The conclusion of Shadow Port Shuffle…
Ragnar pushed open the heavy wooden door of the Exlirium, a notable alchemist’s shop located in the west district of Shadow Port. A gnome sitting on a high bar stool behind the counter adjusted his glasses and brightened as he saw the half-orc rogue enter. “Ah! Mr. Ragnar, sir, I have your order ready.” The gnome hopped off the bar stool, disappearing behind the counter. After some clinking of glass the gnome reappeared and slid a collection of red potion bottles across the counter. “Per your request, four potions of healing, guaranteed to keep you strong and healthy!” Ragnar dropped a bag of coins in return and started loading the potions into his newly acquired potion belt. As he moved to secure the potions in place, he noticed one of the pouches in his belt had a small note in it that had not been there the day before. Curiously, Ragnar opened the note. Red ink flowed onto the parchment forming words – “Gather your allies at the Drake and Ducatto, mid-day. No delays.” There was no signature, but Ragnar knew a missive from the Prince of Shadows any day.
Ever since their last job was completed, Danziker spent every waking moment at the docks overseeing the repairs to his ship. The old pirate was busy reviewing prospective crew members with a judicial eye. His new first mate, Bergo Ironbelly, had been an easy pick. It took little convincing to get the gnome to leave his employment at the Slimy Barnacle tavern and sign up to be his first crew member. The rest of the volunteers needed some thought. Captain Danziker was busy inspecting Stieg Brinegrog, a stout man handy with a spear, but terrified of water, when Ragnar climbed aboard his ship and shoved a note in his face. Danziker did not have to read the note to know that the Prince had called on him for another job. The pirate sighed, sad to leave his ship. With a heavy heart he tasked Bergo with watching over her until he returned from paying off his debts.
The two rogues bumped into Gil’Adan as he was returning from Lady Goldenhair’s estate. The lady had been looking for a long lost blade that belonged to her family and Gil’Adan had been able to track it down. His research had shown that the last person to own it was one Baron Voth, a noble who had vanished from public view years ago. Gil’Adan was wearing a circlet that the Lady had given him as thanks, explaining that it had once belonged to an ancestor of hers who was also a Dragonknight. When Ragnar explained they had another task to do, the sorcerer bowed fairwell to the Lady Goldenhair and asked them to lead on.
Krogar walked down Thornleech lane and tried his best to ignore the painful ache in his right shoulder. It was a gift an orc shaman had given him with a pain hex one week past, right before Krogar brought his katana down on the shaman’s head. Over the past month Krogar had been on a solo mission out on the frontier for the Prince of Shadows. A band of rogue orcs led by a shaman had acquired a particular relic, one that the Prince wanted in his own possession. Krogar had been sent to retrieve it. He had succeeded at his mission, but not without a few aches and pains. Just when he was contemplating getting a tankard of ale to wash the ache in his shoulder away he saw Ragnar marching down the street with Captain Danziker and Gil’Adan in tow. Ragnar beckoned him to follow. Krogar nodded, stretched his shoulder again, and they all made their way to the Drake and Ducatto.
Tilgate Heights was an unusual district, even for Shadow Port’s standards. The buildings were a mix of both commercial and military. The Drake and Ducaato was famous in Shadow Port for its overpriced drinks and proximity to the Cloud-Shrouded Tower. As the Cloud-Shrouded tower came within sight Krogar stopped in his tracks and gazed in awe at the sight before him. There, alongside the top of the tower, floated a massive wooden vessel. Gil’Adan put a hand on Krogar’s shoulder. “Behold the relic of an Age lost past, an airship.”
“Airship?” Krogar asked perplexed as he watched as the vessel extended docking clamps, nestling up securely against its moorings. “Such things do not exist in the lands I come from.”
Danziker scoffed, “It be madness, I say! A ship belongs in the sea with the waves beneath her belly, not gliding through the sky.” The pirate spit toward the tower, “Mark me words, its bad luck to fly a ship through the clouds.”
“Exhilarating would be my words”, remarked Gil’Adan, reminiscing about his days as a dragon rider before that position was stripped from him. “Come, the Drake and Ducatto is just ahead. I doubt we were called here just to do some sightseeing.” Ragnar trailed behind silently.
The sun was just dipping below the horizon when they arrived at the Drake and Ducatto. The tavern was busy this night. A group of elves were discussion wine selections with the barkeep and a band of rowdy dwarves were monopolizing the dart board. It looked like most of the honest patrons were from the imperial garrison or the airship itself. Gil’Adan spotted Lady Goldenhair speaking with a well decorated elven captain from the Court of Stars. Grabbing a table near the front door, the party waited for instruction. Several workers and military men from Cloud-Shrouded Tower came in for a drink, eager for a break from their assignments.
The Drake and Ducato
A favorite watering hole for guards and soldiers in Shadow Port.
Several rounds of drink and food later, Ragnar felt a clawed hand clasp his shoulder. “Gentlemen, I hear you’ve been quite busy lately.” Samuel pulled a chair up and sat down. It had been several weeks since they had seen the well-dressed tiefling. He had become their handler, of sorts. “I must say, my employer has been quite pleased with your success. Four tasks, four completions, zero problems. We could use more agents like you.” Samuel flashed a smarmy grin at the adventurers.
Gil’Adan frowned, “We’re just working off the debt. Once it’s settled, we are done. Do not make the mistake that we are your errand boys.” The sorcerer smacked his hand down on the table to emphasize his point.
Samuel’s grin fell, “No need to get offended. Merely a compliment shared among professionals.” Gil’Adan nodded and leaned back in his seat. “To business then: you have two tasks remaining. Your next task will happen tonight, in an hour or so. The Prince has need of an airship, and you’re going to get it for him.”
Each of the adventurers nervously looked around to make sure nobody was listening. Captain Danziker quietly muttered, “You expect us to steal an entire airship? A statue, a dagger, a diamond, a man, no problem. But a bloody airship?!”
“Yes.” Samuel smiled again and dropped a hefty sack on the table, “A specific airship, in fact. The Pride of the Opals is changing hands between the Court of Stars to the Emperor’s Imperial Navy. It is just docked at the Cloud-Shrouded Tower now and the crew disembarked for some leave. You’re to scale the tower quietly, board the ship, and fly it to Bitterwood where you will crash-land it in a circle of fires and hand it off to our buyer. Within this bag are all the tools you will need to complete this task. I hope to hear from you soon.” The tiefling stood up and walked out of the tavern discreet as could be. As the party sat wondering how to even begin pulling such a stunt off they saw a group of human and dwarves wearing imperial clothing walk out of the tavern. Ragnar tapped Krogar on the shoulder and tilted his head to follow them.
Night had fallen and the streets were deserted save for the four adventurers and the group of imperial airship workers making their way up to Cloud-Shrouded Tower. Having developed a quick plan, Ragnar and Gil’Adan moved ahead of the group and ducked into a nearby alley in wait while Krogar and Danziker came up with a distraction. Krogar was just about to ask Danziker exactly what that distraction was when the pirate clocked the half-orc fighter in the face with a mean right hook.
“You coward, you say that filth about the Dwarf King again, and I’ll show you real pain! Nobody says that about The Mountain!” Danziker glanced over to the imperial workers, satisfied that his ploy had gotten their attention. He was about to flaunt his brilliance to Krogar when the half-orc snarled and barreled into to him. The old pirate was carried back into the alleyway as the air was knocked out of his lungs. “Oof!”
The workers followed, duped by the charade. Several spells and heavy fists later and the workers lay knocked out in a heap in the alleyway. Danziker and Gil’Adan were able to fit into the tunics quite easily, but Krogar and Ragnar were practically bulging in the clothes fit for humans. They stowed their weapons in a few leather packs or hidden about their body then made their way to the tower. The tower door was guarded by two surly looking dwarfs who grudgingly demanded their papers. Danziker patted his vest and found a collection of official looking papers. The papers and a bit of smooth talk got them past the guards and through the door.
The Cloud Shrouded Tower
Once the door was closed, Danziker examined the papers again and found a scrap reading ‘The security enchantments have been updated. Please use the following four passwords for the gates. Find the updated guidelines for disembarking vessels. Destroy this note after reading.’ The pirate whistled and showed it to his companions, each of them being careful to memorize all the commands. Ragnar spoke up, “I will take point with Danziker. Krogar and Gil’adan keep an eye on our tail and don’t touch anything.”
The way up through the tower was made much easier by the collection of passwords to the various gates the paper had provided. Ragnar made good use of the tools Samuel had given them, among them several ornate mechanisms that broke locks, burrowed through pressure plates, and dissolved magical barriers. He may not say it openly, but Ragnar was grateful the Prince had shown them this favor. As the rogue passed a brass object over another magical barrier, he watched it give way to a circular room with an opening leading up to the next floor. There was no staircase and no ladder.
Gil’Adan recognized these from his days in the Court of Stars: Levitation lifts. Touching his feet to a faded glyph on the floor, he gracefully drifted upward. As the passed the first floor, he was grateful he had kept his silence. Several beds held sleeping officers of the tower, obviously off shift. As he drifted upward to the next floor and onto a landing, he stifled a gasp of surprise. The floor had windows leading to open sky and a spiral staircase winding around the outside of the tower to the next floor. Near each opening lay a sleeping great eagle. As Krogar touched down behind him, the sorcerer quickly turned and motioned for his companion to keep silent.
The two rogues, landed silently behind Krogar and looked to Gil’Adan for a solution. The sorcerer thought back to his days as a Dragon Knight. He vaguely recalled meeting an eagle rider of the Court of Stars before and having a conversation with him about keeping the great beasts happy. Seeing a large steel trunk with a heavy lock in the corner, Gil’Adan signaled to Ragnar. The rogue crept over and was surprised to see the trunk cool to the touch. After he picked the lock and creaked it open, he found enchanted ice and a large collection of raw meat. The rogue tossed it to Gil’Adan who caught it and slid it over to the nearest eagle. The eagle tilted its head at Gil’Adan and then happily snatched up its treat. Gil’Adan motioned for Ragnar to grab more meat and the party quickly distributed it to the remaining eagles. With the beasts distracted, they quickly ascended the stairs.
No sooner had they reached the landing that they heard several footsteps coming down the opposite stairwell. Ragnar and Danziker reflexively dove behind some crates and Gil’Adan ducked under a nearby table. Krogar froze, unsure where he could hide his bulk. The moment of hesitation cost him and an elven voice called out, “Who goes there? This tower is restricted by order of the Queen!” Three elves all wearing military garb marched towards him.
The Half-Orc very carefully avoided glancing sideways at his companions who usually handled the talking. “Err, yes… We – I mean I – am here to fix the ship.” The center elf looked him up and down then spoke several words in elvish, challenging him. Krogar sighed, “Never did like you stuffy military types.” In one swift motion the half-orc drew his katana and closed the distance between them. A flash of steel later and the elf sank lifeless to the floor. The two other elves backed away in alarm. Before Krogar could stop them they retreated back up the stairs and sounded the alarm.
Danziker grabbed hold of Gil’Adan’s robe and pulled him up out of hiding, “Curse it! None denying it now, we’ve been spotted!” The four adventurers bolted after the elves and quickly found themselves at the top of the tower. On the northern side was the Pride of the Opals, on the south a bulky looking dwarven vessel. Two dwarven guards stood alert and ready for them flanked by several human tower guards.
Ragnar tried to twist into the shadows but the guards were ready for him, spoiling his attempts. The human tower guards charged him and started pummeling him with clubs. Krogar yelled a challenge to the angry looking dwarf guard then dove into the fray. Sword and axe collided as the half-orc and dwarf began trading blows with enough force to shatter bones.
Danziker made a move to help Ragnar, but the surly looking dwarf guard stepped into the pirate’s path. “You’re going nowhere, intruder!” The constant swings of the dwarf maiden’s hammer made it impossible for Danziker to duck away, so he took a wild swing at her midsection with his cutlass. He must’ve had the Prince’s luck on his side as he cut away the hammer’s hand-loop and her weapon went flying. When the dwarf guard was distracted Gil’Adan let a chaos bolt fly into her face, sending her falling off the side of the tower.
The human guards were novices and fell to the well-placed strikes from Ragnar. As soon as no foes stood in his path the rogue ran towards the ship. A few quick slices of his dagger cut through the ropes that tethered the vessel to the tower. “All aboard or you’re staying behind!” Danziker and Gil’Adan ran ahead to take care of the elven crew on the airship. Krogar quickly dispatched the final dwarf guard and leapt the distance between the tower and vessel. The adventurers had boarded the Pride of the Opals.
The Pride of Opals
A rare skybarge, perhaps one of the last few left in existence.
Once aboard, Danziker looked around to find the helm. The pirate found the control panel on one side of the double hulled vessel, but instead of a wheel he was greeted with a series of elegantly carved levers, buttons and rudder pedals. “Blasted airship! Curse the elves and their magic! Ships belong in the water!” The pirate started flipping levers and stepping on the pedals, desperately trying to make sense of the controls. As the Pride of the Opals drifted awkwardly westward the pirate was able to narrowly miss another of Shadow Port’s higher towers. Looking back at Cloud-Shrouded tower, Ragnar saw guards swarming the tower, but it was far too late to stop them now.
Gil’Adan and Krogar had descended into the hull to root out any crewmembers, but found none. Krogar was marveling at the magnificent airship, but Gil’Adan didn’t hear a word he said. The sorcerer was distracted by three stones set out in a ritual circle on the ship. As the sorcerer went to investigate further, a beam of purple energy connected the three in a circle and extended upwards through the hull and on to the top of the ship. The sorcerer recognized a portal when he saw one and grabbed the half-orc fighter to alert the others.
Ragnar was toward the front of the ship examining two large metal forks that extended out of the bow. It was clearly a weapon of some sort, but he could not locate any ammunition nearby. The rogue was in the midst of wondering sort of weapon it could be when he heard a crackling sound followed by Gil’Adan screaming out a warning. The rogue turned and saw a large purple portal opening on the mid deck of the ship. The skies above the ship began to blacken. Ragnar’s instincts clicked in and he twisted into shadows.
Three elven looking figures stepped out of the portal with lightning crackling through the air behind them. Two were Storm Witches, fierce looking females with untamed sky blue hair, pale skin and brilliant blue eyes. One held a staff with a yellow gem that crackled with lightning and the other a mace that boomed like thunder when she struck it against her shield. The third figure was a flawlessly beautiful male wielding a spear. Gossamer wings that shimmered with the color of water unfolded from his back. As the male figure looked up the skies opened up and rain began to fall.
Danziker was too busy trying to control the ship against the sudden storm to dodge the Rain Avatar’s first attack. The sharp tip of a spear sank into the pirate’s left arm, cutting deep. Cursing, Danziker drew his cutlass and went to strike at the Rain Avatar’s midsection. As the blade met the elf’s flesh, his form split apart like water and exploded into numerous water sprites flying around the ship.
Gil’Adan had just reached the main deck in time to see the Rain Avatar burst into several small blue glowing water sprites. Wasting no time, Gil’Adan started firing bolts of lightning at the small water spirits. The Storm Witch with the thunder shield charged angrily at Gil’Adan, but was intercepted by Krogar. The half-orc fighter slashed at the Storm Witch with his katana and the two became locked in a fierce battle.
The remaining Storm Witch flew across the deck in a thunderous cloud before launching a powerful bolt of lightning at Gil’Adan to give him a taste of his own medicine. She cackled in satisfaction as her attacks landed, but her moment of glee was cut short when a sharp dagger erupted from her chest. The shield bearing Storm Witch shrieked and tried to guard her sister from harm, but it was too late. Ragnar had landed a critical and deadly blow. Krogar seized the opening and hacked the thunder witch’s outstretched arm off.
As the storm wracked the ship, Danziker struggled to maintain their westward course. The Pride of the Opals twisted to the starboard side and everyone quickly grabbed something to hold on. Krogar grabbed hold of a railing and barely held on. The Storm Witch next to him reached out for the same railing, but the shock of losing her arm was too much and she fall off the side of the ship to her death. Gil’Adan watched as the water sprites reformed into the Rain Avatar and shouted a warning. Danziker ducked and the elf’s spear ripped apart the ship’s control panel. Gil’Adan ignored Danziker’s wild cursing and unleashed an empowered pulse of chaos at the eld. The Rain Avatar exploded in a burst of rain water and reformed no more.
“Archmage be damned, I hate flying heaps of magic!!” Danziker screamed as he slammed several of the remaining levers and righted the ship again. The storm slowly eased back and the clouds cleared up as they airship reached the Bitterwood. Danziker looked over the controls sparking with wild magic, “Best hang onto something mates, this cursed contraption isn’t going to stay flying much longer!”
Gil’Adan looked back toward Shadow Port in the east. His keen eyes saw several shadows in the distance moving between the clouds. The sorcerer’s eyes widened as his elven eyes made out the approaching shapes. “It’s not over yet! Danziker, whatever you can do to speed the ship up, do it! Ragnar, Krogar, get those arbalests loaded! Eagle riders approach!”
The pirate shot the sorcerer a look, “I’m doing everything I know how to do and plenty that I don’t!” Danziker spotted a blue lever and flipped it upward. The ship buckled and a powerful electric whine coursed through the ship. The pirate risked a glance back at their pursuers and saw them only a few hundred feet off. “They be right on top of us! Prepare to be boarded!” The pirate twisted a knob next to the blue lever and lightning began to crackle out of the forks at the bow of the ship.
Krogar did not have time to investigate whatever the forks were doing as pairs of elves leapt off eagles and onto the deck with lances and halberds at the ready. The half-orc charged the first pair, determined to drop one before they could get an attack in. He looked around for Ragnar, but the half-orc had vanished into the shadows in his typical fashion.
Danziker had just finished jamming the pedals to keep the airship on course when he heard a screech behind him. He ducked just in time to avoid a hail of sharp talons clawing at his head. When he looked up he saw a high elf lieutenant bringing his great eagle around for another pass. Danziker laughed and readily accepted the challenge. With daring moves only a swashbuckler could pull off the pirate grabbed a rope, cut it loose and swung up to meet the unsuspecting eagle and rider. With a well-placed blow from his cutlass Danziker knocked the lieutenant free from his saddle. The eagle shrieked and went to dive after its rider, but not before Danziker leapt onto the eagle’s back and claimed the beast as his own.
As several elven eagle riders continued to circle the airship, Gil’Adan armed one of the airship’s arbalests. The sorcerer managed to drop two great eagles in flight before a large shadow passed overhead. Gil’Adan dove out of the way as the largest eagle he had ever laid eyes on landed on the arbalests and ripped it apart with its sharp talons. As the great bird lifted back into the skies Gil’Adan saw a female elven rider holding a longbow seated upon the eagle’s back. The clasp on the rider’s cloak marked her as a Captain.
Meanwhile, Krogar cut through the two of the elven riders that surrounded him. As he looked for another target, a hail of arrows from the Eagle Rider Captain peppered the hull around him. As Krogar searched for cover he saw Ragnar reappear behind a group of elves trying to take over the airship’s controls. Krogar abandoned his plan to take cover and charged forward to help his companion. The two half-orcs soon stood back to back defending the controls from several riders while a hail of arrows rained around them.
The Captain steered her eagle in a wide arc around the ship, plucking arrow after arrow from an unfailing quiver and letting them fly at the two half-orcs. She was so focused on taking down her enemy that she barely noticed an eagle fly out of formation until it slammed clumsily into her own in a shower of feathers. Caught off guard, she was ill prepared to stop Danziker from slashing across her torso with his cutlass. Angered that a human dare try to attack her with one of her own eagles, the captain turned her eagle to a barrel roll and smacked Danziker hard enough to send him flying off the eagle he had stolen. The old pirate flew several feet before crashing back onto the deck of the Pride of Opals.
Gil’Adan helped the pirate to his feet and noticed Ragnar running towards the front of the ship. The half-orc pointed to the Eagle Rider Captain and then to the bow of the ship where the two forks were crackling with arcane energy. Then it dawned on him. “…it’s a lightning cannon…” Gil’Adan muttered. As he looked toward the flight path of the Captain, he grabbed hold of Danziker’s shoulders, “Get to the helm and point this ship directly at the Captain! NOW!”
Without hesitation, Danziker ran to the controls with Gil’Adan hot on his heels. The pirate nodded his thanks to Krogar as the fighter cleared the way by throwing the last two elves over the side. The pirate grabbed hold of the controls and flipped the levers, angling the ship upward and starboard. As the Captain soared directly in front of the ship’s bow unaware of the danger she was in, Gil’Adan channeled all his energy into the central control panel. The ship shuddered and lightning ripped across the deck and into the Pride of Opals cannons. Ragnar was ready at the cannons and pulled the firing trigger. The sky light up as a massive streak of lightning shot forward from the forks, obliterating the Captain and her eagle in a bright burst of crackling energy.
With the riders all defeated, Danziker looked to the wreck of the controls again. With a herculean effort, he pulled the levers that aimed the airship at the signal fires ahead that marked their crash site. As he tried pulling the last lever that would slow their descent it snapped in his hand. A pitiful whine emanated from the engine and the party could hear chunks of the ship breaking off followed by the violent crunches of trees snapping under the hull. Krogar grabbed hold of the railing and bellowed out, “Hold on to something! We’re going down!”
The Pride of the Opals, a once magnificent airship of legend, crash landed into the Bitterwood. As the adventurers went flying, trees exploded around them and went dirt and sludge flew into the air. The airship shuddered, then moved no more. Shakily, Krogar got to his feet and looked out into the woods at several shadowy forms. He shook his head trying to register what he saw. Before him stood hundreds of orcs waiting for them, all armor to the teeth.
“Curse us all as fools, this is a setup!” Danziker cried as he drew his cutlass.
Laughter echoed the woods, “I assure you, the Prince is nothing but pleased with your work.” Samuel stepped from among the orcs in his usual rakish style. “I must admit, I had my doubts if you would pull this one off. Although, the state of the goods seem to be a little diminished…” The tiefling gazed over the wreckage that remained of the airship.
Ragnar wiped blood from his eye as he rose to his feet, “The deal was to crash the ship in the Bitterwood. We did as you requested.” He helped Gil’Adan up and followed Krogar and Danziker down to the forest floor. The orcs army glared menacingly at them, though none moved while Samuel completed the transaction.
Samuel nodded, “Yes, indeed. Truth be told, your benefactors here were most interested in the portal devise aboard the ship. The condition of the airship matters little. I am afraid I must warn you all though not to return to Shadow Port anytime soon. The theft of an airship does not go unnoticed. Your faces are plastered on every wanted sign throughout the town by now.” Danziker cursed as he realized he would not be seeing his ship any time soon. Samuel ignored him and continued, “Consider another of your tasks fulfilled. Five of six tasks completed.” He sighed and pulled a large sack from his robes, “The Prince has decided to hold the last of your tasks for a later date. Your debt still stands, but the Prince is not unkind.”
Samuel dropped the large sack on the forest floor. As it hit the soft earth emeralds the size of fists spilled out of the bag. As one, the orcs and adventurers all looked down to the sizable fortune. When they looked back up again Samuel was nowhere to be seen. The orcs snarled and draw their weapons…
GM Note – I had a wonderful time running the final adventure for Shadow Port Shuffle. This adventure was unique so far in that each adventure started with the players seperate from each other. Since this adventure calls for one month passing since their last mission each player started this adventure of what their character had done since they had last been partied together to pay off a portion of their debt to the Prince. Overall the campaign was satisfying and exciting for players and GM alike. The organized play adventure storm witch fight calls for rain sprites, but to make things more interesting (and challenging!) a rain avatar was created that turns into mooks on even turns with multiple attacks on even escalation but reforms to a single big hitting creature on odd escalation. The party rather enjoyed how this monster played out. The ending of Shadow Port Shuffle with the airship crashing into the woods to an army of orcs waiting to take over the vessel was perfect. Shadow Port Shuffle did a great job of connecting events between all of the 2nd level tiered adventures. Excited to see where 13th Age organized play takes us next!
Player feedback – “Fantastic game and a really dramatic ending. A+”