Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flashpoint: Silk Sales

I swear I do more Actual Plays than anything else on this blog.  That's the trouble with running so many games.  I don't even do an Actual Play for every game I run or am involved in.  Far from it.  I only do about half.  I hope to get some more advice and considerations articles up during the upcoming weeks.  Is there any particular style or set of articles you'd like to see more of?

Anyway, so we had everyone together for this session except Lenny.  This worked out well because, due to chit-chat and time constraints, the session revolved around a non-lethal take over of a 110ft galleon that was pretty much in irons during the two No Wind days.  Proteus donned the face of Captain DuBois (the violent privateer who had given Cheliax so much trouble) and Lhye donned the face of a henchman who looked quite like DuBois' Second Mate (as described by Marxus).  They took a tough looking sailor, Lieutenant Marxus, and Boano (the Bonuwat) and rowed over there.

The merchant captain was quite distressed to see them considering he recognised Captain DuBois, was trapped in irons, and was carrying 65,000 gold pieces worth of silk.  He pointed out that he recognised him by hailing him with, "Captain DuBois!  I haven't seen you since you were this high.  How is your father?"

Proteus thought fast.  He couldn't pretend to know the man and needed an answer that would stop the conversation.  "Dead," he said gruffly.

The other captain couldn't know any better and simply expressed his condolences and welcomed Captain DuBois onboard, however, and offered him an expensive drink, to which Proteus responded with: "So what are you expecting?"

The captain's face fell, seeing in Proteus' eyes that this wouldn't end well.  "I ... I'm not sure."

Proteus stared him down.

"I suppose I should pack my things," said the captain hopefully.

"That would be a wise idea," said Proteus.

The captain quickly began to pack his things but pointedly didn't take anything too expensive.  "Might I take a few sailors to row me ashore?"

"I hate officers," said Proteus, figuring those would be most likely to be loyal to the captain.  "They're trouble.  You can take them."

The captain nodded.  "Thank you, sir."

"Tell you what, since you're not giving me the trouble of killing you I'll let you keep a single bale of silk."

"Thank you, sir!" said the captain.  Obviously Captain DuBois' reputation was a lot more cruel than that.  In order to seal the likelihood of him leaving alive he said: "I'll tell the crew that I've got urgent business elsewhere and that you've purchased this ship."

Which is precisely what he did, calling all hands on deck and giving them the speech before rushing off with his officers and rowing ashore.  Proteus told the crew that he was retiring to the cabin and that Lieutenant Marxus would give them their orders.  Which he did, not that it mattered as the ship had too little wind (which was coming behind them at the moment) to turn aside with its square rigging at even a snail pace as without having the wind right behind them they couldn't even make the slightest motion.

Boano took a message back to Captain Archer explaining how it had all gone down.

The following day, once the silk captain was far away, First Lieutenant Proteus told the crew a partial truth and promised them all part of two bales of silk (assuming each bale was worth 5000gp) which would be a pay out of 83gp apiece for a simple week's work.  They could then return to Katapesh significantly richer.  All they had to do was head to a little island (many suspected was Okeno) and then do a trip up to Andoran.

Marxus suggested that none of the sailors be allowed any shore leave on Okeno as they weren't likely to be too happy with the arrangements.  At least the bought slaves and the volunteer crewmen from their sloop would be more motivated not to turn them in and so they brought over a few of those to man the galleys when they were ready to sell the silk.

They reached Okeno, which in my world sits in a wide but shallow bay flanked by cliffs and rocky mountains.  The bay was relatively shallow and didn't extend in much of a C into the island and had a sandy bottom.  There was a long 100ft jetty that jutted out to allow larger ships (mostly galleons) to dock though really large vessels would have to weigh anchor in the bay and then row across.  There was another jetty that extend a few hundred feet from the mercantile one which was about 100ft long and had the slaver hulk on one end (bow facing the sea, with a cannon set up on the bow) and a small two-storey 20ft square crenellated stone fort on the other end of the jetty.

Captain Archer spotted the cannon and surmised that it might well be used simply to alert the port if the hulk were attacked.

They headed ashore via that shipping jetty.  They spotted on the way a really nice looking Chelish brig with a lot of devilish flourishes around the rear window called the SS Extravagance and a pinnace that looked suspiciously like their old ship (or rather, boat, as it didn't have three masts) the Egress.

The four of them headed over to the Okeno markets.  They saw a brothel tent where women out the front opened their garbs to reveal their breasts or lifted their hems to show off their crotches.  Classy.  There were a number of ramshackle taverns by the docks but they were unlikely to find anyone able to spend 65,000 gp there.  Proteus asked around for a Merchant's Guild but there wasn't one as their buying and selling, outside of slaves, just wasn't that organised and formalised here.  So they needed to sell it to individual buyers.  Tricky in a large town of 6,000 people where over a sixth of them were slaves.

So instead they go into the Three Bucks.  This place can be found over at a really cool Trail of Cthulhu blog and has been modified for Pathfinder (Players, don't click the link). 

Here's an example of how I changed it:

This elaborate Taldan building resembles a Chelaxian palace gone slightly awry, complete with statues of saints and a copper-clad cupola roof. It was built on the site of an old traveller's inn, as a speculative venture by the Taldan Gregory Harris over thirty years ago. The big Keleshite breweries were on the lookout for pubs to buy, and many pub owners, Harris among them, sunk their fortunes into making the building as elaborate as possible to attract the brewers' attention.  He figured he was in for a winner due to his lucky position as one of the fanciest buildings in Okeno.
The players didn't do all that much here.  They arrived and purchased the most expensive drink - a Chelaxian red wine.  This caught the attention of a handsome, gullible and racist Chelish man who strolled over to them, flashing a rare silver pocket watch with a Desnan butterfly etched on the back, and introduced himself.  This Chelish man, Michel Givollo, the son of the brother of Paracount Aldicci Giovollo of the Peligrane Province which is responsible for the Pelligrane wines (think champagne), had apparently sold a nice batch of Pelligrane wines to the local establishments.  He seemed comfortable despite the heat and wore a butterfly embellished gold ring next to his signet ring (perhaps a ring of Endure Elements).

Proteus played at being a Chelish captain (as their sloop was Chelish) while Lhye pretended to be a Chelish merchant.  Both used magic to appear human and wore their best outfits that they had stolen from the cruel elf in Diobel on the Isle of Kortos.  Archer simply was the silent guard due to his Andoren accent.  Lunjun simply feigned being their enslaved accountant and only spoke in Aquan to Proteus which sounded like weird clicks to Givollo.  When Givollo queried it, Lhye dismissed it as simple foreign weirdness.  Givollo also mispronounced the Tienese as Tiangan and at first confused Lunjun for someone from Riddleport as he believed that interbreeding by Ulfens and Varisians created people with deformed eyes and weird coloration.

As I said, congenially racist.  So much so that Lunjun started implying to Proteus that they should rob him in Aquan.

Givollo expressed interest in their silk wares but confessed that he only had 20,000gp ("I only have it in 2000 platinum, if that's not a problem") but that he could pay for the rest in bearer's bonds that could be cashed in either Absalom or Cheliax.  He was also willing to show his certificate of authentic lineage and could declare his lineage.  Any questions asked of him about Cheliax he answered deftly.

The PCs were unsure about this but figured that 20,000gp alone was good enough for a shipment they would otherwise have to dump in the ocean due to their desperate need for more space for freed slaves.  So they accepted, but not until Proteus persuaded Lhye to get him to throw in his pocket watch which was valued at between 3,000 - 5,000gp and had been made by gnomes at an inventor's fair in the Pelligrane Province.

Givollo took a look at their cargo personally first and then, when they had brought the silks to his ship, he brought forth a trunk filled with 2000 platinum pieces which he was happy for Lunjun to count as well as a number of bearer's bonds that covered the 32,000gp (they'd kept 5000gp for spare silk sails as well as 5000gp for the galleon crews' wages).  He also gave them the pocket watch to cover the last 3000gp.  In truth, he'd paid the retail rate.

Since that load quite overburdened his brig and as he'd already finished his business, he explained to them that he would be leaving quickly before his crew grew mutinous.  And he did.  Within the hour.

Five hours later, Lhye has the sudden realisation that the man was related to alleged Chelish new nobility and yet carried symbols of a Chaotic Good goddess who was illegal in Cheliax.  He's now thinking they've been had.

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