The hole that had been cut into the granite of the Isle was only 50 yards from the eastern cliff edge.
A sturdy wooden ladder had been recently fastened into place. Abraham cast light onto a stick and they dangled it down on a rope. The chamber below had recently been flooded with water to the depth of a couple of feet but now just had puddles left on the uneven floor. There were two heavy wooden doors and a tunnel that must lead to an opening to the sea, because the crashing of waves could be heard from there.
Richard tied off his own rope to a tree and climbed down, quickly followed by the others. Although they made a lot of noise, the booming of the waves must have covered them and nothing attacked them for a while.
Richard and Gaston shoulder-charged a warped door and forced it open. Even that noise failed to get them noticed, although they could hear some creatures clattering about down the sea tunnel.
Inside the dust and cobweb-strewn room, apparently sealed for 300 years, there were some fancy rugs and furniture and Richard carefully smashed the lock off a chest to discover about 2000gp-worth of treasure. The lock had a poison needle trap in it that he cleverly avoided.
He clambered back up to the surface and hid the chest under some branches nearby.
Despite all the noise, and the light from their Torches, they still managed to creep up on two (large) giant crabs. They managed a decent ambush, trapping the large creatures in a choke point in the tunnel and taking them down with Abe’s bless and sacred flame, Gaston’s greataxe, Mulan’s crossbow (with sneak damage) and Richard’s two blades. Where the crabs had been scuttling, there was a lot of broken driftwood and twisted rusty chains – it looked like a huge cage had recently been smashed open on the shore of this underwater cavern by the fury of the storm. Wet footprints led out of the sea cave.
Pressing on, they found a crude statue of a pirate ship (just the prow jutting from a carved wave). And a couple of other chambers with old warped doors. Richard forced his way into one up a small flight of steps and found the chambers of a pirate captain – rich tapestries and rugs and furniture and bigger chest.
He tried the same “smash off the lock” mechanism but was horrified to discover this one was magically trapped and dozens of black tentacles erupted from the floor trying to grapple him. He managed to leap back onto a dusty four-poster bed but Mulan, watching from the doorway wasn’t so lucky and was grabbed and throttled by the black tendrils.
She screamed as the thrashing tentacles engulfed her and this finally alerted the other denizens of the place.
A couple of Skeletal Pirates wielding cutlasses (probably the same curved blades that had killed the butler and housekeeper on the surface) began to approach from the pitch blackness at the unexplored end of the chamber.
Abe and Gaston were too far away to help her and Richard was trapped on the far side of the tentacles, but somehow Mulan managed to pull herself free, having been gravely wounded just in the initial attack.
There was a tough combat with two more skeletons and a tougher “Pirate Captain Skeleton” wielding a gleaming cutlass (magical) and a tarnished silver dagger. Abe had to use his last two spell slots on healing Mulan and Gaston, but they managed to defeat the skeletons. They could then see that the sea spirit/woman was now kneeling by the dead body of the young bard, Tristan.
Before they had time to rest, Abe spotted a group of men in the tabards of the City Watch, duck out of a room behind them and run for the ladders back to the surface. They appeared to be carrying some bags of treasure and didn’t want to stop for a chat. They were already injured and had clearly been barricaded into one of the rooms waiting for their chance to get away.
From the conversation with the Sea Spirit, by the beacon on the surface, Abe believed the guardsmen had murdered Tristan so he took a huge gamble and attacked the fleeing men, calling on them to stop and submit to his arrest. When they fought back, Mulan asked Abe “What are we doing?” based on his panicked answer “F*** them Up!”, she shot one through the head, killing him stone dead. From that point there was no way to de-escalate the situation, even if they had wanted to.
Corporal Claudius Winkleman and his men knew the game was up and from their shouts and cries, it seemed clear they HAD committed the murder in order to make off with the treasure. Coming on top of the fight with the crabs and then the fight with the skeletons, this went right down to the wire. Gaston almost killed the Winkle, but was hacked down himself and rapidly bleeding out. Mulan and Richard managed to finish off the Corporal and killed the last of the fleeing guardsmen. Abe just managed to stop Gaston from dying – only just, because he had run out of spells!
The Sea Spirit seemed to be happy that the murdering guardsmen were dead and she faded away and the sounds of the storm died down almost immediately.
Inside the Captain’s room they found more fancy furniture, gold, jewels, two potion flasks – these look like much more powerful items than mere healing potions!
They have to deal properly with the bodies of Tristan and the Dock Watch guards and the butler and house-keeper.
In JADE, any un-tended body of a human, half-orc, half-elf, dwarf, dragonborn or tiefling that is not “properly buried” will rise as undead usually at the first sunset after death. In the Kingdom of Gard (where this campaign is set) “proper burial” means being handed over to the Church of Mortus to be buried in hallowed ground – in Eastport, this means in the Necropolis.
Villages that don’t have their own church, have to have lockable sarcophaguses and then rush the bodies to the nearest churchyard.
Religion in the Kingdom of Gard is very powerful. Like Medieval Europe, people who don’t go to church would be shunned by their neighbours and could expect to get a visit from the Inquisition and be tortured and executed as heretics. Every decent person worships the Three Gods (at least pretends to) and hates the Dark Gods. Every decent person will try to get a proper burial for the dead – the spirits of those who are not properly buried get re-incarnated as evil alignment, because their spirits have not learned any lessons from their previous life. Even if a person becomes undead, if they can be properly buried within 3 days, then their spirit will at least be reincarnated as neutral alignment instead of evil.
All the deaths on the Isle must have occurred after sunset and it is only dawn by the time they emerge from the under-isle. So they have another 12 hours or so to get the bodies back to the Necropolis.
After the fighting, there was a lot of discussion about what to do with the treasure!
The total value in coins is about 6,000gp (half of it is silver so that is a lot of coins (3,000 gold coins and 30,000 silver ones).
The total in jewellery looks to be worth about 4,000gp and consists of about 50 items – ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches. Nobody has cast detect magic on any of this yet.
The tapestries and carpets and chairs and cupboards might fetch another 3,000gp at an auction.
The manor house also contains a lot of valuables, 10 paintings worth 50gp each, 20 pieces of Silver cutlery (worth 20gp each and stamped with the Justinian family crest), Tristan’s Lute (very fine craftsmanship – very distinctive, monogrammed with TJ, probably worth 200gp)
The LAW states they hand it all over to the City and will then expect maybe a 10% finder’s fee split between them and their Sergeant. That is still a lot of money in this campaign setting. Low-level magic items would probably be handed back too.
Richard is keen to take a lot more than the 10%. His suggestion is to handover about 1/4 of the treasure and give 1/4 to Captain William Barnacle (the guy who ferried them across). Bill is a well-known smuggler and Richard is arguing that he would be a useful criminal contact and also you will need his boat to get you and the treasure back to the City and also he might be able to sell the stuff for you.
They also have to decide what to do with the HORN, discovered inside the Altar of Torkas. This looks like a powerful magic item, linked to the Church of Torkas (Dark God of Storms – worshipped particularly by pirates & vikings). Torkas is usually depicted as a Storm Giant/Pirate/Whaler on a flying ship. It is rumoured that he escaped from physical imprisonment in the world of Jade a couple of years ago and his flying ship sailed beyond the sky.
They also have to decide whether to tell people that the Dock Watch guys murdered Tristan.
If they do, the Watchmen’s families won’t get their pensions and the City will probably have to pay compensation to the ship owners for the damages and lost cargo.
If they lay the blame on poor young Tristan for angering the Storm God, the City will probably confiscate the Isle from the Justinian family and stop paying his Family 2,000gp annual rent.
If they twist the story a bit, saying that Tristan was a worshipper of Torkas, this might bring the Justinian family down altogether as they would all go to the Inquisition and would at least be fined for the damages caused by the storm. It does seem likely that their ancestors who owned the Isle 300 years ago, were pirates and probably did worship Torkas. However, the entrance to the under-isle must have been lost and it had not been used for 300 years.
There is even the option to blackmail the Justinian family!
If they mention that the Sea Spirit was actually a Fae creature (apparently not linked to the secret Altar of Torkas) then there might be questions about why she became angry enough to raise a storm.
Any dodgy story will need cooperation from ALL characters - including Mulan (even though her Player wasn’t present). They will all become bound together by the lies and mutually-assured-destruction if the stories unravel. They will also become tied to anyone else who they let in on the lies (eg. Captain William Barnacle).
If the lies are discovered, the campaign will take a nasty turn as the criminals will be hunted down and (at the least) sent to prison or conscripted into the army and shipped across the river to fight the Orcs in Ustergard. If there is even a hint of necromancy or woship of Torkas, they will be tortured and executed by the Inquisition.
I much prefer to play campaigns with heroic, good-aligned characters. Sometimes it is interesting to play darker games with criminal characters and some players can walk the fine line between being criminal and being evil. If you decide to go the criminal route, the campaign can still continue but any slip ups in your story and you are risking everything.