out “All hands on deck”. The sound of scuttling is heard. Into the light soon appear around 2 dozen severed hands. They jump at the stairs and launch themselves at the party. Luckily, using the shield wall, the parties’ armour classes are too good.

117. Coral after loosing a level looses her grasp on sanity. She decides to use “Burning hands” on the hands (hey I just realised that is funny, Burning Hands, get it!). However, there is a chance that it could start an additional fire. She contemplates burning the ship, thinking that the creatures below would have to put it out if they want to stay alive; however, she seems to forget that they are on the ship to try and get magic to save them from the storms. She throws caution to the wind and burns the hands. Luckily, Guest Star saw the moment of insanity and kicks over a barrel of water near the stairs. All but 3 of the hands burn and the water puts out the additional flames.

118. The party can hear the sound of feet rushing for the steps again. It is time to leave. The party races for the portals. Throwing caution to the wind, the party starts to dive out the portals. Guest Star jumps out last to cover their exit.

119. Luckily, Myfinger is already at the oars of the longboat and start rowing when he sees the party diving out the windows. As the boat pulls away, the party can hear voices screaming “Hungry” coming from the portals. The party remembers the words of Rolt, the monster come out at dark. It is half an hour to dark and the party rows for al its worth.

120. Back at the Crest Dancer. The party debrief the captain and Lenovo about what happen aboard the Black Heart. Their hearts sink as they realise to get to the weather control magic you will need to go through the wights.

121. Guest Star has a strong urge to place his hand on Coral’s chest. As he does so, Coral feels the life energy she lost to the Wight return to her. Coral thanks Guest Star who looks a little perplexed and what he had just done.

122. Mystery suddenly has a brainwave. Now that the Traitor’s Staff has three charges, she can take the “Heal” ability for the staff (she also takes Nap and Neutralise Poison). This means that she can heal the druid and he can use his own weather control magic. Using the staff, Mystery heals Lenovo. He is very grateful. He says that it will take him 24 hours before he can control the weather. He will need the help of the crew.

123. The captain and the party discuss their options. The party first mission was to negotiate for help. It is apparent that the ship is abandoned (except for the kids). The Captain discusses the second option. Is it worth salvaging?  You discuss what you have found on the boat.  The captain says that the ship and its full cargo would be worth a pretty penny or two. You decide on the idea to try and salvage the ship.

124. Coral uses Marasotte’s staff to cast identify on the magic items found (takes eight hours). After which Mystery casts Nap so the party is well rested. The magic items identified are:-

125. The next day before dawn the party prepares to depart for the Black Heart. Guest Star banters with Myfinger as the dawn light arises. During the night, industrious sounds could be heard coming from the Black Heart.

126. The party rows across to the Black Heart, taking a similar route to last time. As the party go around the boat, they notice that some of the gun portals have been closed. The party boards the boat similar to last time.

127. The party recover the area the area that they have already covered. In the Captain’s quarters and the Office’s mess, the portals have been nailed shut. The party reopens them as they go along. The party cautiously check each area they have been in. The party enters the area that leads to the kids Stronghold. Fresh bits of flesh and soot cover the walls. 

128. The party go and find the kids and convince them to return to the Crest Dancer. They pack and are taken to the other chip. The party returns and covers the same ground again cautiously.

129. The party checks for traps and listens at the door into the Hold area. No traps are found and nothing is heard. The party open the door ready for battle.

130. The centre of the Hold has been changed. The sail has been nailed to the grates that cover the opening to the main deck. Before crates and barrels surrounded the entrance to the lower hold, now the crates line the side and the party can see straight threw to the stairs.

131. As Guest Star steps into the 5 x 5 entrance past the door, he triggers a net trap which pulls him of his feet and leaves him hanging over the hole to the lower decks. As soon as he is upside down, the head Wight tries to knock Guest Star unconscious with a club. At the same time, the party hears the sound of many feet rushing for the stairs.

132. The party forms a shield wall on the aft midsection side of the door. As in their last battle with the wights, they found that fighting them at a bottle neck puts the odds in favour of the party. The Shield wall members also activate the other magical powers of the shield, giving them a considerable boast to their armour class. One of the party stays ahead of the wall. Meanwhile, Guest Star tries to cut himself from the next. At the same time the Head Wight tries to use him as a Piñata. The Wight is trying to sap him on the head. If he succeeds Guest Star may wake up in time for the Wight’s dinner.

133. Eight wights run to the top of the stairs and advance on the party. It is on! Meanwhile the Head Wight is unsuccessful at the Piñata. Guest Star reaches up and holds on with one hand to the net. With the other he manages to cut himself free. He now hangs by one arm above the Head Wight. The person in front of the Shield wall fires a cross bow or throws a dagger at the Head Wight hitting it.

134. The Wights hit the shield wall but not before the person in front retreats, taking one of the side doors off the 5 x 5 ft corridor.  Mystery uses the Traitor’s Staff to fire off a net, which entangles two wights. The other Shield Wall members stab at the other wights. Guest Star slices at the Head Wight doing a descent amount of damage. The Head Wight decides that the other wights can starve and decides to try and feed on Guest Star.

135. Mystery focuses her attention on making the netted wights immobile. They continue to fail their strength checks. The wights continue to fail to hit the Shield Wall members. Meanwhile Guest Star decides to “drop in” on the head Wight, which means that he can attack with both swords. He summons his Kia power and manages one critical hit. The force from his blow almost cuts the Head Wight in half.

Guest Star.

136. Guest Star immediately makes his way to protect the princess. His confronted by another 3 wights who manage to drain him down to one level.

137. Instead of running away, he summons his Kia power for each round and kills each one.

138. Even though one more hit will mean he becomes a Wight, Guest Star races towards the princesses to protect them (keeping his promise to the dying Master Template).

139. Fortune favours the brave. Guest Star is not hit again. The party have the other wights under control by the time he gets there.


140. From the protection of the shield wall, Mystery manages to net two wights and immobilises them. She then hits them with her staff till they are killed. This charges her staff up two more charges.  She manages to do the same trick further on in the combat.


141. Kelp holds firm in the shield wall, even though she looses a level. Her resolve almost falters as she contemplates group retreat. However, she continues to stab out with Fairwind of the Waves (even though Fairwind wishes it was being wielded by the level losing Guest Star (Heroic acts recharge the Sword).


142. After firing Crossbow bolts at the Head Wight retreats through a side door. Some of the wights are inspired and decide to follow her. Luckily she closed the door behind her and was able to fire off a couple of bolts as they advanced. Finally they got too close and she did the boltzky. However this left a flank open on the shield wall. The shield wall has to fall back and regroup. Luckily by this time there are only 2 or 3 wights (down from 12 in this battle!!!), however, it is still scary for the party.

143. The party search the wights. They find that the head Wight has a Silver Pendant. His clothes have the name “Throne” stitched into them. The party also find two potion bottles and an exceptional long sword. The party then checks out the rest of this deck.

144. The party goes back to the kids and help them move their stuff over to the Crest Dancer. Rolt (head kid) and Myfinger seem to hit it off as they talk about Crossbows.

145. The party explore the crew mess and there isn’t a more apt name. Chairs and bottles lie smashed on the floor. Tables are overturned. Several tables and chairs are scattered in a fan shape from the entrance.  Knifes and forks lie scattered around the space. Plates are flung everywhere still contained the mouldy off remains of meals. The oven is still upstanding and is cold. There are large patches of dried claret coloured substance. The same dried colour can be seen splattered around the space.

146. The portholes in this space have also been smashed open and cannot be closed. Along the Port wall there are two doors. Both are locked. Harmony checks for traps on both and finds none. Harmony picks the locks.

147. The party enters the first door. This is a storage area. There are crates, barrels and sacks of flour. Against the forward wall is an overturned barrel propped by bags of flour to stop it rolling. Stretched over the barrel is a corpse. Its hands and feet are tied and pulled taunt. Around the corpse’s swollen face, chest and ribs are purple discolouring. By the smell of the body it has been dead several weeks. The body was obviously tortured.

148. On one of the crates is a metal bird cage containing a parrot. It lies on its side breathing heavy. You enter the room and you hear a faint and tired squawk followed by an equally faint and tired “Polly want a fucking cracker”

149. The party searches the room and finds a circle gem and a potion bottle. While the party searches, one of the party decides to feed the parrot and give it some water. It perks up a bit and starts to squawk and talk. After a while the party realises that it is saying the last things it heard. It keeps repeating the following lines:-

150. Someone decides to give the parrot to the kids when you see them next.

151. In the next room, it stacked with crates. They appear to be divided into piles based on the markings on the crates. In the aft corner is a sole chest. You check the chest there is nothing in there.

152. The party make their way down to the next deck down. Your light source only lights up small sections at a time, due to the stairs and masts. The floor is strewn with clothes, bedding and personal effects. It looks like the stuff on the floor has been made into a communal bed. Along the walls are heavy velvet scarlet curtains. The air is cold down here. The strongest smell of decay comes from this deck. It is almost overpowering. There is no sound except the beatings of your own hearts and the rocking of the ship. There are no sources of natural light down here, nor does it seem it was wanted.

153. The party pull back each curtain one at a time and find no other Wights. The party moves forward into what appears to be a mess area. Off this area is a cell. This cell contains a bed and a body in the foetal position in the furthest corner. The bed has one of the legs has been broken off. In the corner is a body in foetal position. A dark claret stain radiates out from the body.

154. Making sure that the body is not undead, the party examine the body. It is the body of a dwarf, age unknown. He wears rags. He has clasped in his hands, one end of the broken leg of the bed. The other end has been rammed into his chest. Written in common in the blood near his body are the words “Starve you undead bastards”. There are numerous scratch marks on the floor at about arms length from the bars.

155a. Also off from this area is a toilet. Nothing exciting there. There is also stairs going down to the hold.

155. To the starboard side of the ship, the front area is barricaded off. Barrels, crates and cargo fill this part of the forward section. On closer examination you can see that this cargo has not been packed for sea travel. It is haphazardly packed. Certain areas glow gently as if a light might be behind there.

156. You move a few boxes and Coral decides to peer over. She sees a more organised wall five feet in. She can see crossbows pointing in the general direction. Coral wants to parley but the people on the other side of the boxes think that she might be undead. She says that she is not and decides to flash her tits at them (why oh why Andrew!?!). As she exposes her torso she is warned that if she moves they will shoot her. She estimates there are 2 crossbows pointing at her.

157. The people tell her to slowly climb over and to keep her hands clear. She climbs over and walks slowly across the “kill zone”. There is a wall of crates stacked in the five foot wide corridor. Unlike the first wall, this wall looks like it is well organised and packed tightly. This section is bathed in light from behind the wall. At the top of the wall are two crossbows pointing in the party direction.

158.  She steps up to the wall. The crossbows are pointed at her while one man leans over to check to see if she has a heart beat. Once they realise that she is not undead, they agree to parley. They let the rest of the party in when the party says that they have killed the wights.

159. As the party makes its way into the back of the “stronghold”, they pass a cell.

160. Lying on the bunk is a dead human. He is dressed in sailors’ clothes and lies as if he has been “laid to rest”. His hands are folded across his chest. He was middle aged. His shirt is stained with blood from a wound he sustained.

161. This cell holds the body of Stiles First Mate.

162. At the back of the Stronghold, crates are laid up against the wall to give it support and to act as a step. There is a bunk in the corner. Right in the corner is an over flowing chamber pot. This room is crowded with people. Two stand on guard while the other two rest. There is a table with food and weapons on it.

163. In this encounter you learn:

164. This group call themselves the “Mates of Styles”. Stiles was an old sea dog who, even though he was a pirate, was kindly to the younger newer crew. Stiles also was given a share of Ardak’s treasure. Stiles could see that the Curse of Ardak was tearing the crew apart. Using powerful magic he asked the Gods the following question:

165. “How do we remove the evil effect that the Curse of Ardak has on the crew?”

166. The answer he received, which is on a blood stained piece of parchment.

167. “There is no curse. It is neither evil nor good. It is what you are. Throw it into the deep, disband the crew, destroy the ship”.

168. The Mates of Stiles tell how Stiles and another sailor Shrub (a tough SOB) argued about Ardak’s treasure. Stiles maintained it should be discarded; whereas, Shrub maintained that it was a gift from the gods. The two polarised the crew into two factions. This group is the remains of Stiles’ faction.

169. They want no more to do with this ship. They gladly take your offer to leave on the Crest Dancer. You take them to your ship and return.

Appendix A

Captain’s log

170. None of the crew can read the dialect on the sarcophagus. Shrub believes he has seen it before. He thinks it is an ancient Dwarven dialect. I have given him the task of deciphering the sarcophagus. Apart from the dwarven machines, this “rescue” has been lean on spoils. This sarcophagus had better hold something worthwhile. Otherwise, it has been three weeks wasted for nothing.

171. Shrub has given his translation. It has taken the Cretan a week. “Here lies Ardak the Greedy and his treasure, the Curse of Ardak.  The Curse will only bring pain and sorrow”. This translation has made some of the crew uneasy, spineless fools.

172. Damn that treasure, I have lost seven crew trying to open that sarcophagus. I have reassigned the Doctor and Merralox to open the sarcophagus.

173. I should have taken more “survivors” from the Anvil. Four dwarves have chosen death over divulging the secrets of the sarcophagus.  Bloody Dwarves, give me elves any day. They break like twigs.

174. I have restricted access to the sarcophagus to just the officers. The crew are getting uneasy about what lies within. They are starting to question whether it is worth the lives it is costing.

175. Success at last. Doc and Merralox have removed the magical protection on the Sarcophagus. I have sent in the engineers to check for normal traps.

176. Bloody Dwarves. A curse on all dwarves. The magical protection has been removed and that bloody sarcophagus has taken the lives of three men. The engineers assure me that it is cleared. They better be right otherwise, they will be having a Deep sleep.

177. I have called a meeting of the officers. Tonight we open the sarcophagus.

178. The Dwarves are cowards and Nancy boys. We have opened the sarcophagus and taken Ardak’s treasure. As a precaution will get a powder monkey to take the first share of the treasure.

179. The Dwarves are fools and short sighted simpletons. What a wondrous power is Ardak’s treasure. The powder monkey got more power today that he knew what to do with. The treasure will give us more wealth and power than I had imagined. It is a gift from the gods. The Dwarves lacked the will and desire to use the treasure to its full potential.

180. I have Oath Bound the officers to not speak of the Ardak’s treasure. The fewer who have access to this power the better.

181. I cannot belief the power and wealth of this treasure. If this is a curse, then let me be cursed. How did the dwarves become a major race when they are scared of such a wonderful gift?

182. Midshipman Bracegirdle and Lieutenant Rallath were found fighting today. I have had Bracegirdle whipped. However, that is only a temporary solution. Bracegirdle’s share of the treasure made him more powerful than some of my lieutenants. I am forced to promote him otherwise he will continue to cause problems in the lower ranks. It will make many of the lieutenants, including Rallath, jealous but I can handle those scurvy dogs.

183. Throne has taken on a new cabin boy. The treasure has some how made his new underling fanatically loyal to him. Throne’s servant has even disobeyed my orders. He took the whipping, but only because Throne ordered him to.  I will have loyalty from ALL of my crew.

184. I have had Lieutenant Barama hanged today. The bastard has been using his share of the treasure to bribe the lower officers. He was planning a coup. However, I am quick and he is dead. I will have to have some of his supporters killed and the others whipped. This is seriously weakening the morale and strength of my crew. I have been putting of taking my share of the treasure but I will have to do it soon.

185. Merralox has lost his mind. I have had him confined to quarters, only to be attended by Rabbit Foot. If the crew hear of this latest catastrophe, then they may start believing that the curse on the treasure is real.

186. The cook is gone mad. What is getting into my crew? He screams of monsters being after him. I have given double rum rations and locked him in the hold, till I work this out. His food is disgusting anyway.

187. Throne took his share of the treasure today. The Doctor said that he is dying.

188. Throne is dead. I have placed his corpse in the holding cells. I will get the doctor to investigate the corpse.

189. All members of the crew know that death will come for us one day. Today it came for the Doctor. The manner of his death has rattled the crew. I fear that we may have burnt a hole in the world.

190. I have made the Doctor’s room and the Cap Stain off limits. 

191. Rumours are starting to increase about the Curse.

192. The ship is 20 nautical miles off course. I have had the duty officer flogged. He swears that the ship was on course. Not only is he incompetent, he is also a liar.

193. There are minor accidents happening on board that cannot be accidents. I am starting to believe that they are deliberate.

194. Rumours are spreading through the ship about a traitor aboard the ship. I have not been able to quell these rumours. I believe the traitor must bespreading them.

195. There is a traitor in our midst. The treasure told me as much, I should have headed its warning. Who to trust? These accidents are the work of the traitor. He will hang!!

196. Factions are starting to form in the crew. Stiles and Shrub are at each other. Stiles believes the treasure is cursed; whereas, Shrub says that the treasure is a gift from the gods. Fighting is starting to break out, no matter how much I beat the instigators.

197. I know the traitor. I am going to end this now.

198. The treasure of Ardak has cured Manky Pete. Shrub claims it is a miracle. Bloody Shrub, since he has found religion he has been nothing but trouble. Thanks a lot Ardak.


Appendix B

Maps of the ship