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Naval starting points for Savage Coast adventures

by Bruce Heard

Mutiny on the Bounty

Here's another starting point for a Savage Coast adventure.

PCs embark on a ship (invent a name) to conclude a short adventure but quickly realize that the skipper is a tyrant. The PCs are involved with the some members of the crew who secretly offer them to join the upcoming mutiny. The first officer hesitates -- his reaction depends on what the PCs do. Things could go either way.

The PCs and the first officer join the mutiny, take over the ship, and flee to find a remote spot to settle (choice of the PCs really). Else, the PCs and the officers oppose the mutineers. They either succeed and return to port, or fail. In the latter case the mutineers capture them and take them to a secret spot they plan on resettling (DM's choice). The ship is soon torched to avoid being discovered by search ships.

The actions of the PCs in the following weeks will affect how the fledgling settlement develops. The *settlers* either get massacred by the natives, fall ill to diseases, perish from lack of food, etc -- or manage to survive somehow, thanks to the PCs one would hope. They name the settlement after a feature that is unique to the PCs who eventually take their leave and return to their homebase. Several decades later, natives join the settlement and help create a unique culture. Any thoughts?

Capt. Hornblower

Another obvious direction: the party embarks on a ship, as mercenaries or officers. The ship is sent to help some remote colony trying to gain its independence from Vilaverde (or Texeiras), perhaps just around the southern tip of the Arm of the Immortals. It turns out their leader is a megalomaniac tyrant, a brutal madman bent on carving himself an empire. The party must help the madman capture a large Vilaverdan warship coming in the area (you know the rest of the story, else you really ought to rent a tape and watch this old classic). Of course the ending could be very different from the movie, but then, that's role-playing! :)

Flying Dutchman

I was going to post an idea about a truly flying ghost ship. In this case, it could be a ghostly variant of the Princess Ark. It came from an alternate Mystara where the entire crew died. Somehow, violent storms at sea cause the ghostly ship to temporarily appear in the sky, haunting the area for the duration of the gale. PCs need to go aboard and find the reason of the crew's demise, and return them to where they really ought to be. This could connect with the article I wrote in DRAGON Magazine about undeath and life on the *other side*. As a result of their journey on the haunted ship, PCs might end up in limbo for a while (the storm ends on Mystara), and finally return to their true world, perhaps far away from their stating point (a new storm flares up on Mystara).

Another approach would have the ghostly crew come from the future instead. The PCs' goal is now to find the reason of the crew's demise, leave the ship, and warn Haldemar -- wherever he may be. Disclosing what they learned on the haunted ship would alter the course of future history, possibly saving the illustrious crew and their ship from a tragic end.

As these posts have hinted, there is a wealth of old movies about ships and pirates that can easily become source of inspiration for Savage Coast adventures. Any other ideas? :)