This is stuff for the first 7th Sea campaign I ran. Considering that it was very much a "Beta Test" and that everybody (Referee included) were beginners to the system, things went pretty well. Because of various problems, the campaign is now "on hiatus", so to speak. We all had a very good time, and intend to try again soon.
THE CHARACTERS (In No Specific Order):
Dona Catalina Galegos de Ontiveros del Castillo (Ian Grey): Castillian female noble. Skilled courtier and scholar. Also (secretly) an apprentice in El Fuego Adentro. In the throes of a major romance with Carlo Vacchi. Ambitious.
Giles de Montespan (Blair Ramage): Montaigne male. Very handsome 'ladies man' and something of a scoundrel. Unofficial custodian of 'The Parrot', and arguably the only partymember with both oars in the water. As a result of certain recent events, he also erroneously believes that he is an extraordinarily gifted gunner, despite having no proper skill in this area. Star-Crossed.
Carlo Vacchi (Mike Bourke): Vodacce male. Looks sort of ... familiar, especially to fellow countrymen. Multi-skilled, small independant income, but very close-mouthed about his past. Major romance with Catalina. Very unrestrained fighting style. Look for big fights - he'll be the guy swinging from the chandelier. Upside-down. With sword in teeth, and a lit grenade in each hand.
Cathalan McCash (Stephen Tunnicliff): Pronounced "KA-hul-an". Avalon (Highlander) male. Experienced Sea Dog and shipwright, working towards his own ship. Speaks every language in the Players' Guide. Inspirational.
Sir Edmund de Montigue (Daryl Adams): Avalon male noble. Very much the Avalonian gentleman. His father was a Member of Elaine's Knights, and Sir Edmund inherited the title. Skills include Spy, Commander, Sailor, and Bard. Credited with having single-handedly capturing an Castillian warship (somewhat exaggerated, by his own admission, but keen to try again). Donovan swordsman. Arguably even more gung-ho than the Light Brigade.
Graf Mikhael Von Horst (Brendan Dallow): Eisen Noble (Freiburg region). Fifth son seeking fortune and glory. Old acquaintance of Sir Edmund's - a chance meeting in Charouse led to his joining the party, and he is still unsure of himself. Drexel swordsman. Passionate.
Padre Gilberto Munoz de Rivera de Torres (Nick Deane): Castillian male of noble background. Tall, dark, handsome Vaticine Priest. Very well-educated, diverse skills. Soldano swordsman. Reckless. Killed by Lina Oberlicht.
The Parrot: Blue and gold macaw. Uncertain age, but probably considerable. Previous owner was "Old Armand", (the Bosun on Sebastien Etalon du Toille's ship), who recently died in the Midnight Archipelago. Complete details of Armand's death remain unclear, but was known to have happened very suddenly in a bordello. The circumstances somehow involved a basket of mangoes, four very large women, a piano, and a billy goat ("...Well, it's how Armand would have wanted to go...").
Afterwards, Armand's parrot pined for his owner, but became very friendly with the party whilst they were guests on l'Astrolabe. When they left, the parrot was a parting gift from Sebastien. Let it be emphasized here that the party had been model guests, and that Sebastien liked and respected them.
The parrot's vocabulary was not known until the first confrontation with the vile Admiral Hector Riche du Paroisse. In an extreme use of Repartee, the Parrot hit Hector with several very inventive obscenities that could have only come from a particularly ill-reputed house of ill-repute. The not-so-good Admiral flipped out, but was then faced with the options of ignoring the insults (difficult, especially with EVERYBODY else either breaking up or on the verge), challenging the Parrot to a duel (obvious impracticalities), executing the entire party (he fancied Catalina and, besides, too many witnesses), or quickly leaving the room and subsequently pretending the whole thing never happened (his final choice).
Since then, the Parrot doesn't say much but, when he does, people pay attention. His vocabulary is definitely multi-lingual, and stolidly remains 'XXX-Rated' in its entirety.
Sebastien Etalon du Toille (Ally): Montaigne noble. Normal looking person (apart from large thick eye-glasses) of pleasant demeanour. His great passion is exploration, which he does with a hand-picked crew and his own ship (l'Astrolabe, similar to 'The General's Ship' in the Montaigne book). Sebastien's returns to Montaigne usually only last long enough to refit his ship, drum up support from various quarters, and pass on his latest discoveries to various universities for study.
He is unpretentious and very egalitarian in outlook, at ease amongst both commoners and aristocracy (earning his crew's total loyalty), and is as aware of Montaigne's problems as any Montaigne noble can possibly be. It is certainly one reason why he spends so much time away from his country - a growing sense of unease about the entire situation, and a vague realization that he can do little about it. Whenever possible, Sebastien makes generous contributions to charities and places of learning.
Whilst on very good terms with the Explorers' Society and the Invisible College, Sebastien is wide-ranging in his interests. Thus, a new kind of butterfly or an unusual plant is as enthralling to him as any Syrneth artifact.
The Party's Ship:
'Swallow' (formerly l'Swallow).
10 Point Ship. Variant of the 'Admiral's Personal Yacht' (Montaigne book).
Brawn 1 , Finesse 2 , Resolve 2 , Wits 3 , Panache 4 .
Gaudy (3), Silk Sails (2).
l'Swallow was originally the personal yacht of Admiral Hector Riche du Paroisse, and this shows in its appearance. The gaudiness is in the form of extensive and elaborate gilded woodwork (in which beautiful naked women predominate). Needless to say, the Player-Characters are amassing funds to completely remove this decoration ASAP. Otherwise, 'Swallow' is a very fast and seaworthy little ship, just the thing for a small adventuring party.
The Bad Guys:
Black Magda (Villainess, Presumed Dead): Twice-Blooded in Laerdom and Sorte (Vesten father, Vodacce mother). Led a particularly nasty Vesten pirate group based in Grimstadd. Woman of advanced years, about which the party knows relatively little (other than that she was "...a really scary bitch...").
Black Magda is believed to have perished when her attack on the Party's ship went seriously awry. Facing imminent death or capture, Magda attempted to combine her magic with a Syrneth artifact and a strange ritual involving a ring of sigils around her. The purpose was unknown, but was considered unlikely to be beneficial to the Party. The ritual was interrupted when Catalina attacked with her El Fuego Adentro - this somehow caused a synergistic reaction that consumed Magda in a pillar of fire, and subjected the Characters to 'the mother of all storms'.
Eventually, the Characters raided Magda's base to free former shipmates of McCash's used as slave labour for the mining and weaponsmithing set-up there. Most of the base was destroyed in the process.
Admiral Hector Riche du Paroisse (Low-Grade Villain & Comedy Relief): Montaigne noble. Very unimposing stature (short, skinny, weak-chinned) which Hector tries to compensate for with family connections, fancy clothes, and a particularly belligerent attitude towards lesser beings. Once heard, his voice cannot be forgotten, however much one may wish to do so. It somehow combines the tones of the stereotypical Montaigne aristocrat with something both shrill and oily that manages to sneer, lisp, yap, and generally grate on the nerves all at the same time. He is not a likable person. Some would say that he is the embodiment of all that is wrong with Montaigne's upper class.
As an admiral in Montaigne's navy, Hector Riche du Paroisse keeps busy "inspecting" whatever Montaigne naval units he finds during his travels. His long-suffering Vodacce valet (named 'Vincenzio') keeps the paperwork in order, and his 'honour guard' (and crew) provides much-needed protection (usually!).
Hector's mode of interrogation usually involves telling the prisoner about his preconceptions ("So, monsieur. How long have you been a spy for the Castillians?"). If the first two or three syllables of the prisoner's response is not exactly what the Admiral wants to hear, then his standard reaction is to screech "SILENCE!" and whack the offender about the head with a fancy riding crop. He went through four or five when questioning Carlo Vacchi, who kept grabbing and breaking them.
He holds a major grudge against the Player-Characters, whom he had arrested on general principle (they were non-Montaigne, and they were within reach). When later trying to "romance" Catalina with a candlelit dinner, she produced a knife and took him hostage. The party then did a deal with the sympathetic garrison commander whereby they took Hector's yacht, and left Hector behind in a small boat. The fact that the good Admiral was very publicly returned whilst unconscious, stark naked, and hog-tied, may have influenced his attitude somewhat.
Catalina is not a person to let sleeping dogs lie (heh, heh). At a posh gathering where various Montaigne nobles were in attendance, she exercised her Gossip Knack to circulate some very unflattering (and mainly truthful) accounts of Hector. Thanks to exploding dice,she rolled a total of 72. With a result like that, I can only surmise this is a previously unknown catalyst of the Montaigne Revolution.
During that same adventure (NOM #2's 'For The Sake Of Change'), Hector's cousin Cedric disappeared without trace. There are rumours that he was messing with Syrneth artifacts and paid the price, or attacked the wrong people, or suffered a Porte mishap, or some weird combination thereof, but nothing definite. The Duke Mayor of Cardican, where this all took place, seems distinctly uninterested in making further enquiries.
Hector's later confrontation with the Party did NOT go well. At that point, he was unaware of Catalina's gossip-mongering - his interest was in recovering "his" ship and portraits (he'd been trying to pull a fast one on creditors with the forgeries). After Hector and his guards were roughed up (and defecated upon from a great height by The Parrot), he was deported from Avalon in disgrace.
Lina Oberlicht (Party Nemesis In The Making): Eisen female. Tallish and moderately attractive (blonde hair worn in a long braid), some Dracheneisen gear. Drexel swordswoman. Former prisoner of Admiral Hector Riche du Paroisse, but escaped with the party and remained with them for a time. Nobody realized she was a Knight Inquisitor, until the party was pursued by a warship of the Inquisition. Lina attempted to prevent an escape by starting a fire on the Swallow's foredeck as a diversion, then sneaking below to try and cut the tiller ropes.
The sabotage was prevented by Sir Edmund and Giles, who fought Lina below decks where the lack of room put her at a severe disadvantage (ever try using a zweihander in a confined space?). She was taken prisoner and, with the end of the pursuit, Catalina tried to "turn" her erstwhile friend. This may have succeeded, given time. But, whilst the Swallow was at anchor in Charouse and the rest of the party was ashore, she killed the Padre in a struggle before escaping overboard.
Lina's subsequent fate and location is unknown, but the Party is still looking for her.
The Portrait(s) Of Admiral Hector Riche du Paroisse: When the Swallow was first "acquired" by the party, there was a very large, expensive, and unrealistically flattering portrait of the previous owner in the Captain's cabin (crude analogy - Danny DeVito trying to "be" Tom Selleck). It has been said that the eyes in certain paintings follow viewers around the room - well, with this painting, the steely chin and muscles did that.
Curiously enough, the party found the picture annoying. Opinion remained divided as to whether to sell it someplace, drop it over the side, or use it as a dartboard. Ultimately, the portrait was sold to a dockside brothel in the port city of Cardican, in Avalon's Camlann County, where it was prominently displayed in the "Waiting Room".
Subsequently, the Party had an adventure involving the painting's artist, his daughter, his daughter's lover, several forgeries (at one stage, the Characters had five seemingly identical paintings!), and a brawl with Hector (and a phalanx of Musketeers) in the docks of Cardican. Subsequently, Hector was shipped out of Avalon in disgrace, the forgeries have been destroyed, and the original has been kept in the Swallow's main cabin. Rumours abound of even more forgeries out there, however - Graf swears blind that he has seen the exact same painting in Freiburg's City Hall!
At least one Player has speculated that the portrait(s) are somehow reproducing themselves, or originating extra-dimensionally like odd socks, old keys, and paper-clips.
The Log Of Padre Esteban Guiterrez: Esteban Guiterrez was a Vaticine priest assigned to the fleet of Cristobal Gallegos. Despite being quite junior, he was well-regarded as a scholar, and as a mover and shaker (the Terran slang term would be "Young Turk"). Early on, his ship was separated from the rest by a violent storm, and subsequently sank near what some now refer to as 'Arabella Island'. Esteban took charge of the dozen or so survivors - they eventually built a boat and left the island for a fate unknown.
A copy of Esteban's logbook was placed in a cairn on Arabella Island before they left. Presumably, it details his discoveries, observations, and experiences; but most of it is in some kind of cypher based on Castillian and Thean. As yet, the Party has not been able to decipher this.
Arabella Island: Named for the ship the Party was on that was blown ashore here (under rather dramatic circumstances). Approximately five weeks sail west of Castille. One of several islands that are part of an enormous caldera (remnants of a now-submerged volcano - eg. Krakatoa).
Crescent-shaped, with the inside curve terminating abruptly in a sheer cliff that plunges into the seemingly bottomless hole in the centre of the caldera (which is approximately fifty miles across). Fertile and well-forested, semi-tropical environment, with copious birdlife and small animals. Indications of prior habitation - a stone walkway across the island that ends at the cliff, several structures that may have been small (human-sized) dwellings, a couple of modest-sized water reservoirs, and a pedestal / altar.
The best guess the Party can make is that the civilization that built these was eradicated when the volcano blew up centuries / millennia ago, forming the caldera from what was a single sizable landmass (Atlantis, anyone?). The pedestal / altar is of special interest - it incorporates a sculpted (Male Human) face of commanding demeanor, and seems to indicate a direction across the ocean to the south-west.
Hey, it isn't real swashbuckling without comedy.
First Prize: The verbal flattening of Admiral Hector Riche du Paroisse by The Parrot.
The campaign's starting battle entailed close quarters between Black Magda's crew and the ship that most of the Characters were on. On the deck of Magda's ship, Giles and Cathalan faced each other with drawn weapons - classic "Friend Or Foe" confrontation, with neither sure of the other's inclinations. Then, a loud scream from high up in the rigging (where Carlo had just swung across from the other ship), and a Vesten pirate concluded a high altitude bellyflop on to the deck between them. SPLAT! Yecchhh.
Catalina's ability with El Fuego remains secret from the rest of the group. A badly kept secret to be sure - that objects catch fire and/or begin exploding whenever the situation goes wahoonie-shaped has not been unnoticed. The pursuit by the Inquisition ship made for a classic scene, though. Giles was popping away with a little swivel gun, not really expecting to do much damage even if he managed to hit. Then, apparently as an immediate result of one of his shots, the other ship's main mast and sails literally EXPLODED into flames (courtesy of a whole load of exploding dice from Catalina). Giles gaped for a few seconds at the inferno, then cautiously peered down the barrel of his just-fired swivel gun in an effort to discover how he had done that!