Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not sure how to begin a campaign?

Here's one way to start a Swordfish Islands campaign

Your past does not matter.

About a year ago you got black bagged and thrown in a cell. A dark cell. They said you deserved it. There was a list of allegations. You could recognize the voices of people you knew testifying against you, or at least you thought you could through the hunger and the dark.

It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. And that doesn't matter. What matters is that it happened. And here you are.

After sitting in the dark for 6 months, the door opened and an impeccably clean person, wearing black pants, black boots, and a bright coat of saffron yellow offered you a deal. Redemption. The Martel Company needs recruits. It will be hard work. And dangerous. But there will be treasure, and you can buy back your good name. In time.

They beat you. But they fed you well. They beat you harder. But they gave you equipment. They beat you 'till your bruises bled, but only if you did not obey. And they were fair.

For 6 months you hauled rocks. Big rocks. Rocks that were stuck in mud or in rushing rivers. You became wonderful at tying knots and lashing. You can make a crude sledge out of just about anything. After about a month of the beatings and hauling the only thing you thought when you saw something was "How can I pick this up and move it".

You were not alone. You don't know how many others there were total because everyone came and went so quickly, but you were placed on a hauling team, and they became your family. You've slept together, bathed together, eaten together. Watched each other shit.

Maybe you've become friends. Maybe you hate each other. It doesn't matter. Trust was beaten into each of you one blackjack at a time by the Martel Company. You know you can count on the people you are with right now because you already have for months.

A week ago you were equipped to go to the islands. The Swordfish Islands. Men and women in yellow coats lined the rails of the ship and held crossbows to the haulers. Some tried to escape. They were shot, and no one flinched. Not even you.

They branded the back of your left shoulder once the ship set sail. Black magic swirled around the iron and it felt like you were marked by ice, though you had seen it in a blaze.

When all were branded a Martel representative spoke with the boom of a storm. "You belong to Martel now, and you have been brought here to haul. Haul gold. Haul statues. Haul art and treasures of magical danger you cannot even begin to comprehend."

"The more you haul and return to a Martel quartermaster, the quicker your brand will fade. I cannot tell you how much you must haul. That amount is tied to your crimes, and you have had plenty of time to reflect upon them, so you know your amount better than I."

"We may sink. There are reefs and storms and monstrosities of every stripe between here and our destination. If our quartermaster is incapacitated any Martel Company quartermaster can process your hauls. There will be others. Boats arrive at the Swordfish Islands weekly."

"You do not need to haul. You are always free to choose, but in time, the brand will consume your flesh."

A naked man was brought onto the decks. His mouth gaped and his eyes lolled about blindly. A crooked V of black and green flesh covered the left half of his body. As he was thrown to the deck, the flesh on his left side sloughed off like a corn husk and bones and shriveled guts spilled out.

And then, the storm struck.

[If your character's strength and constitution scores are below 15, increase them by one point. If either stat is 15 or higher, add a single point to your charisma because you look fantastic after all the work you put in over the last 6 months]

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