PUnrest and banditry is ripe in the western part of Ambria, the refugees are thick on the roads and easy pickings. Not all of Ambrias nobility loves the queen, or are content with watching idly as the queen consolidates her power. Alesaro Kohinoor, the Duke of New Beretoria and Korinthias uncle, strives to sow discontent among the neighbouring duchies to increase his economic power.
Pirates of the Veloma is a miniature starting adventure for Symbaroum that could come between The Promised Land and The Mark of The Beast and could be used as a base for a larger, political campaign or character campaign for a PC with a noble rival. It presents a situation (river travel on the Veloma, an attack by well armed bandits), ideas for an adventure landscape (The Greenwood and Woodcutter Cove) several NPCs, some found in the The Curse of the River Goddess and an opportunity to piece together information regarding the employer, or at least the intent behind this particular rise in banditry in the Greenwood.
|The Location and Setting:Pirates of the Veloma starts on the river Veloma, preferably onboard The River Maiden with the party is traveling from Prios Pass, after finishing The Promised Land, towards Kurun and then Thistle Hold. The Greenwood where the bandits attack, is located north of Redina and South-East from Agrella in Kansandrien. Woodcutter Cove is located inside the Greenwood, on the shore of the Ebel lake (See world map). The Curse of the River Goddess is a pre-written adventure found in Adventure Pack 1.
Rumors have been plenty lately, and should be brought to the PCs attention when they have arrived into Ambria after finishing The Promised Land. There is a steep rise in banditry in the western Duchies in general, but the stretch of road leading from Prios Pass, or the Titans in general, through The Greenwood have become treacherous indeed. As of now, most traders utilise the Veloma river, favoring the well developed city port of Sevena downstream, rather then the more road dependant routes to Agrella and Kurun.
The above is the goal of Duke Alesaro Kohinoor. By supporting banditry via proxy, he tries to interdict trade going inland – encouraging merchants to use the Veloma, Ebilis and Volgoma where Alesaro’s newly constructed galleys tend to make it safe for merchants.
The proxy in this endeavor is the willing heir to the Duchy of Narugor, Erdaro Berakka. Duke Junio despises his son for is extravagant and foppish notions of nobility. He is happy to let his heir deal with the general flamboyance that is courtly dances, feasts and intrigue, more keen to focus on his duty as long as Erdaro doesn’t strive too far. Erdaro in turn despises his father for his marshall and uncultivated ways, and strives to lift the common-born house Berakka into proper nobility.
Five years ago, this was tried by arranging a marriage between Sefira Berakka, Duke Junios youngest daughter, and Hadaro Kohinoor, the youngest son of Duke Alesaro. This marriage fell through when Sefira fled from the Ballet Academy in Yndaros as a masked performer in a traveling circus. This put Erdaro in a desperate situation if he wanted to achieve his goals. By becoming a proxy for Alesaro, a member of the royal family with his own ambitions, Erdaro hopes that the queen’s uncle will lift him up into proper nobility and quicken his way to the dukeship.
It is Erdaro Barakka, trough his inner circle in the Narugor 1st Cavalry officer core, that are supplying, organising and controlling the bandit groups suppressing the land trade. The PCs could encounter on of these disguised officers, Lieutenant Gordoi.
|The plot could be regarded as being too overhanded for a miniature adventure like Pirates of the Veloma, but should be regarded as a adventure seed to introduce noble intrigue in the western part of Ambria. Sefira Berakka and Hadaro Kohinoor are made up characters, Sefira “Red Fox” Berakka is an actual player character in one of the creators own groups.
Non-Player Characters and Factions (Stat Blocks at the end)
Blackhawk. Troubadour. Traveling with The River Maiden. If the players have encountered him before with a positive outcome (for example in Blight Night) – he grandly welcomes the PCs to share their latest adventures with him during his travel to Sevena where he is intending to entertain Duke Alesaro and his court.
Jaw. Bandits. Organising raids on the road leading through the Greenwood. Unfortunately for the ogre, he is unable to stick to the instructions given by Lieutenant Gordo. Enticed by the growing trade on the river, Jaw have just recently branched out into river piracy and The River Maiden is his second victim. The bandits are armed with army regulation weapons.
Lieutenant Gordoi. Supply Caravan. Organising raids on the road leading through the Greenwood, will arrive to check up on the progress bringing supplies. Gordoi is not flashing his station as a cavalry officer but rides, walks and acts with the particular swagger of his kind. In blatant disobedience to orders, he still keeps his Lieutenants pin on his person. He and his men are wearing the inconspicuous gear of a caravan guards, except arms which are army regulation.
The Crew. See Adventure Pack 1 p. 12-13. Swap Harasto and Mogga (will travel The River Maiden when the PCs experience The Curse of the River Goddess) with two other deckhands that will sadly perish during the river ambush. Captain Ogval is interested in gaining some extra coins, but don’t feel like he needs the protection the party offers on the well patrolled route from Prios pass to Sevena – he will drive a hard bargain to let the party land in Kurun but the GM should set up the party up to want to use the river and The River Maiden for its speed of travel and safety.
The River Maiden
See Adventure Pack 1 p. 12-15 or create a small rivertrader with sails and oars.
The Adventure starts
The First Day
The first day of the trip goes without a hitch, the GM is encouraged to have Tamri tell the tale of The River Maiden see Adventure Pack 1 p. 15, something she will drone on about again, when the party experiences The Curse of the River Goddess. Blawkhawk will try to wiggle stories from the party, which will get embellished and performed if they are grand enough.
Mistwatcher on the River
On the second day, the fog is thick over the river, sweeping onto the forested riverbanks in a earie way for characters unused to river travel. If the PCs are vigilant, have them roll Vigilant-5 to see what seems to be a human shape disrupt some branches and brush when he/she disappears into the forest on the eastern side of the river.
If the characters are not vigilant, have Tamri look nervously onto the riverbank, muttering to herself. Have a interested PC roll Persuasive to have her share that “she thought she saw someone watching on the riverbank… It was probably a trick of the eye…”
If the players insists of increased vigilance, Ogal will order one of the crew if the party isn’t inclined, to man the lookout in the mast – “Well if you say so, the bandits are plaguing the roads due to the refugees, not the Veloma tho. But it doesn’t kill anyone to be careful i reckon… if you keep firm to the mast and don’t make a tumble onto the deck that is”.
On the third the fog continues, accompanied by a cold rainfall. “Winter is passing” comments the goblin Nigra. Midday there is a shout from the outlook, another river trader has gone aground! The boat is wedged into a fallen tree, branches and floating debris that have formed a blockade on the eastern side. The boat is slightly tilting to the right. Have the players watching roll Vigilant to see arrows sticking out of the hull.
It’s possible to lay anchor if the party insists to investigate. Have the PC interacting with Ogval roll Persuasive to convince Ogval who seems keener of pushing through – “best not not test our luck by being stationary, close to the bank even…”. Blackhawk is supportive of the characters, interested in “something interesting taking place, worthy of a song”.
The GM are encouraged to have the PCs come up with a logical way to getting onto the river trader, utilising ropes or their wits. Onboard the river trader the players found no corpses, but bloodpatter and the general mayhem left after a small battle can be seen. The hold is swept clean, and only a hidden smuggling compartment with contraband – Vigilance -3 when actively searching – can be found. A PC with Medicus can see that the battle took place some days ago. The weather and time passed makes it hard to track, Vigilance -5 to see tracks of humanoids, dragging bodies into the forest. A successful cunning or a PC with Tactician can see that the obstruction in the river is man made, the tree clearly cut down and placed there.
After inspecting the boat, Ogval is keen to cast off – he needs the help of the players to use staves to push The River Maiden as not to get stuck on the tree and debris. Have the players roll Strong three times, make them struggle but allow the boat to barely be able to go past the debris, with some scratching being herd from the right hand side of the boat.
|If the players are keen to head of into the woods, in search of the perpetrators – allow them. They will follow a forest track for a short bit and then come across some disturbed earth – the mass grave of the crew that has been picked clean. The PCs can continue to track the perpetrators but will then miss the intense ambush on the river and instead find the bandit camp, reinforced by the bandits conducting the river ambush. Or the GM might allow the players to interdict and disrupt the bandits plans further down river, or come to the rescue of The River Maiden during the ambush see Harr!
On the next day the The River Maiden will get boarded. The lookout shouts that there are debris ahead, pretty much as the day before but larger – covering almost the entire stretch of the river. Ogval will, unless the PCs insists otherwise, try to circumvent the debris. Blackhawk will have procured spirits, and will stagger upp from the cargo hold after the battle, bleary eyed and screaming about “what the damn ruckus about?”.
When boat is close to the blockade, shouts and arrows will start raining down on the ship from the eastern shore. The ambush consists of several regular bandits led by the Jaw who leads the charge towards the boat using the debris as a bridge, under the cover of arrows. Jaw and his bandits on the debris will use grappling hooks thrown onto the boat, to drag the boat towards the debris so they can board the bow and close into melee.
This phase could be modified to last shorter or longer, depending on how interesting the skirmish phase (mainly with the archers on the riverbanks) is of the battle is according to the PCs abilities. Jaw and the bandits will keep themselves protected using makeshift board shields, one bandit covering an companion pulling on the grappling hook, making them harder to hit with ranged weapons – Defence -5 against ranged weapons. The PCs could try to cut some of the ropes, it’s encouraged that they are able to cut or dislodge some – but the iron enforced chain of Jaws grappling hook, and his great strength will get the boat into a position to board.
Idle PCs could be challenged by bandits using ropes attached to high tree branches to swing from shore, they are not necessarily successful but if it adds suspense one or some bandits might make it onboard and get involved with a frantic melee on his own with the PCs that are idle. The rest will get dragged down stream, screaming and drowning in the cold current.
As the above goes on, the PCs can hear the crew screaming of “borders to the stern and port!” – the bandits are using canoes to climb up unto the rear and rear left side of the ship in the confusion. If the PCs tries to help the crew Ogval will encourage them, strongly, to focus on the front of the ship – this part of the battle will play out cinematically, and the GM are encouraged to give a atmosphere of desperate combat without stealing the show from the main event. The stern action will result in two unnamed deckhands dead, and a wounded Tamri droning on about “I told you we should have given more gifts to the River Goddess, I told you!”.
The melee at the bow, finished, the archers on the eastern bank will withdraw and it’s suggested that Jaw is badly wounded and bleeding out “heehee, should have listen to the damn… damn…”. While searching the corpses, the PCs will find a blood spattered letter on Jaws person, see Handout 1 (click the link to the left). The part about food delivery at the bottom right is cleary written recently, if the PCs have Loremaster – have that PCs be able to understand that it’s been written today, since the ink is smeared and have not properly dried yet. If no Loremaster is present, give the information anyway.
The Adventure Continues?
Due to the word amount I’m forced to cut this short but would like to give some broad examples of how this could continue, if the GM want to use the ambush as a interesting combat scene – it’s suggested that the letter is not found.
Motivation for finding the bandit and their pickings and the lead towards the political intrigue, should entice the PCs enough – but if they need more motivation it’s suggested that Captain Ogval promise them to write a letter of credit and recommendation that they can bring to the Merchant House in Thistle Hold – after they’ve dealt with the threat to trade in the region. The River Maiden will wait three days in Woodcutter Cove, some hours downstream on the eastern bank – for the PCs arrival and successful mission. Blackhawk enforces Ogvals opinion, this is something that could be worthy of a song – “a brave band of adventurers, protecting the common man from some sinister plot in the shadows!”.
|If the PCs are be interested in waylaying the supply caravan led by Lieutenant Gordoi, this could end up being a fierce battle if the PCs don’t prepare an ambush correctly (Give a PC with Tactician tips to break up and surround the enemy, prepare the ground) – the guards are actually professional soldiers and will form a spearwall, supported by crossbowmen – with Gordoi and his personal bodyguard bringing up the rear, bolstering the defence.
For further complications, four horsemen might charge from the way the way the caravan was headed – outriders that might have been missed due to lack of scouting of the road beforehand.
When the Lieutenants Pin is found, a PC with Tactician may identify it for what it is otherwise the party can ask any military knowledgeable person.
Where the party goes from there could lead them into the power struggle and intrigue between the western Duchies.
|Jaw 15/5Accurate 5 (+5), Cunning 10 (0), Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 10 (0), Quick 12 (−2), Resolute 11 (−1), Strong 15 (−5), Vigilant 7 (+3)
Abilities Two-handed Strength (Adept)
Attack -5Two-handed hammer/axe 8 (miss, re-roll 4 dmg)Defense 0Tough skin and Leather 4 (Impeding)
|Bandit 10/5 Ambrian, Barbarian, GoblinAccurate 12 (−2), Cunning 10 (0), Discreet 15 (−5), Persuasive 7 (+3), Quick 12 (-2), Resolute 5 (+5), Strong 9 (+1), Vigilant 11 (−1)
Attack -2Crossbow 5, Spear 4 (long), Axe/Sword 4Defense +2Leather cuirass 3 (Impeding)
|Lieutenants Bodyguard 15/8 OgreAccurate 5 (+5), Cunning 10 (0), Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 10 (0), Quick 13 (−3), Resolute 11 (−1), Strong 15 (−5), Vigilant 7 (+3)
Abilities Two-handed Strength (Adept)
Attack -5Two-handed Hammer 8 (Miss, re-roll 4 dmg)Defense +3Tough skin and Leather 4 (Impeding)
|Narugor Soldier 10/5 AmbrianAccurate 13 (−3), Cunning 7 (+3), Discreet 5 (+5), Persuasive 9 (+1), Quick 12 (0), Resolute 10 (0), Strong 15 (−5), Vigilant 11 (−1)
Abilities Polearm Mastery (Novice)
Attack -3Spear 5 (long)Defence -2 (shield)Scalemail 2 (Impeding)
|Narugor Soldier 10/5 AmbrianAccurate 12 (−3), Cunning 7 (+3), Discreet 5 (+5), Persuasive 9 (+1), Quick 12 (0), Resolute 10 (0), Strong 15 (−5), Vigilant 11 (−1)
Attack -2Crossbow 5 Dagger 2Defence -2Leather Armor 2
|Lieutenant Gordo 13/6Accurate 11, Cunning 7, Discreet 5, Persuasive 13, Quick 13, Resolute 10, Strong 13, Vigilant 9
Abilities Dominate (Novice), Leader (Adept), Shieldbearer (Adept)
Attack -3Weapons Mace 4Defense -2 (Shield)Fortified chainmail 4