Soanso's Serpent's Skull Campaign

Session 4: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv
exploring the Shiv

“Money Pit”

The Brine Demon has been spotted upon the group’s return to base camp. They decide to investigate, remembering that the cleric of Nethys, god of magic and balance, asked them to search it for evidence that may clear his name. It seems that Jask may have spoken the truth, as the castaways discovered a human skeleton grasping a waterproof darkwood coffer.

Along with a magic dagger and a gold locket, several ledgers and journals detail a skimming operation involving Sargavan authorities and several pirates of the Shackles, taking money from the tithes and taxes paid to the Free Captains by Sargava for protection from Chelish aggressions. Chumba suggests opening the gold locket, and inside is the striking miniature portrait of a red-haired half-elf, and is inscribed with the name “Aeshamara.” The return to camp is almost hindered by two large diamond-head boa constrictors, but Max and Chumba literally waste them both in about 6 seconds.

The party returns to camp to re-supply and check in with the other castaways. Jask studies the ledgers, and relates a bit of his past- he had been arrested in Cheliax for crimes against the Sargavan government, likely by the mid-level officials named in the ledgers. He had been hired to conduct clandestine investigations into this sordid affair by an independent council. He also has tended to Ayeris, laid low by withdrawals from alcohol. He knows of a fruit that aids with these symptoms, the luscious viper nettle berry, found clustered at the heart of enormous tangled, thorny vines.

Ishirou has been maintaining the camp’s defense, and pulls Taraz and Arendel aside to ask their advice on a southern palisade that is constantly battered by a wayward wind from the south. He points to a bald plateau, and tells them that he collects treasure maps, and one in particular seems to indicate this rise as a potential site. An especially dastardly pirate named Quellig supposedly buried his treasure here, but died before he could recover it. He nods to Taraz, calling him “a brother of misfortune,” and hopes that anything found, if it is indeed a treasure site, can help him ease the suffering of others.

Sasha is very excited about her “present,” a dimorphodon egg retrieved from a shipwreck. She promises to take very good care of her new, exotic pet.

At taps, both Sasha and Jask offer their companions insightful training as a boon for their hard work so far on the Shiv.

As Ace and Kay’ess keep watch, a ghostly, half-decayed and dripping wet pirate rises from the campfire, pointing a hook at the summoner. “You! You took Aeshamara! Scoundrel! Thief! Betrayer!” The commotion alerts the camp and all are generally fraught with the incorporeal captain’s presence. He focuses his rage on Arendel, while calling out, “Turncoats! Mutineers! I’ll swab the deck with ye!” and other such piratey phrases. Recognizing the name “Aeshamara” and ghost’s general desire to be laid to rest for eternity, Arendel pops the locket open, very afraid-like. The ghost of Kinkarian, captain of the Brine Demon, whose skeleton was found aboard, reaches his remaining hand to the locket, and sighs a ghostly sigh as a rush of wind draws the spirit away. It seems his final attempts to gaze upon his beloved one last time are finally realized.

The next day, Jask teaches the casters a set of mantras to help them keep focused while casting spells in battle, and Sasha teaches the Varisians several spot-and-listen techniques to keep them ready for combat.

A pair of monitor lizards strikes camp during training, and is dispatched. Realizing that Ishirou’s map requires the group to be upon the hill at dawn, and with one day gone for training, the group decides to rest quickly before heading out to the treasure site.

Under a full moon, the castaways leave camp and finally meet another group of humanoids. Unfortunately, these humans are half-naked, wielding weapons and bent on eating their combatants. The battle is tense but the 6 cannibals are defeated. A thorough search reveals sharpened teeth and ritual scarring, including the pentagram-like symbol painted in blood in a deserted shack, eerily reminiscent of the nation of Cheliax. Ace and Kay’ess are somewhat enthralled in combat, as they pick up a few Infernal phrases from their assailants, a few references to “Thrune,” the noble Chelish house that Ace is from. The pair also picks up the phrase “Mother Thrune,” though its importance eludes them. Later, a lone ghoul is spotted and destroyed.

The party arrives on the plateau at daybreak. Following the ciphers of Ishirou’s map, the group digs a hole in the ground only to reveal a wooden platform, or plug, and the skeletal remains of a leather armor-clad dwarf. The beard gives him away. Tossing the dwarf aside, debate rages over the next possible course of action. After digging into the soft stone around the plug and finding it likely to be a 10’ square of well-designed wood, akin to a door, it is decided that smashing a hole into the wood to see what lies below is the best course of action. By casting light on a stone and dropping it down the exposed shat, it appears that a 50-60 ft shaft ends in water. The light stone drifts to the bottom and is obscured. The donkey is roused into service and the platform is removed, revealing a worked shaft braced with timber. The group decides to rest out of the high heat before continuing.

While resting, they knot the 150’ rope they brought, dividing them into two 75’ sections. Securing the ropes to a log used to pull the plug, KS is first to descend. As Chumba follows, her human-stank attracts 2 lacedons, aquatic ghouls. They feverishly attack, but once the majority of treasure hunters lands in the waist-deep water, these ghouls have no chance. KS then explores the submerged tunnel from which the lacedons entered.

After swimming a short tunnel, he surfaces again and is faced with an enormous treasure chest, Quellig’s treasure. It is summarily dragged out and unsuccessfully opened. Max decides to simply break it open, wrecking the lock but nonetheless spilling coins, jewels, foul-smelling clothes, a scroll tube, a darkwood buckler, and a cold iron shortsword on the ground.

The sun begins to set upon the intrepid treasure hunters, their 9th day stranded on Smuggler’s Shiv.

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Session 3: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv
new grammatically correct title

“Ocean’s Five”

The castaways of the Jenevire have split into 2 groups, one half staying at base camp, the other half exploring the Shiv. The group finds itself in a dusty clearing. A sickly, yellowed plant sits in the center, surrounded by four humanoids, similar to the one found in the abandoned camp. The group works the zombies out, though the yellow musk creeper manages to strike Chumba with a noxious spray of spores, compelling the Varisian to its clutches. The vile plant is finally destroyed, releasing the barbarian from its gruesome intentions, though she seems a bit daft after the battle.

While tracking the Captain and Ieana, the group follows a game trail; Max falls victim to a crude but effective trap- a tripwire across the path triggered a snare attached to a bent tree, yanking him into the treetops against a bank of sharpened stakes, maiming the stoic fighter. His companions work to lower him down, and Taraz heals him. Another strange incongruity…

The explorers come upon a second abandoned camp, this one seems to have been better constructed, with sturdy huts still standing, with only minor damage to the structures, Fanning out, doors are opened and corners inspected; KS beckons Ace to his side, pointing to a gruesome sight: The national symbol of Cheliax crudely painted upon a shanty wall, a dozen human teeth pounded into the wood at its center. The medium appears to be blood-on-driftwood, suggesting something more sinister than death by disease or nature happened here. There is little else to salvage, though a silver plate with the inscription “Bearded Harpy” on the reverse is found.

Finding and deciding to explore the remnants of the Bearded Harpy- an old Chelish frigate- incurs the wrath of strange, half-simian, half-cod beasts of legend, ningyos. These small, piranha-like terrors are dispatched and a small amount of treasure found.

The explorers spot another sizable shipwreck, the Scallywag. Their presence aboard the ship rankles a trio of small pterosaurs, dimorphodons. A search of the hold reveals a nest from which 3 eggs are taken. Someone’s got Sasha Nevah on the brain…

While striking camp for the night, Arendel and Max notice an odd-shaped bundle high in a tree. Assuming it is the prey of a great cat, Max nonetheless shimmies up the tree to examine the oddity. It is in fact the carcass of a jungle goat, with two large puncture wounds in its neck. The animal’s body is drained of blood. Several theories are bantered about, and a decision is made to return to base camp the following day to regroup and resupply. Perhaps the others have stories to tell, too.

The wreck of the Windwar, a nondescript Sargavan merchant hauler, turns out to be the lair of Giant Crabs. Seth is invoked, and the giant crabs are defeated.

On the way back, a 90-foot long wreck is spotted wedged between some jagged rocks. It is mostly intact, with a green-caked brass figurehead…. From Jask’s descriptions, this could well be the Brine Demon, the ship he claims holds evidence which may clear his name with the Sargavan government.

These fated castaways have now spent a full week stranded on Smuggler’s Shiv, and as the days pass, more things seem to stand out as oddities rather than happenstance: Tazar’s sighting of ghostly figures beckoning him to the sea one night, the uneasy feeling of being scryed, a blood-drained carcass in the trees, a simple but effective snare along the game trail, and the apparent survival of Captain Kovack, and perhaps Ieana, seem to leave “Ocean’s Five” with the feeling that all is not what it seems on this cursed isle.

It is now 26 Erastus.

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Session Two: Soul's for Smuggler's Shiv

The party decides to spend one last night in the shadow of what was once the Jenevire. Gelik tells the tale of the Nightvoice, a Pathfinder Society vessel lost somewhere in Desperation Bay. His tale is interrupted by three hungry eurypterids, which are quickly dispatched.

Sasha harvests mussels and also finds Ace’s mule wandering in the low surf. Ayeris Mavato confesses she struggles with alcoholism, and wishes no ill for her fellow castaways, vowing to help defend the camp as best she can. Ishirou and Jask are reserved but not unfriendly, tending to camp duties.

The group breaks camp the next morning, deciding to move nearer fresh water. After a brief run-in with a pack of feral goats, the group spends the rest of the day striking a new base camp.

The night passes uneventfully, but the castaways all experience strange dreams tied to their last night aboard the Jenevire. Camp is invaded by a troop of cobras, whose damage is minimal.

While exploring the eastern coastline, the party comes across the hollow hull of an elven corsair, the Golden Bow. This old wreck turns out to be the lair of a pack of zombies and their skeleton cousins. Chumba and Max again lead the others into the foray, and the group finds a small cache of loot among the rotting timbers of the once-fine Elven ship.

Following a ridge to a sheltered cove, they come across what seems to be a makeshift camp, recently abandoned. Refuse in the camp as well as a tricorn hat and several brightly colored silk scarves lead the group to surmise they have found evidence that others survived the wreck, likely Captain Kovack and Ieana. There are drag marks from a longboat in the sand, but no sign of the vessel. Footprints lead the group into the jungle where a game trail leads to the beach on the northern edge of the Shiv’s “sheltered” bay.

The trail ends in a clearing partially shaded by banyan trees. A lone figure stands in the center of what seems to be another, albeit older, makeshift camp, with driftwood frames covered in sailcloth. The unresponsive figure is an odd-looking zombie, which Arendel identifies as a yellow musk zombie. After dealing with this floral abomination, the group explores the abandoned camp, finding nothing but old bloodstains, an obvious sign of past conflict.

It is now 10 am, 25 Erastus

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Session One: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv

The Jenevire is celebrating 100 days at sea; she will dock in Eleder, Sargava, within the week. Captain Kovack has personally speared a swordfish for the occasion, inviting all his passengers and- on this rare occasion two crew members- to a feast.

The passengers include Ayeris Mavato, Gelik Aberwhinge,Ieana, Ishirou, Sasha Nevah, Acemodius, Arendel Whisperson, Max “Little” Hammer, the Varisian barbarian Chumbawumba, and the quiet aasimar T’ar Roddan.

The captain gives a toast to the crew and passengers of the Jenevire. T’ar Roddan notices first that the fish is hot and sandy, and that someone is kicking his shins under the table.

He awakens on a beach, boxes stacked neatly ten feet away, with a horrid lobster-scorpion crossbreed nipping at him! In turn the castaways awaken and make short work of the predators.

They are marooned on a sad stretch of sand… yet they are not alone. Someone has brought them ashore, evidenced by the marks of a longboat in the soft sand. Five other passengers are also on the beach, but the captain, crew- and as observant eyes notice, Ieana- are missing on the beachhead. The wreck of the Jenevire is sighted in the shallows, and the group quickly falls into survival mode.

The ship is explored, and the bodies of first mate Alton Devers and the cook Terillo are found. Devers has died from sea-scorpion poison, but had sustained severe sword wounds. The cook seems to have been killed by a giant snake, also poisoned. The explorers find a cache of potions, brandy, gold, and keys- and the ship’s log. They also manage to secure tools, food, and water. They also recover what would appear to be the manacled cleric’s belongings.

After a short debate, Jask Derindi is set free and returned his gear. He, along with Gelik and Ishirou, fall to setting up a base camp. Ayeris remains aloof, half drunk and verbally abusive, spending most of her time hunched over on a solitary rock in the bay. Sasha seems unable, or unwilling, to grasp the severity of the situation. Her fascinations seem almost manic in their proclivities.

A short exploratory jaunt is compared to maps found in the captain’s desk, and the survivors have a vague idea of where they may be. They craft a plan to travel down the eastern coast of the island, towards what seems to be a small river; all good explorers realize the importance of potable water. Yet all good explorers also realize that the best laid intentions may often fall short…

Having fought only a small amount of aggressive sea-scorpions, the survivors realize that much danger awaits in the fetid jungles of Smuggler’s Shiv.

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Serpent's Skull: Prologue
prologue

It is the 19th of Erastus, high summer for the Inner Sea region of Golarion. The Jenevire works its way from Senghor towards Eleder, the capital of Sargava. The grueling and monotonous four-month voyage is nearly finished; it is in fact the 100th day at sea.

A pallid and hoarse Captain Kovack has called a feast to celebrate the occasion. Having harpooned a large blue-finned swordfish himself, he assures his passengers Chef Terillo will be serving something other than his usual ‘creations’ this evening. Some are tuning their meager musical instruments while others rearrange gear and papers for their arrival on the mainland. The ship is buzzing with the excitement and activity typical to the last week at sea.

First mate Alton Devers calls for a ship’s muster! This parade of both the finer and essential duties and functions of the crew and the vessel herself is but a bit of formality for the passengers. The Jenevire is scrubbed top to bottom and ready for her arrival in Eleder. At the end of the tour, he smiles and shouts,

“On behalf of myself and Captain Alizandru Kovack, your attendance is requested for a Topside feast, provided by the crew of the Jenevire to celebrate one hundred days at sea. May the wind be at your back, and your forks be in your hands!”

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