OSR: Pirates of the Merabaha, Session 5 & 6

Last session, the scurvy dogs of the good sloop Magnificient robbed an innocent fishing village of a harmless ancestral relic, fled the long tentacles of the law, and then fled the Merabaha Islands entirely. The PCs are:

, a Tarraconese carpenter, engineer, and smooth talking hustler. Elected captain because nobody else wanted the job; remains as captain because she's surprisingly good at it.

Imran Goldmaker
, an experienced merchant and occasional pirate from the Golden Isles. The ship's quartermaster and navigator.

Nyali Utugelu, a Chultan shopkeeper turned arsonist turned gun captain. Probably the most enthusiastic pirate.

John Wex the Bastard
, a disgraced sailor with some book-learning and a head for adventure.

Note: I've significantly altered Chult for this campaign. Basic notes are here (PDF).
After two months at sea, the grey line of the Mistcliff was a welcome, if slightly forbidding, sight. Imran pored over his charts, desperately trying to remember how to calculate longitude. Eventually he decided they were "some ways south of Port Nyzanzaru and some ways north of... the blank bit on the map."

The northern and eastern shores of Chult had been mapped for decades. "New Terracon", a province carved out of the jungle by legions of slaves, exported shiploads of gold, sugar, and tobacco back to the Old World. Explorers who returned from the western shore reported only cliffs, fog, and mountains of fire.

Still, Captain Beatrix reasoned, there was no point in heading north just yet. They needed supplies; there had to be a harbour somewhere along the cliff. The Magnificent turned south. Navigating by day was easy enough, but at night, with low clouds and rolling fogs reaching out to sea, the ship sometimes drifted perilously close to the black stone walls and sunken pillars of the Mistcliff. One evening, two sailors vanished from the upper rigging to the sound of wet flapping leather.

"Harpies," John Wex declared, after consulting Plinaeus the Elder's History of Nature. The crew nodded in agreement and spent the next few nights on high alert.

On the third day, the Majestic found a large and navigable bay. They anchored and sent boats to explore the thin scrap of jungle along the edge of the cliff. The scouts found a staircase carved into the rock, weaving in and out of the cliff.

The Captain selected a few sailors (and the rest of the PCs) for a scouting mission. They reached the top of the cliff before sunset and found an overgrown and decaying city. Its sole inhabitant, a decrepit crone named Anya Pu'l, spoke a Chultan dialect Nyali could understand.

According to the old woman, the city had fallen to the "flying predators, the winged men" who lived in the cliff. These creatures had eaten the inhabitants one by one, leaving only "old and rotten Anya" behind. The party was welcome to explore the city and take anything they found, "except for the things in my hut and garden and the Sacred Cistern. Don't touch the Sacred Cistern." Beatrix agreed and called up the rest of the crew, leaving behind four unhappy sailors to guard the Majestic.

That night, full of tropical fruits and celebratory rum, John Wex and Imran decided to explore the Sacred Cistern.

It could have gone better. Descending into a dank and ill-smelling well and swimming through several chambers, John Wex encountered diseased bats with clipped wings guarding a skull-filled ritual treasure room. Though he managed to escape with a few strange gold bricks wrapped in a human leather bag, he was bitten by the bats and dragged through several feet of murky water by Imran's overzealous use of ropes.

Meanwhile, one of the celebrating sailors outside was grabbed by a flying shape and hauled screaming into the night. The crew spent the rest of the night inside a rotting lodge, pistols loaded and eyes scanning the fog.

In the morning, John Wex's wounded leg had grown swollen and purple. Anya Pu'l said he'd certainly die within three days. She could cure him... for a price. She wanted the flying "terror-folk" dead and  offered basic directions to their lair. The pirates, hoping to get revenge for their dead companions, readily agreed.

After fleeing a giant frilled lizard and getting thoroughly lost, the party found the cave of the "terror folk". Accessible only from the cliffs and a tiny air chimney, the cave contained four leathery man-beasts. The winged monsters were quickly dispatched by ambush and a small cave-in orchestrated by Nyali's explosives. The party found three large eggs inside the cave, along with a few small scraps of gold and rusted iron. Beatrix decided to transport the eggs (in a protective layer of mulch) back to their camp and then onto the ship.

That evening, Anya Pu'l "cured" John Wex, but, not realizing John Wex spoke Chultan, accidentally revealed that he "probably would have lived anyway" to the stricken pirate. Just happy to be alive, John didn't press the issue. The next day, loaded with fruit, yams, and fresh water, the crew descended to the Majestic.

Notes: M'bala is taken from 5th Edition's Tomb of Annihilation. Names have been changed. The old woman is named "Nanny Pu'pu" in the module, which... yeah... no. Did George Lucas write this? Anyway, it's a pretty neat location. The hag wants to get rid of her rivals (the pterafolk) and eat people. I had her use her flying monkey minions to trick the pirates into thinking the pterafolk were attacking by night.
Happy and content, the crew sailed further south, passing around a great peninsula and turning east. There, in a fog-shrouded bay, the PCs spotted distant lights. They navigated towards them and came, buy luck and by surprise, to Jahaka Bay. They convinced the local harbour-boats that they were trustworthy pirates (via generous bribes) and had the Majestic towed into the cave-harbour.

Jahaka Anchorage was not a large town, even compared to the parlous and dissipated Porta de Caracol, but it was still a port. After a tense meeting with Captain Zaroun Al-Saryak of the Emerald Eye, the crew of the Majestic spilled into the streets of the port, drinking and laughing and spending any money they still possessed.

After a few days haggling, selling goods, and gathering rumours, Captain Beatrix suggested a hunting expedition to the jungle. She'd seen skeletons of "fearsome great lizards" and knew that their bones, completely unknown outside of Chult, would be worth a fortune to the "natural historians" of the Old World.

The expedition did not go particularly well.

Damir G. Martin
1. After climbing a small mesa, the party spotted a very distant overgrown pyramid glinting in the sun. They decided to head towards it.

2. The party crossed a swamp and spotted several "stretch lizards" the size of buildings. These lumbering beasts appeared to have "evoluvated", according to John Wex, "to put their heads as far as possible from their tails." They decided not to shoot one with Nyali's cannon. "What if the neck and tail aren't good eating?" the captain asked.

3. While cutting into the jungle again, the expedition was ambushed by a giant toothy lizard. Imran was swallowed in one gulp.

4. The rest of the crew panicked. While Beatrix bravely hacked at the thing's leg and Nyali fired every pistol and musket she could find at it, John Wex and the sailors scattered into the jungle.

5. John Wex, screaming and waving his arms over his head, ran into a Chultan village. The locals stared at him with stark amazement. He shouted (in Chultan), "Big lizard that-a-way. Come fight, get gold," scattered a handful of his hard-earned coin into the crowd, and took off running back towards the fight.

6. With the aid of the Chultans and a wildly dangerous cannon shot, the expedition managed to kill the beast.

7. Still mourning the loss of Quartermaster Imran, the crew and Chultans butchered the giant lizard and began hauling chunks of meat and bone back towards Jahaka Bay.

8. Nyali spotted a tiger stalking a group of porters in the tall grass. While it didn't seem willing to approach the long line of shouting sailors and deeply confused Chultans, Nyali decided not to risk it and shot at it with her musket.

9. The tiger killed Nyali and two Chultans before it was finally put down.

10. Diminished, exhausted, and completely coated in blood, the crew finally reached Jahaka Bay. Many of them vowed to "never go into that damned jungle again nor have any cause to shoot a lizard, no matter the size".

Captain Beatrix, whose standing with the crew had only increased after her desperate one-on-one battle with the giant man-eating lizard, tried to recruit a few seasoned pirates to fill the gaps left by Imran, sailors who hadn't returned from the jungle, and a few deserters or unfortunates swallowed by Jahaka Bay.

The new PCs are:

Margarita Duerte, Tarraconese blacksmith and (secretly) hermetic mage. Margarita was hired to repair Nyali's favorite cannon. She may have also put the ex-gun master's soul into the cannon.

The Crew
(!). Yes, the Crew are a PC now. About half of them are old-world pirates and about half are newly recruited former slaves and local Chultans from Jahaka Bay. A life on a wooden coffin far, far away from giant lizards and tropical diseases was surprisingly appealing.


  1. So the prophecy held true - Beatrix did indeed outlive them all (well, most of her).

    So it goes.

    1. Rip-roaring reading, by the way! I'm eagerly awaiting the next!

  2. 50% mortality? Yeouch!

    As my 5e campaign slowly winds down, a pirate campaign is a definite possibility. How do you deal with inventory management? A ship needs a lot of supplies to run

    1. Oh, that's about typical.
      Inventory is fairly simple. Restocking the ship after a voyage costs at least 100gp and is usually paid for by the Captain or Quartermaster. On shore missions, the PCs can take any number of common items with them (daggers, pistols, muskets, rope, lanterns, lantern oil, torches, rations, etc.)based on GLOG inventory slots, without paying their cost. On voyages, events may require a roll on the ship supply table which can result in the ship being out of food, out of gunpowder, etc.

  3. Huzzah! I love the idea of "The Crew" as a PC.