Quick note: With some work, a GM could turn Insanity Forrest’s story into a full Sword of the Serpentine campaign. She’s my current choice of turning from a 1K splat into a 10K story. But that’s an investment in building NPCs and Port Gazi. Maybe worth it… -ekd
A lagoon-based, sea-faring, mercantile Empire’s greatest foe is bloodthirsty pirates. Also, so are ancient Serpentine sorcerers, murderous small gods, hungry ghosts, other nations, wars, disease, politics, general bad choices, and random acts of enormous, ship-sinking octopi. But also, pirates.
Pirates are bad. They make trade unsafe and unpredictable. Anything that disrupts Eversink’s business threatens the city’s lifeblood. Eversink wants to control everything that drives safe and predictable business – including Eversink-controlled ports of call.
Eversink and the pirates of Min have been locked in a power struggle over the far-flung galaxy of small-to-tiny island ports of call across the sea for hundreds of years. The tiny islands are worth their weight in gold to both nations. An excellent safe harbor means hundreds to thousands of miles of trading opportunity. Each country is trying to protect its own trade networks while sinking the competition with fire and grapeshot. Capitalism is literally cutthroat on the high seas as they board each other’s ships and cut each other’s throats.
The Pirates of Min aren’t so much have a country as a loose confederation of murderers held together by a Strongman autocrat. The current autocrat is the Black-Witch Queen. On the Rose Lust, the Black Witch-Queen controls the Min with threats, murder, dread, and iron-clad fist. Cross her and die. She brings all threats to their knees and then sends them to their fates among the fishes. No one has attempted to give her a run for her money and lived to tell the tale.
Captain Insanity Forrest of the Last Dagger is giving the Black-Watch Queen a hell of a fight. She appeared with no warning. Now, the seas boil with blood. Min Captains hedge their bets, and ships flock to the Last Dagger’s banner with her show of force. Times are changing.
Usually, this wouldn’t be an Eversink matter. Eversink doesn’t care who rules the Min, as long as Min pirates die by Sinkish hands, preferably after handing over all their trade goods. Except, Captain Insanity Forrest also attacked Eversink harbors and sunk Eversink ships. She’s building a network of safe havens for her fleet.
Recently, a critical island port, Port Decine, fell to her henchmen. Her thugs brutally murdered ‘Sinkish citizens. And not just with violence. The rumors from recent trading expeditions tell tales of hideous sea sorceries and the rising tide of undead.
“She can raise the waters,” one Captain said, who barely escaped with her life. “And with it, she can bring the horrible black Leviathan…”
“My men died and then got back up and started attacking us,” another Captain said. “We could barely throw our own men overboard so we could flee.”
This is bad for Eversink. An uncontrolled Mad Mage is on the loose with a black armada. If Captain Insanity Forrest manages to wrest the Pirates of Min from the Black-Witch Queen, she could command the entire Min fleet to descend on Eversink’s lagoon. If that happens, it’s war.
Magda “Insanity” Forrest was nobody before she found the cache of Serpentine artifacts in the sunken wreck. She grew up an orphan in Min. Her parents died at sea, like everyone’s parents. She ran with her gang and lived by cunning, brutal cruelty, and dodging violence in and around the barnacle-covered shipwrecks of the Min Cove. She procured a handful of valuable contacts doing little jobs for the pirates.
Magda and her friends had a big enough score on a heist. One day she could afford a small ship. With that ship, Magda and her friends went hunting for treasure. She murdered more than a few captains in pubs for their rumored treasure maps. They were all fakes until one day, one wasn’t.
Three of Magda’s friends died trying to reach the shipwreck in the old Lagoon of Shivers. One friend was killed when their ship ran aground of the rocks, and two more were eaten by unspeakable dreads on the land route to the ancient beached ship.
Magda and her remaining friends found the locked cask down deep in the hold of the crumbling shipwreck. Inside the cask were a serpent-shaped ring and a strange book. Magda almost left the book behind. But, when she slipped the ring on to admire it on her hand, the book sang to her. When Magda opened the book, the ring whispered into her mind all she needed to know.
Magda murdered her remaining living friends so they couldn’t murder her for the ring and the book. Then, with the ring’s urging, raised them all again. Undead crew at her fingertips, she left the Lagoon of Shivers behind. By the time she returned to Min to start raising more crew, Magda had devoured the book. Armed with Sorcery of the Serpentine, she was ready to raise an undead fleet and clear Eversink and Min alike from the Seas. A pirate captain now, Magda felt she deserved a pirate name and left her old name behind.
All on the High Seas would bend their knee to Insanity Forrest.
Captain Insanity Forrest
Arrogant, Ambitious, Quick to Anger
Defense – Health: Health Threshold 4, Armor 3 (uncanny resilience), Health 15 per Hero
Defense – Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 3 (extreme arrogance), Morale 15 per Hero
Offense – Warfare: +2; Damage Modifier +2 (Insanity’s duel-wielded sabers)
Offense – Sorcery: +3; Damage Modifier +1 (Necromancy, the Sea)
Offense – Sway: +2; Damage Modifier +1 (terror and dread)
Abilities: Malus 40
Special Abilities: Allies (cost 3), Extra Damage (cost 3), Flashback (cost 5), Mastermind, Spellcasting (cost 3 – 2 uses), Warded (cost 6)
Misc: Insanity has access to two Sorcerous Spheres: Necromancy and the Sea. Necromancy allows her to raise undead armies, rot the flesh of the living, cause wounds and rotting, manipulate corpses, suck life from the living and causes diseases. The Sea allows Insanity to summon great waves, call forth any great creatures of the deep (if they’re nearby), change the wind, and manipulate storms for her benefit.
Refresh Tokens: 7
Description: Insanity Forrest is tallish, dark haired, and has an intense stare. She wears a huge (and amazing) black pirate captain’s coat, a red velvet vest, a white shirt, black and white striped hose, and black boots to the knee. She wields a saber in each hand.
Before combat, Insanity will rely on sway attacks with terror and dread to drive down PC morale and break their spirits. She prefers to break people mentally before breaking them physically.
In combat, Insanity will call allies (pirate thugs) to her side first before engaging PCs. Once her allies are dispatched, she’ll rely on necromancy to raise the bodies of pirate thugs to engage PCs. Once the PCs fight through the undead, or prevent Insanity from raising the bodies, she will either use the Sea to summon a Leviathan from the depths, or full press attack with her dual-wielded sabers.
On her right hand, a metal gauntlet covers the ring, making it difficult to dislodge. The ring contains an entrapped Serpentine Sorcerer mind. Upon wearing the ring, the Sorcerer invaded Insanity’s mind. Since their goal — infinite power — 100% align, Insanity and the ring get along great. Should Insanity lose the Serpentine Ring, she will lose access to her Sorcery, and the Serpentine Sorcerer in her mind will dissipate — leaving almost no discernable personality changes. She is as evil as he is.
If PCs manage to lay hands on the ring, and attempt to wear it, the PCs will be subject to the Serpentine Sorcerer’s soul in the ring invading their mind through sway attacks to drive morale to 0 and full-press invade (use Insanity’s stats.) The ring is very evil, and will use the PCs body for Sorcery.
Min Pirate Thug
Thieving, Bloodthirsty, Murderous
Defense – Health: Health Threshold 3, Health 6
Defense – Morale: Morale Threshold 3, Morale 6
Offense – Warfare: +1; Fixed Damage 4 (saber)
Abilities: Malus 10
Refresh Tokens: 3
Description: The Min Pirate thugs look exactly like run-of-the-mill pirates. They will attack (Warfare) with sabers, and have no special moves or properties.
Zombie Pirate Crew
Empty, Relentless, Rotting
Defense – Health: Health Threshold 3, Health 1
Defense – Morale: Morale Threshold nil, Grit 0 (zombies are immune to Morale attacks), Morale nil
Offense – Warfare: +0; Fixed Damage 6
Offense – Sway: +1; Fixed Damage 4 (fear)
Abilities: Malus 5 S
pecial Abilities: None. Spends Malus on Warfare Attack.
Misc: Zombies use their Sway attack at a distance, groaning and moaning in a terrifying way as they slowly advance.
A zombie typically uses all of its Malus at once and adds it to a single Warfare attack, briefly giving it a +5 attack and a 50% chance to score a Critical Hit on its target. If it scores a Critical Hit, it rips fleshy bits off the target and stuffs human bits into its maw. The target and any human observing loses Morale Fixed Damage 4 out of horror.
Refresh Tokens: 3
Description: Pirates, but undead. These Zombies are full of Insanity’s Corruption. They do monotonous, repeatable tasks as ordered. They are not fast, nor stealthy, nor disease-ridden, but they do come in large hordes. These undead will consume any living flesh, not just brains. Hit them and they go squish. These zombies do not summon more zombies, and can be destroyed normally.
Villainous Plot Seeds
The Alliance: The Triskedane sends the PCs on a secret mission to broker an alliance with the Black-Witch Queen onboard the Rose Lust. They’ll need to travel to the cove city of Min, pretend to be Min Pirates, and convince or fight their way into an audience with the meanest Pirate Lord of the Pirate Lords. Also, a coterie of black sorceresses protects the Black-Witch Queen, and she has her own sorcery. Getting close to broker an alliance won’t be easy, but what’s a little diplomacy without some swashbuckling?
The Spy Mission: The Triskedane needs to gather information before the Thirteen can plot Eversink’s next moves. They send the PCs on a perilous spying mission to infiltrate Insanity Forrest’s fleet and get closer to her commanders. The PCs must pose as Min Pirates and join her fleet. If they’re found out, Insanity or her hordes of murderous pirates will feed the PCs to the fish. Will the PCs find out where Insanity will strike next and report back to the Triskedane without being discovered?
War! Defend Port Gazi! It’s too late! While the PCs were on a stopover at Port Gazi to refill water and food on their ship, Insanity attacked! Hordes of undead boil off her vessels and cut down the townspeople. Murderous thugs sack the towns and light them on fire. Things boil out of the seas to drag the ships in the harbor down to watery deaths. Can the PCs rally the local watch station and mercenary company and face Insanity’s hordes before Port Gazi is lost!
Disclaimer: These posts are unaffiliated with official canonical posts or printed materials about Sword of the Serpentine. “Swords of the Serpentine” is (TM) Pelgrane Press. For more information on Eversink, visit the Pelgrane website.