About ten years ago I played in a campaign based on the Warhammer setting. We were operating out of Mordenheim, nominally working for a “Mr. Graf”, a businessman with broad contacts within the community and an almost-explicable amount of wealth because of it.
My first character, Jerris the Toolsmith… well, evasion doesn’t work when you fail your Reflex save, and that much fire is bad for a third-level character’s complexion. His cousin swept up the ashes and took him home, and my next character was Joachim Baas, assigned to provide transportation and ship-based support in dealing with some business- and merchant-related difficulties at sea.
Wave of Manaan, Sea Ranger, Scourge of Pirates, Captain of the Kestrel.
Theme: Priest of Manaan, lord of the sea and sailor’s doom [in the ‘this is fated’ sense, not necessarily ‘you gonna die’]. Has a reputation for being dangerous and generous to his crew — sail with him and survive, you will likely be rich, sail with him and die, your family will be cared for…. (Also, Secret Imperial Agent.)
Threats: Hunts pirates and slavers, fights Chaos (self-preservation, and because Chaos-allies often are involved with piracy and slavery), secret agent of the Empire in working to bring Mordenheim under the Imperial Hand.
Rewards: Knowledge of and access to the Temple of Manaan, can often be persuaded to take on sea-based missions if they align with his purpose [your family was killed by pirates or taken by slavers? Entirely possibly he’ll hunt them down for you].
Allies: The sailing ship Kestrel and crew, Church of Manaan, Admiralty of Mordenheim, Seamans’ Guild of Mordenheim. Empire, but (hopefully) nobody else knows this.
Enemies: Pirates, slavers. No specifics at the moment, those that have been met have generally been killed. Chaos-priest (don’t remember his name, but we ran into him several times and ruined a couple of his schemes). Government of Mordenheim, though they don’t know this (probably).
Conflicted: Dark Elf captain of Shla’s Revenge. One-time ally, mutual goals achieved so alliance ended. Mutual respect but both entirely willing to (try to) kill the other if the need arises — see below.
Description: Mid-20s man, tanned and somewhat weathered (as might be expected), slight squint from long years at sea but still remarkably good vision. Wears clothing suitable to conditions (usually relatively light, he’s pretty hardy, waterproof when appropriate, warm woolens when needed, etc.). Wears only light armor and usually not-hugely-expensive weapons, he’s ready to jettison anything needed should he fall into the sea. Quick-thinking, quick-acting, pragmatic to the point of offensiveness at times, if it’s not his business he doesn’t get involved (see below). Firmly attached to the laws of the sea. Loyalties are to “ship, crew, god, crown.”
Signature: Wave of Manaan. When he is involved in thwarting an enemy makes sure to leave clear sign he was involved, even if just a quickly carved wave on a wall (or enemy corpse). Corpses of pirates on the beach, to be picked apart by seagulls and land-scavengers, rather than buried at sea and embraced by Father Manaan. Pirate ships are captured and pressed into service when possible, burned to the waterline or scuttled. Pirate strongholds are captured and put to use, or pillaged and burned to the ground.
Location: Temple of Manaan in Mordenheim usually knows where to find him (if in town he is probably at the temple or performing specific tasks for the church), on board the Kestrel (at sea or not).
Scope: As a PC, obviously campaign scope. As an NPC I don’t see him having setting scope but he could have campaign or scenario, depending how he is used. He could certainly (after some slight modification to ensure he aligns with the gods and social structures in the setting) fit into the sandbox I’m working on right now.
Entanglements: Recently learned of a pirate den up the coast that may have ties to subverted members of the Admiralty, so he’s trying to quietly build up a small fleet of trusted captains to eradicate it and hopefully capture evidence of the perfidy. Trying to build up a strong Widows and Orphans fund and support for members of the Temple.
Hooks: no notes right now.
Events: Finally earning enough to buy the Kestrel and put into service, thwarting the resurrection of a Chaos Warrior by the chaos-priest mentioned above, destruction of the Witch Pirate and her stronghold, armistice with the captain of Shla’s Revenge.
Neutral human cleric 6 (Water and Travel domains)/ranger 2 (ranged option). Leadership feat (crew of the Kestrel). Good Wisdom and Dexterity, as suits a cleric/ranged archer type with light armor, pretty decent Charisma and Constitution (not beast-tough, but pretty durable), I don’t remember his Strength or Intelligence particularly standing out. Most of his wealth is tied up in the Kestrel, not in magic items (and especially not magic weapons or armor) unless they help him as a captain.
Too much and too long ago to recount in detail, but I do remember these two incidents pretty well.
Grag the Ogre
We were chasing a skaven sorcerer across the wasteland and ran into an ogre chewing on a human arm, still partly-encased in chain mail. I decided to try the hard way first — parlay.
Joachim: “Hi! We’re looking for a skaven, traveling with a couple humans.”
Ogre: “One oomans now, ratman give ooman for eating. Grag let go.”
Paladin: “Which way did they go?”
Grag: points with snacky-arm
Joachim: “Thanks Grag. Say, do you want to come with us?”
Grag: “You give ooman too?”
Joachim: “You can have the other one with the ratman.”
Paladin: “What are you doing? He eats babies!”
Joachim: “Look at that arm. Large, hairy, wearing chain mail. That’s no baby arm. He eats our enemies.”
Sometimes being neutral isn’t nice, but can be kind of convenient. We ended up siccing him on an orc patrol we just about walked into one night, before we caught up with and killed the skaven.
The DM said later, “I can’t believe you did this, but I didn’t see why he wouldn’t be willing — he’s well-fed, you’re offering to get him more food, you’re not attacking him. He might have betrayed you later, but so far, why not?”
Captain of Shla’s Revenge
Some time after the Grag incident we were aiming to infiltrate a pirate stronghold and destroy it. We got caught out by a drow ship’s captain managed to come to something of a draw.
Drow: “Maybe you are capable enough.”
He offered to help us (deniably) if we would bring him the head of the Witch Pirate, which could help him in a bid for power at home. We were aiming to kill her anyway and were feeling a bit over our heads, so we accepted. Went in, managed to find and kill her (succubus, not sorcerer like we assumed, oops! and she called her boyfriend, Balor! RUN! … great escape scene as he tore the place down around us while we booked it out of there). Our high elf fighter got turned to stone by a now-homeless medusa we ran into, but we got him back to our ship and made our way back to sea when we ran into the Shla’s Revenge.
Drow: “The high elf has been turned to stone? Sell him to me, I will have him restored… in the arena, and we will see how well our ‘cousin’ fares.”
Joachim: “He is a passenger on my ship. That will not happen.”
Drow: “A thousand pounds of gold…”
Jeff (elf player): “Do it! 50k is a huge amount, I can roll a new character.”
Joachim: “No. I have a duty.”
Drow: “I offer you a thousand pounds of gold for the petrified body of someone who disdains you, and you do not accept?”
Joachim: “That about sums it up.”
Drow: “You are surrounded by my ships, I could have your little boat sunk.”
Joachim: “An interesting opinion, but handing him over does not change that circumstance. He is a passenger and it is my duty to return him home.”
Drow: “So you will not accept gold for him, or give him over to appease me… for the sake of an obscure principle.”
Joachim: “Captain’s. Duty. It is not an obscure principle.”
Drow (smiles): “Indeed. Had you accepted I would have seen you sunk. I do not befriend the short-lived races, and our alliance is over, but you have my respect. This is something few among the younger races have ever had. Should we meet in battle I shall see to it you die in open combat, by my blade. In the meantime, there is a power vacuum at home I aim to fill.”
Joachim: “Perhaps this will help.” hand over the head of the Witch Pirate.
The whole time I could here the DM making reaction checks and muttering things like “-2 for declining offer, -2 for not showing deference, +8 for sheer badassitude… how in hell do his pants fit around balls that big?”