Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Trident Bay: Company of the Black Pearl

 I know we're padding content with session reports and look-backs, but I have a lot of catching up to do.

Several years back I started a 5e campaign called 'Trident Bay' with a group of gamers I'd known for ages and ages - guys I'd been playing with off and on for thirty years.  The point of the run was to get together with these folks, about once a month, and blow a weekend afternoon like we used to back in the late 80s/early 90s.  We'd use D&D 5e because we were all interested in giving it a proper shakedown, and I resolved to try to use a combination of Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures and OSR/TSR stuff as the skeleton.

Was Trident Bay in continuity with Wampus Country?  Maybe.  Yes.  We'll address that ongoing question in a later post.  The region was a bigass horseshoe shape around a large bay, the vibe was low medieval / sword-and-sorcery, and the religious setup was basically a tweaked Roman pantheon (the setting postulated a war between Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, with Neptune winning the war and becoming the new god-king of both sky and sea).  I had previously run con-games and public-play in sort-of-this-setting - sessions of Under the Waterless Sea, The Sea-Queen Escapes, Adrift on the Sea of Love (from Gus at Dungeon of Signs), and even B4 The Lost City.

The characters:

Big Derek (aka Derek the Impetuous).  Brash fighter.

Brother Shin.  Idealistic priest of Neptune Triumphant.

Victor.  Warlock, accompanied by his lecherous imp, Zup.  Victor had been an acolyte of Selene (moon goddess) before falling under the spell of his current patron, who we think might be the dark side of the moon - Hecate or similar.  It was an ongoing mystery.

Little Crow.  Joined several sessions in.  Ranger.  Accompanied by his haughty/delusional pet crow, Falcon.

Now I might get some of these sessions out of order...this is why DMs should take good notes.  I also talked about some of these adventures on my now-classic podcast, Tales of Valor & Sorcery (find it wherever podcasts dwell), a broadcast so timely and beloved that all seven episodes still exist on the internet.

The first session, I used Tower of the Black Pearl, a DCC joint by Harley Stroh.  Destitute and packed to the gills with both wanderlust and the youthful impression of invincibility, Derek, Shin, and Victor follow weird rumors to check out a tower that rises out of the sea only once every umpty-ump years.  They fight pirates and some other lingering critters, but most importantly, they make off with the Black Pearl.  In fact, they name themselves the Company of the Black Pearl, after this first big score together.

SPOILERS...Here's the thing about the pearl, as depicted in the adventure.  It has a magic power worth keeping around, BUT it also attracts the attention of every evil thing in the land.  Well, there's the campaign right there, at least until they dump the pearl, right?  MEANWHILE, dark forces are rising - because they're always rising - in the form of some nasty chaos goatmen and minotaurs, basically evil livestock as far as the eye can see.  It's coming.

So they know the pearl is Big Magic, but not exactly what it does or its origin, so they set off to find a wizard who can take a look at the thing.  They end up in the village of Tealeaf, where they've been told multiple wizard-types reside.  Cue Three Sad Wizards, an OSR adventure about the eponymous wizards who have each been kicked out of their suitably-themed residence by something different.  The Company of the Black Pearl agrees to work to reclaim the wizard-homes in exchange for whatever the wizbangers can tell them about the bigass pearl.

Three Sad Wizards is basically three small locations; one is bug-themed, one plant-themed, and one bird-themed.  Across two sessions the Company hustles their way through all three.  They solve/botch the bird house, failing to save a certain apprentice from peril but reclaiming the house.  The plant house?  Fire was their friend as they old-schooled their way through the garden (thank Big Derek for that).  And at the bug house, they ended up surrendering the house over to the new occupant, a rather scary lady spider.  A mixed bag of results, but they did their best.  In return, the wizards tell them that the pearl is probably the Eye of the Leviathan, a dangerous artifact of Long Ago - something that can protect them but will also be coveted by great evil.  Satisfied, the heroes bed down for the night in Tealeaf, and wake the next morning to find two of the wizards have been murdered overnight, apparently by one of the wizards' apprentices, who has since absconded.  Deciding it isn't their problem, the PCs promise to keep an eye out, and leave town seeking further fortune.

NEXT: Sailors on the Starless Sea, and Carnival of the Damned

Three Sad Wizards; now Two Dead Wizards and One Really Depressed Wizard Rethinking His Surprisingly Dangerous Lifestyle

Tragically, no elves were stabbed during our run of this adventure.

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