Fate Core: Agents of the Black Buck

Four Simple Rules

Season 4, Episode 2

PirateTown_Day.jpg

With a powerful divine artifact and strange animals from Kalahar in tow and the weight of their decision to sever the nature god from the world weighing on their minds, the adventurers decide to return to their home in Mejas to take stock of their progress and how best to approach the Black Buck’s agents who are said to have last been seen in Scrapebottom Haven.

While headed home, Sven discovers to his horror that “Blue” the Water Elemental has disintegrated back into water. The divine spark that kept him alive was extinguished when Gozreh was cut off from the mortal realm.

The Green Dragon arrives in town and Ria sees to the care of the “dambros” a pair of tusked four legged creatures with large ears and an elongated snout. Declaring the two mating pairs are holy, she installs them in a menagerie at her temple to the gods Sarenrae and Desna: The House of Sun and Stars.

While inside, Ria prays to both her goddesses but finds their guidance missing. A priest at the temple says it’s not unusual for the gods to not answer prayers, but Ria recognizes what’s happened. After the party’s actions on Kalahar — and with her devotion to two opposite gods — the goddesses are unhappy.

While in town, Satine stops by the local notice boards and collects some bounties, pulling in cash for the party’s adventures. Erasmus and Francis the monkey spend some time in the library with Donovar Shett while the rest of the party finishes its errands.

Sven asks around to learn more about Scrapebottom Haven, where he might finally get his revenge; however he is sidetracked by tales of a legendary courtesan at the port’s “Isle of Innocence” named the “Starlighter.” Sven resolves to meet her.

[FOR AMARYLLIS’S EYES ONLY]

Amaryllis returns to an informant for Aeleth’s Padlock and reports what happened on Kalahar. She explains the party is in possession of the Ur-Stone. Amaryllis is told to head to Scrapebottom Haven at once and meet with Gwaelor Al’qua ver T’Jinez, the regional director and a member of the organizations Board.

[END FOR AMARYLLIS’S EYES ONLY]

Malakai returns to his business, Cross & Cross Inc. A line there stretches out the door. Shana greets him and explains that the deaths from the defense of the city have made their services highly sought after. Unfortunately, with Malakai out on adventures, no one has been in Mejas to finish the jobs. The waiting list, she says, is dozens of people long.

The rest of the party arrive at Malakai’s headquarters and are shocked to see the unruly line. They are even more shocked when Shana introduces the business’s newest hire: Gregoroth Hatesower, a towering, red-skinned infernal with a goat’s skull head, horns and wearing small glasses. Ria and Satine immediately prepare for battle, but Malakai explains that Hatesower — better known as “Greg” — isn’t dangerous.

Greg shows the group some marketing material and Malakai, impressed, promises him a promotion. Satine and Ria are still skeptical, but agree to simply keep an eye on Greg for the time being. Malakai completes one assignment for Cross & Cross, helping to locate a missing painting for one of Mejas’ most well-known artisans: Rudolfo Norris, who promises to be an ally in the future if need be.

With their preparations complete in Mejas, the party set sail for Scrapebottom Haven, a seedy pirate cove in the middle of the Circle Sea. Along the way, the party see docks, taverns and hideaways set up on small tropical islands.

With Sven’s careful piloting keeping the ship safe between the sharp reefs, The Green Dragon arrives at the haven’s atoll, a protected, calm deepwater port. Scrapebottom is mostly made up of floating shops and markets built out of old ships and connected by planks of wood and rigging. In the center of the haven is a small craggy island where the floating markets are anchored. A square fortress is perched on the top of the rocky island alongside small timber-framed framed buildings and a shipyard.

In the distance, Hell’s Gate burns with a furious red glow. Occasionally, the volcano sputters to life and the rumble of explosions echo like distance thunderclaps.

Sven pulls the Green Dragon in to dock, drawing stares from merchants and sailors at the harbor. As the ship’s passengers disembark, the stout halfling dockmaster named Ralphie Conway approaches with a clipboard.

“I … I must say. I’ve never seen a ship like that before,” Ralphie says, adjusting his glasses. “Fine ship… A fine ship, to be sure.” The halfling introduces himself as the dockmaster for all of Scrapebottom Haven. He serves the pirate queen who runs the sanctuary: Sar Taranga.

Ralphie explains Scrapebottom is a welcoming place for all manner of sailors, from draft-dodgers and deserters to pirates and privateers. The queen promises protection to all within her jurisdiction, on the condition that they follow four rules:

1) No killing.
2) No stealing.
3) No slavery.
4) No unpaid debts.

The party agree, and Ralphie tries to charge them a high price to dock in town. When the adventurers protest, Ralphie says the quality of their armor and their ship clearly show they can afford to pay a premium to keep it secure. Amaryllis negotiates the halfling down to a lower price. Malakai introduces himself as a “necromancer for hire,” but is shocked when Ralphie laughs away his business card and explains Scrapebottom already has a spiritual assistance company in town: Merrington & Foast.

Ghak and the other orcs head into the fighting pits in town to satisfy their bloodlust while the rest of the party head along the main plankway to the nearest inn: Rigger’s.

The inn was once a huge shipping galleon, but it’s days of sailing the seas are over. Instead, the ship has been lashed to the planks and anchored to the atoll floor. The bow of the ship has been sliced open to make room for a pair of large double doors and the castle of the ship in the stern has been renovated with several new floors added to the top to make room for lodgings.

Inside, the main room is an active bar with more than a dozen fishmongers, sailors and travelers enjoying tasty ales. The inn appears to follow the seaboard theme, with rigging draped from the ceiling as decoration and mounted fish on the walls — the biggest is a large swordfish curling over the entrance. Each of the tables is draped with old sail cloth to complete the decor.

A burly human with a thick black beard tends the bar counter. With a rumbling laugh he waves the party over to him. “You’re new to town, I see,” chuckles Hans Kreuger, the owner of Rigger’s as he cleans glasses. “I can tell. Haven’t seen you around before.” Ria explains the party was cheated out of a fair dock fee by Ralphie, and Hans takes pity on the adventurers.

He offers them a deeply discounted stay in three rooms to make up for Ralphie’s greed. When the adventurers ask why the price is so cheap, Hans says there’s been an “incident.”

A group of clerics of the nature god Gozreh had recently arrived in Scrapebottom, he says. They were on some mission to conduct a diving exploration.

But when the clerics dove to the bottom of the sea, something went horribly wrong. Only one, an elf, returned from beneath the waves with severe injuries. Another cleric of Gozreh that stayed behind has been tending to him in an upstairs room, but not even the town’s greatest healers have been able to cure him of his wounds.

All of the adventurers — except Amaryllis, who excuses herself — head upstairs where they find the cleric’s suite. A knock on the door produces Neera Popwhittle, a frazzled red-haired gnome who looks like she hasn’t slept in days. When Ria offers to help, Neera shrugs. “I suppose it can’t hurt,” she says. “We’re desperate.”

A stack of nearly packed bags are piled into the room, more than a dozen in total. They belonged to the missing clerics, Neera explains. Only two are left open: her and the one owned by the injured elven cleric, Vestal of the Windsting.

Vestal is wrapped in sheets on the bed as though prepared for burial. His skin is a pasty pale color and Neera pulls back the sheets to reveal his arm and leg have turned to stone. The infection seems to be spreading.

Neera explains the clerics gathered from all over the world to investigate rumors of an underwater temple that had been flooded in the Age of Legends when Gozreh was said to have flooded the plains, making the Circle Sea. The group was a gathering the finest divine Gozreh scholars to verify the find. With the nature god’s power waning, the clerics were desperate to learn why and hoped the underwater temple would hold a clue.

Neara invented diving suits for the clerics to wear and they found the temple. But while the group was underwater, Neera felt something sap the strength from her. She describes it as though her senses dulled. She could no longer sense the flow of the water beneath her ship, nor the intentions of the breeze.

One by one the lines leading to the diving suits went slack. Near desperately pulled one of them back, rescuing Vestal. He claimed to have seen a horrible monster in the water, but slipped into a coma. No one has been able to heal him.

The adventurers realize what’s happened: with the nature god Gozreh disconnected from the mortal realm, the party have unwittingly robbed every nature cleric and shaman that worshipped the god of their powers.

Ria offers to try to help, but Neera is skeptical and dejected. “The gods have truly forsaken us,” she sighs. “What hope do we have?” Ria raises her hands above the elf and calls on Desna and Sarenrae to provide their strength. The adventurers watch in awe as two orbs, one a bright blazing yellow and the other ephemeral and silver hover in her hands. She presses them against the elf, who gasps back to life, his limbs healed.

During the healing, Ria saw a vision of an underwater temple. A large stone had held it shut, but it was cracked open and she hears a woman’s laughter as an aquatic medusa emerged, attacking the clerics. Vestal says the temple was not a shrine to Gozreh, but a prison for the medusa. Now that she is free, Scrapebottom and the surrounding islands may be in danger. Neera and Vestal ask the heroes to defeat the creature and to rescue any clerics that may have survived.

After some debate, the party decide they are obligated to help since they indirectly caused the calamity.

[FOR AMARYLLIS’S EYES ONLY]

Meanwhile, Amaryllis heads to the Chest & Barrel, a shop in Scrapebottom serving as a front for Aeleth’s Padlock. After passing through the show floor, complete with more tacky mounted fish, she’s ushered into a back room to meet with Gwaelor Al’qua ver T’Jinez. He’s a blonde-haired elf of the famed Jinez clan of Falia.

He questions why Amaryllis allowed Gozreh to be disconnected. She attempts to deflect the blame onto the other adventurers, but Gwaelor is not impressed.

“Amaryllis … your chief attribute as an operative to this organization is precisely your ability to convince others of the worthiness of our cause,” he says. “Tell me — what use would such an operative have if they cannot convince even their so-called friends not to do something so rash and moronic?”

Gwaelor says Amaryllis has great talent, but has a record marred by terrific failures, and brings up the death of her friend and former paramour, Ambassador Remus. Gwaelor explains The Black Buck is an even more important figure now, and could be a powerful ally. Amaryllis’ mission is now of top priority.

He demands Amaryllis bring him the Ur-Stone for safe keeping, a request she gladly agrees to. She leaves and contacts a group of mercenaries to steal the stone in the night. Later in the evening, they approach her and she gives them detailed instructions for where to cut the stone from the ship and where to deposit it once it’s been stolen. The mercenaries accept the job and carry it out later that night.

[END FOR AMARYLLIS’S EYES ONLY]

The party regroups before splitting up again. Ria and Amaryllis stay behind at Rigger’s, where Amaryllis confides in Ria her distrust of her fellow adventurers. Satine heads to the main island and retrieves several bounties to investigate.

She, Malakai and Sven head to Merrington & Foast to meet the owner: Cornelius Wilfred Merrington. Inside, among the lounge chairs, the fine wooden dressers and the ubiquitous mounted tuna above the door, they find a distraught innkeep named Saoirse Doherty, who’s furious C.W. has failed to adequately help her.

Malakai and C.W. meet. He’s a brash human in an olive green coat and a skull-shaped broach. He carries a spellbook with him at all times. C.W. forgets the name of his assistant, Christopher, and believes Malakai to be an admirer. He touts his own expertise and success — nearly a dozen Merrington & Foast storefronts across the world. His attitude and bravado annoys Malakai, who secretly plans to take down Merrington however he can.

Meanwhile, Sven and Satine learn Saoirse’s father, Emmett of the Seadog’s Rest tavern, recently died. But she believes he was killed by a competitor. Before they can help, Malakai makes an off-hand remark that offends her and she storms off.

With the sun already having set, the trio head to the Isle of Innocence, the brothel island of the atoll under Queen Taranga’s domain. Satine is on the hunt for a wanted bard, while Sven is looking for Starlighter. The volcano’s explosions cast the island in a red glow, which only accentuates the strumpet’s gyrations outside the brothels.

The party head to the Savored Sting, a holy house of prostitution dedicated to the elven lust goddess Calistria. Inside the clean and elegant building, Satine finds a trio of cloaked musicians playing on the main stage. She introduces herself and learns the cloaked figures are actually three monstrous beasts!

In a dressing room, the smallest — a kobold named Lemler — explains that he and his bandmates were once the backup band for a popular sea shanty bard named Twift. The trio — himself, Garagek the Bugbear mandolin player and Orfo the Troll percussionist — wanted to form their own band called “Beasts 4 Peace” to spread a message of acceptance for so-called monstrous races. But Twift found out and stole the band’s money. Satine says she’ll try to help them later.

She also finds a drunk young man named Aidan, who happens to be Saoirse’s brother and is wanted for theft of valuable liquor. Aidan says the death of his father hit him hard and that he got drunk and stole the liquor in his stupor. He begs Satine to spare him, since he’ll be put to death for breaking one of the Four Rules. The heroes take pity on him and bring him back to The Green Dragon to sober up. Erasmus agrees to watch over him and the drunken orcs.

Meanwhile, Sven waits for Starlighter and eventually gets and audience. The elven courtesan uses illusion magic to augment her attractiveness and the two share a few hours. After the fireworks, Sven and Starlighter get to talking. To his shock, he learns the Starlighter has a frequent client — Jarvas Sloane. The elf explains he is due back soon, having sailed southwest about a week ago. Sven rushes back to Rigger’s to relay the news.

With much on their plate, the adventurers decide to first take care of the medusa before Sloane and his men arrive. They retire to their rooms at Rigger’s and sleep.

In the morning, the party is awoken by the frantic shouts of Erasmus — the Ur-Stone is gone! The heroes run back to the docks to find The Green Dragon has reverted back to its original state. Someone took the stone in the middle of the night!

A crowd has also gathered around the ship, where Ralphie is dealing with an engraged Ghak.

Malakai investigates and finds the stone was cut from the mast where it had implanted. He deduces that either the thief had the ability to sense the subtle magical cues of the location of the stone or knew where to cut. Amaryllis shares that Sloane’s ship The Pandora just arrived in town early this morning.

As the party deal with the fallout of the missing stone, C.W. Merrington arrives on the scene. He boasts that he will solve the case with his prodigious investigative skills.

When Malakai stands up to him, C.W. offers a challenge — if C.W. solves the case, he gains ownership of the Mejas market, and if Malakai solves it, he’ll get C.W.’s flagship Circle Sea store in Scrapebottom. Malakai rejects the deal and C.W. loudly calls him a coward. As he leaves, one of the party members secretly snips his pants, causing them to fall down. He curses them and storms off.

Ralphie and the party are called to meet with the queen. The nervous dockmaster leads all of them to the fortress on the main island, where they enter a large greeting area. Sar Taranga, a voodoo queen with dark skin, white facial tattoos and a snake around her neck, and greets them. Malakai senses two powerful sources of magic in her pocket, glowing with necromantic energy; he is unable to probe further.

She apologizes for the theft and immediately exiles Ralphie. Malakai describes the missing stone and Satine suggests that Sloane may be the culprit. Taranga seems surprised, but offers her assistance.

However, Amaryllis notices a boar’s head on the wall and fears the Black Buck may be listening. The party cut the meeting short Taranga says she’ll investigate and make sure those who took stone are brought to justice; the party head back to the ship. Sven and the adventurers begin outfitting the ship for battle and prepare to launch an attack on the Pandora, which is docked near the Savored Sting.

Satine and Hans head off on their own to investigate, thinking they may be able to learn more. At the Broken Bow bar, they run into two familiar — and unwelcome — faces: the tiefling and agent of the Black Buck “Lucky” Marcel and his henchman Frank “Madman” Mercer. Satine remembers the pair were last seen being thrown in jail by the party in Firmrock. Nearby, a group of Sloane’s men eat breakfast.

She confronts the pair and a fight breaks out. Satine uses her martial skills to not only deflect the attacks, but subdue both Lucky and Madman Mercer and tie them up while Hans runs for help. However, two thugs escape in the melee and run away to warn Sloane.

The adventurers arrive and carry the two outlaws back to The Green Dragon. They decide it’s best to interrogate their new captives before setting out to take down Sloane, his ship and the other agents he’s working with…

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