Some Good Sh*t / Dead Beat

hardcore-trainingLike a maddening drug, the poison beats through your system. You struggle for air and pain shoots through your limbs as your heart stutters erratically. A scarecrow approaches you and demands your token of payment to pass into the Farmer Underworld. Yes, you confess that you are a man of sin…No, wait. Medicine? Oh. You misunderstood again and your addled brain drew you into another fiction. That’s the doctor!

He’s saying something important, but you can’t quite grasp it. It’s this damn poison! You try to focus. Heart? Yes. He says your heart needs to beat faster to keep you alive.

river-styxLike a drum, heralding your approach to the Halls of Death. A shadowy figure in the corner rises…a woman. She gently rests her arms around you. Her lips touch your forehead. Cold lips. She draws you to your feet and through the rusted doorway. You hear moaning all around you. She thrusts you to the floor and climbs atop you…this is getting interesting. Then she presses something cold and metallic against your throat. A…barbell?

“Strain!” She orders you. You’re not sure what she has in mind.

She slaps your face, and you recognize her as your first mate.

“Train!” she commands. “Train as if your life depended on it…’cause it does!”

3140

Gibbeted Yardarm

“What?” you cry. “Where am I?” The moaning of the timbers of your ship answer your question.

She hits you in the face. Ouch. That wasn’t very pleasant.

She says, “I don’t care where you think you are! Just listen! If you want to survive, you have to keep your heart rate up. There’s a chance you could burn off the poison and survive. So get lifting!”

Well, who are you to argue with the Angel of Death?


3138

Stygian Boots

Just beyond the veil of death, a figure beckons. He offers you a bet. If you survive, you can have his boots!

 

 

 

 

 

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Freshwater Warfare / Great Lakes Navies

potawatomi-villageHaving been made an honorary Buffalo Warrior, you now spend some time recovering from your wounds. Your Indian companions are accommodating, but you are looking forward to leaving the plains. It will be a relief to hurl yourself into the sea and wash off all this dust!

Guiomar Cabral has already made plans to leave. He sent messages days earlier, ordering his ships to be sailed into the Great Lakes. Informants from the Potawatomi tribe had revealed secret routes by which the passage could be made, and now you are only awaiting their arrival. You and your recruits travel to the southwest bank of Lake Michigan. A pleasant fishing village of the Potawatomi is situated here. There is an abundance of garlic growing in the area, and the village is named for it. The locals call the place Chicagou. You enjoy gambling and mingling with the natives until the navy finally arrives, a little worse for wear.

Unfortunately, the timing of their passage coincided with an engagement by the Iroquois Confederacy, which Cabral’s navy cruised right into. Fighting off unexpected assailants, the navy evaded the Iroquois war canoes and reached Chicagou.

A hasty conference takes place. According to reports from the Indians, the Iroquois had been raiding the coasts of the lakes, and were currently headed to this area. The Potawatomi have secured the Lakota and Algonquin as allies, and now ask for your help.

war-canoesCabral chuckles to himself. “Seems we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still…perhaps we can make this work to our advantage. After all, I doubt the vessels of the Iroquois will be any match for our own.”

Commodore Marks intones, “I’m not so sure, Vice Admiral…we already lost several yards of sail and some supplies to their fire arrows, and we nearly lost two of our ships. They dropped down from the trees, boarding us before we were aware and killing off crewmen.”

You interject, “Whatever it takes, my men and I will find a way to fend off these savages and get our ships back to the open sea!”

“No offense intended,” you mutter to your nearby Indian friends.

“None taken,” says Wakecirin. “Savage is as savage does,” he states with a straight face.

Lakota Breechcloth

Two Fists, chieftain of the Lakota, says, “I understand your haste to return to the rolling waters. Yet, if you would linger for a short time to help us fight off the Iroquois, we would be most grateful. For your assistance, we are willing to offer you something as precious as the Buffalo Hide War Shirts you have recently obtained.”

“These Lakota Breechcloths have been passed down for generations. They were blessed by the White Buffalo Calf Woman, washed in the spring waters of the Mississippi, and dried in the smoke of her Pipe. If you help us defend our lands, they will help you to slay many enemies at once.”

With the promise of yet another kasu artifact, Cabral immediately embraces the mission and asks you to prepare the vessels for combat. You are looking forward to seeing how well your salties fare against the lakers.

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Buffalo Warriors / Blood Quest

bison-herdHaving successfully identified the honored warriors in each tribe, those brave souls called Buffalo Warriors, Cabral now wants you to take them out.

He says, “You must challenge them, one by one, to a one-on-one fight, and see who’s left standing! If you prove your mettle well enough, the tribe leaders may just name you a Buffalo Warrior, and bequeath you with one of the blessed Buffalo Hide War Shirts! Those shirts are kasu artifacts. It is said that a person who wears one is given extra power in their ‘Blood Quest’, allowing them to conquer their enemies more quickly.”

Buffalo Hide War Shirt

You prepare yourself for battle, sitting on a log and caring for your weapons and armor. An old warrior of the Algonquin tribe approaches you. You recall that he was one of the fellows you spoke with while having your wounds tended. Wakecirin. That was his name.

Wakecirin sits down, and says, “Listen well, salt-walker. Becoming a Buffalo Warrior is the greatest honor a man of the People of the Horse may receive. They are masters of themselves, friends of nature, and victors of the Blood Quest. If you intend to face one, you’d better put your earthly affairs in order first.”

indian-on-bisonAs if to verify his words, a tumult is heard as an apparent stampede of buffalo approaches! You rise to your feet, ready to run, when you notice men are riding the animals. They holler and shout, hurling spears into nearby straw mounds and leaping from the backs of the buffalo. One of them strides toward you.

 

He says, “You wish to be Buffalo Warrior? Then you must know the buffalo! Come. Get acquainted.” He takes you by the arm and then hurls you onto a pile of fresh dung.

His companions howl with laughter. You look up and smile. You are going to enjoy wiping that grin off of the red-man’s face!baby-bison

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Bloody Victory / Wounds of War

 

colonial cityThe citizens of the Thirteen Colonies were welcoming enough. Most of them seemed poor and dirty, while a small segment of wealthy land holders kept to themselves and had as little to do with the unwashed masses as possible; much like the people of other cities you’d visited. The caravan would be headed west for weeks, and Cabral ordered you to keep a tight leash on the men and women who followed you, the recruits with hidden loyalties. That wasn’t much of a problem until you reached the frontier.

caravan watchingHere things were different, with most people on even footing. There was quite a variety, ranging from religious zealots to lawless scoundrels (some of which you thought might serve well on your personal crew), and whores in abundance. You managed to convince Cabral that a night of revelry would be good for morale, so he left matters in your hands. Your recruits kept in line for the most part, and only a little head-bashing was necessary. The trouble was usually from the locals. You found yourself thinking more than once that you had finally found land-pirates! Though these fellows used horses instead of ships.

comancheFinally, you reached your destination: Cahokia. It was an unusual settlement full of French settlers, Indians of various tribes, Spaniards, and British colonists who had left the Colonial boundaries. Even the occasional Dutchman had ended up here. Cabral immediately made contact with some Plains Indians. Then you were given your mission here: go join the wrong side of an Indian war and get hurt! Once injured, you must collect any information you can on who the honored warriors are in each tribe.

Comanche Medicine Woman

The Indians are hardy folk, and they push themselves to the limits even while injured. If you can manage find a medicine woman of the Comanche tribe, you might get her to make you a powerful elixir. If you can keep up with your Indian counterparts in recovery through the use of a Comanche Catalyst, your odds of success will be much greater.

3025

Covenant Armband

Cabral is offering some special rewards for those who bring him the most names: some of the most valuable kasu artifacts in the world, called Covenant Armbands! Wearing these, even the rarest of treasures will not elude your grasp for long!

 

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Beasts of Burden / Defend the Caravan

western caravan

Vice Admiral Guiomar Cabral was pleased with your training of his new cadets, still failing to realize how little loyalty to him they actually possess.

Cabral has summoned you to his office in Cockburn Town. He says, “It is time to put these new recruits to the test. I will be leaving soon, and I want you to come with me. Since you already have a strong relationship with these men, I expect you will do well keeping them in line. We are heading out on an overland expedition, and there are rumored to be dangerous beasts, bandits, and even some of those western Indians that may stand in our way…or which may try to rob us en route. We will need to eliminate anything that threatens. Admiral Sunderson is on his way here in the Burning Bush, and will be taking over affairs in the Caribbean while we’re away.”

You ask where you will be going, and Cabral remains vague. He says, “Suffice it to say that we must pass through a portion of the American Colonies until we reach the western frontier. Then we return. Think of it as a training exercise.”

While preparing for the trip, you have some of your curiosity satisfied by a message from Lucas. You meet him in the usual place: the Toothless Grin Pub.

Lucas grins as you take a seat, his purple-splotched cheek causing him to appear like a crazed killer already marked by his victim’s blood.

“Slag sends his regards,” he remarks. “And warns that Cabral seems to be going after one of the kasu artifacts.” When you express ignorance of the term, Lucas says, “Huh. I guess you really are in the dark. Everyone in the Ivory Order should know this stuff. Well, I don’t have time now, so it’ll have to wait. Just keep your eyes open for a unique item, or set of items, that Cabral seems particularly interested in. Whatever it is, we want it. And it’s literally your head if you don’t make sure it makes its way out of Cabral’s hands and into Slag’s. Just try not to give yourself away in the process.”

As Lucas walks away, you think about how this whole thing suddenly got a lot more complicated. Then you push away your worries and call for a drink. Life is good! And whatever happens, you’ll find a way to turn it to your advantage!

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Turncoat Training / Defection and Discipline

duel You finally locate the infiltrator. Using Guiomar’s authority, you send the man into a basement to check out the possibility of a hidden passage. There is no such passage. And the only way out will be through you.

You and two of your colleagues slip into the building’s basement a few paces behind your quarry and lock the door. The man, Lucas, turns around and sets his lantern down on a nearby dusty table. He is rail-thin with a mustache and a purple birthmark on one cheek like a splash of paint.

Lucas asks, “What’s happening here?” He draws his blade and lunges at you, but you are ready and swiftly parry the blow. You ask him to calm down, but he continues trying to fight past you. After a short time of defending yourself, you slash at his hand and he drops his sword. You smile and explain the situation. You’ve had time to think about how to handle this, and you make your proposal. You also hand him a strip of cloth and offer to bind his wound.

Lucas narrows his eyes, but allows you to draw near. He says, “You want in on the operation? Huh. I mean, I don’t really know what you’re talking about. But if I did, I wouldn’t be the one to make that call.”

You ask him who he’d like to get rid of from the Vice Admiral’s staff. He names someone. You tell him the man’s as good as dead. And in return for you implicating him instead of Lucas, you expect he will pass on your request and see what your safeguarding of their little secret is worth. The Ivory Order is now in your debt. And that’s a position with many sweet possibilities…

• • •

You report your findings to Guimar Cabral, and he seizes the man you named as traitor and hauls him off to be questioned and disposed of. He thanks you handsomely and pays you well. He says his next task for you will be training some new sailors on their way. A week later, Lucas arranges a meeting with you. You rendezvous down at The Toothless Grin Pub. You find Lucas seated at a corner table and you join him.pub

Lucas looks up, his purple splotch gleaming in the light of the room’s candles. “Your offer’s been accepted. And you have an assignment. Slag managed to intercept reinforcements from Europe, and replaced them with his own men. But they’re fairly green. He needs you to train ‘em. Once they’re competent enough, they will prove his key to removing Cabral and sending a message to the Johns that they won’t soon forget.”

You ask who these Johns are that you’ve heard about.

Lucas looks surprised. He says, “Ain’t you never heard of the Honorable East India Company? John Company, they call ‘em. Frankly, they’re less honorable than you or me. Would be nice if they’d keep their hands on India, but they’ve been meddlin’ in other parts. They claim to only want Slag and his men because of the crimes they’ve committed, but that’s a lie. The Johns have appointed Cabral the head of their operation, and his fleet is here to recover some precious items taken from them. They hope to crush the Ivory Order, and take back their treasure at the same time. They’ve already gotten their filthy hands on the Amber Bottle Stoppers and the Covenant Armbands.”

Lucas shakes his head and smiles. “But they’ll never take the greatest treasure of all…the sword that enabled the Ivory Order to build itself from the rubble into a power to be feared! The Masamune! An ancient katana able to sense treasure! Truly a pirate’s dream!”

You tell Lucas to speak more quietly, and his grin just broadens.

corruptionHe says, “Have no fear! Your new recruits are here!” A few nearby guests look at you and nod. They appear young and inexperienced. “I had them gather here long before our meeting to occupy tables and elbow out the outsiders. The bartenders and owners are also with us. So don’t worry! Just get these fledglings ready to fly, and we can eliminate the threat to the Ivory Order. After that, we walk away with a bigger payday than you’ve ever dreamed of! Oh yes. And after you demonstrate your worth in training, your reward will be the Viveriterum, companion sword to the Masamune! They say it can raise the dead.”

You aren’t sure how you ended up here, but your opportunism is paying off! Cabral is paying you to train the very force that will depose him! Ah, the irony! Well, it’s time to train a whole new generation of cutthroats. So get out there and show them how it’s done!

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Crooked Accounts / Follow the Money

pirate desk

Guiomar Cabral was overjoyed to receive your report. However, the reward thrust upon you by the Vice Admiral was…different than you expected. After using the information you supplied to avoid the trap laid for him by Slag, Cabral managed to destroy no small number of Slag’s forces. Sadly, the Grim Drudgeon proved a true dreadnought of a ship, and Slag escaped leaving the wreckage of no few Portuguese vessels in his wake.

Helm of the Gorgon

During the battle, you enjoyed the luxury of a seaside manor house, where you were to wait until the resolution to be paid. When Cabral arrived, he declared the bad news. “That devious slayer has again evaded justice! How long shall his blood-spilling go unpunished? Whatever I must do to lay hands on him, that will I do!”

Then, to your surprise, he offered you a job.

Firedrake Helm

“It seems plain to me that Slag has infiltrated my staff. He must have been forewarned to have pulled off his escape so well. And I have noticed some discrepancies in my logbooks. I need someone to investigate the matter, and I can’t trust any of my own. So I’m appointing you.”

This wasn’t the kind of compensation you were looking for. You tried to explain this to Cabral, but he forestalled you and insisted that you help him sniff out the traitor.

“You may not think it, but you are the right type of person for this job. You will need to commit all manner of crime as you investigate, for we have no time for niceties. Storm the prisons to uncover whatever scraps of information you can. You may even have to mug some people on the streets. Once we know who Slag’s been paying, we can follow the money trail to our infiltrator. And don’t worry. I will make it worth your while!”

He shows you helms of power, chests of jewels, and other precious things. Who are you to turn down loot? And it’s not like you haven’t done this kind of work before.  You’ll just have to knock a few heads and learn the identity of the traitor. Of course, once you do locate him, who’s to say he won’t be willing to pay you even more to keep your mouth shut?

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Naval Bulwark / Maritime Barricade

captain's quarters

Candle light flickers on the table as you crouch in the shadows, hidden behind a handful of storage crates. You are in the oversized Captain’s Quarters of Grim Drudgeon, Slag’s personal ship, where he and all of his captains are seated around a massive table. You had heard about this private meeting several days ago, and you found a way to provide yourself an entrance through a back window. You’ve been sitting here in the dark for hours, waiting for the guests to arrive. Pleasantries have drawn to a close and now the meeting is finally under way.

Slag stands up, his tremendous form looming over the others. A wild black beard juts from his face, and his dark overcoat hangs nearly to the floor. Sheathed weapons hang from his weapons belt and baldric over a dark grey tunic and charcoal breeches. He removes his leather tricorn hat, leaving his completely bald head gleaming in the candle light.

st vincent islandSlag’s voice is a rumble with a deadly edge to it. He says, “You all know what we’re up against. The Johns have gone too far. Their interference ends here. Corvis. I need you to scuttle your ship in front of St. Vincent harbor. The Johns will have to work hard to find a landing, and while they do we’ll riddle their ships with holes from our cannons mounted on the cliffs. Geraldine. You need to hold the line and prevent any ships from leaving once they’re in our trap. Maltos. You and Slendercane will lead the thrust against the main body of ships once the trap has sprung.”

Slag continues to give orders, with occasional remarks from the other captains. Then he concludes. “I know I don’t need to remind you what will happen if the Ivory Order fails to stop the Johns. If they secure a foothold, there’ll be no stopping them. Besides, I’m the bait for this trap, and if it goes awry, ye’ll all have hell to pay!”

Copperplate – Capt. Slendercane’s Ship

He glares down at everyone at the table. “’Cause make no mistake, I don’t intend to be taken alive! Or dead, for that matter…my meetin’ with the devil won’t come so soon!”

You’re not sure who the Johns are, but you know that the Ivory Order is what Slag and his inner circle call themselves. Apparently Vice Admiral Cabral is part of these Johns. In any case, he’s the one you must find. The information you hold’s as good as gold…a whole heapin’ pile of it! Which is what you’re owed for your crafty spywork.

The trick will be getting to Cabral in one piece! But what worked once may work a second time…Perhaps if you let Cabral’s forces capture your ships, you can gain a quick audience with him. The trick is to not give away your hand too soon, lest Slag’s forces eliminate you. Slipping out the back window, you find your men and begin relaying the information. With trusty sea hands in key locations on numerous ships, you may just be able to pull it off! So go head-to-head in naval attacks and let your ships be overrun! The more vessels you lose, the better your odds of getting the message to Guiomar Cabral!

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Batten Down the Hatches/Braving the Storm

Slag

It’s been weeks since you were forced to yield to the vile murderer who captured your vessel. You still know little about the man who ordered the attack, though his followers refer to him simply as Slag. You have been absorbed into the crew of a massive battleship called Copperplate. Most of the other crew seem to have joined Slag’s forces under similar circumstances. Everyone is in fearful awe of the dark murderer. Captain Slendercane of your vessel seems to melt whenever Slag comes on board. Just a week ago Slendercane had been First Mate, but was promoted when the former captain refused to attack a vessel carrying a Catholic Cardinal. The remains of the former captain are still bound high on the main mast, where Slag had him nailed after his tongue was removed.  It was an unpleasant couple of days waiting for the man to die.

Now it seems a tremendous battle on the open seas is about to take place, and during a storm, no less! But no one would dare to disobey an order from Slag. Captain Slendercane finishes reading a message received by pigeon and begins ordering everyone to prepare to brave the storm. You’ll have to keep close to yer mates…best to have someone at yer back you can trust!

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Throwing the Fight / Striking Colors

Jolly RogerYou’re under attack! Drums beat loudly and a shrill whistle sounds, rousing you from yer slumber. A voice is heard from above deck: “All hands to the ready! Jolly Roger sighted!” Out of nowhere, a squadron of ships has surrounded you in the night and is closing in! Not one to travel without backup, you scan the darkness and see one of your traveling companions trying to flee as the vessel burns. Bright lanterns in the mastheads of the enemy ships illuminate the skull and crossbones, indicating that any attempt to fight will result in no quarter.

2968

Quart Doorknob

You fear that the mastermind behind this assault may be the murderer being hunted by Vice Admiral Guiomar Cabral. ‘Tis a shame that he’s not around when he’d be of use! Suddenly, sounds of commotion announce some unwelcome visitors at the starboard bow. A group of pirates have boarded your ship and are disarming your men! You see a flash of light as it reflects from a strange Quartz Doorknob hanging at the belt of an assailant. Then another gleams in your direction. You wonder what sort of devilry is at work here, for such an odd fashion choice to rear its head on the open seas.

It’s time to decide whether to strike colors or resist the blackguard! You know the reputation of this villain, and he’s no one to be trifled with. Might you profit by bowing your head to the rapscallion for a time? Perhaps if you throw the fight, ye’ll be able to survive and carry information to Cabral later…information that he will pay for dearly!

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