the Sea of Swords
This campaign is an endeavor to match ad&d 2e with the Aubrey-Maturin novels. Sailing exploits upon a warring sea, where Letters of Marque, pirate fleets, and ship’s Wizards shape the fates of nations, and sahaugin, kraken and leviathans lie beneath the waves. I have room for a few privateers out of Baldur’s Gate- experienced sea captains encouraged to apply- and for a few pirates as well, should the urge for bloodthirsty seagoing lycanthropy be upon ye.
The Sea of Swords is well known for its savagery, and for its commerce. The two of these have kept up a timeless tradition of maritime heroism, strife and violence, sustaining a voracious pirate culture in the Nelanthers, as well as an atmosphere of privateering and prize-taking between the several naval powers of the Sword Coast. For the able seafarer, the question becomes, how best to gamble one’s life, against the insatiable thirst for blood which the Sea has evinced- aboard a merchant vessel, fast of sail but light in arms, shepherding cargo as fast as can be, running from pirates at every cove; or aboard a ship of battle, sailing the waves in search of trouble, in hopes of an enemy to overwhelm, and pirate vessels to liberate- for ransom- back to their original owners. The likelihood of crossing sabers with the cutthroats is roughly equal in each instance; the only true variance, the old salts opine, is that in the one case you chase the pirates, while in the other, the pirates chase you. Tis all the same, once it comes to grapnels.
The ships which fall first to our consideration are the fighting ship ‘Harrier’, a lateen-rigged caravel out of Baldur’s Gate, armed with 4 ballistae, and crewed by roughly 120 fighting hands out of the mercenary ranks of Baldur’s Gate. She goes to sea to hunt the Terianthros, the second ship which bears in our tale; a great galley, taken from the Amnish Navy and pressed into service as a pirate flagship by the seawolf Captain Gevaudan; leading a ferocious fleet of seawolf pirates, he’s lately brought grievous loss to the trade through the Nelanther Straits; the ship’s ram, driven forth by 140 sweeps and hundreds of rowers, has sent many an able escort ship to the bottom, and the countless seawolf sailors swarming her decks have taken nigh all the vessels they’ve given chase to, and added all their able crews to their own accursed number.
There’s room aboard both vessels, for fighting hands, of all stripes. Aboard the Terianthros, the only hard, fast rule is that you need to be a seawolf; the next rule is essentially survival of the most savage; and there are some savage old accursed salts aboard the seawolf captain’s flagship. Aboard the Harrier, there’s room for anyone willing to undertake mercenary work for mercenary pay, and obey mercenary rules while at sea. Ship’s Wizards are always welcome, and enjoy a premium share of the ship’s bounty; so too do navigators from the sect of Selune, whose clerics are powerful allies when fighting werebeasts, and an aid to sailors under the faithful stars, finding a way among the treacherous rocks of the Nelanthers. Fighters too, especially be they able sailors, are welcome; pirate hunting proves lucrative no matter how you approach the task, so long as you survive. Those going aboard the Terianthros know that pillage and plunder are waiting, and that with each full moon, their bloodthirsty numbers increase, and the vessels of their armada grow more numerous; those boarding the Harrier know only that their Captain has dealt woe to the pirates before, and means to do so again, in spades, and to bring back treasure in the doing. Savage deeds await, and the fate of the pirate isles hangs in the balance.