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Masters and commanders - Privateers and Merchantmenby Jesper Andersen
Fjordvall (Longship / longship, 3-8)
The captain of the Fjordvall is a trader named Sigismund. On his last journey between Oceansend and Soderfjord he encountered the Kraken. Now he trembles with fear at the very thought of putting out to sea again. He has taken to drinking a lot and the Fjordvall is for sale at the local dock in Soderfjord.
The Fjordvall is not equipped with any weapons and has a superior speed of wind x 20 ft. when using her sails.
Sigismund: 3rd level expert (trader), alignment Neutral.
Bartolomeo (Trireme / small galley, 5-7)
The Bartolomeo is captained by a Darokin swashbuckler named Gonzalo Javier, who won the ship in a game of cards in Athenos. He didn't know much about ships but being the romantic that he is, he wanted to try out his sea legs. Gonzalo hired a motley crew and set to sea. It wasn't long before he realised that there is more to seamanship than setting a course for the Sea of Dread and hoping for fair weather. The Bartolomeo nearly sank in a storm and had to limp back to Tothmeer in the Five Shires. After a few weeks of repairs (and replacing half the crew, who had signed off), Gonzalo set to sea again but this time stayed closer to shore.
He took his ship and crew to Orlin Isle in the reef-filled waters between the Five Shires and Ierendi. Stories in Tothmeer had convinced Gonzalo that the island was laden with pirate treasure. Once they reached the isle, Gonzalo was disappointed to learn that most of it was actually populated by retired adventurers - mages and others who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. And who took none too lightly to Gonzalo and his crew digging through their gardens looking for pirate treasure!
After the initial confusion and hurling of fireballs, followed by apologies from both sides, Gonzalo managed to befriend a retired mage named Erdgilm. From him Gonzalo learned of a reef near Orlin Isle, where many pirate ships had sunk over the years. Erdgilm convinced Gonzalo to go look for treasure there and sent him on his way.
The Bartolomeo returned to the mainland and Gonzalo tried, without success, to purchase water-breathing magic from the Church of Protius. Instead, he has taken to scouring the coast from Specularum to Athenos for adventurers with access to such magic, who would be willing to join forces with him and explore the reef.
The Bartolomeo is armed with a ram, a ballista and a catapult.
Gonzalo Javier: 5th level Swashbuckler (from Complete Warrior Handbook), alignment Chaotic Good, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 7, Charisma 16.
Willoway (Longship / longship, 3-7)
In AC 984, the Karameikan Javosh Portjetskiy was taken prisoner aboard a trade vessel by Ostland pirates and sold as a slave in Zeaburg. He spent 14 long years as a thrall to a master shipwright in the city but eventually earned his freedom. He made his way to Norrvik in Vestland and settled there as a shipbuilder himself. Through hard work he managed to save up the money to build the Willoway and hire a crew. He set out for Oceansend and returned with a valuable cargo of books and timber. For the past two years Javosh and his crew has continued to roam the seas between Norrvik and Oceansend, often visiting Helskir and the Heldann Freeholds as well. Javosh is still tormented by his memories of slavery and would rather die than be taken by Ostland pirates again. He will take passengers on board for a modest fee.
The Willoway is a standard longship with no heavy weapons.
Javosh Portjetskiy: 1st level Commoner, 6th level Expert (Shipwright), alignment Neutral Good.
Peregrin (Pinnace / small sailing ship, 5-7)
Commanded by Godasiar "Godo" Gimblefoot of the Nogknock Clan of Shireton, the Peregrin has in recent years become a ship whose name commands respect in the waters of the Five Shires and the Gulf of Halag. Godo and his brave crew are bounty hunters of the seas, operating under the command of the Sheriffs' Council, fighting pirates and slavers who operate out of Fort Doom.
Although the Peregrin is small and numbers a crew of just 25 hin, she has often taken on far larger vessels and each time come out victorious. Triremes, longships and even caravels have fallen for the hands of Godo's hunters. The explanation is that Godo is a truly gifted sea captain, who understands to use the weather and the waters to his advantage. Surviving slavers speak in terrified whispers in Fort Doom of how the Peregrin eerily emerged from the silent ocean fog and fired screaming, flaming missiles at them before once more retreating into the mists. This repeated itself several times and always the Peregrin emerged from a completely unexpected direction, moving with an almost supernatural speed.
The "screaming missiles" are specially-made ballista spears that Godo has invented together with an Ethengarian fletcher he once met. The Ethengarian showed Godo his country's signal arrows and Godo took a bundle of these to a weapon smith in Shireton, who produced the new ballista spears for him. When they fly through the air they make a loud unnerving noise, forcing enemies to make a Will Save (DC 10) or become shaken.
When they are not at sea, Godo and the crew of the Peregrin like to relax in Shireton and can often be found in the Winebucket Tavern. Godo also often visits his friends at Spiderblood & Maple, Fine Cartographers & Map Vendors, where he buys and sells ocean charts and other interesting things he comes across on his journeys.
The Peregrin is a standard Pinnace mounted with two ballistae. It has an exceptional crew.
Godo Gimblefoot: 6th level fighter, 8th level Legendary Captain (see Stormwrack page 56-60), Intelligence 16, Wisdom 14, Charisma 17. Alignment Neutral Good. Godo wears a Ring of Protection+4, a Medallion of Water Breathing and a halfling-sized cutlass+3.
Alvarez (Dromond / large galley, 6-6)
The Alvarez is owned by the Alphatian wizard Sartigus Eresir of the town of Ybod on the Northwestern tip of the Kingdom of Frisland in Alphatia. Sartigus was always an adventuring soul and set out to see the world and discover new and exiting magic. He came from a wealthy family of magic-users and purchased the Alvarez in AC 992. His journeys led him south to the Isle of Dawn and the kingdom of Edairo. There he searched the well-stocked libraries and researched new and powerful spells. He also devised a highly potent magical item for the Alvarez - a Golden Shedu living figurehead (see Stormwrack page 132-133). He spent six months crafting the figurehead of mahogany with overlaid gold. When Sartigus set to sea again, he ventured into Thyatian waters and was soon attacked by pirates out of Caerdwicca. Sartigus used the ethereal power of the figurehead to vanish before the pirates' eyes, only to emerge behind them and ram one ship, sinking it, while blasting another to the bottom of the sea with powerful spells.
Sartigus then decided to pay the Thane of Caerdwicca, Uthgaard McRhomaag, a visit. He sailed into the bay and then activated the flying power of his ship and continued to blast the thane's pitiful wooden fortress while circling above it. When he decided the pirates had learnt their lesson, the Alvarez simply flew away back to the sea. Since that day, Caerdwiccan pirates and particularly Thane Uthgaard have sworn revenge on the Alvarez.
Sartigus continued sailing up the coast of the Isle of Dawn and from there to the Emirates of Ylaruam. Today, he and his crew can be found anywhere from Soderfjord to Ierendi, looking for interesting rumours of adventure and thrills. Time and battles has taken its toll on his original crew and he has started hiring young adventurous souls of all nationalities - even Thyatian - to supplement his crew. (He uses mind reading magic on them to ensure that they have no sinister motives first).
The Alvares is an ordinary Dromond with a Golden Shedu living figurehead. It does not have a ram or other siege weapons. Sartigus considers himself a one-man siege weapon.
Sartigus Eresir: 16th level Alphatian Envoker (he has forsaken the school of Conjuration), alignment Chaotic Neutral, Intelligence 19, Dexterity 15. Sartigus carries a number of wands with destructive spells of his own creation.
Seasteed (Dromond / large galley, 5-6)
One of the most spectacular sights in the Sea of Dread is probably an encounter with the Seasteed. It is a large dromond owned by the Minrothad merchant prince named Megetor Cassel. He lives in Harbortown in the Minrothad Guilds but spends at least half his time aboard the Seasteed.
Megetor is a powerful wizard and knows how to both summon and speak with the most powerful and feared creatures of the deep. About ten years ago he summoned a colossal Baleen whale (MM, page 204) and charmed it to tow the Seasteed using a specially crafted harness. Whenever Megetor goes anywhere across the wide ocean, the whale tows the ship. When they get near the coast and the water is either too shallow for the whale or its appearance would cause too much commotion, Megetor temporarily releases it and puts his crew to the oars when he needs to visit harbours or otherwise go ashore.
The Seasteed is specially modified in that it doesn't have masts and part of the rowers' section has been transformed to make a larger cargo hold. It is a beautiful ship with long, slender lines.
The Seasteed: Seaworthiness -1; Ship handling +0; Speed towed 40 ft. (poor) or oars 25 ft. (average); cargo 180 tons.
Megetor Cassel: 9th level wizard, 6th level Merchant Prince (Special Prestige Class), alignment Neutral, Intelligence 20, Charisma 14. Wears a Ring of Spell Turning, a Ring of Water Walking and also carries an especially enchanted conch shell with which he can summon a Huge Water Elemental once/day.