Last session, our heroes uncovered the demoness that slept beneath Svarttand Island. At her awakening, the island erupted in flame and destruction, and our heroes’ minds turned to escape...
Our heroes leave the burning island of Svarttand behind aboard Halwr’s Spear. Two other ships (one with a sail- and oarless hull in tow) carry the displaced people of Svarttand and follow our heroes closely, relying on Captain Halvhand’s expertise to lead them through the mists. It is already late when they sail. As Svarttand grows smaller behind them, Captain Halvhand advises everyone should get some sleep. He and his crew work through the night.
Early in the morning, Halred--who had trouble catching sleep anyway--notices that Halwr’s Spear carries only sixteen men, they and Captain Halvhand included; there is room for more. The ships that follow them are crowded, and Halred figures they have room for more. He asks Captain Halvhand if they can take on a few more passengers, to even the load.
Captain Halvhand lauds Halred’s noble intentions, but he doesn’t have enough food aboard Halwr’s Spear to feed more men than they have right now. Also, he doesn’t think it will end well when he would moor his ship alongside one of the others to invite some passengers over. They would probably be swamped; there might even be accidents. Halred sees the sense in the captain’s words and lets the matter rest for now.
Our heroes spend an uneventful day at sea. Wisse and Ena use the time to discuss arcane matters, and Ena teaches Wisse the Evil Eye spell (see Core Rulebook, page 159) that lets him deal Soul damage to enemies from afar.
Our heroes are roused by excited chatter among the crewmembers. Apparently, three sails have showed up on the horizon, and it seems they are headed on a straight course towards Halwr’s Spear and the fishing ships that follow her. As the sails grow larger, there is discussion among the crew and passengers of Halwr’s Spear. However, when our heroes finally spot the glint of sunlight on spears and chainmail, the consensus is that the approaching ships are unlikely to have good intentions.
Captain Halvhand arms his crewmen, dims the lanterns on the prow and stern of Halwr’s Spear, and changes course to sail downwind and stay ahead of any who would pursue them. In a moment, the convoy breaks up. One fishing ship heads west, while the third (with the extra hull in tow) comes to a stop due to its captain and crew’s poor handling.
The other ships, raiders they seem, give chase. Two break away to pursue the other ships, but one follows Halwr’s Spear. The raiders are quicker as they have more oarsmen, and they soon catch up with our heroes and force them to give battle.
The raider ship had a crew of 20. Every man aboard that ship had 720 Character Points, only 20 fewer Character Points than our heroes, and three of them were archers. They had either Close Combat or Ranged Combat skill level 2 and Defense skill level 3. Our heroes had Captain Halvhand and Erskin besides themselves, who are each fairly skilled (870 Character Points, with combat skills at level 3), but the other crewmembers had 500 Character points.
Our heroes, in short, were outmatched. They knew this from the beginning: I emphasized that the enemy sailors were well armed and determined.
The players had a few creative ideas as to how to deal with this enemy. The first attempt was by Lorin the Lame and Wisse. They used their Shift spells (see Core Rulebook, pages 184-185) to teleport onboard the enemy ship. They both threw a jug of lamp oil onto the deck, set it alight, then teleported back using the same spell. Lorin even smacked the raider captain upside the head for good measure. Unfortunately, the raiders were quick to extinguish the flames and resume their pursuit.
Since the raider captain consistently beat Captain Halvhand’s Operate skill checks, the raiders drew closer at a rate of about 1 cube per round. Halred made use of his Far Shot power to try to pick off the captain, but the man hid behind the prow and Halred targeted the other archers instead. He devised a good strategy that entailed his hiding behind the prow with the movement that an Agility (dodge) skill check permits, and it was the first time someone used that movement not to change location, but simply to drop down and gain full cover. I was delighted with this new and excellent use of the Agility skill. Of course, his enemies started doing the same right away.
As the ships exchanged arrows, the men aboard Halwr’s Spear began to lose hope. One of them even abandoned ship, only to be feathered by the raiders’ archers. At the same time, the raider captain announced that if they surrendered, they would be spared.
Then came another creative idea. Wisse used his Minor Telekinesis spell (see Core Rulebook, page 194) to telekinetically move a burning torch against the enemy’s sail. Just as the enemy ship came alongside Halwr’s Spear and Captain Halvhand prepared his men to try to repel the boarders, the sail caught flame. In a bold move, Lorin teleported over to the enemy ship to empty the last of his lamp oil on the burning sail, significantly worsening the fire.
The raiders lost speed as oarsmen were diverted to deal with the flames. Oarsmen that focused on the flames lost the cover the gunwale granted and were easy targets for our heroes, who began picking them off to slow down the process of extinguishing the flames. Halred shot arrows, Lorin used the Push spell (see Core Rulebook, page 178) to fling his enemies off the deck and into the water, while Wisse and Ena employed the Evil Eye spell (see Core Rulebook, page 159) to rend the souls of a few very unlucky ones.
The distance between Halwr’s Spear and the raiders grew and grew, until it became clear that the raiders’ sail was damaged: they were no longer able to catch up. Our heroes escape, having killed or wounded eight of the twenty raiders and having lost only two of Halwr’s Spear’s crew.
The encounter was one that the players were very unlikely to win if they faced the raiders in face-to-face combat. It was interesting to see how they dealt with it, and they handled it most expertly.
[Continues in four weeks...]