Dragons of Blackminster

Spelljammer #04 - Out of Chaos

Starwhal!

The ship has accumulated some damage (making it a bit more sluggish). There is no longer enough crew to manage the sails and rigging properly – and few among the human officers (the heroes) with familiarity with ships.

As their new ally – Zerth Symron, the Githzerai – learns more about their ship, the more he declares that “The Hammer of Torkas” is unique and will draw the envy of other Star-faring races if it becomes known.

As with all Spelljammer Helms, once the “helmsman” is attuned, they become able to see the “Flow” (the rivers of streaming energy that flow through space) so can guide the ship into these rivers to accelerate to inter-stellar speeds. Ships drop out of high-speed when they approach another vessel or object with gravity.

However, their Helm does not require a dedicated spell-caster whose entire spell-casting ability gets wiped out by sitting in the Helm.

Secondly the CHART (which is almost empty) magically draws itself as they travel. By pressing on places they have been, they can set course for there and the ship will pull in that direction.

Thirdly, the Sea of Chaos is usually trackless and ever-shifting. Ships who enter it can spend weeks or months trying to find a Portal back out. This Chart/Ship appears to know the location of a Portal out of Chaos and the helmsman can sense the direction. They might even be able to sense the Portal back to JADE. This is an ability usually only seen in a few monstrous races native to Chaos (the Slaadi) although other races like the Githyanki and Githzerai can vaguely sense direction and are sometimes paid to help guide ships who want to make journeys into Chaos.

After another couple of days sailing through the dangers of Chaos, they are only one day from the Portal when they spot a small silvery moon floating ahead.

“That’s no moon!”

As they draw near, it unfurls, revealing itself to be a long thin silver-grey whale, half the length of the ship and with a glittering horn, 20 feet long, its base surrounded by diamonds.
The red orcs (and Clayton, priest of Torkas) are determined to give chase – the tomb carvings of their religion show scenes of Torkas harpooning such beasts and they believe this is an omen of great good fortune. The others agree, despite the poor state of the ship and crew.

starwhal.png

Abraham the Inquisitor is currently attuned to the Helm and guides the ship in pursuit. Raef the Red-orc Warlock (and former pirate) attempts to guide the remaining crew in trimming the sails. The others prepare the harpoons in the two Ballistas, attaching the long cables to the harpoons.

Climbing back into the crows nest, Mulan watches through the eyes of her familiar (Mooshoo the pseudo-dragon) and detects patterns in the tilt of the beasts tail and fins as it switches direction, shouting down warnings so Abe can zig and zag after it.

They get within range of a ballista shot, but too far for a harpoon cable and the beast begins to accelerate away. Raef heads to the cannon with a couple of red-orc crewmen. They load a double-shot of black powder and a single ball and take a shot.

The others hear the huge boom and the ship emits a huge cloud of smoke and then plunges through it. As they emerge, they see a spray of blood from the Starwhal and it rolls over a few times before righting itself and continuing on (a bit slower).

They manage to close and Clayton manages to shoot it with a harpoon. As it tries to flee, the cable unwinds at frightening speed. They realise that if it reaches the end of the drum at this speed, the mechanism will be yanked out of the ship! There are huge brake levers on the drum and they struggle to slow the cable. The Starwhal begins the “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” as it pulls the ship through many twists and turns, trying to shale them off.

A second cannon ball hits it, using the last of the powder and the huge beast turns and charges. It comes in range of bows and javelins and is almost killed… almost. Then it crashes horn-first directly into the cannon room, shattering the cannon, destroying the prow of the ship and the crewmen barely manage to dive out the way of the destruction. The impact kills the beast and the crew give a great cheer.

It will take them hours (if not days) to disentangle the carcass from the ship and make repairs. While the others try to prize the diamonds and hack off the horn, Raef clambers inside the beast’s mouth, squeezing through the bloody mess at the back of its throat to investigate the gullet and belly. Inside he finds remains of many creatures, shredded by the sand-paper-like mouth and throat. There are shreds of the beholder/jeyy-fish creatures they encountered a few days before. One is wounded (burned by acid) but still alive. It attacks and Raef hits it with Eldritch blasts. The thing tries to paralyse him with one of its eye-rays and then tries to hit it with tendrils coated in poison. Fortunately for Raef, his warlock resistance defends him against poison and he shrugs off the paralysis ray. However the creature engulfs him and begins to digest.

Mulan has heard the commotion and made her way through the bloody and slimy organs and emerges just in time to shoot the creature. Both bolts pass within an inch of Raef’s flesh as the creature is so tightly wound around him. But she kills it and cuts the creature off him. There is nothing else of value in the guts of the beast except for a digested skeleton of a man, still wearing undamaged leather armour of black and brown strips [GM: +2 Leather Armour, granting Advantage to Stealth checks].

The Horn is porbably worth 20,000gp. The 12 fist-sized diamonds could be worth 2,000gp each. There are various other organs and oils and fats, plus the skin that could all be valuable too.

The ship is now in a very bad way and has lost its cannon and run out of powder. They decide to fit the skull and horn over the prow and wrap the rib cage around the ship. It is messy and looks jury-rigged, but helps to hold the hull together and the horn will make an excellent ram.

A couple of days later, they find one of the hexagonal plates floating in space – it looks like the plates that formed the wall of Jade’s Crystal Sphere, but this one is floating and tumbling in space on its own. As they approach, the plate shimmers and becomes a portal into “normal” space, stars glitter beyond it. They ship passes through and it closes behind them. The single hexagon now floats un-moving in empty space. A couple of hours away, Abraham can sense a “river” of energy streaking away from right to left – a broad river, the further in they go, the faster the ship will be carried.

Zerth Symron has travelled by Spelljammer once before, many years ago, hired by an Elven Man-O-War to aid them in a raid against mind-flayers (his species is resistant to psionic attacks and dedicated to destroying these hated foes). He believes the constellations to the left are familiar and it might lead towards a place called the “Rock of Braal” – a neutral asteroid, floating in open space where they should be able to trade for repairs and provisions. He doesn’t have a clue how far away it might be – just that some of the star formations look familiar.

After two days in the “Flow”, the ship suddenly decelerates as it draws close to (what Zerth Symron refers to as) an Elven Man-o-War. A much larger ship than the Hammer, with massive wrap-around green sails (veined like leaves).

Elven_Man_o_War.jpg

This ship appears a long way in front, turns side on and opens its gun ports (6 cannon per side) then waits for them to approach, signalling with two green pennant flags, then , when they receive no answering signal, red pennants that they assume mean them to stop.
They stop and watch as a single elf, sitting cross-legged in space, not apparently armed, floats across to within shouting distance. He speaks first in elvish (nobody understands) then switches to Orcish (seeing there are red-orcs aboard).

“Declare yourselves and your business!”

They explain they are new to space travel and ask who he is.

“Ambassador DeSai of the Sylvarian Empire. Your ship appears to be allied with the filthy Scro Empire with whom we are in a State of War!”

elf_herald_DeSai.jpg

Although the ancient name for the red orcs in their own language is indeed “Scro”, they explain that they are from a distant world, have never heard of either the Scro Empire or the Sylvarian Empire. If they ever were Scro, it has been three thousand years since they have had any contact beyond Jade. They explain they are on a religious quest, following visions that their god “Torkas” has sent to Clayton.

There is some discussion of Torkas, Lord of Storms – and it appears the Scro worship Gruumsh a war god and Torkas is unknown. [GM: Jade is such a small backwater world, that it is possible Torkas is only a demi-god after all]

DeSai is openly contemptuous of their crippled ship, wrapped in the skeleton of a Starwhal but is impressed and surprised that such a vessel could have managed to catch one. He offers to escort them through the Flow (three days) to the Rock of Braal. The Flow itself is a Neutral Zone and the Sylvarian and Scro fleets obey a treaty not to attack neutral ships in the Flow. However, Desai states that the “filthy Scro” cannot be trusted to keep to treaties so the Glorious Sylvarian Empire have to keep the Flows free from Scro piracy.

They agree to being escorted (for a small fee of 300gp) and are advised to fly a white flag to indicate Neutrality. A condition of the agreement is that a small squad of troops will be placed aboard “for your safety” (but probably to raise an alarm if the Hammer loads any weapons that might threaten the “Mystery Of Morning Wood”).

The squad that comes aboard are 3 Giff – 9-foot tall humanoids with grey-brown,warty skin and faces like hippo. They are dressed in bright-red Tunics, covered in medals and bristling with Flintlock Pistols, bandoliers of bullets and powder-horns and each carrying a long Musket – with a Greataxe slung on their backs. The officer is Mister Havoc – a Colonel of the 7th Regiment. It appears that these three are all that remain of the Glorious Seventh – Booyah!

giff_mr_havoc.jpg

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MickH666

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