Gnollish Bows

The various gnollish tribes each employ a signature bow. To the untrained eye, they might appear quite similiar, but a close observer-- or a gnoll-- is sure to tell the difference. Each bow is made to give it some kind of advantage in combat: the desert gnolls, for example, employ a bow that speeds the death of a heavily-damaged enemy, preserving their strength in the unforgiving climate; the forest gnolls stick their enemies deep and then rush in from the trees, mob-style, driving the arrow deeper with melee attacks.

Humanoids that befriend a gnollish tribe are sometimes given a bow, and by this bow they are identified as being a friend of that tribe.

"So, What Do You Want To Do Next?"

A group of young adults leaving the safety and comforts of civilization to try and start a new life in a vast, unforgiving wilderness full of dangerous beasts and undiscovered wonders. That's this campaign setting in a nutshell. It should come as no surprise, then, that I'm striving to give the players a fair amount of autonomy, rather than railroading them into some Plot of Epicness.

This not only fits my preference for the picaresque in serial literature but also, in theory, makes it easier to create adventures that players can drop-in, drop-out of. (I say in theory because more often than not, I have to find some sort of excuse for so-and-so to suddenly disappear anyway.)

Of course, even a sandbox has to have some structure-- I can't just have every single possible dungeon and NPC for half of a continent within arm's reach-- so, at the end of every adventure since the fourth (I needed to give the players a chance to "settle in", since for many of them it was their first real experience with the game), I've pulled out the slowly-growing campaign map and ask them, "So, what do you want to do next?" At which point they offer, discuss, and come to some agreement on a place they want to visit (Bloodpurse Isle, which led to the discovery of Jarmangle's Secret), a quest they want to complete (free or kill the young dragon, in the Dungeon Crawl adventure), or even a general direction (as when The Bard Said South).

Longbow of Sticking.

DEX+2 vs AC; 1d10+2 dmg.

From this gnollish bow, your arrow flies true, sticking deep. Until the arrow is removed, each time a melee attack hits your foe, the shock of it drives the arrow deeper and deeper; roll an extra d6 damage on top of each attack.

A humanoid creature can remove the arrow as a standard action on their turn, taking 3d6 damage as they do so and provoking opportunity attacks.


8. The Master Blacksmith

The naval forces of the eastern empire have been repelled from the shores of Bloodpurse Isle by the combined efforts of its pirate denizens and the underwater inhabitants of the nearby Mermen Bay. This is due in no small part to the intervention of a familiar band of Hodamites, who restored the treaty between the pirates and the mermen after discovering the treachery of the empire's spy, Tallybrooke. Tallybrooke may have escaped-- rumours point to his destination being the Black Spire that lies on the nearby western peninsula-- but the pirate lord Captain Bergris-- Jarmangle's father-- is deeply appreciative and houses our heroes for the next few days, supplying them with ample food and drink.

Too much drink, perhaps-- the dwarven monk Uncle, sworn to bring Jarmangle back east to his adopted human family, finds himself heavily indisposed. Jarmangle and the others decide to take advantage of this, leaving Uncle behind and heading back to the continent. There they'll seek to find the master blacksmith, Orgath Blackhammer, in hopes of having their dragon scales and mementos made into fearsome armours.

Before they leave the island, though, they've two bits of business to attend to. First, they hire a local scallywag to cleanse their vessel of the bloody remnants of their battle with its undead prisoners. Secondly, Irving meets with Captain Bergris about the possibility of opening trade between Hodam and Bloodpurse Isle. Irving suggests that a Hodam pub and bawdyhouse be opened on the island; Bergris is amenable and promises to firm up the details during a future visit to Hodam.

The Gnollish Warning

They arrive on the continent without incident and make their way towards the dense woods where the blacksmith of Bloodpurse Isle said his former teacher resided. At the outskirts of the woods, they are met by a small group of gnolls-- part of a tribe native to these woods.

Our heroes tell them that they seek the blacksmith, and they're given permission to venture into the gnollish woods, provided they adhere to their law.

"Take what you need for sustenance, and do what you must to protect yourselves from harm, but do not destroy wantonly. Follow this law, and you will be a friend to the forest gnolls, and you shall be rewarded with one of our bows; disregard it, and your only reward shall be death."

Tralamin-- an owlbear rug still draped over him as a cloak, and still clad in rotting "pants" made from an elk, accentuated by a severed frogdog tongue used as a sash-- assures the gnolls that this is how they generally operate. Irving quickly promises the gnoll that they'll obey, and the head gnoll warns that they will be watched.


Jarmangle searches for something edible, and comes across some mushrooms that no one in the group can identify. Jarmangle being Jarmangle and Tralamin being Tralamin, they decide to eat them anyway. It has no effect on Jarmangle.

Rage of the Owlbear

As they make their way into the woods, our quintet spies a large owlbear in the distance. A twig snaps off a nearby tree and lands on its head. This infuriates the beast, who begins to "attack" the tree relentlessly until, minutes later, it knocks it over.

Some discussion follows during this time as to how they might get by the owlbear without engaging it in battle-- a battle they could very likely lose. Usually in cases like these, Feer, Jarmangle, or Robyn rushes in and starts fighting, while Irving (and, in his more lucid moments, Tralamin) tries to find a creative solution. In this case, the roles are reversed; Irving seems strangely resigned to fighting the beast, while Robyn and Jarmangle provide the solution: Jarmangle sends his dire falcon after the beast and Robyn uses a explosive smoke pellet to drive it towards an adjacent bog. The rushing owlbear sinks in the heavy bog, writhing and snarling all the way, until it disappears forever.

The Wagon

In the same bog, they see a half-sunken wagon. Tralamin casts a spell over himself and Feer, enabling them to walk on the bog without sharing the owlbear's fate. To protect his owlbear "cloak", Tralamin leaves the rug beside the bog.

The mushrooms Tralamin ingested begin to kick in; as he and Feer make their away across the bog, he "hears" glimmers of light singing about how "awesome" he is. Once within the wagon, Tralamin begins conversing with a compass he calls Bradbury, who "claims" to have been left there by two halfling bounty hunters. Feer, of course, only hears one side of the conversation, and doubts Tralamin's assertion that Bradbury is a "magic" compass that points towards whomever its bearer is looking for.

That's not the only thing Sherriff Feer starts to doubt with regards to the flightly eladrin; in the wagon, she finds the remnants of a wanted poster bearing Tralamin's name and visage (wearing, as a hat, a dead puppy) but with no crime indicated. She also finds a hefty supply of some strange dust.

When they return to the group, Tralamin hallucinates that his owlbear cloak is a living owlbear. Jarmangle "kills" it, and Tralamin puts it on as a cloak once more. Feer reveals the wanted poster she discovered, and the group questions Tralamin about it; Tralamin is evasive, perferring to focus on his "magic talking compass", who will help them find the master blacksmith in exchange for a sum of gold.

Irving detects that the compass is magical, though Tralamin is the only one that can hear it speak. Feer is slightly perturbed to learn that the "compass" finds her sexually attractive.

Hedging Their Bets

Feer gives the strange dust to the alchemist Robyn, who determines that it is used to reveal faint tracks in the earth. They detect the tracks of halflings emanating from the bog into the woods; the tracks lead in the same direction that Bradbury points. Irving has reservations: what if the compass is really pointing towards the halflings that Tralamin says "he" is angry with? But the group decides to follow them for the time being.

Blackhammer's Cottage

Both tracks and compass point bear them North-West, but just off to the East they spot a stone cottage. On close inspection, it's revealed to be the home of Ograth Blackhammer, the Master Blacksmith. Now the others join Irving in doubting the compass's veracity, and "Bradbury" has fallen silent as Tralamin's mushrooms have worn off.

There's no answer when they knock on the door. Peering in the window, they see that it is unoccupied and in obvious disarray; there's been a struggle here. Robyn's dust reveals dozens more tracks, all around the cottage, and a bottle of Hodam Ale that should, by rights, not be this far south. These new tracks converge with the halfling tracks, and our heroes head once more in that direction.

The River

All the tracks disappear at the banks of a small but fast-moving river that rages through the woods. The five adventurers would be able to swim across it with no great effort, but their horses would have trouble fighting the current. Irving summons a wind and directs it underwater as a sort of counter-current, allowing all of them, humanoids and horses alike, to cross.

The Ants and the Plant

On the other side, they see a grisly scene; an orc lies draped over a rock, his armour ripped open. They soon determine the cause-- sharp-mandibled giant ants that suckle some sort of nectar from a strange plant. Jarmangle sneaks ahead and attempts to move the orc's body closer to the group so that they might inspect it. In trying to move the heavy orc, however, he draws the attention of the ants. The plant itself makes a strange noise, and more ants crawl out of the woods, apparently to defend it.

As our quintet fight for their lives, they soon determine that the plant is the major threat, and try various ways to destroy it. Magic missiles, warlock curses, bardic spells, and weapons both thrown and shot from a bow prove ineffective. More and more fresh ants heed the plant's call for help, while our heroes get progressively weaker and weaker.

Finally, Irving conjures a hand that rips the plant up by its roots. As he does so, the ants screech and fall over, losing their balance. Feer takes pity on the creatures and examines them. She determines that they're not in any pain, and that they'll likely survive without the plant.

Part II

The Orc's Secret

Irving uses a powerful spell that they found on the body of the headless dwarf from whom they borrowed The Eve of Destruction. This spell enables him to see the orc's last moments through its eyes. Sure enough, he was attacked by the ants. But that's not all Irving sees; he sees a number of other orcs, and a particularly feisty looking dwarf.

Studying the destroyed armour of the orc, Tralamin determines that it's a match for same worn by the orcs they fought in the swamps near Kobold Pocket. They only won that victory, and just barely, after tricking the orcs into consuming massive quantities of Hodam Ale. Now they understand how that empty bottle got outside the blacksmith's cottage.

Jarmangle is the only one among them who has not tangled with the orcs; he resolves from looking at the corpse that they don't look so tough. And now that Feer weilds the mighty Mouth of Death, and Robyn rides a skeletal steed-- both former possessions of the orcish war-chief-- surely, they'll be more than a match for whatever remains.

The Halfling Bounty Hunters

As they follow the orcish tracks and the compass point, they hear muffled cries for help just off the path. They decide to investigate, and find two halflings tangled up in the web of a gigantic spider. The halflings are fading in and out of consciousness, apparently drugged by spider-venom.

Tralamin suggests that they just leave the halflings there, so as not to deprive the spider of its meal. Irving pushes the spider harmlessly off its web and they cut the halflings down. Robyn and Feer administer healing to counteract the spider-venom, but the halflings do not regain consciousness.

Searching the halflings, Robyn discovers a scrap of papers bearing a list of names; at the top of that list is Tralamin. Again, the group attempts to get some answers about the warlock's past; again, Tralamin evades and instead suggests that they leave the halflings there to be eaten.

They decide to take the halflings with them instead; Feer ties them to the back of one of the horses.

The Battlefield

Soon the group comes across the scene of a pitched battle; orcs and gnolls alike lie dead and bleeding. The head gnoll, who has been following them, greets them dourly, and proclaims that this time, the orcs have been particularly egregious in their tresspassing. He shall ride to the other gnollish tribes, and make a true war against the swamp orcs.

Before he does so, however, he determines that the quintet have heeded his warning, and rewards them with one of his tribal longbows.

The Swamp

The woods give way to the orcish swamp as night begins to fall. They leave all the horses save Robyn's undead horse at the edge of the swamp, along with the halflings.

Soon, they meet the orcs and their blacksmith captive, and the battle is one of the hardest they have ever fought. Robyn and Feer, bearing the treasures of the fallen orcish war-chief, are particular targets but it is Jarmangle, unprepared for both the brutality and the tactical cunning of the orcs, who falls and finds himself near death. Feer attempts to heal him with the scepter she took from the Gnollish Queen of Peace, but discovers, to her horror, that his demonic blood is immune to the holy scepter's power.

Robyn rears back on her skeletal steed and rides across the battlefield. She jumps down to his side and using her bardic magic, brings him back from the reaper's grasp. Jarmangle, typically, uses this as an opportunity to hit on the comely elfin bard.

Though their wounds are many, the five do manage to defeat the orcs and rescue the blacksmith.


It turns out that the orcs abducted Blackhammer to create a new sword to replace the stolen Mouth of Death, for it was Blackhammer who, in his youth, created that dark blade.

En route back to the woods, they run into a couple of unpleasant surprises: first, the halflings and their other horses have disappeared. Secondly, the gnolls have banned Blackhammer from the woods, for it was he that brought the orcs upon them. Our heroes suggest he take up residence in Hodam, which they assure him is slightly less cesspool-y since they came to town. Irving and Robyn circle around the forest, moving all the way south to get The Eve of Destruction while the others make camp on the edge of the forest. Irving and Robyn come up the Great River, pick up the others, and they all sail back towards Hodam.


7. Jarmangle's Secret

When our adventurers return to Hodam-- the grisly spoils of their decisive battle with the young dragon well-hidden from kobold eyes-- they find that much has transpired in their absence. Melany, acting in Tralamin's behalf, has struck a very good trade agreement with the denizens of Kobold Pocket, exchanging shipments of Hodam's Famous Ale for their sweet darkwheat. A note was left for Jarmangle by the comely tiefling mercenary Tyne, asking that he and his friends meet her on Bloodpurse Isle. And a young human woman, Evelyn, has come from the East, claiming to be Jarmangle's adopted sister.

The latter proves to be true; she's come, along with her dwarfish bodyguard Uncle, to take Jarmangle back home. She asks him to stop this nonsense and tells him that their parents are worried. Jarmangle is not swayed, but-- happy to see his sister-- asks her to come with him and his friends to the dangerous, pirate-infested Bloodpurse Isle. Evelyn is horrified and doesn't believe that her sweet brother Jarmangle would do such a thing. To prove that it's him, Jarmangle reveals a brand on his shoulder-- a brand that he had when Evelyn's family found him as a baby and that's distorted over the years. He again asks her to come with them, and she refuses, deciding instead to leave for the East. She asks her bodyguard to accompany Jarmangle, to keep him safe, and to try and persuade him to give up this life of danger and adventure.

Before Evelyn leaves, Tralamin takes a fancy to the girl's parasol and tries to trade her for it, even offering the bloodied elk remains that he wears as pants. Evelyn, for some strange reason, declines.

Return to Firepalm

Irving suggests that the fastest way to get to Bloodpurse Isle would be to take the river down to the ocean, and he recalls that there was a port on the outskirts of Firepalm. They decide to return to Firepalm, so that they might either charter or, more likely given the homicidal tendencies of the town's residents, steal a vessel. Because of the danger posed by the fire dwarfs, they decide to travel light, leaving both their whores and ales at home. Perhaps there's trade to be done on Bloodpurse Isle, but it'll have to wait for a return trip.

They arrive in Firepalm near dusk and find it strangely devoid of insane, fire-bearded dwarfs. The one-street town almost seems deserted. The group decides to check into city hall-- after all, the mayor still owes them money.

The mayor is there, but just barely alive; he looks sickly, and seems not-quite-aware of their presence. Tralamin remembers that when they killed the dragon, the fiery creatures and the firepalm ore that resided in its lair grew cold and dead. Perhaps extinguishing its life-force also extinguished all the magic of the ore; now the fire dwarfs, deprived of it, are suffering withdrawal. Taking pity on the poor creature-- but not before looting his office of course, finding a sparkling gem-- they adjust his body so that he won't choke to death on his own vomit.

Jarmangle, feeling vindictive, suggests that they cut his beard off-- Tralamin can already see ways that he can use it as an article of clothing. The dwarf bodyguard Uncle is appalled and lectures them on the importance of a beard to his kind. They refrain from taking the beard, Jarmangle consoles himself with taking the mayor's mountain-shaped paperweight, and the group heads to the port.

The Eve of Destruction

There's one vessel in the port, a ship given the somewhat off-putting name of The Eve of Destruction. Warily, our heroes try to detect the presence of ghosts or demons before they even set foot on it. They detect nothing.

Once aboard the ship, however, Robyn-- whose vampiric blood aids in the detection of the undead-- has a bad feeling about what awaits below. Within the ship, they find the corpse of a headless dwarf. Searching his body, they find a number of items meant to protect him from the undead; the items obviously did not work as planned.

They also find a scrap of paper, once part of a map, with an "X" marked just west of the Devil's Vulva. They've not any time to consider it now, however, as they hear the shuffling murmurs of the undead in the next room. Determined to catch the foul things by surprise, our heroes rush into the ship's sleeping chambers.

A horde of zombies, detached crawling body-parts, and undead beasts await on the other side, controlled by a terrible wight. The last time they fought a wight, Irving nearly met his demise; since that battle deep beneath Hodam, however, they've fought fearsome orcs, sly kobolds, the cult of cloth, living statues, and, yes, that terrible and tragic dragon. With the element of surprise in their favour, and the benefits of battle-won experience-- not to mention a few handy, undead-targeting trinkets-- they easily trounce the undead. Only Uncle, the newest of their number, takes any serious injuries; coming from the East, he's not as familiar with the beasts and horrors that populate the West. But his mastery of the martial arts ensures that no blow struck against him remains unreturned, and he knows his wounds will heal.

They dispose of the undead and then, at Uncle's behest, they give a short burial at sea for the headless dwarf.

And then, with morning approaching, they sail down the river.

Part II

The Nameless Pub

Docking at Bloodpurse Isle after two days of sailing, the six adventurers-- not knowing where Tyne might be waiting for them-- stop in at The Nameless Pub not far from the docks. It's a rowdy, bawdy place, stuffed to the gills with cutthroats, mercenaries, and pirates. Listening to the boisterous bragging and secretive whispers, they're able to glom onto a few salient facts: most famous of all the pirates on the Isle, and to many its defacto ruler, is Captain Bergris. For decades the scourge of the Empires of the East, robbing their ships and ports with abandon, he'll ride the currents back to Bloodpurse Isle. He and his men are safe here as a result of a pact they've made with the mermen who live in the bay, and this fact, along with the many stories of his exploits, is responsible for the allegiance many feel towards him.

Some, however, swear allegiance to the new pirate lord Tallybrooke. He's already made a name for himself by throwing copious amounts of money around and providing plenty of work for the various scurvy dogs who populate the Isle.

The Drinking Contest

One particularly fearsome looking pirate challenges all comers to a drinking contest. Feer, Irving, and Tralamin abstain, but the promise of winning the pot entices Uncle, Robyn, and Jarmangle to throw in. Round-after-round, shot-after-shot, they try to outdrink each other. Robyn quickly falls to the floor, and the pirate who challenged them follows soon after. One of the others points out that Jarmangle and Uncle, being the only two left, could split the pot between them, but they're determined to stay in it until one of them falters.

That one, surprisingly, is Uncle, who proceeds to cover Jarmangle in copious amounts of vomit. Irving quickly uses his magic to clean the drunken tiefling, just in time for the latter to come face-to-face with Tyne.

The Job

Tyne has a job for them. In a cave on the island, guarded by pirates, is a stone given to the mermen that represents the sanctity of their pact with Captain Bergris. Her employer, whom she won't name, wants the stone. If they retrieve it, each of them will get 200 gold-- except for Jarmangle. Jarmangle, she says with a wink, will get whatever he desires of Tyne.

This sounds like a good deal for the lustful tiefling, but the others are suspicious. Irving, remembering how the magical ecosystem that grew around the dragon died along with it, is concerned that removing the stone might harm the mermen in some way. Feer, however, is pretty sure that the mermen are a naturally-occurring beast, and that the pact stone is likely just that.

That raises the question of why steal the stone? Tyne is evasive, but offers that her employer wants to renegotiate the terms of the pact, to ensure that Captain Bergris doesn't have a monopoly on the power of Bloodpurse Isle. This in turn raises another question: why doesn't Tyne just do it herself?

This she's more willing to answer. Jarmangle, with the proper disguise, could pass for Captain Bergris. Dressed as pirates, the group could get past the guards and into the cave. In case there are any mermen present, because living underwater they have exceptionally poor eyesight, they will in turn think Bergris is taking the stone and ending the treaty. Then, her employer can return with the stone to renegotiate the treaty.

The group agrees, but is wary; Tyne has put them in a tight spot before, and they're in no hurry to be tricked or trapped. They take the disguises she's given them and decide to plan their next move very carefully.


Thanks to an elixir provided by Tyne, Jarmangle is now slightly less drunk and Robyn is conscious if hungover. The group leaves Tyne to explore the town, stopping at a confectionery to buy cotton candy and ask the locals for information. They more-or-less confirm their suspicion that the obvious suspect to be Tyne's mysterious employer is Tallybrooke, as renegotiating the mermen treaty would tip the balance of power in his favour.

They stop in at a blacksmith, to see what can be done with the scales they looted from the dragon's corpse. The blacksmith freely admits that such material is beyond his kin, but says that his mentor, Orgath Blackhammer, the master blacksmith who lives on the mainland in the forest just west of the Bell of Harvest, might be able to work with it, for a price. He offers to place the multi-faceted gem Jarmangle took from the mayor's office into his sword-- that, at least, is within his power-- but Jarmangle doesn't have enough gold. The blacksmith spies Jarmangle's paperweight, also from the mayor's office, and offers to place the gem in exchange for it; Jarmangle's suspicions are aroused by the blacksmith's sudden interest in a supposedly worthless trinket and declines.

Jarmangle and Feer decide to scope out the cave before they all go marching in, and the others agree to wait.

The Cave

Jarmangle, disguised as Bergris, easily fools the half-drunk pirates standing watch. They're surprised that he's home, as they thought he had just left for the East, but Jarmangle insults their mothers in a suitably pirate-like fashion and they kindly shut their mouths. Jarmangle and Feer head into the cave and discover that there's not much to it; no tunnels or twists, no chambers, no death traps. There is, at the far end, a pool that seems to have no bottom, perhaps feeding into the ocean and the mermen city itself. Within the pool, set inside a magic bubble, is the pact stone, and guarding the stone is what Feer correctly determines to be a were-shark.

They exit the cave, find the others, and report their findings. If they can find some way to distract the were-shark, they reason, they'll be able to grab the stone. But what if the removal of the stone results in some sort of trap being tripped? Jarmangle and Feer had not detected any mechanisms, but they're also ill-versed in the ways of arcane tortures. Robyn offers that they might swap the pact stone with her Charm of Nebulous Shape and Size, and Jarmangle suggests using the bloody dragon meat to distract the were-shark.

They return to the cave-- Tralamin still wears his owlbear cloak over his pirate disguise, and "Bergris" introduces him to the guard pirates as his trusted ally, Lt. Owlbearicus-- and set their plan into action. They tie the bloodied dragon meat to a rock so that it will sink. As soon as it hits the water, the magical blood spreads, making the water murky and hard to see through. But they do see the were-shark descending after the meat before it becomes impossible to see.

Irving uses his magically-conjured hand to swap the charm for the pact stone. As the water starts to clear, they see that the bloodied meat also attracted the attention of some nearby mermen. Fooled, for the moment, by the charm, they do not realize the pact stone is missing, but they are confused as to why "Bergris" is in the cave, as they only meet to confirm the pact on the solstice, which is still three weeks away. Jarmangle apologizes and says he simply got the dates mixed up while at sea.

They leave the cave without incident, and then they find Tyne.


She confirms that, yes, her employer is Tallybrooke, and takes them to Tallybrooke's impressive manor house so that they might hand over the stone and collect their gold. The group, realizing that Tallybrooke is unlikely to have seen the pact stone, and wishing to be cautious, gives him the glittering jewel they found in the office of the mayor of Firepalm, passing it off as the pact stone. Tallybrooke takes the bait, and points the group to a table on which sits a heap of gold and announces that he is taking his leave.

They are, naturally, suspicious, but they determine that there's nothing magical or illusory about the gold. And so, they all take their money. All, that is, but Jarmangle, who steals away with Tyne for their proposed tryst.

The Secret

But as Tyne starts to undress, Jarmangle discovers that she has a brand on her shoulder-- very close to the distorted brand on his shoulder, which he used to prove his identity to Evelyn. When he asks about it, Tyne explains how she got it.

She is the daughter of Captain Bergris; when her father, her pregnant mother, and herself were captured by one of the empires of the East, they were all branded as pirates. Bergris escaped, but left Tyne and her mother in the clutches of the Empire. Her mother died in childbirth, and the baby, her brother, was branded a few days after his birth. Tyne doubts her brother survived.

The only thing she hates worse than the empire, she says, is the only other person alive with the brand-- her father, Captain Bergris.

Jarmangle reveals that he, too, has the brand-- and both of them realize the reason why he bore a resemblance to Bergris. Jarmangle is his son, and Tyne's lost brother. This, of course, puts the kibosh on their plans, and Tyne hurriedly gets dressed.

Wizard's Cipher

They join the others; Uncle tries to pump Jarmangle for details and Tralamin offers, given the short time they were away, that it happens to everyone. Jarmangle reveals that Tyne is his sister, and supposes he'll have to go back to hitting on the bard. Robyn, the bard in question, rolls her eyes.

Suddenly, the night sky is filled with strange signs. Irving intuits that it is a Wizard's Cipher. It's a cipher that disappears after a few minutes; even if you write it down, even if you memorize it, the cipher disappears from both page and memory. The translation would remain, meaning that it has to be cracked within that small window.

Eagerly, the entire group throws themselves into cracking it. Just as the words start to fade, they do; it's a message sent by Tallybrooke to an eastern empire, suggesting that the mermen pact is broken and confirming that he will be made governor of Bloodpurse Isle once the empire comes to destroy the returning Captain Bergris and his pirates. Tyne is shocked; had she known Tallybrooke worked for the empire she despised, she would never have sent for Jarmangle and his friends, would never have worked for him.

Returning the Stone

The group heads back to the cave, and finds within a group of angry mermen, readied for war with the pirates. Their trick has been discovered. Jarmangle, still doing a passable imitation of Bergris, apologizes and explains that a fiend named Tallybrooke was attempting to steal the stone, and that they took it only to prevent its theft. The logic might be screwy, but the delivery is convincing, and the "owlbear" they perceive standing next to Bergris is suitably frightening; the mermen agree to accept the stone and restore the pact, so long as the thief adheres to the mermen code and gives up one of their fingers. It's only now that they take note of one of the mermen, who has only two fingers and a thumb left on one of his hands.

Irving offers that it was his magically-conjured hand that stole the stone, and conjures another so that they might claim its finger.


The pact restored, and all fingers intact, our heroes merely wait and watch as Bergris returns to the Isle, the empire fast on his heels. Said empire is quickly rebuffed when the mermen join the pirates. The empire flees, and so does Tallybrooke; in the days that follow, some report seeing him near the Dark Spire, an unholy tower looming on the mainland's peninsula.

Jarmangle and his friends (minus Tyne, who has disappeared) are brought before the real Bergris, who admires Jarmangle's audacity in impersonating him. Jarmangle reveals that Bergris is his father, and the conversation that follows is fairly awkward and not particularly warm.

Bergris does offer Jarmangle a place among his pirates, but Jarmangle has already found his place.


Drinking Contest, Drunkedness, and Hangovers.

Players and NPCs pile in cash and valuable items and then do round-after-round of shots until they either pass out or vomit. Last man (or woman) standing wins the pot.

Each character does an Endurance check, and then adds 10 to the total (dwarfs, and any others with a resistance to poison, add 15). This total represents their capacity to hold their liquor. Each round, when their character downs a shot, the player rolls 1d6 and subtracts this amount from their capacity. (This can be adjusted-- 1d4 for wine, 1d8 for the really heavy stuff, etc.)

When the capacity hits 10 or below, the character is definitely in the bag, and Dazed for the next couple of hours.

When the capacity hits zero or below, the character makes a saving throw against passing out. A successful throw results in 2d12 vomiting. This 2d12 roll really has no effect on gameplay-- it just gauges the amount of vomit, hopefully to the delight and/or disgust of the players. The character is dazed for the next couple of hours, and during this time, they are unable to use healing surges.

If the character fails the saving throw, they pass out. Another player can rouse them to wakefulness by making a DC 25 Heal check; otherwise they remain passed out for a couple hours. If a character is awakened by another, they are dazed, unable to use healing surges, and weakened for the next couple of in-game hours. If a character comes out of it after sleeping, they are merely weakened (save ends).