Souls for Smuggler's Shiv
Beginning the adventure
The Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path begins with the PCs all aboard the same vessel, the Jenivere, a ship making the journey from Magnimar to Eleder. After days or weeks of time aboard the comfortable vessel (see the Journey of the Jenevire sidebar to determine how long) all the PCs know at least the following about their ship and shipmates.
The Jenivere is a large merchant ship, a Wyvern-class vessel commonly used by the Inner Sea nations for trade, exploration, and even war, valued for its combination of seaworthiness and capacity for carrying numerous passengers. Wyvern-class ships have made the dangerous journey to Azlant, Arcadia, and even around the southern tip of Garund, but the Jenivere and her crew run less perilous voyages. For the past several years, Captain Alizandru Kovack has made the western run between Magnimar to the north and Eleder to the south and then back with few complications, despite the fact that his route carries him through waters controlled by the piratical Free Captains of the Shackles, brushes with the eternal winds of the Eye of Abendego, and into periodic conflicts with the Nidalese navy. Although Captain Kovack’s crew appreciate this record, the baseless fear that the Jenivere has robbed luck’s coffers one too many times lies heavy on the hearts of many.
While the Jenivere is a merchant ship, primarily concerned with delivering goods to and from Sargava, she’s traditionally kept several compartments open to take on paying passengers. This trip is no exception. At the start of the campaign, the PCs probably number among these passengers, along with six other travelers aboard the vessel. As the characters have spent some time aboard the Jenivere, they have at least passing familiarity with these others making the passage to Sargava, and a few notablemembers of the Jenivere’s crew.
This severe half-elven woman boarded in Port Peril, where she immediately got into a scrape with a crude sailor. She spends most of her time in her bunk, seeming to purposefully avoid fraternizing with the ship’s other passengers.
A Chelish man whose family has made the Magnimar to Eleder run for generations, Captain Kovack is pleasant enough with his passengers, but a strict disciplinarian when dealing with his crew.
The Jenivere’s first mate is friendly with both passengers and crew, but he sometimes seems to chafe under the strong discipline of Captain Kovack.
A sharply dressed gnome from Magnimar, Gelik spends much of his time writing in the ships’ common areas, and takes every opportunity to tell long-winded stories, boast of past journeys, or quip about anything in his field of view.
A bookish Varisian scholar who tends to keep to herself, Ieana is traveling to Sargava to explore the ancient ruins there. Rumors aboard the ship alternately suggest that she’s the Jenivere’s owner, a Chelish agent, or Captain Kovack’s secret lover. Ieana keeps mostly to herself, and grows more intent on her studies with each mile the ship travels closer to Eleder.
A scruffy human of Tian heritage, Ishirou boarded at Bloodcove and waits to reach Sargava with a quiet eagerness. Aloof but not rude, he gives the impression of one who has had a hard life but find himself currently without direction.
A prisoner loaded aboard in Corentyn, Captain Kovack sees to this taciturn human’s needs with curt courtesy, but insists he be left alone, sequestered in the ship’s brig.
A taciturn man from Senghor, Ship’s Cook Terillo has served in that capacity aboard several ships, though apparently not on account of his culinary skills, which seem to be limited to watery soups.
This red-haired human boarded the Jenivere in Ilizmagorti. Since leaving Mediogalti Island, the woman’s somber demeanor has gradually faded, revealing a boisterous and optimistic personality. None have yet questioned her about her missing left pinky finger.
The beginning of this adventure has the player’s shipwrecked on Smuggler’s Shiv, an island off the coast of the Garund near the port city of Eleder.
Shelter is important on Smuggler’s Shiv, if only to give the PCs a place to rest and recover their strength after a day of hunting, exploring, or adventuring. There are two environmental effects on Smuggler’s Shiv that shelter can help protect against—disease and heat. Note that these effects are of little concern to natives of the island, as they are well acclimated to the environment.
Disease Smuggler’s Shiv is rife with biting flies, mosquitoes, gnats, ants, and other pests—many of which carry disease. Each day at sundown, each PC has a 25% chance of being exposed to mindfire or red ache (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 557). Sleeping in a shelter reduces the chance of exposure to any disease to 15%.
Heat “Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv” takes place during the height of summer, and despite frequent rainfall, the days can become very hot for 3 hours from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. (see page 444 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook for rules on hot conditions). A character can avoid having to make Fortitude saving throws against the heat’s effects by spending those hours in shade or shelter and not taking part in strenuous activity—but even one combat is enough to trigger a Fortitude save for hot conditions.
Creating a safe camp to sleep, eat, and relax in can make the difference between survival and death. A base camp needs to be located in a safe and stable location, and must adequately provide for shelter from the environment and protection against wildlife. Locating a suitable site and building a shelter requires a DC 12 Survival check and takes 8 hours. Lack of building tools imposes a –5 penalty on this check (the proper tools can be found in the wreck of the Jenivere at encounter area B—they are unlikely to be part of any castaway’s gear). The time required is reduced by 1 hour for every 2 points by which the Survival check exceeds DC 12, down to a minimum of 1 hour.
Once a campsite is established, it provides a safe place to rest out of the relentless heat of the sun, while the shelter and smoke from a campfire helps to ward off insects (reducing the chance of being exposed to disease to 10% per day). In addition, there are five roles that PCs or (more likely) NPCs can take up as part of their daily duties to further enhance the effects of a campsite, as detailed below. In order to fill one of these roles, the character must spend the entire day pursuing the role.
Defender A defender works to set traps, shore up a shelter’s walls, and see to the safety of the campsite. Thefirst time in a day that a wandering monster or hostile creature attacks the campsite, the defender’s traps inflict 2d6 points of damage—divide the damage done as equally as possible among all attackers. Each additional defender assigned to a campsite increases this damage by 2d6.
Entertainer An entertainer helps to raise hopes for rescue—each entertainer grants NPCs a +2 bonus on Will saves to increase morale (see below).
Guard Each guard reduces the chance of a wandering monster attacking the camp during the day or night by 5% (minimum chance of 5%).
Hunter Each hunter provides enough food and water for eight Medium creatures per day.
Medic Each medic reduces the chance of being exposed to disease by 5% and increases the number of hit points healed naturally during a night’s rest in the camp by 2.