Ghost Archipelago Campaign Game 4: The Floating Hulks

My gaming group completed Game 4 of our 2018 Ghost Archipelago Campaign – The Floating Hulks.  We modified a solo scenario titled “The Floating Hulk” written by Joe McCullough (author of Ghost Archipelago) and published in the November 2107 issue of Wargames Illustrated.  For the game we had six of our regular players, two players being unable to attend.

In order to make the scenario usable by our group, a few changes needed to be made. Fellow campaign player Chris Palmer, and myself, worked on re-configuring the scenario so it would be playable by a group of 6 players, not just one.  We decided to make it a large “island” of derelict ships, kind of like a ship graveyard, that had all gathered together amongst some jagged rocky outcroppings, forming one large intertwined mass.   We then multiplied the mainmasts, with the central treasure and the nests of Talonjacks to a total of three; so there would be one for every two of our players.  We then assigned a Shark to be just outside the starting zone of each player.  We also upped the number of total Sharks and Talonjacks that could be brought into play during the game, and created a specialized Random Encounter Table that contained only Aquatic creatures, and some creatures one might find on derelict ships; like Pirate Skeletons, Swamp Zombies, and Sea Rats.  Also, a special rule of the scenario requires anyone trying to climb from one of the small boats onto one of the ships to make a special Move Roll with a target number of 12.  We decided to include climbing from the boats onto the rocks, climbing from a ship to a ship, or climbing from the sea onto one of the ships or rocks; figuring everything was a rocking, tossing, slippery deathtrap. (This paragraph blatantly copied from Fortrywn’s blog entry which you can read here – Ghost Archipelago Campaign ’18, Game 4: The Island of Floating Hulks)
Skorri was lucky in being second in selecting his starting location.  A corner position was picked to protect one of his flanks from the other Heritors.  In the end, he ended up facing Fortrywn directly across from him, Kragmar to his immediate right, and Molly Malone to his right front.  Further down the table were Herndon and his arch-enemy Griffin.

Skorri’s Story
Looking out from the bow of his ship, Raven’s Beak, Skorri Drakenberg scanned the horizon.  His thoughts flashed back to the activities of the past couple weeks.  After recovering from his encounter with the Heritor Griffin, Skorri had to conduct a bit of recruiting.  First, he had to find a new warden willing to join his crew (His previous warden, Anemone, didn’t survive the last outing) and a new pearl diver.  He sent members of his crew out to inquire around the port town.  In the end, there were not many wardens available for hire.  Skorri settled for a young Beast Warden named Agger.  While he looked like a kid, he seemed to be a skilled magic user, and well versed in all things dealing with wild animals.  That might come in handy in the jungles Skorri planned on trekking through in search of the map stones to lead him to the magic fountain.

A view of the table with the various ships entangled with each other

Several of his crew came back with tales about a floating mass of lost ships that was recently sighted.  Skorri conferred with Kukala (Hunter) who was still recovering from a bad wound.  It was decided that they would sail towards the sea of lost ships before heading back into the archipelago.

Here, it is said, you will find a few rocks jutting out of the depths, eternally waiting for some unsuspecting ship to gut itself, spilling sailors and cargo into the ocean.  The area attracted a large number of sharks and other denizens of the deep, anxious to feed on the poor sailors whose ships met their doom on the rocks.  But not all the ships drawn into this morass were sunk.  Many were merely trapped here by the whirlpool like currents which causes ships and other debris to collect in a single area and became entangled.

A view of the dwarven ironclad

As they approached the area known as the Sea of Lost Ships, “Sails to the port and starboard” rang out from the crow’s nest.  Skorri turned his looking glass left and right, scanning the distant, looking for Griffin’s ship.  None of them seemed to be flying personal banners or flags.  That means they are most likely other Heritors, they tend to be a secretive bunch.

All of the ships looked like they had been here for quite some time. Skorri couldn’t detect any movement on the decks of the stranded, derelict hulks – manned only by the ghosts of their doomed crews.  He did spot several flying creatures with long, deadly looking beaks flying around the top masts of several of the ships.  “Those are called Taloned Jackclaws, or Talonjacks for short.  They like to grab you and drop you in the water.” volunteered Agger.

Another view of the ships

Afraid of becoming entrapped with the mass of rotting ships, Skorri directed his crew to heave to about a half mile away.  Adding his ship to the floating mass was not part of his plan.

Skorri’s crew in their boats approaching “The Floating Hulks”

Hopefully there would still be something of value waiting to be plundered.  And with that thought in mind, Skorri loads his crew on three small boats and they set off towards the entangled mess of old ships.  As they move forward, Taucher spots a shark swimming towards the boat.  Skorri directs his archers, Amras and Amrod to shoot it.  They both take careful aim and let fly their arrows. Amras strikes home but Amrod’s arrow glances off the shark’s tough skin.  Skorri sees that the extra archery training has not paid off yet.  He stands up and draws his bow.  His arrow flies true and strikes the sea creature in the eye.  The crew cheers as the shark turns belly up and slowly sinks beneath the waves.

Directly across from Skorri’s crew, on the other side of the mass of ships, the sounds of a fight can be heard.  Mostly screams and a lot of splashing noises.  Sounds like Fortrywn’s crew has run into a bit of trouble.  Skorri smiled at the thought.

Skorri’s crew moves forward

The boat containing Skorri’s new warden, Agger, moves forward towards the nearest ship.  On top of the mast, he sees a talonjack.  Agger calmly incants the words to Control Animal.  He thought he had been successful but the creature shrugged off the effects (Successful casting, the Talonjack resisted).  The Talonjack spotted the crew and made a diving attack.  The flight was cut short as Hat Chet swung his ax and severed the bird’s head with a clean cut.  As the ship’s cook, Hat Chet says “Keep the bird safe, that’s supper.”

Skorri and Taucher swim towards the black hulk

With the shark dead and sky starting to become overcast (Molly Malone’s warden cast Cloud Cover), Skorri directs his newly recruited Pearl Diver to follow him towards the black hulled wreck off to the left.  He checks to make sure his Piscian Helmet is secure before he dives in; Taucher jumps in right behind him.  Amras climbs up on the abandoned ship, carefully timing his jump with the up and down rocking motions of the two ships (Need a Move roll with a target of 14 to successfully move between ships).  Once on the other ship he slowly surveys his surroundings.  There are several ships entangled together.  On a nearby ship he notices another crew climbing aboard, he recognizes Fortrywn’s archer.  He takes aim at her and let’s fly.  The shaft flies straight as an arrow.  With a loud “thwack” it strikes the opposing archer in the back, dropping her to her knees (Hits Fortrywn’s archer for 10 points of damage).  While silently congratulating himself, strands of seaweed shoot up from the rotting decking and weave themselves around his bow.  Amras quickly cut them away but the damage had been done.  His finely crafted bow had a slight warp to it (Fortrywn’s Warden cast Warp Weapon, -1 damage).

Amrod successfully jumps to a another nearby ship.  As he lands, Agger casts Envenom on his bow.  Blue Boy runs over to a pile of trade goods and roots around.  He finds a small chest that he places in his backpack. Yen Lo attempts to jump between two ships.  His foot lands on a pile of moldy kelp causing him to lose his balance.  He unceremoniously lands in the water.  Hat Chet fares better and makes the move to an old Dwarf ironclad with ease.  As he lands, he finds himself staring down the barrels of two old, rusty cannon sticking menacingly out of a turret.  He decides to start climbing up to the crow’s nest on top of the turret to get a better look at the other hulks.

Meanwhile, Wu and Wat Lee have been rowing towards an old longship.  They make it there and climb aboard only to find they are not the first to board.  One of Kragmar’s crew members is already there – and it seems he has discovered a treasure chest.  Two against one, this should be easy pickings.

As the clouds continue to drop lower, further reducing visibility (14″ LOS), Skorri and Taucher swim around to the black ship.  They can see several members of Fortrywn’s crew aboard.  They both attempt to climb up the hull but Taucher cannot find a footing in the slimy algae covering the hull.  Skorri almost makes it to the top before a piece of rotting timber sends him splashing back into the water.  Fortrywn’s warden looks down and sees Skorri in the water.  Skorri hears her chuckle as she intricately waves her hands as only a spell caster can do.  Skorri feels tendrils of kelp twirling around his sword.  His strength is sufficient to break free of the plant but he notices the balance of the weapon had been affected (Fortrywn’s warden cast Warp Weapon on his sword, -1 Fight).

Skorri and Taucher try to climb aboard the black hulk

Agger has now successfully climbed aboard the dhow.  He decides to provide the crew some assistance by attempting to cast Summon Animal.  He successfully called forth to the nearby creatures and could soon sense a large snake approaching.  He should be useful to distract Fortrywn’s crew.

Out of some hidden hole, Amras sees a mangy looking rat jump on Amrod’s back.  He moves forward, “Hold still, I’ve got it” yells Amras as he pulls his dagger and takes a swipe at the rat (The real rat, not Amrod).  Luckily for Amrod his aim is good and the rat flies off into the water.  Amrod says “Thanks” as he takes aim at one of Fortrywn’s crew.  The gentle rocking motion of the ship was just enough the throw off his aim.

Over on board the longship, Wat Lee and Wu engage Kragmar’s crewman.  Between the two of them, they manage to beat him back from the treasure chest.  During their scuffle, the clouds have descended far enough down that they are like a fog surrounding the mass of ships (visibility is 12″ LOS).

Skorri and Taucher climb aboard the black hulk

Finally, Skorri and Taucher are able to find enough secure handholds to climb aboard the ship.  Once on board, they notice an entanglement of kelp and seaweed suddenly emerging from the rotting deck of the ship (Bramble spell) cutting them off from Fortrywn’s crew, one of whom is carrying a small chest.  Skorri Surges to pull out his bow and take a snap shot but fails to hit his target.  Taucher jumps as a large snake slithers it way aboard the ship.  He holds his breath as the snake moves towards Fortrywn’s crew (Agger’s Summoned Animal), “Good thing I’m wearing my brown pants.”
At the top of the mast of the ship Amrod has boarded, Agger spots another Talonjack.  He casts Control Animal but once again he feels the creature resist his charms.

A wall of brambles springs up to block Skorri and Taucher

Amrod spies Skorri on board a nearby ship, along with one of Fortrywn’s crew.  He slowly takes aim at Fortrywn’s crewman and pulls back on his bow string.  With a careful aim, he successfully hits him with a poisoned arrow.  “That should help out the boss some” he thought.  (Being hit and successfully damaged by a poison arrow reduces the number of actions from 2 to 1)

On the longship, the fight intensifies.  Wu and Wat Lee team up to take down Kragmar’s crewman.  Unfortunately, Wu’s attack is parried and Kragmar’s crewman takes him out with a clever riposte.  While Kargmar’s crewman is slightly off balance, Wat Lee’s thrust takes him in the side and drops him to the deck.  As the opposing crewman falls, Wat Lee sees a large crab rear up out of the water, two massive claws snapping in his direction.  He manages to avert the crab’s attack and drives it back (caused 1 point of damage).  Just as he thinks all is well, a giant shark leaps up and swallows him whole before disappearing back into the murky water (End of game Recovery roll for Wat Lee was a 2).

Wat Lee just before he is swallow whole by a shark

Back at the black hulk, Skorri looks at Taucher, “We have to climb over, don’t let him get away” (talking about Fortrywn’s crewman carrying the treasure).  He watches as Taucher carefully makes his away across the tangled mess of kelp vines and seaweed.  Taucher then charges into contact with Fortrywn’s crew.  The crewman turns around to confront Taucher and sees Skorri easing his way through the brambles.  Skorri also charges towards the crewman, drawing his sword along the way.  He then feels his blood boil as he Surges to attack the crewman.  The crewman frantically tries to defend himself from the onslaught but he knows he is no match for the Heritor’s skills.  Nicked and bleeding from several small gashes, the crewman tumbles into the water below.  Taucher manages to grab hold of the small chest before it too falls into the water.  Just as he grabs it, an arrow nicks his arm (1 point of damage).

Skorri and Taucher fight a crewman for a treasure
Skorri wins, Taucher grabs the treasure, the crewman falls into the water

On the dhow, Agger reaches out mentally to control the Talonjack.  This time his mind is stronger and he feels the animal bending to his will (Successful casting of Control Animal).  Agger directs the creature to fly over to the dwarf ironclad and attack any non-friendly crewman he finds.  The Talonjack flies over to the ironclad and attack’s one of Molly’s crewmen carrying a chest.  Agger feels the bond with the Talonjack break as the crewman manages to easily overcome the creature.

On the ironclad, Hat Chet found a treasure inside the crow’s nest.  He pulls it out and drops it to the deck of the ship.  Yen Lo waves as he runs over and picks it up.  He then jumps back into the crew’s small boat.

Taucher says, “Its faster to swim over to the dhow ” and jumps into the water.  Skorri agrees and jumps in also.  He lands beside Fortrywn’s crewman who is floating in the flotsam.  Skorri quickly checks on his condition to make sure she doesn’t drown herself.  Seeing that she will recover, as long as she not eaten by a shark, he climbs aboard a small seaweed covered raft.  Spying one of Fortrywn’s archers on a rocky outcrop, he once again Surges to shoot an arrow in his direction.  Even though it was a snap shot, the arrow strikes its target in the chest.  Without waiting to see the outcome, Skorri turns and follows Taucher.  During this time, the large snake slowly slithers towards the archer.  The archer looks from Skorri to the snake, trying to decide which to shoot.  He decides on the snake and puts an arrow into its thick body.  Ignoring the pinprick, the snake continues its way up the rocky outcrop in pursuit.

Amras getting ready to claim a treasure
TWACK  No he’s not……

With the agility of a monkey, Amras quickly climbs to the top of the mast.  After hauling himself onto the upper spar, he notices a treasure sack stuffed inside the crow’s nest.  Amras called down to Amrod and Skorri, “I found something.”  As he leans over to pick it up, he fails to see the arrow speeding his way.  The shaft embeds itself in his back pack.  The force of the strike spins him around, arm flailing in an attempt to regain his balance.  In the end, Amras tumbles into the water below.  The impacts knocks the breath out of him and he floats there trying to recover his senses. 

Random creature captures my chair.  I think Fortrwyn paid him to distract me

Over on the longboat, Hat Chet watches as another of Kragmar’s crew is taken down by the giant crab.  “YES” he cries out but then realizes his mistake.  The crab’s antenna-like eyes swivel in his direction.  Before he can react, the crab scuttles across the deck, its claws menacingly clicking together.  Hat Chet dodges the crab’s initial attack and leaps upon its back.  Deftly performing a balancing act, he swings his axe down hard, striking the crab between its eyes.  As crab’s legs collapse, he thinks “Too bad I can’t get him back to the kitchen.”  Hat Chet, seeing the treasure chest laying on the deck, triumphantly runs towards it.  He has to negotiate a mound of unmoving bodies but he manages to reach the chest.

Seeing Amras fall, Skorri’s keen eyes scan the nearby ship for the perpetrator.  Through the light fog, he could just make out the silhouette of Fortrywn’s archer standing at the rail and reaching for another arrow.  Skorri climbs aboard the ship and pulls out his bow.  Grabbing an arrow from his quiver, he pulls back and lets it fly.  He watches in dismay as the arrow skims off some rigging and misses its target.  Uncontrollably, Skorri feels his blood boil and Surges to fire another shot.  This time the arrow flew straight and true as Skorri watched the offending archer fall out of sight.   

Hat Chet just before Fortrwyn’s Warden charges

Hat Chet picks up the chest, pausing a moment at the carnage all around him,  and then moves to his rowboat.  As he is getting ready to climb down, he hears the pitter-patter of small feet on the deck.  He quickly turns just as Fortrywn’s warden swings her sword.  He ducks under her swing, deflecting it with his axe as he spins to face the diminutive young girl.  “Go home little girl” he says as he makes an overhead swing at her.  To his surprise, she manages to deflect his aim.  Instead of smacking her on the side of the head with the flat side of his axe, the momentum forces the axe to slice downward along her leg before embedding itself in the toe of her boot.  The young warden loses her balance and her head strikes the deck with a hollow thud.  She’s out cold.  With little effort, Hat Chet pulls his axe out of the decaying decking.  “That’ll leave a scar” he thinks.  Hat Chet turns to carefully climb down into the rowboat with the hard fought over treasure (five crew and one warden were taken down trying to recover this treasure – Kragmar lost three, Skorri lost two, and Fortrywn lost his warden).

Hat Chet trying to escape with a treasure

Skorri climbs up the mast towards the crow’s nest.  As he nears the top, he hears the flapping of wings and looks up to see another Talonjack settle on top of the crow’s nest, and his treasure.  With a burst of energy, Skorri climbs the final few feet to the top and draws his sword.  With some fancy sword play, he manages to feint to the left before twisting his sword into an upward swing that severs the Talonjack’s head.  Feeling a bit of pain as his blood heats up, Skorri Surges forth to pick up the treasure.  He drops the treasure to the deck below and quickly climbs down.  He then signals to his crew to climb into their boats and return to the ship.

Skorri fights off a Talonjack and secures a treasure

Back aboard the Raven’s Beak, Skorri saw to the welfare of his injured crewmen.  Wat Lee was the only crewman who did not make it back.  He authorized a double ration of rum and they drank a toast in honor of Wat Lee – “May he give the shark indigestion.”  He then headed into his cabin to look over the day’s haul.  Incredibly, five treasures were recovered:  Ring of Will, Jade Figurine (Crocodile) w/30 gold, Superior 2-hand weapon +1 damage, Magic hand weapon +1 Fight w/10 gold, and a Water of Life Potion and some Scalegrass herb.  The magic hand weapon would be a welcome replacement for the sword he lost last time.

Well, another enjoyable and action packed game that kept me on my toes for all 9 turnsModifying the solo scenario into a multi-player version turned out better than we thought.  Plus it helped that the group happened to have a good number of ships to use as the floating graveyard.

Skorri and crew took advantage of Fortrywn’s first turn misfortune of losing three crewmen to a single shark.  With that and Molly Malone occupying his attention on his flank, they secured five treasures.  And only loss three personnel in the process.

When I recruited a new warden, I decided to change from a Wave warden to a Beast warden to try some different (Plus I had one of the new Wiz Kids pre-paints I wanted to use).  I’m hoping his spells will be a benefit to the crew.

Already looking forward to the next game…….

A final view of the table showing Kragmar’s snd Molly’s crews

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Author: Don Hogge

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