Friday, July 27, 2007

The Gnomes of Atlantia (June 07)

As the Maelstrom set sail for vaguely east, the eager lad in the crow's nest spotted an island glinting off the port bow. This caused some consternation, for Stilgar was certain no island was charted in this stretch of water (and no one dared question Stilgar on matters of sea charts). As the ship drew nearer the glinting island, it could be made out that it was made all of metal, and unlikely to be an island at all. This instilled a deeper consternation, for anything made of metal and sporting the size of an island must be dangerous indeed. But as is often the case with our crew, curiosity won out over discretion, and the captain gave order to steer nearer the monstrosity.

Closer and closer they sailed, until it could be determined that it was island and ship -- a vast conglomeration of both! The sunlight glinted off a polished green hull, as well as buildings and minarets sported by the stately behemoth. Vessels minuscule in relation to the mother ship sailed to and fro and all around, patrolling nearby water.

Soon enough they were hailed by three tiny vessels of curious design - vessels big enough for only 3 crew, but each sporting a sail, paddle wheel, and cannon! A gnome to each device - one piloting, one minding the sail, and one pedaling to keep the wheel going (one can assume the gnome piloting got to shoot the cannon).
They hailed the Maelstrom, and receiving cordial reply, escorted them to dock with Atlantia, the Gnomish city-ship.

Upon dock, the crew was given leave to roam about the Bigun Section (that being the section of the city that accommodated human-sized folk), and roam they did. Bigun Section sported all the features of any large port city, but mostly cleaner and more pleasant. Many a wondrous gadget called to the eye from market booths aplenty, as one would expect from a gnomish city.

While inspecting the fare at a cockatrice feather booth, Winston was approached by one Vincenzo Alberte, who offered him and his crew employment. Always on the lookout for booty, and none too keen on the vague plan of handing over the Red Shield, Winston eagerly agreed. Vincenzo related that Atlantia was having trouble with Captain Bloody Paul Demmings, a pirate of some skill and prowess. The proposed work involved "making sure the troublesome Demmings never bothers us again." Winston pressed for more details, but Vincenzo would not elaborate until Winston had agreed to the job.

After some discussion with the crew, Winston agreed to the job. Vincenzo related the rest of the Gnomish problem the next day.
The Atlantia can't very well belly up to any old port town and unload their goods. No one is happy with a floating city-fortress in their port, and the fact that it's crewed entirely by gnomes only increases the unease after a moment's thought. So the gnomes came up with a safe way of trading their goods amongst port towns--they use submarines. Atlantia stays several miles off shore, and the sub with the trade goods swims unmolested to port.
Until now.
Somehow, the notorious pirate captain Bloody Paul Demmings found a way to not only track the trade subs, but incapacitate and/or kill the crews with some kind of lightning weapon. There have been survivors to tell the tale, but they can relate little more than electricity arcing throughout the unfortunate boat before they lost consciousness. Other ships had the good fortune to spot one of Demmings' ships in a periscope and turn tail back to Atlantia before he could get close enough to unleash his mysterious lightning weapon.

So, the task before the Maelstrom is this: make this problem go away. A sum of forty thousand gold, plus ten thousand in ship enhancements for the Maelstrom, was settled on for payment.

Much discussion was made on how to catch Demmings. It is know that the man commands a fleet of ships numbering usually a score. The number varies, since he has been known to set 'expendable' ships on fire and run them into docks, convoys, tight groups of ships, and other troublesome enemies. He is estimated to have from two to three thousand men at his command, ready to follow him into any sort of danger.

Jenna's knowledge of pirates proved invaluable here, as she was able to relate several facts about Demmings and his command crew:

Demmings doesn't leave anyone alive from captured ships. Instead he has them thrown overboard or turns them over to his less-than-savory allies for sacrifice or even food. The newly emptied ships are either conscripted into his fleet or sunk after all the treasure and supplies have been extracted.
Captain Demmings is almost seven feet tall and broad shouldered. He is bald, but wears a full beard that is black as a raven's wing. He has a vicious scar that runs from his ear to his nose that he claims to have gotten when pulling the wings off an archon. The Captain likes to dress in browns, perhaps as a foil for his first mate, Mad Addy.
Demmings' flag ship is the Vanessa Rose.

The first mate of the Vanessa Rose is Adalaine Scoldaria, known to the rest of the crew as Mad Addy. She is as ruthless and bloodthirsty as the Captain she serves, and quite often leads the boarding actions against other ships. She always dresses in garish reds and pinks, and all of the blades of her weapons are tinted bright red. Her hair is long and tangled, and her looks usually startle those that see ehr for the first time. She often takes advantage of that shock in battle, allowing her to strike first.

The bosun is the mysterious Bart Trevillier, who is known to have a sadistic streak and a lust for torture.

There are not one, but two mages on board the Vanessa Rose; Eljira ma Farin, and Wallace Fitzhugh. The two are lovers and are rarely out of each others sight. They work well together; Eljira using offensive magic while Wallace concentrates on protecting the ship. The two are a mixed match, Eljira being a large woman, tall and heavy-set with a swarthy complexion, with dark hair and penetrating eyes. Wallac eis aextremely thin and fair skinned with red hair and freckles, giving him a very boyish appearance. They both dress plainly to blend in with the rest of the crew.

Demmings doesn't trust any sort of cleric or holy man, arguing that their devotion to a particular faith will only get in the way at some point, so he has shanghaied a dwarven healer to work on the Vanessa Rose.

After much discussion, it was decided that Atlantia would sail to a remote port and lure Demmings (or at least one of his lieutenants) to port for an ambush. The elvish port city of Feyjounaisse was chosen, and they set sail that same day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Red Shield (May 07)

'Twas summer in Year 203 of the Red King's Turning when the crew of the Maelstrom became the crew of the Maelstrom after renaming the sturdy galley once captained by Jonn Demmons, who met his unfortunate end in the lair of the great black dragon Taelwoadorusten.

Our singular band of scalawags (you know the ones) decided to crew the Storm themselves, and Captain
Shanahan gave them his blessing, as is his wont with captured ships and ambitious crew. Eager from their decision, the crew split apart to various activities in the great city of Midport, mostly to buy supplies or frippery.

Of note is the encounter Dagon had with a demon assassin, who stabbed him a near-mortal hit with a Wounding blade as he staggered from an alehouse. Only his enhanced monastic speed saved him as he bolted to the Bloody Cutlass with the demon in pursuit. Dagon paused not to look, but the demon was nowhere in sight when he nearly flew up the plank to the deck, crying out for Garumph the Cleric.

Dagon thought to skulk about the Cutlass until he could join the crew on the Maelstrom when it set sail, but Shanahan had other plans. He found Dagon astride a barrel of cheap beer and bade him show "whatever it is you have" to Trogdor, the ship's wizard. Having no reason to mistrust Shanahan, Dagon produced the shield given to him by the mysterious monk. After working a few magics and making a lot of noise like "hmm" and "huh" and "aha," Trogdor gave him a brief history of the Shields Against Darkness...

In Year 1 of RKT, the Red King prepared for the inevitable war between the Redlands and its one-time ally, the Dark Domain. He trained his army and navy in tactics specifically for combat against the demons bound in service to the Dogwa, and also made special equipment for such. Using arcane materials such as orichalcum and mithral, and infusing them with his very blood, he created twenty nigh-indestructible shields that would protect the bearer from all manner of demonic assault. He had his trusted lieutenant, Colin of Whitehill, select twenty of the most stalwart fighters amongst his marines, and trained them in demon-slaying.

Most scholars and historians agree that it was tactics such as this that swung the balance in the Turning War. All of the Shield Bearers survived the war, and all are recorded by their superiors in command as having destroyed no less than 3 high-ranking Fiends apiece. Indeed, to this day all Redlander children are told the story of Angus of Dryfield, who killed a Balor with a broken sword... although his use of an enchanted shield is downplayed in the heroic tale.

It isn't entirely clear what happened to the Twenty after the war. Most historians agree that they were put into a vault or safe-away of some sort, but the Red King is not exactly forthcoming on where he hides his treasure-trove of magical artifacts. For certain, there are accounts of the King collecting his artifacts when the war was done, and bestowing various and sundry honors upon the bearers.

Trogdor surmised that however the Shield fell into the wrong hands, the fact that it has the blood of the Red King in it makes it insanely valuable to his enemies. Sadly (from Dagon's point of view) it would be impossible to sell it for it's full value, for to get full value one would have to advertise what, exactly, it is, and that would bring even more agents of Darkness after him... as well as the righteous fury of the Red King. Even to cull a fraction of its value would be a Bad Thing, for if the Dogwa got his filthy clutches on the thing he would weaken the Red King considerably, if not kill him, and cast the Archipelago into darkness once more.

Shanahan seemed somewhat relieved that Dagon was leaving, and in fact bade him to do it right then and there. Softening the blow of such abrupt ejection, he gifted Dagon a magic lantern. "In its light, the invisible becomes visible," said Shanahan. "Good luck to yeh. Now, off my ship."

Dagon collected his effects and strode from the Cutlass, lit lantern in hand. In short order he spied an imp dogging his steps, acting smug and making rude gestures, as if Dagon couldn't see it. He waited til the imp was in arm's reach and felled it with one mighty blow of his hamfist.

Meanwhile, back at the newly-christened Maelstrom, the newly-captained Winston VonWarheit was busily recruiting crew. Having an affinity for the orphaned and downtrodden, he brought on mostly teenage street urchins. While green as saplings, they had quick hands and eager hearts.

Once the ship was fully crewed and supplied, the story of Dagon's artifact was brought to light. The command crew decided it would be best if they simply gave it to the Red King... but oddly enough, the Red King isn't in the habit of entertaining a pack of would-be pirates (no matter how well-meaning they be). With this in mind, they set a goal of handing the Shield over to a high-ranking Redlander noble or general. After all, what else could be expected of them?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Character Profiles


Dagon (named after some ancient sea beast) like many half-breeds, was born of a drunken liaison between an unlikely couple. He was begat by a comely (for an Orc... hey, they can't ALL be hideous) tribeswoman and a missionary man living near the Blue Mountain Temple.

Being a half-breed, Dagon was treated like an outsider most of his childhood, but like a boy named Sue, he grew tough. He also got in plenty of trouble. Trouble seems to have grown attached to him… remaining attached to this day.

After a while Dagon’s mother had had enough, and sent him to be with his father near the temple. His father, embarrassed by living proof of his dalliance with an orc, wanted nothing to do with him.

Fortunately this problem solved itself. One night while breaking into a liquor cabinet, Dagon was caught by Master Ho, the boss of Blue Mountain Temple(and owner of said liquor). A (one-sided) fight ensued.

Master Ho saw potential in young Dagon and took him as a student.

Dagon took to the martial arts training amazingly well... till he started showing up drunk. That’s when whispered rumors started spreading about Dagon being the legendary zuì quán. Master Ho, in an attempt to halt these rumors, initiated a new policy of choosing drunken students as his sparring partner for that day. It took several beatings for Dagon to figure this out, and he stopped showing up drunk (as often).

One day Master Ho had either had enough of Dagon's antics, or decided Dagon had learned enough (or both). He bade Dagon to "take the Tiger and the Dragon." With some fortified wine to "take the edge off," Dagon carried a black cauldron of burning coal down the Graduate Path, thus burning the graduate marque of Blue Mountain Temple on the inside of each of his forearms.

As is customary for Acolytes of Blue Mountain, Dagon went forth into the world to seek his fortune.

And he has since found the zui quán way, the rumors were in fact, prophecies...


Jenna Swinesdottir drawn from life by Noggin the Limner of Haimishport, who wishes it noted that the girl demanded to wear the patch though she needed it not.

Excerpted from;
Pyrates: Their Villainous Ways and Keen Dress Sense
the Honorable Horation hans Splatter QVC, KoT, MVP of Millvesport the White Lands

Being the Tale of Jenna Swinesdottir Wanton, Duelist and Pyrate

Wherein the author will describe how the tale of the notorious pyrate came to be known to him.
Whilst traveling among the stews of our fair capital it is impossible not to hear, from our stout sailing folk, of the singular pyrate Jenna Swinesdottir. She is spoken of in every dark wine-shop and e’en sung of in the fouler dens. She is reputed a deadly blade with hook and slim rapier and her manner much feared for tis said that e’en her own mates know not which way the wind might blow her mind. She is like as naught to skewer a lad as gaze on him and has been known to incite brawls upon a mere whim. Her beauty and youth are much remarked on as are her maniacal moods for she is a wench like the weather, changeable. When not a screaming mad thing, all who speak of her, name her generous with gifts, appealing of manner and e’en a bit naïve. The old salts say she is like unto their granddaughters and the young ones say she can be honey sweet without a care in the world, until she sees fit to become such a raging harridan that no tempest of the sea is like unto her for violence.

Wherein, the author endeavors to detail Jenna Swinesdottir’s body and visage. Being born to swineherds she has their heavy build and stout arms but has been blessed with comely features, more the steeplechase thoroughbred than farmer’s plow horse. She stands a hands-span shy of an unstrung yew bow with red gold hair and eyes the azure of a sea-captain’s coat. Her right hand has been severed at the wrist and in its place is a hook all of the finest silver, with which she is reputed most deft and adept. Her left hand, like as not, is filled with a slim rapier, as handsome as the hook, with which she has gained a repute e’en among hardened orcs and soldiers. She stands fore-square with the devil may care attitude of a rake and yet she is said to be simple as a child in her understanding of the workings of the world outside of booty and bloodshed. She dresses in the finest silks, velvets and calf leather boots topped with the plumed hat of a cavalier tailored by our own White Land’s drapers and milliners, who speak of her rather as generous, than a vagabond thief.

Wherein, the author speaks of the birth, upbringing and history of the notorious pyrate.
Though, tis not the least the manner of the rest of the sea-born villains, Jenna is most forthcoming with her history. Troth, it can be found wherever the willing ear is placed among the seafaring folk. She was born to Hoggle and Omma Swiner, the fifteenth of seventeen children and the only daughter. Hoggle was, and by some accounts is, a swineherd and a prosperous one at that. He is of that breed of sturdy animal husbanders who can coax profit from out of his stock whilst still being a good-fellow-man to those who know him. It seems though he was an indulgent father, toward his only female child, if a tad distant. Jenna’s mother Omma died when Jenna was still in swaddling of an unfortunate and unlikely carthorse, water-well and Maypole accident, more’s the pity. Jenna was raised most by her boisterous brothers and the sailors whom her father took in as lodgers. E’en in earliest childhood she was an unnatural girl preferring the roustabout rumble tumble pell-mell of her brothers play to her own dolls and hoops. By the age of twelve she could climb like a forest pard and was reputed deadly with anything having a point. Though she seems to have been a dutiful child, in her way, a life of herding swine ne’er suited her and her father oft’ let her stay amongst his sailor lodgers and listen to their tales, whilst her many brothers ran the farm. These same salts filled her young head, with shanties and foamy quests, till her mind was fair addled and her speech was as colorful as a hand of fifty years. She began to believe that the life of a seaman, and a pyrate at that, was one of heroic adventure and naught but daring do. She determined that she would live that life and no other.

Upon her fifteenth summer, it being the custom among the islanders that fifteen was the end of childhood and the beginning of adult duties, she set out for the local sea port hard by, bent on becoming a sea-hand. Coming to the first sloop she spied she clambered up the gangway and demanded to be taken on board as an able hand and pyrate no less. The resulting hilarity drove her into an ale house where she chanced on three drunken sailors and their e’en more inebriated companion, a sawbones, or sea-born cleric. Convinced, as she was, that it was her visage, and not her manner, that had reduced the captain and crew of the sloop to tears of mirth, she set about to look more pyratical. She belabored the soused seadogs to have her left hand off and replace it with a hook. So they did after much drink and cajoling but naught could o’ercome them to have her leg off for a wooden peg and her eye out as well, fortunately for the daft lass. At this point the God’s smiled on her, or mayhap had their own jest, for it chanced that that devil of the sea, the scourge of maiden shipping and gunned hunters alike, Shannahan of the Cutlass was in port. He heard of the balmy bint and had her dragged onto his vessel. Jenna Swinesdottir has sailed loyally with him to this very day.

There have been tales, e’en within the month, of this damsel of the deep sailing among ghosts on foul a phantom vessel. She is reputed by a paladin of note to have battled at the side of half-orc and ‘Gyptian minotaur monks within a dank fetid chapel turned to evil. Tales tell of sea drakes and krakens o’er stepping the gunwales of the Cutlass, though, so perhaps Jenna Swinesdottir is drowned and devoured by such beasts. Indeed it is said that she is possessed by spirits, fair haunted by undead pyrate queens and may have died while swashbuckling on Mad Wizard Isle, a place of fearsome and uncanny repute. Among the gnomes it is said that she and her companions have turned pyrate hunters and, with their own vessel, currently rid the seas of other ocean brigands. What e’re the tale, good folk keep ‘ye wary for thy young lads and boy childer, keep them close. If Jenna is still about, and your boys comely, they may yet come to grief or have their manhood’s stolen by this wave-foam harpy, Jenna Swinesdottir, Mad Maiden of the Malestrom.


Laina Silverleaf

Laina is a youngish elf—just about of age—with more brains and skills than common sense and a near maniacal determination to avoid boredom.

From the time she was little, Laina’s surname has given rise to consistent rumors about the mythical elven city of Silverleaf and her mother’s connection thereto. All of the elven kingdoms and clans are matriarchal. Bloodlines and birth rights run through the maternal line. There is no marriage in merchant classes and above: instead, high-ranking elven women choose consorts]. Everyone wonders if Laina’s mother, Xelena, was a Silverleaf elf, and if so, why she’s in Fejounaise. Some claim that Xelena’s presence in Fejounaise is in fact proof that the legends regarding Silverleaf are clearly mere myth: because otherwise what would she be doing here?

According to myth, a couple of centuries ago an elven wizard named Melesin Silverleaf, along with some number of human wizards, developed a plan to escape the wrath of the Red King. They encapsulated an elven city in the trees with sufficient magicks that no one could ever find it unless the city wished to be found, or the person looking had Silverleaf blood. This way they could keep their home instead of jaunting off to co-opt an island like Sidonie.

From the time Laina was born, she was taught by Xelena that the rumors regarding Silverleaf were myth and legend and foolishness and nothing more.

Xelena had some title bestowed upon her before Laina’s birth by Sidonie, so Laina grew up at Court. Instead of magicks or embroidery or weaving or dressing, however, Laina amused herself by playing tricks. As a little girl, the tricks were understandably juvenile—frogs in the Queen’s Assistant’s soup and such. She started to pick pockets at the age of 15. Laina was never really very interested in the items she obtained AFTER she had them; no matter how valuable or shiny, it was the getting that mattered.

When Laina was 50 years old, her father, a high-ranking functionary and Xelena’s consort of decades, was murdered. Run through with a sword at the wharf in the early hours of the summer solstice. Three years later, Xelena named as consort her most trusted advisor, a human named Kraig. Laina’s half-brother, Christofer, was born soon after that. Laina and Christofer are very close. As reckless and impulsive as Laina is, Christofer is risk averse, careful, thoughtful. Christofer’s been studying with a human wizard living down by the wharf for the past ten years.

Five years ago, Xelena was found dead in the Silverleaf manor. Laina inherited her mother’s title, and she and Christofer have been on their own ever since. Christofer’s father disappeared right after Xelena’s burial, and Christofer believes his father killed Xelena and maybe Laina’s father, Lorin.

Laina’s ostensible occupation is to be beautiful, select a consort, and pretend at petty intrigue at Court. Instead, she pretends at petty intrigue while engaging in major intrigue. Just after her mother’s death, she started robbing merchant vessels in the wharf. She’s been very successful despite the fact that the vessels are still bobbing up and down in the water when she burgles them—Laina is afraid of water, doesn’t know how to swim, and has never been on a boat except to rob it or cause mayhem. Sometimes the burglaries go wrong, and mayhem ensues, violence is wrought, chaos reigns, etcetera, but in the past Christofer has usually managed to smooth that sort of thing over and hide Laina’s involvement.

Laina’s latest major scam is as follows: She’s been disguising herself as a true (male) descendant of Silverleaf and conning noble families (3 so far) out of vast sums of money in the guise of needing it to smuggle the lost Silverleaf treasures into Fejounaise. After her last meeting, she then approached the family she’s stealing from in disguise as a member of the royal secret police, informed them they were being conned by a very important and dangerous criminal, and told them that to aid in the investigation they should give the thief everything he wants. They’ve of course complied, and weekly she goes in disguise as a Silverleaf and extorts more and more money from them on wilder and wilder pretexts. As herself, she’s also having a very torrid love affair with the head of the family she’s conning, the only son of a very high-ranking noble in Queen Sidonie’s court, a high-ranking military man who is consort to one of the Queen’s most trusted confidants. Laina thinks she’s got this whole scam under control, but Laina ALWAYS thinks she has these things under control.

As for love affairs, well, Laina’s goal (as far as Christofer could ever tell) is primarily to pick the MOST inappropriate person she can at any given point.

She loves scandal. She hates frippery although she cleans up nicely. She likes to go to present herself at Court dressed up as a tart or a man, just to get folks talking. She’s too young to be serene about all of the time she has in life to experience and doesn’t have any adult guidance.

Three weeks ago Christofer left Fejounaise to find a particular wizard to apprentice himself to. Laina, being too self-involved to listen overly much, doesn’t know the wizard Christofer was looking for or why. But he was supposed to be back already and she hasn’t heard from him in 3 weeks.

Laina likes to gamble but is terrible at it, especially when she cheats. She fights with swords and daggers, occasionally with a bow, and delights in causing trouble. Right now, though, she’s determined to find Christofer, and is trying to come up with a plan as to how to leave Fejounaise and get some information as to where she should start looking.

Murgosis Meri-Amen-Bull-Ra III - named after his father.  Very common
among nobility in Egypt. Means: "beloved ofAmen-Bull-Ra.”
Overseer of the Middle Realm - An inherited title, entirely ceremonial                                                                
Initiate of the Holy Order of Amen-Bull-Ra  - His Holy Monastic Order                                                                    
Administrator of the 'Fighting 5th' - an elevated position within his battle
regiment. 3rd in command.
Murgosis is from the land of Egypt, where only minotaurs rule and non-
minotaur humanoids that enter it, enter in chains. The humans and elves
(particularly elves) that live in the closest foreign lands are something
of a mystery, and breed a great deal of fear, since they have access to
arcane magics (forbidden in Egypt) and not well understood.
His family is very well positioned, in that his father is High Priest to
Amen-Bull-Ra, the sun god currently in favor. As such, it was expected that
Murgosis III would follow his father (Murgosis II) in the clergy. Murgosis was
more interested in battle and tactics, and wanted to become part of the
Pharaoh's guard.
Murgosis allowed his father to push him into the priesthood, but followed
his inclinations and became part of the sect of warrior priests. He is truly
lawful, born in a country where just about everyone unswervingly follows the
authority figure, and believes deeply in the power and righteousness of

. He is happy and well suited as a Fighting Priest of Amen-Bull-Ra
and well convinced of the good of his cause.
On a side note, he's also fallen in love with the sea.  Since Egyptian sailing
is mostly up and down the
Nile, this has been a treat for him this year, and
given the choice, would far prefer to live on the sea than dwell on land.
Since being displaced from Egypt (by a sea storm that pulled him, far, far
from his homeland) he has had to revise alot of his beliefs. He has come
to grips with the idea that the smaller humanoids are not evil, inferior,
plotting the downfall of all religion, or necessarily rife with forbidden magic.
The xenophobic stories the priests have taught him about foreigners are
clearly greatly exaggerated and based on fear. He’s also starting to
believe that the smaller and shiftier looking ones are still unlikely to lay
eggs in his stomach during sleep like in the childhood bedtime tales of his
youth. This shift in attitude has been eased somewhat by very little
exposure to arcane spellcasters or elves among his compatriots.
Separating the fallible priesthood from the divinity they represent is difficult
for any Egyptian, and Murgosis is still faithful to Heifer Egypt. The stories
about the dangers and evils of magic still ring true to him. Magic has
shown itself to be every bit as dangerous and wicked as the stories tell.
Like many religious people in Egypt, Murgosis has a fondness for cats.


The Biography of Captain Winston von Warheit

Winston von Warheit was born to adventuring parents: Wanda (Redlander Wizard) & Wolfgang (Whitelander Fighter) von Warheit. Unable to find decent child care, Wanda and Wolfgang took Winston to the office with them. He started off in Wanda's backpack, progressed to toddling along and finally graduated to helping out in menial ways.

The adventuring life was a rough one, but it wasn't all bad. Winston's favorite part of each day was gathering by the campfire and hearing telling after retelling of his parents' (and their adventuring friends') exploits. As people would join and leave his adventuring family, he
heard all sorts of stories. A natural raconteur and blessed with a good memory, he could often retell a tale better its originator after hearing it a couple times.

Alas, the good times were not to last. His parents were killed when he was ten. Winston survived, but he was so traumatized by watching his parents die that he completely blocked them out of his memory. One of the surviving adventurers dropped the traumatized ten year old off at an orphanage in Dule.

Orphanage life was decent. The people there were very nice, especially his 50-100 "brothers" and "sisters" of various races from various places. He also gained an extended family of "cousins" whose stay in the orphanage, while not contemporaneous with his, made them spiritual relatives.

The only bad part about the orphanage was the terrible poverty. To make ends meet, the children helped out by begging, rolling drunks, and scamming every last copper they could from the kind-hearted to the gullible and all points in-between. Winston had a natural affinity
for the work. Once he learned the hustle, he could tell the most heart-rending sob stories.

After a few years, Winston noticed that many of his brothers and sisters didn't fare well after leaving the orphanage. He resolved to do better. At the age of 15, he decided to join the Duleandr navy. This posed two problems. First, he was too young. Second, the life of an enlisted
man didn't seem very glamorous. So, Winston got some forged military credentials and joined a Duleandr ship as an officer. He sailed the seas for two years and served with distinction while learning the ways of the fighting man. At some point, he decided that he'd become bored
with the navy and deserted.

Needing another gig, he chanced upon an old adventuring buddy, Shanahan, who had taken up piracy. Winston found this an appealing option. He never had much respect for the law and his whole life had been about looking out for others: his parents, the adventuring group, his
orphanage, his naval crew. The crew of the Bloody Cutlass would be his new family.

When he joined the Cutlass, his grasp of reality was somewhat tenuous. As a self-defense mechanism, his brain would rewrite painful memories. With his parents blocked out of his mind, the stories of their family adventures became stories of his adventures. Other than the fact
that they couldn't possibly be true ("A two-year-old overthrowing the Warlock Warlord? Nonsense!"), his stories were incredibly vivid and historically accurate. His time in the navy ended due to boredom, not due deserting after hearing a visiting admiral remark, "Who the
hell is Commander Ichluga? I never assigned anyone of that name to this ship!" No one ever raised a valid objection to one of his tales, they just responded with enthusiasm. No matter what, HIS story always had a happy ending.

After some time on the Cutlass, a man claiming to be Winston's father was rescued from the belly of a kraken. Winston denounced him as a fraud and a liar. After all, he'd never had a father. After a few weeks, Wolfgang (his father's name, remember the first paragraph?) had a Heal spell cast on Winston which fixed his insanity. With his brain remembering things properly, he had a tearful reunion with his father.

Around the same time, Winston was elected captain of the newly captured Maelstrom. He drafted a cadre of orphans to crew the ship. He was also reunited with his long, lost half-sister who agreed to sign on.

With his dad manning the guns, his sister by his side and surrounded by his crew "family", Winston sails the seas, searching for a way to bring back his mother and reuniting his family at long last. Of course, he'd also like to amass great wealth so that he can be a benefactor to
orphans everywhere. Maybe even have a few kids of his own some day.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Captain: Winston VonWarheit, Jr
Fist M... er, First Mate: Murgosis
Bosun: Jenna Swinesdotter
Pilot: Stelgar
Ship's Drunk: Dagon
Storm Priest: Marik Lordstar
Master Gunner: Winston VonWarheit, Sr
Ship's Fiddler: Reis Vestini
Lubber: Laina Silverleaf
Token Native: Ochobo

Other named crew:
Largn, halfling sorcerer
Rachma the Knife, human rogue

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dramatis Personae

Captain Shanahan, of the Bloody Cutlass

No one knows how Shanahan came into possession of the Cutlass, how he earned the loyalty of Domi and Squee, how he made the Dread Pirate Blackmar his arch-enemy, or how he garnered an almost-freindly relationship with the Dead Pirate Zakhi. One also may wonder why a man as capable as Shanahan is content with merely the one ship, when he could easily have garnered an entire fleet by now.

What is known is this: Shanahan is human. He stands 6 feet tall, weighs about 14 stone and has dark reddish-brown hair. He has captained the Cutlass for about 10 years. He is vicious with a rapier and has single-handedly slain an adult black dragon that attacked the Cutlass on the high seas. He has a reputation as an honorable man - as much as can be attributed to a pirate, anyway.

Chamille Miller

In the Darklander port of Drachensgraab, folk whisper of the dread Master of Thieves; a brutish half-orc named Thurgo. He stands near seven feet tall and wields an enchanted spiked chain.
Folk are wrong though. Thurgo is not the Guildmaster. That title belongs to Chamille Miller, a human of Redlander and Islander descent. Chamille uses Thurgo as a mouthpiece and "beard" for the common folk to whisper about. Thurgo will often swagger about the streets, proclaiming his might in plain view, while Chamille watches from the shadows.
Chamille fights with a spiked chain as well. Most times her victims never see the chain coming, let alone Chamille herself. During a battle with the crew of the Maelstrom, she ripped the head right from the shoulders of a hapless wizard and then chose to drop into plain view from the shadows.

Chamille is a handsome woman with red-black hair and light olive skin. She has dark eyes and weighs in near 8 stone.

Curse Feeder

Twelve leagues north of the Whitelander port of Keghorst, the evil priest known only as Curse Feeder defiled a temple of the sun god and plunged a small island into eternal night. For nigh on twenty years he worked his abominations until the crew of the Maelstrom put an end to his machinations -- but not his life. For when he was felled in combat, there was a flash of obscene red light and an echo of evil laughter, and only a dessicated corpse lay where Curse Feeder had been. Surely, one as evil as he will return to plague the crew once again.

While riding that body, Curse Feeder was a large Whitelander man, standing 6 feet 2 inches and weighing about 15 stone.

Domi, First Mate of the Bloody Cutlass

Domi is a minotaur of few words. When he does decide to speak, his tone ranges from "bellow" to "roar." More often he lets his large fists do the talking. Like Squee, he is unquestionably loyal to Shanahan and has been with him since Shanahan took the Cutlass.

Domi stands 8 feet tall and weighs in at 17 stone.

Squee, bosun on the Bloody Cutlass

Of all the officers on the Cutlass that have been with Shanahan for a good long time, the goblin Squee is the most accessible. When not peering through a spyglass in the crow's nest, he can be found drinking and gaming with the rank and file of the crew. Aside from Shanahan, Squee may be the only person to have a conversation with Domi that lasts more than six words and/or doesn't end with a giant minotaur ham-fist to the jaw. Despite being the most talkative officer, he deftly ignores or deflects questions about the past before Shanahan took the Cutlass. Squee has remained a fine liaison between officers and crew, as he seems to be able to get along with anyone.

Squee is 4 and a half feet tall, and weighs 10 stone.

Zakhi, the Dead Pirate

No one is sure whether Zakhi is indeed undead or merely a necromancer that has complete loyalty of his crew. On the occasions that he is sighted, he can certainly pass for a dapper human. Stories are told of this colorful character across the world, not just the Archipelago, as he is known to sail the seas of Araby and Chin in addition to the local waters. Most tales of his exploits involve the acquisition of magical items, from trinkets of trivial power to mighty artefacts. He is known to keep a bargain, as the crew of the Bloody Cutlass (and later the Maelstrom) know.

When Zakhi was first encountered by the crew of the Cutlass he handed over a live Redlander girl to Captain Shanahan, saying something to the effect that a living, breathing person had no place aboard the Sunrise (Zakhi's war-galley). This was while two zombies that looked suspiciously like the girl's parents were visible as part of his crew. Shanahan treated with him cordially but gave order for battlestations as a precaution.

The second encounter with Zakhi (or rather; one of his agents) was on the island of Grungaark, where a pale man offered them a tidy sum to fetch a magical bauble from a nearby island. They took the job after a bar fight with a few Burning Sands Disciples, noting afterwards that one of the unconcious Disciples had been mysteriously exsanguinated. They then sailed to the uncharted island and after treating with the orcish tribal cheif therein, gained access to a sanctum that was warded against undead.

Guarding the bauble was a Chin man whos skin was the color of slate. After defeating him by breaking his contact with the earth, he was revealed to be a man named Anteus, who had sailed with Zakhi! Furthermore, Anteus was put in the sanctum as part of a curse, for he had no memory of his duty as earth-guardian and gave no recognition of the bauble he was set to guard. It seems he had been guarding it for nearly a century, and the Zakhi he knew would never have captained a ship full of undead. Indeed, as far as Anteus knew, Zakhi's hatred of undead was legendary... in his time.