C2E03 – Welcome to Dawn Harbor

In episode 3, “Welcome to Dawn Harbor”, we begin right where we left off at the conclusion of C2E02 – Empress of the Waves. The party has narrowly escaped from the doomed ship and managed to make their way back to the waiting Windbourne.

As the party pulls their tired, beaten bodies over the starboard rail, the crew of the Windbourne leaps into action. In a loud rush of canvas on the wind, the ship’s sails drop into place and fill with air. The ship starts moving eastward, away from the Empress of the Waves and toward the Shearing Channel. While the crew tended to the sails and stowed the boat, Lady Cassandra and the ship’s doctor began tending to the party’s wounds. Captain Valnora and Lord Simon help them to their feet and escort them back to the captain’s quarters.

Deferred Payment

Once inside the Captain’s quarters, attention turns to the large metal chest leaking seawater all over the floor. While the key is back in Whitestone, Lord Simon is open to having someone try and pick the lock. He’s dying to know what’s inside. Night pulls out some thieve’s tools and attempts to pick the lock. It is an intricate lock but is unable to get it on her first attempt. Undeterred she tries again. She feels like she almost has it when the audible snap of her pick cuts the silence. Disappointed, they secure the chest in the captain’s quarters and agree to accompany the de Rolos to Whitestone to receive their payment.

With the question of what is inside the chest off the table, the conversation turns to the day’s events. After some well-earned congratulations and praise, the Captain offers the party full-time employment aboard the Windbourne. While he was uncertain of them at first, they’ve more than proven themselves capable deckhands, and more. He gives them the night off and directs them to get some rest. In no shape to argue, they return to their berths.

A Voice in the Night

Everyone goes directly to their berths upon leaving the Captain’s quarters. Their bodies bruised and beaten, they desperately need the rest. They make their way down to the crew quarters and crawl into their hammocks. Exhausted, everyone falls into a deep and restful sleep. That is, everyone except Zaptuse. While the others sleep well, Zap struggles. The day’s events weigh heavily on him and he struggles to fall asleep. Eventually, the exhaustion takes over and he drifts into an uneasy sleep.

At some point in the night, a voice comes to him in his sleep. It reminds him of “their deal” and that Zap is of little use to him, if he’s dead.

“You are no use to me dead. We have a deal, I help you, you help me. You cannot help me if your dead!”

“I will call on you soon. I suggest you do your part when I do.”

-Zaptuse’s Patron

As quickly as the voice had come to him, it had gone. He tossed and turned a bit more, but eventually drifted off into a deep sleep. The fits were gone and he was able to rest at last.

DM Tip

In this campaign we have a Pact of the Fiend Warlock and an Aasimar Protector with a celestial guide. What could go wrong … right?

Regular NPCs are our voice as DMs. We use them to drop hints, story hooks, lore dumps and anything else we need to communicate to the players. Unfortunately, players tend to be the most paranoid, untrusting people you’ll ever find. The more trustworthy the NPC, the less they trust them. This is where patrons and guides can come in handy. While they still might not be trusted, the player usually knows where they’re coming from. Their motives are slightly more predictable to them and thus easier to accept.

A Secret Revealed

After a good night’s sleep and a quick breakfast, Allix is summoned to see the captain. She makes her way through the officer quarters and the first mate sends her in. Captain Valnora doesn’t look up from his papers and asks her to take a seat. He finishes up the paperwork he was looking at and looks up. He compliments her on her seamanship and reiterates he’d be happy to have her, and the others, as permanent crewmembers. She tells him she’ll think about it, but isn’t making any promises. He accepts her answer and moves on.

After a brief silence, he inquires if she is the daughter of Devin and Muriel Windchaser. When she says “Yes”, He comments that her parents were good people and that while he did not know them well, their murder was upsetting. Allix explodes, “Murdered?! What do you mean murdered?” Taken aback by her reaction, Captain Valnora apologizes for her learning the truth this way and proceeds to fill her in on all he knows.

For years the merchantman’s guild, the Onyx Banner, was taking over more and more of the Port of Emon. They were pushing out the fishermen and making life difficult for small, independently operated boats. Devin and his friend Michael Callaghan (Allix’s adopted father) formed their own guild called the Everline. Together they helped the fishermen fight back and the Banner wasn’t having it. They hired the Clasp to dispose of the Windchasers and send a message to Callaghan to back off. The Everline didn’t stop fighting entirely, but they were a lot less aggressive in their methods afterward. Furious, but appreciative; Allix leaves.

DM Tip

The key to moments like this is trust and communication. DMs and players need to work together to develop a character’s backstory. It should not be all on either party. Sit down together before your session 0 and figure out the vision for the backstory and a idea of where they want it to go. Float some vague ideas of where things might go and get their input. You want to surprise them with interesting hooks down the road, but you need to respect their vision.

Home Stretch

A little over two weeks since they left Port Damali, the Windbourne begins the final leg of her journey. After leaving the Shearing Channel, the ship headed northwest across the Alabaster Bay and towards the Salted Bluffs. They rounded the northern point of the Alabaster Peninsula and started sailing south into the Dawnmist Bay.

Their last night on duty, the party takes their positions on deck as thick, heavy fog rolls in. The first few hours pass without issue, but shortly after midnight, they hear the flapping of wings. They look up just in time to see a party of six harpies make their attack.

DM Tip

When a setting screams for a certain type of monster that is too much for the characters, find creative ways to scale it. For this encounter, I absolutely wanted harpies but I wanted numbers too. Instead of scaling back the encounter, I scaled back the monsters.

In this encounter, two harpies were joined by four younger members of the tribe. The harpies were expecting easy prey and thought this would be a great opportunity to bring some younglings along on the hunt. I used the same base harpy, but dropped their hit dice to 5d8+5 and their alluring song.

Divide & Conquer

Split into two groups of three, the harpies attacked the bow and aft simultaneously. The older harpies immediately started their songs and all three men in the party fell under their sway. Tibalt and Rowan were able to shed the effects quickly, but Zap was enthralled. The harpy hovered off the stern and lured the young Dragonborn right off the boat. She then tried to pluck him from the water but discovered he was much too heavy to lift.

Meanwhile, Night, Rialta, and Allix were fighting off the group at the front. The fight was going poorly for the harpies and the two younger harpies were forced to flee. As they fled, the older harpy swooped down and picked up the halfling. She carried her high above the deck and released her. The fall hurt, but Allix was still conscious. She was about to grab her again when Night and Rialta both hit her with ranged attacks. Rather than pressing her luck, she fled as well.

Back on the poop deck, Tibalt and Rowan chased off the younger harpies, while the older one tried to grab the helpless Dragonborn falling behind rapidly as the vessel sailed on. Tibalt changed into a giant eagle and dove after Zap. He managed to wrestle him away from the harpy and carry him back to the ship. Tibalt dropped him on the main deck, but he immediately began to head back towards the harpy trailing the ship. He’d have gone over again, the harpy knew it was hopeless and fled.

Welcome to Dawn Harbor

As the harpies disappear into the fog, the party keeps a watchful eye for their return. They heal up and get back to work. With the dawn comes a break in the fog. As it burns away, they see a small fishing village in the distance. Nestled along a rocky shore on the eastern bank of the Dawnmist Bay is the village of Dawn Harbor. Emerging from their quarters in the fo’c’sl, the de Rolos join them. Lord Simon turns to the group and says, “Welcome to Dawn Harbor.”

Welcome to Dawn Harbor
Welcome to Dawn Harbor – Inspiration
Session: C2E3 – Welcome to Dawn Harbor
Session Date: 15 December 2019 – 05:00 PM to 08:00 PM ET
Present:Allix (Madelyn), Depth of Night (Renee), Rialta (Alison),
Rowan (Nate), Tibalt (Carisma), Zaptuse (Davey)
IG Start: 24 of Fessuran 634 P.D. – Shearing Channel
IG End: 27 of Fessuran 634 P.D. – Dawnmist Bay ~100mi from Dawn Harbor
Rest:Long Rest
Resources:Windbourne Battle Map
Alabaster Sierras Region Map
Sailing Ship Windbourne Battle Map
Fantasy Calendar

Thank you for stopping by & happy gaming,
Donald Farland

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Don Farland lives in central Pennsylvania with his loving wife, two daughters, & the most troublesome, but lovable labrador retriever he's ever known.