Serpent's Skull

Ch. 1.6: Souls for Smugglers Shiv
Part 6: Crabs!


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The group is attacked by flying dinosaurs, but they are quickly dispatched and the next tracked down.  Sasha, in her love for all baby animals, adopts a baby Dimorphodon with the help of Rhovyn.


After exploring the remaining portion of the “blade,” they decide to investigate the giant crab.  The waves crash against a narrow beach of white sand, swirling around an immense red and orange crab the size of a small house that crouches on spiny legs.  As they approach, the crab’s arms begin to move up and down and the pincers open and close, the crab moaning like a dying man.  After studying it for a minute, Shalimar realizes it’s not a real crab, but some sort of construct, yet not one under any magical control or nature.  They shout at the crab that they are friendly.  Eventually, a Tengu walks out waving a Sawtooth Sabre, yelling to leave his home.  


They parley with him.  This crab is in fact the home of an eccentric tengu named Pezock—the last remaining survivor of the Crow’s Tooth and has since been rigged with a number of ropes and pulleys scavenged from shipwrecks. This complex contraption allows Pezock to pull and tug ropes to give his home the semblance of life—the crab’s pincers rise and fall, its legs twitch, and its stalked eyes wriggle and shift. The ferocious facade is really rather unsettling to see, especially when Pezock begins making hideous shrieking sounds that the crab’s cavernous interior amplifies into low-pitched moans not unlike that of a dying man.


Pezock has come to love the island and the tengu invites them into his cramped home for a lunch of poorly smoked sculpin and raw sea urchins. Pezock is grateful for conversation, and points out that talking to real people is so much more rewarding than talking to fish and sea birds and the ghosts in the surf, none of whom are particularly talkative. He has no interest in leaving his home.   Pezock doesn’t particularly fear the cannibals (“What worry do I have from human cannibals? They eat humans! Even though I bet I taste delicious!”). If asked about his magic sawtooth sabre, Pezock waxes nostalgic and almost teary eyed, talking about how he was given the sword by his close friend, the captain of the Crow’s Tooth. The sabre’s all he has to remember poor Captain
Eraka Zoventai now, and he periodically stops to pet it and whisper promises of wetting it in cannibal blood some day.


Pezock asks the PCs if they’re with the other two new people he’s recently seen on the island. If asked for a description, Pezock describes two humans matching the descriptions of Captain Kovack of the Jenivere and the Varisian scholar Ieana. Pezock didn’t approach the two, but he can confirm that the Varisian was obviously the leader, giving curt orders to the other as they
made their way along the jungle trail toward the south.


When the party questioned him further on the sword, he becomes agitated, explaining calmly about his honor.  When Shalimar presses him again, he becomes angry, telling everyone to get out, that his honor is not to be questioned.  Further questioning for Shalimar leads the tengu to rise and prepare for combat before Rhovyn steps in and calms things down, and everyone leaves.


Pezock yells to not return or they will all die.


After heading back south and following the looping path into the middle of the island, they find a river and cross it.  An overgrown jungle path leads to a small clearing where a partially collapsed hut stands on the banks of a gurgling stream. The hut itself seems to have been made from a combination of driftwood and tree trunks, with a roof of wide leaves and strips of rotten canvas sail. The front door to the hut hangs partially ajar. Dozens of bones and skulls—quite obviously of
human origin—decorate the hut and the surrounding area, each bearing numerous nicks and scratches. An inspection of the large amount of bones here reveals that there must be several
dozen dead bodies represented. The markings on the bones are identified as having been left by stone knives and, in some cases, human teeth.  There was old journal that spoke about “Mother Thrunefang.”

Ch. 1.5: Souls for Smugglers Shiv
Part 5: Cannibals!


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Aerys became quite sick.  Jask said she does not have a disease, and Aerys admitted angrily she was an alcoholic.  She was going through severe withdrawals.  The Dryad said there were Viper Nettles nearby which produced an effect which would alleviate her symptoms.  Arjin decided to go out and gather some, bringing them back and getting a thank you from Aerys.  Not yet fully recovered, however, she stayed behind with Shalimar, Ishirou, and Sasha while the others went to the cannibal camp.


Arriving at the camp,  they immediately see the large lighthouse.  The Thrunefang camp consists of several large wooden huts with palm-frond roofs arranged in a small clearing in the jungle in the shadow of the stone lighthouse. The group has entered the area from the north, opposite the path.  They see one hut and a woman who appears to be a spellcaster of sorts go into it.  They decide to ambush her.


She dies in the fight, her monkey companion making enough noise to draw the attention of several savages.  Arya remains outside the hut, doing her best to keep them at bay with her bow and arrows.  Drizzt remains outside, fighting in melee with them.  Rhovyn and Ismur fight the witch and her backups inside the hut, while Arjin remains outside trying to draw attention away from the commotion.


Drizzt and Arjin nearly die, and although the witch was killed, Rhovyn and Ismur are no match for the cannibals and their clubs.  Arya does her best and gets Arjin and Drizzt away from the hut, but they are not able to save Rhovyn and Ismur without healing and help.  They flee back to the Dryad, hoping the cannibals with leave them to age before eating them, giving the group time to get back.


Rhovyn and Ismur awake naked, tied to poles, in the large stone building attached to the lighthouse.  Rhovyn breaks the rope binding her hands, then wakes Ismur up and sets him free.  Without looking for their items, they flee into the night.  The Dryad warns the party that their friends have escaped, and Drizzt and Arjin hurriedly meet them several hours later, guiding them back to the Dryad’s tree where they are healed.




The group plans out their next move, deciding to attack en masse with everything they’ve got.  There ultimate goal is to find the captain and Ieana.  If they can get in quietly they will.  However, the cannibals figure the group would come back, and send out scouts to detect their return.  Scouts do indeed see that group returning to attack, and prepare the camp.


When the group reaches the camp, they find it abandoned.  They sneak into the larger stone building and are then ambushed from several points.  The cannibals are brutal in their attacks.  Aerys takes several wounds to the head and collapses.  Drizzt and Arya flee out the back and climb onto the roof to attack with bows.  Ismur, Sasha, Ishirou, Jask, Rhovyn, and Arjin remain inside, fighting closely.  Ismur is knocked unconcious, and Rhovyn is nearly killed.  Arjin is knocked unconcious and Jask has his head split open by a solid club strike, dying instantly.


Sasha fends off the remaining cannibals inside while Drizzt and Arya kill what remains outside.  After the battles, the group finds that Aerys has died from her wounds.  


After burying them under stones,  the group searches the camp.  Rather than travel back to the Dryad, they decide to stay there and finish the search the next day.  However, during the night, a ghost appears out of the campfire and accosts Rhovyn.  


He screams to her about his beloved Aeshamara , calling her and her companions scoundrels and demands the return of his beloved. They back up in fear but recognize he is not moving to attack.  He appears as a nearly skeletal form, his bare bones picked clean by the fish and crabs, yet he still wears his dripping coat and tricorn hat. One of his hands is a gleaming metal hook, and his whole insubstantial form constantly drips with cold, brackish seawater.  They deduce he wants the locket Rhovyn found, but she does not have it- it was taken by the cannibals when she was captured.  


During the day’s search, they did not find their equipment, but they promise the ghost they will get it.  He next day they find it and await his return at night.  Judging correctly he will appear anywhere on the island as long as there is a campfire, they decide to go back to the Dryad for healing.  The ghost does not appear that night, nor in consecutive nights.  Nothing untoward happens, though, so the group decides to explore what remains of the northern part of the island.  

Ch. 1.4 : Souls for Smugglers Shiv
Part 4: The Interior

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Under Rhovyn’s leadership, roles begin to develop and the group coalesces.  Morale rises as taks are assigned and executed.  Jask becomes the healer, curing minor injuries with his skill, caring for sick people, and using his cure spells for major injuries.  Gelik becomes the entertainer-in-chief, and organizes activities during the evening to bolster morale and keep it high.  Even Aerys begins to soften up, despite Arya’s claims that she stole her bottle of brandy.  Aerys begins to draw up plans for building a raft of some sort, but is afraid anything they build will not be able to withstand the waves.  Sasha is proving to be a capable fighter and trains the group how to act quickly before your enemy has a chance to act.  Ishirou is still his dour self, but his combat prowess has proven him to be the best combatant in the group, wielding his katana with deadly precision.  


The choice is made to abandon camp and head south.  Well supplied and well fed, the group begins their journey.




During their journey, they come across several shipwrecks, each time trying to make their way across the water for supplies.  About half the ships have undead on them, skeletons or zombies hungry for living flesh.  Ismur still has trouble swimming, but somehow finds on the beach a pair of swim fins, never used and still tied together from the manufacturer.  He hugs them and puts them on his belt.


The group finds the Brine Demon, the ship Jask was hoping for.  They’ve found it late, and decide to go in the morning.  That night, the group hears coming from the waves near the ship, “Alas my Aeshemara!”  They keep a vigilant nightwatch and go to the ship in the morning.  There are a few supplies, including a locket with a woman’s picture in it which Rhovyn takes.


From here, the group turns west into the interior.  That same day they encounter tracks, a pair of them, deducing them to belong to the Captain and Ieana.  They head inland further and reach a dirt path which they think belongs to the cannibals.  However, the tracks cross the path and pick back up, heading west, which the group follows.


The tracks lead west across a river and then south, following the shoreline of an immense bay, across which the party can see a large mountain.  After a day of tracking, the tracks cut west again where they meet up with another pathway.  This time, the tracks cease and cannot be followed on the path.  The party decides to go north along the path.


The path winds through a 10-foot-wide gulch here, flanked on either side by steep 50-foot-high slopes. Not quite vertical cliffs, these slopes host numerous scraggly plants and a number of hanging vines.  Arjin, though careful, nonetheless trips a snare, grabbing his ankle and flinging him into the air upside down.  This has happened before, and Gelik laughs, but this time an enemy comes out of the bushes and attacks.  A native to the island, wielding club, charges the closest person- Rhovyn.  The group springs into action, Arjin cutting himself down and joining the fight to knock the man unconscious rather than kill him.  Soon the man collapses and is tied up.  The group wants answers.


But he man isn’t forthcoming, answering Rhovyn’s questions with smiles and lip-licking.  They assume he’s one of the cannibals.  They continue north and reach another bay, this one much larger than the previous one.  They can see the curved part of the island to the north which they feel is the “blade” of the island they started on.  They debate what to do about the prisoner.  Rhovyn says if we can’t get information from him, to kill him.  Ismur and Drizzt say maybe we should let him go, but Arjin and Ismur wonder if he’ll come back and attack or at least warn more cannibals.  Rhovyn is convinced to tie the man up to a tree and leave him there rather than kill him outright.  However, the man begins screaming and cursing as they walk away.  Sasha ends the discussion by grabbing Rhovyn’s staff and bludgeoning the man’s brains out.


The group spends the night on the shore.  The next morning, they spot a series of partially ruined nests made out of palm fronds and driftwood. A large number of broken sawtooth sabres and daggers lie scattered about here. They uncover a dagger still in its protective leather scabbard under a mound of toppled driftwood. The dagger’s blade is etched with a pair of crossed
praying mantis claws—the mark of the Red Mantis.


Before heading back south, Arjin spots a giant crab on the shore and the group decides to avoid it.


The group heads south on the path.  They reach a fork, with the path splitting west and east and take the eastern path.  They reach a rope bridge which spans a river, crossing it to take the path that leads up into the dense foliage of the large mountain.  While on an overlook, they spot a temple buried under the dense canopy, its top poking through on the south shoreline, not far from the path they were on two days ago.  They also spot near their current position a large wooden-staked wall and decide to turn around and come back the way they came.


Backtracking takes several days and they reach the split again, this time moving west.  They reach another split in the path, this time going north and continuing west.  They remain on the western path until it veers south.  The group decides to get off the path and make it to the western shore instead.  They do so because in the distance they can see an incredibly large tree, and Drizzt says he has a good feeling about it.


When they reach it, a single, immense banyan tree grows atop this hill, surrounded by a smaller grove of trees that seem almost like supplicants gathered around a revered elder to bask in the wisdom of the ages.   Drizzt begins to speak Sylvan, in ways to alert any fey which he believes to be nearby.  A beautifl Dryad appears out of the tree, smiling at Drizzt and asks him how he came to know their language.  He explains to her- and the group- that he was raised by fey, and tells the tale of their journeys thus far.  The Dryad, Aycenia, is the only one of her kind on Smuggler’s Shiv.


After relating their tale, Aycenia says the Thrunefang cannibals avoid this region. Aycenia does not recall how she came to be on the island, only that she has dwelt here for many ages. She remembers when the Thrune’s Fang castaways first came to the island, when the first Sargavan
colonists began building the lighthouse, and even earlier times. Yet she also knows that she is a newcomer to Smuggler’s Shiv, for she can feel through her tree’s roots that even more ancient secrets and creatures lie under the soil of this island, but Aycenia does not know what or where these areas are. What she does know is that part of her realm is suffering a hideous blight. She can sense the foul intrusion on the “Silent Island” to the north, but is relatively powerless to do anything about it, for she fears what the fungal blight might do to her even if she were brave enough to abandon her tree to handle the situation herself. Aycenia offers to aid the group if they can travel to the island and rid the place of its colorless curse. In reward for this service, Aycenia
not only promises to allow them to rest here as often as they wish.  Aycenia knows much about the island’s inhabitants and tells the PCs about how the cannibals came to the island 70-some years ago.  


She tells them the large mountain is called the Red Mountain which holds an evil monstrous flying creature and where the cannibal camp is.  In return for their help, she will also try and seek out answers for where Captain Kovack and Ieana went.


The party heads north along the shore the next day after reaching the western limits of the island.



They reach the two islands known as the Silent Island.  The bigger one beyond the first holds the greater landmass and blight.  This bleak island stands out to anyone who casts her gaze to the west, for whereas the rest of Smuggler’s Shiv is a luscious green and a riot of jungle sounds, this island is a silent gray scar on the horizon. From afar, the island may look as if it is covered with trees, but up close the “trees” are revealed to be foul gray stalks of fibrous fungus, growing up into the air almost like stalagmites in a cave. Between these weird stalks, the “undergrowth” consists of thick wiry tangles of lichens and gray fungus, all growing on a foul-smelling muddy surface. With the exception of the waves crashing along the beaches, the island is eerily silent. The fungus that grows on this island is difficult to identify, but Drizzt’s underdark knowledge of fungi allows him to deduce similarities to various strains of fungi and mushrooms that normally grow in the upper reaches of the Darklands, yet none of the fungal growths on the Silent Island have caps like proper mushrooms. The fungus tends to wriggle and ripple even when there’s no breeze to
stir its filaments and dangling sheets.


While traversing the island, they are accosted by a group of small foliage-like men.  Ismur describes them as Vegypygmies, and they attack on sight.  The group makes quick work of the creatures and continue to find a smaller island connected by strange cords.


An ancient wreck lies wedged between a pair of rocks here, yet despite its age, the ruined sailing ship at first seems in relatively good condition. The ship has no color to its lines, and is completely covered in a layer of soft gray mold. Even its sails appear fully intact, although what hangs from the spars is not canvas but sheets of thick, pale fungus. Several thick ropes of fungus connect the ship’s upper deck to the island almost like crude rope bridges.  Gelik recognizes this derelict is the wreck of the Nightvoice, a large Pathfinder Society exploration vessel that originally hailed from Almas. The Nightvoice  mysteriously vanished on an attempted voyage around the southern coast of Garund.

The thick fungus ropes that bridge the shore and the ship were used to make the 60-foot crossing to the wreck.  The party reaches the ship and enters to find a horrific factory of sorts.  The Nightvoice’s cargo hold is a hideous scene—the skeletal remains of the ship’s crew lie enshrined here. In all there are 19 bodies here, each consisting of a mound of bones caked over with mold; each sits amid a small circle of personal objects, teeth, coins, bits of jewelry, and other objects that
the crewmember valued in life. The vegepygmies honor these bodies as their “birth corpses” in a crude form of ancestor worship. While many of the objects scattered around the skeletons have long since rotted or rusted away, a search of the hold reveals a moldy ship’s log. The pages are badly damaged by mold, identifies the ship as the Nightvoice, and relates the cause of the crew’s fate and, eventually, the captain’s decision to “carry the blasphemous pod up to the top of a rock spire to the east of this island” in an attempt to hide it away from the prying eyes of humanity.


Beyond the ship is a small outcropping of an island.  A fifty-foot-high pillar of fungus-covered rock thrusts up from the surf here, angling away from the main body of the larger island to the west. The rock is connected to the main island by thick tangles of fibrous fungus, perhaps providing a way to cross the churning surf below. As with the fungus strands,, the fungus ropes are used to make the 90-foot crossing to the pillar.  Near the top of the rocky spire on the northern face, obscured from the sun and 40 feet above the sea below, is a cave mouth. Numerous strange offerings lie around the cave mouth— brightly colored seashells, bits of polished stone, and many bones and skulls. The opening leads 15 feet inside the pillar through several thick curtains of
fungus to a 30-foot-diameter cavern.


Ismur is hit twice, but the teamwork under Rhovyn’s leadership prevails and quickly downs the creature.  Within minutes, the entire island’s fungal population begins to dim and whither.  Drizzt says the fungus is dying and should be gone within days.


Completing the Dryad’s task, they head back.  When they arrive, they tell the tales of the fungi’s defeat.  The Dryad is happy and relates that two individuals made their way from the north part of the island to the pathway belonging to the cannibals, then turned south and entered the cannibal camp.  The group prepares for that day, but wants to check out a ship they saw off the coast near the western shore.  They travel there and swim across to the ship, finding more supplies.  However, the trip was not without cost.


An Octopus saw the group and attacked.  It grabbed Gelik, who could not swim well, and dragged him down into the depths.  The group waiting anxiously for any sign, but they were not strong enough to fend off such a creature.  Gelik was gone.  They returned to the Dryad somberly.

Ch. 1.3 : Souls for Smugglers Shiv
Part 3. Lost


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The group was awoken from fitful sleep by an intense downpour of rain.  Their makeshift shelters leaked, but their fires were still lit.  The rain lasted about twenty minutes, and the sun heated the area.  Everyone was thirsty, and it was decided they needed to find a freshwater source before anything else.  They strengthened their camp while Drizzt and Arjin set out alone into the interior.


While they were away, the rest of the group built a shoddy patchwork of bulwarks against the ocean in case the water scorpions came again.  Breakfast consisted of a full belly of crab meat and coconut water.  However, the oppressive humidity quickly took a toll on everyone.  Throughout the heat of the day, most people stayed under their shelters.


Rhovyn still had her large tent in her pack, and used that as a central location for the camp.  Her and Sasha used a portion of it for their sleeping quarters.  Other smaller tents and crude huts were set up for everyone else.  Ismur approached Sasha and asked if she wanted to stay in his hut.  He told it her it was beachside and winked.  Sasha thanked him for his hospitality but broke the news to him that she would be staying with Rhovyn.  Gelik skipped over and said Ismur can stay with him, spanked Ismur on the ass cheek, and skipped away.


When evening arrived, Drizzt noticed the four other people were not contributing as much as the core group.  Ishirou sat looking depressed; Gelik cracked jokes all the time and kept his clothing spotless and nice; Aerys looked dour and snapped at everyone; and Sasha seemed to be having a good time rather than acknowledging their circumstances.  Arjin approached Aerys to inquire about her “story,” and was given a reply, “None of your business.”  Muttering under his breath, he walked away.


That night Drizzt and Arjin returned.  They had not found any source of freshwater.  They would try again tomorrow.  The green glow in the surf appeared again, but no one saw the strange form thrashing around.


During Rhovyn’s watch, two strangers approached.  One had manacles on his wrists and barely any clothing, an older Mwangi man while the other looked like he had just washed up on shore but had adventuring gear on.  That man introduced himself as Shalimar and said his ship had wrecked and he was in need of help.  The black man, Jask Derindi, said he was a prisoner about the ship Jenivere.


The group was astounded- they had no idea there was a prisoner aboard the ship.  They asked how he managed to survive the event and if he knew anything.  They took him in and quickly warmed to the man, who said he was a Cleric of Nethys.  He explained that Ancient Osiriani texts tell of a God-King whose mastery of magic allowed him to gain unparalleled power. With these abilities he became a god by seeing all that transpired on all planes. However, this omnipresent knowledge also drove him irreparably mad. This dual-edged nature of magic is cherished by his followers and is epitomized in his apotheosis.  Nethys is the God of Magic, and without him Magic would not be.  After eating and coming to trust the party, Jask tells his tale.  Jask was once employed by the Sargavan government, but when he uncovered evidence of corruption involving illicit deals with the Free Captains of the Shackles, Jask confronted his superior, only to be betrayed and framed for the same crimes. Faced with imprisonment, Jask fled all the way to Corentyn, where he lived a modest life as a scribe for a decade. He’d thought his enemies in Sargava had forgotten him, but then a Sargavan  agent caught up with him and put him in
irons. The agent handed Jask over to the captain of the Jenivere with instructions to return Jask to Sargava for trial.  He woke up on the beach near the wrecked Jenivere.


The group asks where the Jenivere is and he promises to take them in the morning.  Drizzt says there are certainly still supplies left on the ship.  He also hopes the group can help him find a ship called the Brine Demon.  One of the incriminating papers he found so long ago indicated that one of his superior’s contacts in the Shackles was a man named Avret Kinkarian. Kinkarian’s ship, the Brine Demon, reputedly wrecked here on Smuggler’s Shiv. He knows it’s a long shot, but Jask would love to track the ship down and explore the wreck on the off chance there could be more
evidence somewhere aboard to prove his innocence.


That morning, the group finds the Jenivere.  Even a cursory glance is enough to confirm that the Jenivere will never sail again. Only the fortuitous presence of a sharp ridge of rock near the side of the sheer cliff wall has prevented the wreck from sinking entirely into the sea, for only the ship’s stern seems to have survived the wreck. This portion is wedged at an angle between the cliff and the rocks, and each wave shakes and tosses the wreck alarmingly. It won’t be long before the
constant pounding of the waves dislodges the wreck and allows the hungry sea to claim the last of this once-fine ship.  Aerys suggests reaching the Jenivere from land is easiest at low tide, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.


The group swims out to the Jenivere, but Ismur encounters trouble.  He cannot swim well but is excellent at wading, so he remains in the water and eventually goes back to shore while the rest of the party goes into the remains of the Jenivere.  The other four- Aerys, Sasha, Ishirou, and Gelik remained at base camp.


Aboard the Jenivere, all that survives are the upper decks, a portion of the captain’s cabin, and on the mid-deck, the larder, a supply room, and the brig and galley. Although the Jenivere’s only lifeboat at first seems to be missing, the fate of this smaller boat becomes clear—it was washed up between the ship and the cliff and was crushed by the action of the waves smashing the Jenivere against the cliff side. Part of the lifeboat’s bow still lolls about in the surf, attached to a protruding timber by a thick rope, as if someone had moored the boat to the wreck.  The wreck is not completely abandoned, as one of the scorpion creatures was trying to get to the body of First Mate Alton Devers.  It becomes apparent that Alton was the one of rescued the passengers, but he apparently perished by stings from the water scorpion.


Suspicion soon fell on the Captain and his Varisian Scholar friend, Ieana. The captain’s cabin is a wreck—a jagged hole in the side has allowed most of the room’s contents to spill out into the surf and wash away. The group does find supplies (including a bottle of brandy which Arya takes) and the captain’s log.


An examination of this log reveals that the Jenivere’s captain seemed to be suffering from some sort of madness that grew over the course of the ship’s final voyage. Earlier entries from previous voyages are precise in recording progress and events along the way, as are entries from the first two-thirds of this last trip. Yet as one reads further, the more recent the entries get, the less common they become—in some cases, several days are missing entries. What entries do appear are strangely short, focusing more and more on one of the passengers—the Varisian scholar Ieana, with whom the captain seems to have become obsessed. Several entries are nothing more
than poorly written love poems to Ieana, while others bemoan Captain Kovack’s inability to please her or catch her attention. Near the end, the entries begin to take on a more ominous tone with the captain starting to complain that other members of the crew are eyeing “his Ieana.” In particular, he suspects his first mate is in love with her, and writes several times about how he wishes Alton would just “have an accident.” The final entry is perhaps the most disturbing, for in
it the captain writes of how he’s changed course for Smuggler’s Shiv at Ieana’s request. He hopes that the two of them can make a home on the remote island, but also notes that the crew are growing increasingly agitated at the ship’s new course. The captain muses that “something may need to be done about the crew” if their suspicions get any worse.


The next day, Drizzt and Arjin set out again.  Arjin came back early carrying waterskins full of fresh water.  He had found a small stream about an hour’s walk.  He grabbed more containers and asked Aerys if she wanted to join him this time.  She gave him the stink eye and he replied,  “OK then.”


The next several days went this way, with Drizzt and Arjin scouting south down the shoreline.  One night they decided to travel together and spend the night to extend their recon.  That night, Arjin heard the distinct flapping of wings very close by.  He and Drizzt did not find anything of note.  When they returned to camp, they told the group of their encounter.  The group at base camp also had a story- Arya had a dream.


She was back aboard the Jenivere, bent over the railing being seasick. After her latest bout of retching, she slumped back and see the rest of the passengers and crew are on deck as well, all of them sick save for the captain and the quiet Varisian scholar Ieana. She whispers in the captain’s ear, then gives him a kiss on the cheek. At that point the captain holds up a wooden
soup spoon, and she realizes that she’s holding one as well. Everyone has a spoon. The ship is sinking, and the only way to stop it is to bail out the hold with her spoon! She works feverishly, but the waters keep rushing in. Just before she wakes, she can see monstrous things with pincers in the water trying to claw their way into the ship.




3 May 4730


The group spends their second week trying to plan how to get off the island.  Morale is low; they’ve been accosted by poisonous snakes, hungry plants, and a swarm of ants.  Sasha decides to make Rhovyn the unofficial leader of the group, and Aerys syas she’d like to be leader, too.  Aerys mentions a vote-off.  Rhovyn wins and becomes the leader, but Aerys still makes comments about her poor leadership.



5 May 4730


This night, Drizzt has a dream. He’s sitting down in the galley aboard the Jenivere, getting ready for a meal. The ship’s cook has given a steaming bowl of soup, but he drops his spoon. He sees that the deck below is covered with seawater up to his ankles, and his dropped spoon has sunk into the water and washed out to sea through a hole. He is forced to lift your delicious bowl of soup to his lips and drink. But something big goes into his mouth as he does so, and he feels a sharp bite on his tongue. He drops the bowl, only to reveal a serpent had hidden in his soup that

now dangles from his tongue as it chews furiously. He start awake, biting his own tongue in an attempt to bite through the snake’s body.


The next night, while he and Arjin are traveling south again for recon, they find the blood-drained body of a giant rat or a monkey tangled in the branches of a tree.  Footprints of some best are few in the area, and they believe it must be flying.


On the way back, Drizzt sees two shining, red eyes in the bushes nearby, which disappear when he moves.  They check the area to find the same footprints as were around the dead monkey.


The next night, the sound of large wings passes overhead—and suddenly the body of a goat, most of the blood drained from its broken body, falls into the middle of their fire with a crash! They prepare for battle yet none comes.


On the last night before reaching base camp, they are attacked by a winged creature, twice their size.  It wounds both of them with claws before they manage to wound it, causing it to fly away with a screech.


When they arrive back and relate their tale, the camp has had another nightmare.  Ismur dreamed

He was in a rowboat on the open ocean at night. Sitting across him, rowing the boat, is First

Mate Alton. He’s obviously dead, with the wounds and stings his body displays on the wreck of the Jenivere, but still he rows. Eventually, the boat reaches an island covered with snakes. Alton waits as Ismur exits the boat, standing ankledeep in snakes, and then he turns and rows back out to sea, Ismur assumes off to look for more survivors to ferry to shore. But Alton never returns, and Ismur wakes up just as the snakes start to bite.

Ch. 1: Souls for Smugglers Shiv
Part 2: Shipwrecked


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Ismur awoke with a pounding headache and upset stomach.  Bright light bleached his sight.  The sounds of low waves reached his ears.  Then a pinch and pressure on his leg.  When his eyes focus, he realized he was staring up at a blue, cloudless sky.  He lay on something…and he was wet.  He again felt pressure on his leg and looked down.  His heart jumped into his throat has a strange scorpion-like creature backed up a step at his movement.  Gods, he thought, that thing is as big as dog!  Ismur leapt to his feet and the creature lunged with a pincer.  Ismur dodged it, stepping backwards.  He grabbed for his longsword at his hip, thankful it was still there.  He drew it and slashed the pincer off.  The water scorpion lowered and flipped its tail at Ismur, missing him by inches.  Ismur used his forward momentum to skewer the creature through the mouth.  Goo poured out as it died.


Ismur then heard clattering and chittering to his right and left.  He looked around and saw the beach strewn with bodies and debris- and several more scorpion creatures, some dragging bodies into the water, some feasting on the beach.


Ismur scanned the beach for his friends.  He spotted Arya waking up; Arjin was nearby but not moving; Drizzt was nowhere to be found nearby, while Rhovyn was sprawled out further down the beach.  Ismur gave Arjin a swift kick to the butt which woke him instantly.  


Arjin, wondering what was going on, quickly came to realize one of the creatures was about the grab him.  He kicked it in the face, causing it to withdraw and grab a lifeless, drowned body instead.  Ismur yelled, “Find the others!”


Arya was standing at this point, trying in vain to kick one of the creatures away from her.  A pincer nipped her leg, causing a mean gash.  She grabbed it and moved back while a now woken Drizzt sliced both pincers off it.  Rhovyn was slowly rising when Ismur got to her.  Arjin made quick work of the remaining creatures.


The group stood and surveyed the scene.  Four others were recovering from whatever had affected them and were making their way towards the group.  Sasha, Aerys, Gelik, and Ishirou joined the group, which then discussed what had happened.


It was pretty clear the Jenivere had wrecked.  Pieces of the ship were all over the shore, and the group recognized other passengers and crew.  They quickly checked the other bodies for signs of life.  Rhovyn suggested the bodies be buried immediately before more creatures came to feast.  After a quick burial with sand and rocks, the group searched the shore for belongings.  All they had on them were the items they had during the dinner.  It was nothing fancy, and nobody had cumbersome armor, so they all wore their usual adventuring gear.


They nearly all panicked because their packs were gone, but Drizzt found them stacked haphazardly nearby.  He had also found footprints in the sand leading back into the ocean.  By his reckoning, it was ten o’clock in the morning.  They must have been out since dinner yesterday.  


Ismur made the observation that when he awoke, it appeared that someone had dragged them onto the beach from the water.  Many bodies were not accounted for on beach, including the Captain and his Varisian scholar friend.


Arjin spoke everyone’s fear first.  “Um, we better make shelter and find food, fast.”  Drizzt agreed and said these scorpion creatures should be fine to eat.  Drizzt and Arjin began chopping up the creatures while Arjin began to boil seawater.  He knew the salt content would be dangerous, but it would be fine today until the found a freshwater source.


The survivors kept close and quiet.  Ishirou said nothing at all, clearly bothered by what had happened.  Sasha and Aerys tried over the evening to figure out where they were, and Gelik tried to keep spirits up by telling tales of treasure.


That night, Aerys was certain they had landed on the Island of Smuggler’s Shiv, a day from Eleder.  Smuggler’s Shiv is a notorious island north of Eleder. It’s not shown on most maps, but is rightfully feared by those who ply the waters of Desperation Bay. The island is named not only for the knife-like shape of its coastline, but for its uncanny habit of wrecking ships that draw too near—mostly smugglers eager to avoid detection by Sargava’s navy. It’s commonly believed that the shores of Smuggler’s Shiv are haunted by the ghosts and ghouls of the sailors who have died on the jagged rocks and reefs surrounding the island. These rumors are supported by reports of
several failed attempts to establish long-lasting colonies on the remote island. When Sargava was first settled, Chelish engineers erected a lighthouse on the Shiv’s southwest shore. The light
was intended to warn approaching ships of the dangerous waters and, eventually, was to have been the first building in a small colony. The light and all plans for colonization were abandoned just before completion amid rumors of curses, haunts, and cannibalism.  Drizzt showed the party must be on the northern part of the island, and Aerys agreed they were likely on the “blade” of the island.  Arjin suggested heading south the very next day to find the lighthouse, but one of Arya’s maps, while not showing Smuggler’s Shiv, did give brief details about the eastern side of the island being mountainous and impassable.  Ismur suggested following the beach until no more passage could be made, then go into the interior of the island.  Rumors hold that a group of shipwrecked Chelish soldiers, survivors of an attempted Thrune invasion of Sargava
some 70 years ago, were stranded on the island. The rumors claim that they degenerated into a cannibalistic society, and that their descendants scour the isle’s shores for shipwreck victims to add to their meals.  But Ismur was undaunted by Aerys’ warning.


The group did not sleep much that night.  They did eat well, however, and their spirits rose as they planned what to do next.  During Drizzt’s night watch, he saw the waves crashing on the shores of Smuggler’s Shiv become infused with an eerie greenish radiance, almost as if the surf were

glowing. He sneaked over to the other watcher, Ishirou, who spotted a brighter glow churning in the water and moving just under the surface in directions other than the motion of the surf. They woke Rhovyn who catches a brief glimpse of a ghostly humanoid shape thrashing in the water, disappearing within seconds. The rest of the night was sleepless for them.

The Beginning: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv
2 April 4730

They say the dead walk on Smuggler’s Shiv, and that those who have yet to die dine on the flesh of their kin. They say that the very plants and animals of the island thirst for blood. And they say that those who sail too close to the island’s cutting edge are already doomed, even before their ships are impaled and slip beneath the shark-hungry waves. The island itself is a grave to all manner of folk—pirate and soldier, merchant and smuggler alike. By day, one who approaches too closely can hear their screams from the green that crowns the isle, and by night one can watch the witch lights dance on its shore, said to be glowing cannibal ghosts eager to lure new meals to their shore. They say all this and more about  muggler’s Shiv. I can think of no better place to hide my treasure.

—Final recorded words of Captain Lortch Quellig

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The waters moving slowly out towards the Arcadian Ocean glinted with the evening sun which lay down a hot blanket of light on the back of Arya’s neck and arms.  As the ship she rode sailed west towards the island of Nuat, Arya watched the city of Azir shrink in the distance.

The ship’s captain, a straightforward man named Alizandru Kovack, had made the stop at the Godless Port to pick up a few passengers headed south and purchase extra supplies.  Arya had watched as the captain spoke with several men at the dock.  She thought it strange the stop was so short.  The large wooden crates had the words textiles painted on them, and none of the crew disembarked.

Boarding in Azir was a cousin of hers- of sorts.  A Dark Elf.  She’d seen her Dark Elf brethren before, but never singularly.  In her homeland of Kyonin, the Dark Elves sometimes raid into the surface lands from Below.  The elves had captured several Dark Elves during a raid when she was younger.  They were defiant and evil, but occasionally had heard tales of rogue Dark Elves who, through magic or sheer force of will, could withstand the Sun and the calling of evil.

She hoped the Dark Elf boarding the Jenivere was such a person.  He certainly didn’t appear to be one.  He wore a dark cloak with the hood up, but the Captain forced him to show his face before boarding.  The Dark Elf did so reluctantly, but the Captain waved him on.  

The Dark Elf would join a ship that already had a myriad passenger list.  Arya had boarded the Jenivere in Corentyn.  Cheliax did not suit her.  She stayed only a month before finding a post on a pole about finding adventure and lost cities in the jungles of the Mwangi Expanse.  Arya preferred to visit the deserts of northern Garund, but no expeditions were set for the heat of the summer.  Instead, she chose the rainforests of the Expanse.  

Boarding with her in Corentyn were other adventurers who also answered the call for a jungle exploration.  Rhovyn Fangwood and Arjin Tain from Nirmathas were excited to get out of war-torn Nirmathas and help find lost cities in the hot, humid nether regions of Golarion.  Arya could tell immediately that Rhovyn had elven and human blood.  Arjin looked like he had a trick up his sleeve.  Just before the Jenivere left port, another adventurer came running down the docks, his pack flailing behind him, pants partially down, and a woman chasing him from behind.  The fellow looked as if he’d freshly jumped ship from a raiding boat out of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings.  

The woman caught up to him, hugging him and crying for him not to leave her.  He shrugged her off and said something to the point of their tryst being only one night and he had business to attend to.  When he finally boarded, he glanced at Arya and mumbled something about crazy women.

Other passengers included merchants from Varisia heading to Sargava to set up trading businesses; a fellow from Nidal who was creepy and quiet, but had a strangely charismatic smile and bearing; a woman and her husband from Andoren who had boarded with her from Almas; and several other folks coming and going for family reasons.  The crew consisted of your average run-of-the-mill crew for a brig merchant ship- with its two square-rigged masts- and a pleasant First Mate, Alton Devers.  

Standing out from everyone else was the cook, who had a nasty mouth but made superbly fresh and delicious food and a Varisian scholar named Ieana.  Ieana had apparently boarded in Magnimar, Varisia, and wasn’t friendly to anyone but the Captain.  Four other passengers garnered attention during dinner, and the cook, despite his fondness for lewd talk, told passengers that for the past several years, Captain Kovack has made the western run between Magnimar and Eleder in Sargava 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.

Of the four other passengers who were noteworthy was Gelik, a Gnome who somehow kept his clothing spotless and pressed, who also led the evening entertainment.  A woman, who looked like she could be a ship’s captain herself, came out of her cabin only to retrieve dinner.  Arya believe her name to be Miss Mavato, as the cook called her.  A Tian man who liked to sit on the bow of the ship during the morning and evening often joined by a pretty red-head with a strange tattoo on her back named Sasha for stories.

So it was with this motely crew the Jenivere struck out south-west from Azir, heading towards Sargarva, where several adventurers sought to make some gold exploring the wilderness.

Once passed the Island of Nuat, the Jenivere bore straight west in order to pass north of Mediogalti Island, then bear south to avoid the Eye of Abendego.  When Arya asked about this storm, Alton, the First Mate, described it as a vicious hurricane which did not move.  Arya couldn’t understand how a hurricane simply stayed put, and Alton explained the Eye appeared in 4606 AR in what was then known as the Abendego Gulf. Although the exact cause of its appearance is unknown, it came into being after three weeks of tempest following the death of the god Aroden, and remains as the greatest physical evidence of the event.  The cook, overhearing the story, said if the Jenivere were to sail through the storm, the foremasts would break and fly straight up Gelik’s Gnomish ass.

Not wishing such a thing to happen to the Gnome, who retorted the cook’s insult with the “size of his main mast,” Arya was glad to avoid the area.  Sasha, the woman with the strange tattoo, on the other hand, was not.  While most passengers stood abovedecks during the passage of Mediogalti Island, she remained below.  The half-elf from Nirmathis and the Dark Elf managed to strike up a conversation with her as the ship sailed westward and then south.

Sasha loved to talk, but didn’t waste words on trivial matters.  She also laughed at everything.  Literally, everything was funny to her.  Every now and then, she would laugh so loud and hard that people began to wonder if she was batshit crazy.  Rhovyn wasn’t afraid to engage the red-head, however, and plopped down next to her.  Rhovyn wondered about where Sasha was going and where she’d come from, but didn’t think the opportunity right to ask such questions.  She did laugh and carry-on with Sasha, though, and the two enjoyed their time together.  

After boarding, the Dark Elf went to the assigned cabin.  He didn’t care to speak with anyone.  Entering, he looked it over.  He’d paid good money to get a cabin of his own.  He’d been on a boat before, but the space was small.  He checked beneath the blanket on the hammock and peered out the small porthole window.  He unloaded his pack and sat down on the floor, laying his twin scimitars on the ground beside him.  He unclipped his crossbow from his pack and began fiddling with the firing mechanism.  The crossbow was special- it could fire underwater, and he had used it on the shores of the Winding Way in the Eternal Oasis of Rahadoum to catch many a crocodile before he left.

Although he didn’t really care what people thought of him, he did notice the lack of stares as he boarded.  Generally, the presence of a Dark Elf strikes fear into people.  Apparently, ships bound for Sargava were full of worldly people.

He considered himself a worldly person, especially by his heritage's standards.  He had escaped- yes, escaped- from the World Below many years ago.  He did not have the evil that resided in his kin.  Neither did he have the resourcefulness, either.  He had shunned his people, only to be shunned and run out of Azir when he breached into the Bright World.

He thought back to when he first set eyes upon what the surface-dwellers called the Sun.  His retinas nearly turned to ash in his head, but the warmth of the rays buoyed him.  He had emerged from a cave in the Napsune Mountains and made his way across a desert, following the brightest star in the sky which did not move.  He had originally followed the brightest object in the night sky, but wound up right where he began.  He soon figured out that like the Sun, the White Lady in the night sky moved, too.  Surface-dwellers called her the Moon.

He had reached a river, then followed it west until he came upon scattered villages.  He knew better than to walk into the middle of town and ask for work, so he disguised himself and spoke in the Common tongue which he copied off a surface-dwelling merchant years back.

The guise worked, because he ended up living in Azir for a year before the city-folk found out he was a Dark Elf.  The city guard came to arrest him for practicing dark magic and worship of demons and other evil things.  He fled in the night, walking south once passed the outlying regions of Azir.  He was young, very young.

Fonder memories came to the fore- starving and exhausted, he leaned against a beautiful, large tree, which he gave himself up to, ready to perish.  He awoke the next morning to the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, one so beautiful it made his heart hurt.

He smiled at the thought.  Now, years later, he was somewhat accepted.  However, he was leaving Azir for good- there was nothing left for him there.  It was time to strike out and make a fortune for himself.  He wanted companionship, but didn’t need it.  Growing up in the Night Below, companionship didn’t exist.  However, he wanted to pay it forward, for his heart was good.  He wanted to represent those who took him in- the magical fey with which elves share a common ancestry.  But he also wanted adventure, and adventure never came alone- not for long, anyway.  His fey friends thought adventure was just turning a rabbit’s fur bright pink or tripping a traveler.  Drizzt wanted to hone his skills, wanted to hone his body into a machine for fighting.  He wanted to master the art of the two blades he wielded, so that if need be, his new companions would be protected.  Perhaps someone on this very ship was to be his traveling companion on his adventures into the jungles of the Mwangi Expanse.

Rhovyn was born in the Laughing Jungle of Sargava, but during her teenage years moved to the Southern Fangwood, on the Merideth River.  She was born to an Elven woman and a human father.  Her father was an expert Ranger, a profession which she picked up at an early age.  Her family moved to the Nirmathas city of Tamran, which has a history unlike any other.  The city of Tamran is a ramshackle city, especially for the capital city of a nation. It is built on piers and pilings over the marshlands at the mouth of the Marideth River, where it meets the banks of Lake Encarthan. The city is connected by a web of bridges, ramps and causeways, and a flotilla of barges and skiffs, and all of the buildings are made from wood. Due to the fact Tamran is still standing after its violent history it is seen as a symbol of Nirmathas tenacity and resourcefulness.

The history of Nirmathas as an independent nation goes back less than a century. Before that it was part of the province and later the nation of Molthune. Before gaining independence, Nirmathas was seen as just another resource-heavy province ripe for harvesting, first by Taldor, then later Cheliax, and finally Molthune, a country with which Nirmathis is constantly at war.  It is this war which drove Rhovyn to seek adventure in the farthest-away place she could get to.

A childhood friend, Arjin Tain, and her always spoke about adventure.  Arjin would always go on little adventures without her; her family was very protective of her.  However, after obtaining official training from the Nirmathis military, Rhovyn thought she could handle anything Arjin could.  So the two set off to Corentyn after finding a posted handbill about adventure in the jungles of Sargava.  It would also give Rhovyn a chance to see her birthplace again.

After boarding the Jenivere in Corentyn, Rhovyn watched as several other adventure-seekers boarded at Azir.  One caught her eye- a red head named Sasha.  Rhovyn wasn’t sure what it was about her, but Sasha exuded a confidence which was attractive.  After several days of observing, Rhovyn decided to make a move.  Sasha was being “courted” by many others aboard the ship, but Rhovyn knew once Sasha got to know her, the others would go away.

Rhovyn was quick to make friends with other passengers- Arya, who rivaled Rhovyn’s own skill with the bow and arrow; the Dark Elf who’s name she found was Drizzt; Ismur, who took a liking to Rhovyn and likewise- Rhovyn has witnessed the pants-less run; and Arjin.

Ismur liked everyone- literally, every woman aboard the ship.  Rhovyn watched humorously as Ismur tried to put the moves on nearly every female on the ship and get shot down every single time.  Ismur, however, didn’t think it funny.  He just wanted companionship was all.  As the group of five coalesced, they began to see Ismur as a strong ally, although his strength lay in his quickness with his dual longswords.

When passengers found out Ismur Wolfbear was from Osirion, a betting game took place on how a Garundi man (arab) who looked like a raider from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings wielding two longswords with quick speed came to be aboard a vessel heading to Sargava.  Ismur just shrugged and said “I’m bored.”  Drizzt won that bet.

Rhovyn’s friend, Arjin, was excited to board the ship and head into the jungles searching for lost cities and treasure.  He leaned on the rails the first few days, saying little.  Every now and then he would rub the brand on his hand, or reach up unconsciously to touch a ring which hung around his neck.  

Drizzt stayed quiet for the most part, but looked hard at Sasha one day on deck.  He nudged Arjin, asking him if he knew what Sasha’s tattoo was.  Arjin said he was pretty sure it was the symbol for Achaekek, the god of assassins, and the patron god of the Red Mantis assassins based on the island of Mediogalti, which they were just passing.  His symbol is a pair of mantis claws depicted as if in prayer.  Ismur then told what he knew about the Red Mantis assassins.  The Red Mantis are one of the most feared organizations in all of Golarion. This order of professional assassins can be distinguished by their trademark bright red and black, light armor, serrated blades (such as the sawtooth sabre), and frightful mantis masks which grant them both an enhanced sense of sight and a terrifying visage. Drizzt was intrigued and approached her.

It was then that Drizzt noticed another attribute of Sasha- she was missing her pinky finger.  When Rhovyn came on deck, Drizzt decided to ask Sasha about those things.  Rhovyn, Drizzt, and Sasha talked for a long while, and they found out that Sasha Nevah is a daughter of the Red Mantis, yet while she shows great promise—she’s a natural fighter, takes pride in her grace, and delights in violence— she’ll never make it as an assassin because of her insatiable curiosity and rebellious streak. Had her mother not been a highly regarded member of the Red Mantis, Sasha would have doubtless met with a tragic accident years ago she said. Sasha has little interest in joining the Mantis, as she rankles at even the thought of following orders. Her mother was angry and sent her to Sargava to “assist with Mantis interests in Eleder,” and while this task is not technically exile, her mother has certainly made it clear that if she returns to Ilizmagorti, she’ll

never leave it again. Sasha understood what her mother meant (especially after she severed one of Sasha’s fingers to drive home the warning), but rather than dwell on the fact that her mother

threatened her life, she sees this as an opportunity to meet new people, hone or fighting skills, and find treasure.

A week later, the Jenivere shifted course back east after passing the Shackles, of which the leaders of Shackles society are the Free Captains. Most command only a ship or two, but the most powerful each control one of the region’s ports and/or islands and make up the Pirate Council. The leader of the council is Kerdak Bonefist, the Hurricane King.  Alton said the Jenivere would have been welcomed there, but time would be lost if they made the stop, so the ship bore east until reaching the coast of the Kaava Lands.  The Jenivere sailed south from there, then turned east one final time into Desperation Bay, heading for Eleder in Sargava.  

Two days out from Eleder, the Captain announced a grand dinner to be planned by the cook-the last dinner before reaching Eleder.  All the stops would be pulled out, since the voyage thus far had been without issue.

As the passengers and select crew sat down to eat and drink and be merry, none of the adventuring party knew what was in store for them.  

When Arya began to feel lightheaded, she wondered if she’d drunk her wine too quickly. Ismur was already five beers in and didn’t realize he was about to pass out.  Drizzt had been drinking a Chelaxian whiskey he has siphoned off out of a barrel in the hold, but chalked hs bad feeling up to seasickness.  Rhovyn was enjoying herself and thought she simply overdone it the past few days, while Arjin thought it may be the excitement of the coming adventure.  None of the group could do anything before passing out quickly; before the darkness overcame them, however, they saw all the passengers were affected, as well as the few crew members eating, too.

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A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

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