Skull and Shackles

12 Blue Hesmene

Session Twelve

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the Magpies begin to interrogate their prisoner, an Penitent ranger of Erastil. Quade orders the prisoner to be freed as he still has a lead on where Jayhalle is located, using his supernatural ability to locate people. The band eventually reaches the edge of the hidden village where they are confronted by Jayhalle Messierre, the paladin leader of the Penitents, and a small squad of rangers. After an initial troubled meeting between the two opposing sides and a debate on philosophy, Quade agrees to undergo a truth seeking spell by Jayhalle. When the paladin touches Quade, she suddenly receives a divine vision.

Quade is a saint of Abadar, the god of merchants.

According to Jayhalle, sometime before Earthfall, Quade was an agent of Abadar undergoing a critical quest for the faith. But Quade and his companions were attacked by the forces of the Pirate Queen, Besmara, and was slain in battle. His corpse was never recovered but his equipment over time have become relics of the faithful of Abadar.

Jayhalle and her order have been entrusted with one of these relics, Quade’s gloves, which currently is protected within the vault of the Penitent monastery. Unfortunately the monastery is now the domain of the water fey ruler of the island, Blue Hesmene.

The paladin agrees to join the Magpies, as she is the only one capable of opening the vault. Quade promises to help the Penitents escape the island. The band then ventures off to the monastery while the rangers return back to report to the pilgrims.

Along the way the band encounters a supernatural mire and are able to overcome a mudlord guardian blocking their path.

The Monastery of the Penitents

When the Magpies finally reach the ruined monastery, they decide to use a diplomatic approach in confronting Blue Hesmene. They leave behind Frankie with their hostage Merry Prankster and proceed to the monastery, where they are greeted by Captain Gortus Barkham of the Merry Pranksters and the rusalka Blue Hesmene.

At first, the diplomatic exchange between the two groups were going okay. Until Blue Hesmene recognizes Quade. She throws a fit, screaming that Quade should be dead and refers to him as “Irons.” The water fey orders the Merry Pranksters to attack the Magpies. De’de uses his magic to defeat the large swarms of seagull minions with his cold magic, while Dalvika and Wynter use their magic to put opponents to sleep. Tidus and Quade use blade and claw to strike down Captain Barkham, and then move to attack Blue Hesmene herself. It isn’t long that they suddenly realized they’re not fighting the water fey lord of the island, but a water elemental proxy she been speaking through. The proxy escapes by leaping into the watery portal to the First World.

Having routed Blue Hesmene’s forces, the Magpies bury the portal to the First World under tons of rubble. Jayhalle leads the group to the Vault, where she is able to bypass the Vault’s magical defenses.

The Betrayal

But unfortunately the Penitent paladin finds the Vault to be empty. Long ago, Barnabas Lanteri entrusted his piece of the Three Reasons to Live with the paladin, only to return back to the Vault and take the piece back, along with stealing the Penitent’s treasure and holy relics. All they find is a wooden figurine of a magpie.

The Magpie pirates find themselves marooned on the island, the Magpie Princess seven miles away and sailing away. Mary is no where in sight, the row boats the band brought along are also missing.

Using Jenesara’s gift, Tidus summons his old childhood friend and meets her at the island’s lagoon. Jenesara agrees to help the marooned pirates by summoning a herd of hippocampi and handing Tidus a conch shell that may help him in the future. With only so many hippocampi mounts assisting them and not enough for the rest of the marooned Penitents, Quade promises to come back and rescue the pilgrims. Tidus suddenly hugs Jayhalle, much to everyone’s discomfort.

The survivors of Smuggler’s Shiv and their new companion, Frankie K, ride upon the waves of the Fever Sea on the backs of their hippocampi mounts. Racing for the fleeing Magpie Princess and the treasure of Captain Jemma Redclaw.

Treasure Hunting 04

The next session for Skull and Shackles is Sunday the 8th of November, 1 pm, Hawaii time.

The marines have been left behind by the Magpie Princess! They must now figure out a method on how to escape the island, all the while dealing with the island’s monsters, shipwrecked natives, religious pilgrims, and a fey noble from the First World. Can they survive Hesmene’s Grotto?

11 The Grotto

Session Eleven

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, nearly a month has passed since the marines have left the port of Blackblood Cay. Most of the crew of the Magpie Princess have been favorable towards the marines due to their adventurous exploits in acquiring the Three Reasons to Live. But as they near the island of Hesmene’s Grotto, the Magpie receives a unlikely visitor from the druidic circle known as the Storm Kindlers, a fanatical group of priests of Gozreh that operate within the Shackles. Magatta Uhl warns Captain Lanteri to turn back, as the island is the domain of the rusalka Blue Hesmene. Lanteri defiantly brushes off the warning as she informs the druid that the island is their destination. While the druid leaves and everyone aboard the ship seems to be standing on deck to watch, De’de takes the opportunity to exam everyone with his detect psionics. Finally able to study Creed, the ship’s mage, he notices that Creed is wearing a ectoplasmic disguise.

Later that night, the marines are in the captain’s quarters along with Hinsin, Creed, and Grok as Fishguts serves them dinner. Also in attendance is the swabbie Frankie K, who has been promoted by Captain Lanteri to the position of marine. Lanteri recaps on the story behind the Three Reasons to live and that the final piece is located on Hesmene’s Grotto. Her husband was stranded on the island, and while stranded, he made allies with a group of pilgrims known as the Penitents. He entrusted the leader of the Penitents, a paladin of Abadar named Jayhalle Messierre, with his piece of the Three Reasons to Live.

The marines are to journey to the island, head to the Penitent monastery, and retrieve the piece from Jayhalle. She orders all the marines to head to the island as the island is dangerous. With no questions asked by the marines, she dismisses them.

The PCs then tend to their businesses upon their last night aboard the Magpie, with only Wynter and Quade being active that night. Wynter befriends the quartermaster Mo, while Quade learns that the Three Reasons to Live is key to opening a doorway on the Island of Empty Eyes that will lead to the treasure of Captain Redclaw.

Dalvika uses her magic to determine the whereabouts of Agasta Smythee. She learns that she is still alive and a prisoner of the lord of Shark Island, Avimar Sorrinash.

The Triton

The marines set forth to the island upon two rowboats, piloted by Quade and Mary. Tidus swims in the ocean beside the rowboats as they journey into the stormy waters and dangerous reefs. They manage to avoid the hazardous coast and row further into the island’s lagoon, noticing a nesting ground for giant turtles. As they row into the lagoon and decide to head in the direction of the beach, they overhear the sounds of combat.

The marines come upon a scene where two sea cats have driven a wounded hippocampus onto the beach. In the waters is a triton female, a old friend of Tidus. The marines decide to help the triton Jenesara and are able to kill the sea cats with a combination of blade, claw, and magic. The Magpies learn that a small tribe of tritons live in the south eastern waters from the island and that Tidus was once a member of this tribe. Jenesara, Tidus’s best friend from child hood, urges Tidus to come back with her as she believed him to be dead (a lie concocted by her father, the lord of the tribe, as Tidus was exiled from the tribe due to his abyssal heritage.) Tidus refuses to go back. Jenesara then rewards the group with a small kelp pouch and leaves with her hippocampus.

The Merry Pranksters and the Penitents

The adventurers journey further into the island, using the old trail leading up to the monastery. Mary is left behind to watch the rowboats. As they reach the northern half of the island they come upon the remnants of a shipwrecked crew busily at work patching up the trail. They learn that the men are known as the Merry Pranksters, due to the fact that their ship was called the Merry Prankster, and that the men are all enchanted as they seem subservient to the lord of the island, Blue Hesmene. They also learn that Blue Hesmene has taken over the monastery of the Penitents. After some debate among themselves the marines agree to the request of the Merry Pranksters to head back to their village and meet with their captain, Barkham of Botosani.

After a hour of venturing into the jungle the Magpies eventually reach the hidden village and are introduced to the leader of the Merry Pranksters. Barkham greets the treasure hunters with fermented coconut milk, spiced meat and veggies. Barkham shared what he knew about the island and the Penitents. The Penitents came to the island in an attempt to drive out Blue Hesmene and bring civilization to the island. The Merry Pranksters arrived shortly after and since then the two bands have been at odds, fighting for resources. Barkham manages to get the marines to promise that they will rescue the crew of the Merry Pranksters by giving them passage aboard the Magpie. But to honor that promise, Barkham demands a hostage exchange. The Magpies offer up Mary while the Merry Pranksters offer up their first mate, Aven. With the hostage exchange settled, Barkham explains that the only way for them to win Blue Hesmene’s favor is by finding the paladin Jayhalle Messierre. The water fey wants the paladin, dead or alive.

Using a supernatural talent, Quade retrieves one of Jayhalle’s stolen clothes from the Merry Pranksters and is able to determine her whereabouts. The marines then set forth into the jungle to find the Penitents, along with their hostage Aven. Meanwhile the Merry Pranksters head off to the lagoon beach to acquire their hostage, Mary.

While in the jungle and getting closer to the hidden village of the Penitents, the group is ambushed by the hidden village’s defenders. The Penitent archers attack from the trees, using rope swings to move from tree to tree while they snipe at the marines. De’de is able to take out one archer using his psionics and Wynter drives the other archers to the ground using her illusion magic. Quade and Tidus kill the remaining archers on the ground, leaving one prisoner left alive and unconscious.

The Twist

Meanwhile elsewhere.

Grok looks on from the bow of the Magpie Princess with a conflicted expression. Varossa Lanteri comes up behind her and orders her first mate to prepare to set sail. Hinsin looks on with a grin as he clutches the Three Reasons to Live, all three pieces already assembled. Vancid Creed informs Lanteri that this is for the best, the marines have served their purpose in gathering the last two remaining pieces. The crew of the Magpie looks on with disgruntle expressions towards their captain as the Magpie Princess sails away from the island.

The marines have been marooned on the island of Hesmene’s Grotto.

Treasure Hunting 03

The next session for Skull and Shackles is Sunday the 25th of October, 1 pm, Hawaii time.

With two pieces of the Three Reasons to Live in possession, the Magpie pirates move on to the next piece. When Varossa Lanteri’s husband was stranded on an island he called “Hesmene’s Grotto,” he left behind a piece of the Three Reasons to Live on that island. The marines must now prepare themselves for the challenges of the cruel playground of the spiteful rusalka known as Blue Hesmene.

10 Dragon Diplomacy

Session Ten

In this session of the Skulls and Shackles campaign, the game begins with the companions having a private meeting deep within the bowels of the Magpie Princess. After sharing some concerns and going over their plans for a mutiny, the group is surprised when they return to their duties and find that a sudden gale from the North has arrived. The unnatural storm proves to be troublesome, but with Zhi and Quade at the wheel, they were able to navigate through the worse of the storm.

The storm also heralded the arrival of a elemental creature known as a Comozant Wyrd. The newly born creature was confused and attempted to communicate with the crew of the Magpie, only to grow more frustrated when the crew mistook the outsider as a monster. When De’de failed to communicate with the elemental, the Magpies were forced to slay the Wyrd in order to end the raging storm.

A day later, life aboard the Magpie resumed as usual. De’de and Tidus were assigned by the new first mate, Cut Throat Grok, to discipline some lazy deck hands. They succeeded in their job, only to uncover a mystery as one of the lazy deckhands dropped over dead.

Identified as Halid, a halfling sailor who accompanied the companions when they explored Blackwarn’s Gallows, the companions begin to suspect that the halfling was cursed. Tidus shares his beliefs that the halfling was killed by a haunt, and much of the evidence points to Captain Rahil Harkalm’s spellbook. Being cautious, Quade burns the spellbook and Wynter dumps the body of the halfling overboard.

Here be Dragons

A few days later the Magpie finally approached their next destination, Kelizar’s Atoll. Captain Varossa briefed to the marines her concern with dealing with the brine dragon Kelizar. In revenge for the death of his mother, the dragon Nicorydine, Kelizar sank the Saber’s Kiss within his territory. Varossa believes that one of the pieces of the Three Reasons to Live was on board when it sank. She wants Kelizarto grant permission for the marines to visit the sunken ship and retrieve a “memento of only sentimental value.” However the captain isn’t certain what Kelizar knows of her husband’s involvement in Kelizar’s mother’s murder. Unsure how far the dragon plans to make his vengeance, she decides to play things cautiously. She explained that the Magpie Princess sports a different masthead than the one it had when her husband killed Nicordyine, thanks to the events in “Rum Punch,” and she has changed cosmetic details on the ship, but she still doesn’t want to face the dragon personally. She intends for one of the crew to act as captain when they reach Kelizar’s atoll.

The steward Henshin and Quade argue their case to pose as captain, as both believe they can trick the dragon. Quade eventually wins the argument, much to Henshin’s chagrin.

As the Magpie approached the atoll, the brine dragon Kelizar made his presence known by bursting out of the ocean a hundred yards in front of the ship and then ascending to several hundred feet in the air before soaring majestically down to land n the bowsprit and challenging the captain in ancient Taldane. Posing as a sylvan captain from the First World, Quade managed to bluff his way through by buttering the dragon’s ego. Thought his lies made him sick, he overcame his fey taboos and was able to win Kelizar’s blessing.

Free to explore the atoll, the brine dragon flew away while Quade assembled a scouting party made up of himself, De’de, Tidus, Wynter, along with two Magpie rowboat men. Traveling in the newly christened rowboat, the Waukeen, the marines set sail for the heart of the atoll where the Saber’s Kiss is buried.

Going underwater the marines noticed a pair of great white sharks and their handlers, the Adaro. The sharkmen, agents of the dragon, stood by while the Magpie marines explored the wreck. Wary of a betrayal, De’de and Wynter stayed behind to watch the sharkmen while Quade and Tidus explored the wreck. While exploring the Saber’s Kiss, Tidus noticed that the ship had odd qualities and deduced that it was haunted. They eventually reached the ship’s hold where they were confronted by the ghost of Captain Zara Dahoath. Meanwhile outside the wreck, De’de and Wynter grew concern as something scared away the Adaro and the sharks. Knowing that an attack was imminent, the two spellcasters prepared their magic to defend themselves. Back in the Saber’s Kiss, Tidus and Quade ignored the haunt while they searched for the missing Three Reasons of Live, using detect magic to find the hidden item in the back wall of the ship’s hold. As pair were leaving with the prize in hand, they were suddenly confronted by the undead halfling Halid!

They soon learnt that the halfling is now the new corporeal host of the religious hating pirate Captain Rahil Harkalm. Harkalm demanded for the Three Reasons to Live, regretting his decision to leave behind Captain Jemma Redclaw’s treasure. Refusing his request, the marines battled the diminutive Mohrg. Tidus was paralyzed but rescued by De’de before the undead monstrosity could break his neck. When the group finally brought the undead captain down, bursting from his corpse was his clawed tongue! Before the tongue could claim a new host, the ghost of Captain Zara Dahoath manifested and grappled her rival.

Zara told the marines to leave with their prize as she planned to drag the Saber’s Kiss to Hell. Pleased not to be alone, Zara swallowed Rahil and held him captive while the party fled. The last to leave was Quade, who heard the following warning from Zara. That Dohoath, Lanteri, and Harkalm abandoned the treasure of Captain Jemma Redclaw on purpose and that Quade should abandon his quest for the treasure.

The sylvan swashbuckler then quickly left the sinking ship, joining his companions as they watched the Saber’s Kiss get swallowed by the earth. The marines then returned to the Magpie Princess with their prize, much to the delight of the crew and were heralded as heroes.

The Magpie set sail for its next destination: Hesmene’s Grotto, home of the spiteful rusalka known as Blue Hesmene.

Letters I

The following letters are addressed to Tidus:

Treasure Hunting 02

The next session for Skull and Shackles is Sunday the 4th of October, 10 am, Hawaii time.

With one piece of the Three Reasons to Live in possession, the Magpie pirates move on to the next piece. Unfortunately this piece was lost along with the Saber’s Kiss when the vessel was struck down by the brine dragon, Kelizar. The marines and the sailors of the Magpie Princess must be wary as they enter dragon country as they sail within the shadow of Dahak’s Jaws.

09 The Gallows

Session Nine

In this session of the Skull and Shackles campaign, the crew grows accustom to their new roles aboard the Magpie Princess. De’de struggles with the role of being a cook’s mate, as he is more of a fisherman then an actual cook. Quade continues to attempt to speak with the captain, but his attempts is blocked by the ship’s steward, Hinshin, who sees the sylvan sailor as an rival. Wynter is able to convince the captain and the first mate that her role would be better suited as a cabin girl.

While aboard the ship, Quade and Wynter made allies with Zhi, Cut Throat Grok, Magic Mike, and Knuckles. De’de is able to determine a psionic presence with the Captain, detecting two psionic objects on her person. He is also able to determine that the ship’s mage, Vancid Creed may have a psionic presence, but he still isn’t sure as to what the presence could be as the ship’s mage rarely appears on deck.

Upon the fourth day out at sea, the Magpie Princess comes across a spur of rock that happens to be the lair of a lonely siren by the name of Jezsindre. The siren’s captivating song lures most of the crew on deck out into the sea, while Hinshin uses his own bardic talents to protect the captain and the ship’s mage. Zhi, along with De’de, Quade, and Wynter are the only sailors on deck that managed to resist the siren’s call. With Zhi on the wheel, De’de begins to climb up along the ship’s mast to reach the crow’s nest in order to maintain line of sight with the siren. Meanwhile Quade crawls into his bag of holding and Wynter flies off to engage the siren at her rocky lair. The pirates eventually are able to defeat the siren, with De’de using his energy bolts to send Jezsindre crashing down into the rocky surf. Wynter and Quade then proceeds to rescue the rest of the struggling sailors in the water to return back to the Magpie.

The Blackwarn Gallows

After another day out at sea and recovering from the battle with the siren, Quade and the rest of his marines are called in to speak with Captain Lanteri.

A decade ago, the piratical trio of Barnabas Lanteri, Zara “Stormeyes” Dahoath, and Rhail Harkalm banded together to ply the waters of the Arcadian Ocean. When they slew the great brine dragon Nicorydine, they discovered in her hoard a magic instrument along with documents that claimed it was the secret to accessing the legendary treasure of Captain Jemma Redclaw. The band split the instrument into three pieces, and agreed that whichever of them lived longest would inherit all of what they came to call the Three Reasons to Live. While the captains worked together occasionally after that, they made sure to spend more time apart than together to limit the temptation to speed each other’s demises.

As often happens with pirates, all three have since come to violent ends anyway. Nicorydine’s son, Kelizar, avenged his mother’s death a few months ago when he killed Stormeyes and sank her ship, the Saber’s Kiss. Captain Rahil Harkalm was recently captured and hanged by Besmaran priests at a site called Blackwarn’s Gallows, and his body still hangs in chains. Barnabas Lanteri was killed by his wife and co-captain Varossa Lanteri in a late-night argument.

Thanks to a diviner in the town of Blackblood Cay, Varossa also has a good idea of where the other two pieces might currently be. Harkalm hid his piece in his peg leg, and as there has been no word of the Besmarans finding this piece, it should still be with his corpse. On the western coast of the isle of Besmara’s Throne stands a series of sheer cliffs and natural rocky formations known as Blackwarn’s Gallows. One of these is a natural stone arch over the water where Besmaran priests execute heretics and religious malefactors.

Rahil was a Rahadoumi who took that nation’s atheism to an extreme, vehemently hating all gods, priests, and religions. During his piratical career, Rahil made sure to murder every priest on the ships he captured and destroy any religious items he came across. This included priests of Besmara, a policy that eventually led to his crew turning on him and delivering him to a Besmaran temple. The temple priests hung him from an arch in Blackwarn’s Gallows, and made it known that no one should try to recover his body.

Captain Lanteri orders Quade and his marines to head to Blackwarn Gallows and retrieve the Three Reasons to Live from Rahil’s corpse. She assigns them two rowers and a rowboat to help them in their journey. Quade takes De’de, Tidus, and Wynter with him.

While rowing forward to their destination, Tidus swims ahead to scout underwater to see what dangers lurk ahead. He spots a pair of karkinoi and their brood of young, scavenging near the execution site. The crab like predators notice the triton as he wasn’t attempting to hide and immediately begin to move in to attack. In a brief struggle between the pirates and the crab warriors, the marines are successful in killing the karkinoi at the cost of one rower.

The marines are able to retrieve one of the pieces of The Three Reasons to Live without disturbing the Black Lady’s Blight curse placed by the Besmarans on the corpses and chains, along with some treasure also hidden within Rahil’s peg leg.

The band returns back to the Magpie, successful in their venture, and the crew rejoice as they are one step closer to the Captain Redclaw’s treasure. Returning back to their roles aboard the ship, Tidus struggles beneath the attention of the ship’s firstmate, the Rajah. The triton eventually snaps and attempts to intimidate the first mate, creating a conflict that draws the attention of everyone on board.

Quade and Wynter attempt to persuade Tidus in accepting his punishment for his insubordination, but the triton refuses. Instead, Tidus humiliates the Rajah by throwing him overboard and then diving into the water where, in his element, he easily defeats the first mate in combat. Captain Lanteri orders the rest of the crew to not get involved as she watches afar. When the battle is over, Tidus drags the defeated first mate aboard the Magpie. Captain Lanteri then manipulates the situation by asking the first mate if he wants a duel with the triton, with everyone knowing full well that he won’t be able to defeat the aquatic warrior and that he won’t back down due to his honor. The Rajah demands for a duel.

The Magpie stops by a small islet in the Fever Sea.

There upon the small sandbar, overseen by the Captain, her steward, and her ship’s mage, along with her chief of marines, they watch as the Rajah and Tidus duel to the death. Tidus comes out of the battle with a easy victory. The Rajah is then given a short pirate funeral, consisting of his body being ransacked and then tossed into the sea.

Cut-Throat Grok is assigned to be the ship’s new first mate, while Tidus is given the position of bosun and a new quarters. The triton makes sure that his bedroom’s door is always locked as he senses he may very well made many enemies when he took out the Rajah among his ship mates.

And that night, he dreams of the silver void and the islands of the dead.

Interlude II

The following dream sequence is for Quade:

It was raining.

You sensed it before it was even going to come down.

You awoke to the sensation of rain pelting down upon the marble floor of the room’s balcony. You then realized you are not on the Magpie. The Magpie’s beds were never this comfortable. The silken sheets of the majestic bed gave you a sense of comfort and shielded you against the cool air of your alien surroundings. And your surroundings were very alien and yet very familiar.

They were alien in the sense that you never seen this large room before.

The art decor. The lavish wealth spent to make the room feel welcoming and intimidating at the same time. These things for some reason were familiar to you. You spent a hundred nights like this in rooms best served for kings and gods.

It is fortunate that you are a servant of a goddess. Her proxy. Her chosen. A merchant queen. And you are her envoy in this strange world.


You feel the brush of a hand across your naked chest and the serpentine shift of something pressing against your backside.

“Are you awake my beloved?” Purred a feminine voice near your ear.

She smells like roses.

You look back and see Mary staring back at you, smiling. She looks different from the Mary you seen upon Smuggler’s Shiv and at Blackblood Cay. Younger. So full of life. Innocent. There is a look of adoration in her eyes as she pulls you in for a hug.

You recognize the look. You seen the look upon a dozen women. She is in love with you. And yet, you don’t feel a thing for her.

You are reminded of another memory. Of a girl, who looks just like Mary, crying over your fallen body, clutching onto your bleeding frame as a goddess was holding aloft a silver sword. A goddess of pirates. Besmara.

Mary begged the pirate goddess to spare your life. She confessed her love for you and pledged to do anything.

Anything to keep you alive.

As she begs at the feet of the smirking divine pirate, surrounded by the flames of the dying ship and the monstrous presence of Besmara’s crew, you can’t help but think that…

… you used her. Just like you used Agasta Smythee.

Darkness claims you..

You awake aboard the Magpie Princess.. and you know it is going to rain.

Treasure Hunting 01

The next session for Skull and Shackles is Sunday the 13th of September, 10 am, Hawaii time.

The PCs are new crew members of the Magpie Princess, unsure of what lays ahead for their future. They leave behind the port of Blackblood Cay, having survived a encounter with the lord of Shark Island and head into Dangerous Waters to find the next piece of Eight, the silver piece of eight owned by Captain Redclaw.

But they also leave behind many enemies. The sea hag Mother Grund. The Apsis Consortium. The Dragoons. And a vengeful Simon Smythee.


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