'She sails up'n'down the Tristis River. All them river folk see her an' give her a wide berth. Superstitious lot, them river folk. 'Course, we adventurers kill of monstrous superstitions of the rich type on a daily basis! Who're we ta judge? So's anyways, she is said to only appear when the moon is full and the werewolves howl. And though she's ne'er violent, you can always 'ear a moanin' sound. I got no idea what's aboard that ship, but whate'er it is, I want nothin' to do with it.'
-Old Gerald, man in the pub
Notes for the Ghost Ship:
1. The main setting of the Ghost Ship is on a ship sailing the Tristis River. The Tristis is a broad, slow, and heavily traveled by barges and ships. Naturally, use any river you want for the Ghost Ship to sail, but make sure it is broad, slow, and heavily traveled. There should be a couple of cities and towns on the Tristis, with a large city where the sea and the Tristis meet, but such is notÂ necessary.
2. A question needs to be asked before we delve into the magic of the Ship. This question spawned the Ghost Ship from theÂ inner-workingsÂ of my mind. Do ships have souls? If you're a sailor, unable to fall asleep in yourÂ hammock, and the moon shines on the gently creaking and groaning and- almost- speaking ship, the thing that you have dedicated your life to, the thing that you personify with the pronoun 'she,' it can certainly seem like they do
3. The Ghost Ship is a Five Room Dungeon. The majorÂ motivation for doing the dungeon is curiosity (and someÂ rumorsÂ of treasure).
The Ghost Ship:
Room One: Under the Full Moon:
The Ship sails the Tristis River at the dead of night, and only when the moon is full. The PCs will need a ship, boat, or other river-worthy vessel to reach the Ship. Be aware that most sailors familiar with the Tristis will not want anything to do with the Ship. Therefore, the best easiest approach would be by rowboat. But that presents its own problems- namely, climbing to the deck. The ship itself is difficult to climb, and lacks a ladder or other suchÂ climbingÂ aid. The whole ship has a very light green auraÂ around the edges. If the PCs sail near the bow, they will find that the name of the ship is Lucky Mary.
1. Natural Nasties: Just because the dungeon is two feet away doesn't mean that you don't face random encounters. technically, the PCsÂ haven't quite yet reached their destination. As such, sea serpents, krakens, etc. might still be around and hungrys
2. Ghost Sailors: 'We got some stowaways! Let's show 'em the Mary's hospitality!' What ship has ever taken kindly to stowaways, pirates, and other sailing ruffians? The Lucky MaryÂ is no exception. If the PCs chuck a rope over the edge, perhaps the sailors take note and chuck the rope at the PCs head (maybe it wasn't such a good idea to tie a brick to the end of it...).
3. Natural Hazards: This might be aÂ particularlyÂ dangerous section of the Tristis. And since the Ship's a ghost, she can sail right over them. And the PCs? Why should life be easy for them? Let's see them try to board the Lucky MaryÂ with their ship (as well as all their stuff) sinking into the waters. So feel free to add rocks jutting out of the water, and hiding beneath the surface.
Room Two: Deck the Halls
The PCs have successfully boarded the Ship. And now they get the honor of watching ghostly forms rushing around the deck, doing their Â jobs. The ghost sailors may shoot the PCs a quick glance, but will probable simply ignore them and do their job. The major source of commotion comes from the rear of the ship. This is the captain, who is busy yelling orders (along with various insults) at his crew. The captain looks like a gruff, war-torn man, with an eyepatch, scarred face, and a cutlass hanging from his side. He willÂ appraiseÂ the PCs if they approach, and inform them that his ship is cursed. The captain is willing to reward the PCs if they break the curse. But he then continues to tell them that the door to below-decks is locked, and requires a password. Three people have a part of the password. He will also say this: 'To break the curse, destroy the wolf.' The first is a little girl, around 9 years old. She will say this: 'We tried to hide, we tried to cheat. Time showed, and we did meet. The cloaked man did tell us his name when us he did claim. Who was he?' The answer is death. The second person is a 25 year old man. He will challenge the PCs to a wrestling match. Him versus one PC of the PCs choosing. The man will begin the wrestling match fair, but will cheat when it looks like it isn't going his way. HisÂ preferredÂ cheating method is to use magic. He will drain his victim's strength using magic. To beat him, the PCs will have to cheat in turn. His part of the password is 'takes.' The third person is an old man. He will say the following: 'We were Â cursed. Simple as that. This curse is uncommon on the rivers and seas, but we still got it. You see, the curse bound the ship. The ship was always a part of our hearts, and now we are a part of the ship's heart.' He will pause here, sigh, and continue: 'There are three doors on this ship. The first is red, the second is blue, and the third is yellow. These doors may be of any size, and each isÂ accessibleÂ from this deck, though they may be in rooms that areÂ accessibleÂ from here. When you open the doors, you will find the three letters that compose my section of the password. You may go when you wish.' The three doors are all very small, maybe 2 inches tall and 1 inch wide, and are hidden everywhere on the ship. Put them anywhere you wish- in pots boiling with stew, on the underside of stairs, etc., but note this: because of the green aura of the ship, the red door will appear gray. Behind each door are the letters A, L, and L, which, of course, spells 'all.' This will complete the password of 'Death takes all.'
Possible Additional Challenges:
1. Daddy's Little Girl: The little girl, who dispenses the first half of the password, is protected by her father. The PCs now have to somehow convince the overly protective father that they mean no harm to the girl so that they can talk to her. And the PCs can't hack their way through this one, because the girl won't talk to the people who killed her daddy.
2. Play-time: The girl doesn't simply dispense the sole riddle- she wants to play the riddle-game. You take turn exchanging riddles until one party can't answer, and that party loses. The girl will give the password to the winner.
3. The Dirty Little...: The second password-holder doesn't stop at magic to win his fights. He will become as slippery as a... as, well, as a ghost. He will become incorporeal for a moment, and then get behind the person he's wrestling, or another effective move. Maybe the party will have to help, after all.
4. I lost my car-keys!: Naturally, the doorsÂ aren'tÂ just difficult to find. No, that would have been too easy. The doors are also locked, and the keys themselves are hidden on the ship, too. And that third key, the one the PCs couldn't find? Bottom of their packs. Them ghosts are tricky.
Room Three: A Man's Best Friend
The stairs from the door lead into a room bedecked with gray pelts. Closer examinations will reveal these pelts to be wolf pelts. In each corner is a statue of a wolf. Hanging from the ceiling is anÂ opulentÂ chandelier. In the middle of the room is a glass sculpture of a wolf, in mid-leap, fangs bared. The whole sculpture pulses with an unearthly-green light. St. Elmo's Fire dances on the pedestal that this sculpture stands on. The whole thing is creepy and ominous. If the PCs destroy the sculpture, an actual wolf will be summoned in a stereotypical flash of light (light green, like the rest of the ship) at the top of the stairs. This wolf glows with the light-green aura, and can breathe St. Elmo's Fire-like flames. These flames can do damage. This wolf should be a tough fight. The killing of the wolf does not break the curse that binds the ship.
Possible Additional Dangers:
1. This Thing Won't Die!: Canines are, of course, infinitely superior to cats. At least, this wolf is. The wolf has 10 lives, and each time it dies, it gets more powerful. Begin as a puppy, then slowly increase in size and danger. Maybe end with a two-headed, St. Elmo's Fire-breathing, dragon-sized canine. Or a suitable challenge for the PCs.
2. Where There's One...: Wolves fight in packs. This wolf is no exception. One versus one PC/wolf fight, anyone?
3. Eat Stone, Adventurer!: Those statue wolvesÂ aren'tÂ simply ornaments. They are stone-spitting enemies. With damage equivalent to a sling, those stones are annoying. Other options for things they can spit out is magical incendiary grenades, nets, and cannonballs.
Room Four: Curses, Souls, and Death- A PC's Dream
The fourth room is a large room. On shelves, all along the walls, are about 20 ships in a bottle. Close examination will reveal all of these to be the Lucky Mary, before it became a Ghost Ship. The main feature is a long table. Various foods are set on it, and each one smells (and tastes, if the PCs partake of it) delicious. All manner of food is present. At the end of the table, facing the PCs, is a man. This human male is slightly grungy in appearance, and looks somewhat uncivilized. He wears normal clothes for a poor person, nothing fancy. And he will be found examining the spread before him. When the PCs enter, he will tell them that he is the Lucky Mary. He is the personification of the ship. But he was cursed, a long time ago. And that curse is forcing him to kill the PCs. The man is werewolf-like. He can change freely between his two forms- wolf and man. He prefers fighting in his wolf form. During the combat, the soul of the Lucky Mary will make the ships in a bottle sail through the air and ram their targets- the PCs head. The soul will also occasionally cause boards to fall on the PCs from the ceiling or walls, and for them to spring up from the floor.
If the PCs win, the soul will revert to his human form, bleed a light-green, insubstantial blood, and will mutter 'Free. Free, at last.' When he finishesÂ dying, an insubstantial, wolf-like blur will exit his body and flee to the heavens, accompanied by a dramatic groan from the ship. The soul will then melt back into the ship, and the light-green aura of the ship will fade away.
Possible Additional Threats:
1. Call for Reinforcements!: The soul of the ship doesn't see the need to fight alone, even with kamikaze model ships and violent boards helping him. No, every so often the soul yells for some of his crew to help him. And help him they do, armed to the teeth with cutlasses, spears, and murderous intent.
2. Cargo Ships: Those kamikaze ships in a bottle would, hypothetically speaking, be carrying supplies for their destination. As such, would those model ships not be carrying some food item that could blind the PCs, if they hit them?
3. Avast, me Mateys!: Some model ships feel that crashing into their victim's face is not enough. No, they feel the need to, first, fire off all their stock of ballistae-quarrels. And then they feel they should hop aboard the 'giants' and cut and slash with their mini little cutlasses.Â Aren'tÂ those mini-sailors so cute? Of course, they kamikaze the ship into the person's head, too.
Room Five: As If It Weren't All Ready Obvious...
A corridor leads to this final room from the fourth room. In this final room, there is a Ship's Log. The Log, which is updated by the Soul of the Ship, had a ribbon marking aÂ certainÂ page. This page describes how a group ofÂ werewolvesÂ raided the ship. One of these lycanthropes bite the ship, turning the whole thing into a Ghost Ship. A note will also become obvious when the Log is read. It will describe how the Lucky MaryÂ is now the property of the person who frees the ship from the curse. The sailors will sail the ship for the PCs, and will take them wherever they want to go. The captain, also, will serve under the PCs, and take their orders. Thus, the ship itself is the treasure of this particular dungeon. Optionally, coins can be discovered in the fifth room.
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? Responses (5)-5
Very well done and interesting.
I really like the ships in the bottles. The image of tiny sailors boarding the PCs is an especially nice touch. The thing I liked the least was the 'find-the-three-doors' puzzle, which reminds me of all the stupid, time-wasting puzzles that DMs have thrown at me. It could be made fun, or it might serve as a way to explore the ship, but the idea of adding keys makes me sad. What's worse is that the third word ('all') can be figured out pretty easily.
And how can a ship turn into a werewolf? What if a werewolf bites a bridge, or a bank, or a peninsula, or a fjord? It's almost cool, but not quite. I also don't like that the two main combats are both against wolves.
Cool! I agree with some of Forganthus' criticisms, but I like the basic idea that a personified object can also be subject to lycantrhopy/undeath.
Good stuff. I agree completely with with Forganthus on this one.