Duke Forecastle - Part 11

Duke Forecastle - Part 11
As Forecastle followed Cat Harping up the companionway steps to the helm, he felt a spray of rain on his face in a part of the ship that should have been dry. He climbed up and stood in the salt and smoke and the downpour. He somehow hadn’t even thought to put on his hat.
Collier and Carrack both manned what remained of the whipstaff and tiller, but the head cover above them was largely missing. In fact, the greater part of the quarterdeck had been blasted away, leaving smoldering splinters and even some bits of the crew—shredded uniforms and body parts—strewn over the rain-slick timbers.
“What’s going on?” he yelled to Cat over the wind, blinking as the rain got in his eyes.
“We’re losing,”said the Navigator bluntly. She wore sturdy canvas rain gear and an enviable broad-brimmed hat. “You got any orders, Cap’n?”
He looked up through the gaping hole. Only the mizzen topgallant and topmast sails looked to be intact. The rest of the rigging on the mizzen mast flapped around in useless tatters. There were riggers up there tying things down in the gale, shouting and throwing coils of rope.
The main and foremast rigging also seemed about half-intact. The double eagle was perched on the main topgallant yard, looking unperturbed by either the action or the storm.
He looked around on deck, but he couldn’t even see most of the rest of the ship from down here. The Anchorbar frigate had been aiming to hit the leadership, and they’d succeeded. There wasn’t even a trace of the Admiral’s uniform to be seen here. And the enemy would be maneuvering for another rake or a broadside in half a minute or so...
He turned to the helmsmen, who held the whipstaff steady, despite the fact that the top third of it had been blasted away. Nevertheless, the steering mechanism looked to be intact. And they hadn’t taken any shots that would damage the rudder, so they should still be able to maneuver within the hex.
“Can we steer?” he shouted to them. Collier nodded.
“Aye, sir.”
Forecastle made a fist. “Bring us in position to shoot at the frigate! Let’s make ‘em pay for croaking the Admiral!”
The helmsmen straightened up and nodded once, violently. “Aye, sir!”
Despite Collier’s enthusiasm, the lack of specifics in Forecastle’s order left him standing there for a moment. Cat Harping rushed to the companion porthole and looked out. Sighting the enemy ship, she shouted back to the helm, “Hard a port! Left full rudder!”
“Hard a port, sir!” returned Collier, then he and Carrack heaved at the whipstaff. The deck beneath Forecastle’s boots began to tilt to port.
Cat climbed up three of the remaining companionway steps and poked her head up to shout accompanying orders to the rigging crew (“Trice up! Sway aloft!” and several other things Forecastle still didn’t know the meaning of), then she returned and stood by Forecastle’s side. She kept her eyes on the narrow, murky view through the porthole. Forecastle adjusted his stance and gripped an intact support beam overhead, as the listing to port steepened.
“It didn’t look like we have many ships left!” the Duke shouted to the navigator.
Cat shook her head. “No, Cap’n! Maybe six? Maybe less! I haven’t got a recent report from the lookout.” She pointed vaguely up, toward the top of the mainmast.
“How are we losing this so badly?”
“No idea, sir! We shouldn’t be! They’re just sinkin’ us, and we’re not sinkin’ them! Our ships are goin’ down without much of a fight at all!”
Duke Forecastle nodded. That fit with what he’d seen from his wardroom, only worse.
“You think it’s the double eagle doing it?” he asked, pointing skyward. For the entire battle, that one horrible thought had grown to haunt him: that everything that was happening to the fleet was the bird’s fault, and therefore his. “Is this all just bad luck?”
A booming of beam weapons and/or thunder rattled from the near distance. Most likely, it was the weapons.
Cat scowled. “I...really doubt that, sir.” Then she flashed him a wry grin. “I mean if the blighted thing’d had that much sway, I think we’d’ve broke in half the second it landed on us!” She made a breaking motion with her hands. “Crack! Glubglubglub! Don’tcha think so?”
He couldn’t help but return the grin. Even under circumstances like these, it was good to see her smile. It was good to see anyone else’s face at all, really. He wanted to talk to Cat, to ask her how they had managed to save him from drowning during his keelhauling, if nothing else.
But he was the Captain now. He had to focus on the battle. Six or fewer ships left fighting...
As ranking officer aboard the flagship, he might be expected to signal them with orders (he wasn’t sure, since there were three other admirals in the fleet besides Chequer, and he himself was not even a seafarer). But what could he say in this raging chaos except “fight on” or something? Retreat might still be an option for some of them, but not for Unsinkable II. And he couldn’t think of a tactical reason to split the fleet now.
“Has anyone sent word to the Admiralty?” he asked the Navigator.
“Aye. He sent enemy sighting right off, with his intentions to fight.”
“Any reports after that?”
She shrugged. “No, Cap’n.”
“Well, we were supposed to be finding out what the Anchormen are doing. Even if we’re doomed, we’re supposed to report that to Her Majesty!”
She shrugged again, her eyes glued to the porthole. “Hat went overboard with Chequer’s head, sir. The Queen’s got all the word she’s getting from us, unless we win. And it’s not as if we even know what they’re doing. Is it? Shift the helm!”
“Shift the helm, sir!” echoed Collier. With a great creaking that was audible over the wind and rain and Shockmancy reports, the ship began to level itself out.
A moment later Cat Harping barked: “Heading hold!”
“Heading hold, aye!”
She pulled her head away from the porthole and jerked a thumb at it. “They’re cooperating, Cap’n. They have the gage, but they want to trade broadsides with us.”
“Why?” asked Forecastle, surprised. “Don’t we have them outclassed?” Even with her rigging so damaged, Unsinkable II should have been the superior warship. The frigate ought to have been maneuvering for another rake shot, where she’d have less exposure, rather than an even exchange of Shockmancy.
“They don’t look to be afraid of us, sir,” said Cat darkly. “Half a minute til we close.”
“Maybe they know we don’t have a real captain,” he muttered to himself.
That was all too true. He didn’t understand the first nuance of ship-to-ship fighting. Cat had to translate his orders for him. By all rights and logic, she should have become the captain of this ship, but the chain of command didn’t work that way. The enemy must know they’d croaked the Admiral; maybe they knew this crew had no-one left who could competently command a naval battle.
Well. Then maybe he shouldn’t try and fight one. His hand fell to the hilt of his sword. He might have forgotten his hat, but he hadn’t forgotten his weapon.
“I want to grapple them,” he said. “Grapple and board.”
Cat turned her head and peered at him cautiously. “S’a smaller ship, Cap’n. We can take ‘em. No need to stoop.”
Forecastle mashed his lips together tightly, nodding as pieces of a plan assembled in his head. “It’s also an undamaged ship,” he said. “And a fast one. And it doesn’t have a bird on it.”
Then he fell into a very old and familiar feeling, that of speaking in direct orders. He hadn’t done that in how long now?
“Rig to grapple! Get my boarding squad on deck. And don’t fire on that frigate, Cat! Don’t scratch it. That’s our new flagship sailing in.”
Recent posts... (See full thread)
Althernai wrote:
Silversought wrote:
Just to clarify, you're saying they're all in (not just command units) in command ranks because they're a valuable resource, right? I don't think they need rank on the ship to actually tame things (first mate/etc are mostly just procedural ranks, rather than mechanic differences, I suspect. Plus I bet a Warlord aboard a ship could tame anything regardless of whether or not he was part of the crew)

Indeed, the question is why the non-seafarer is part of the command structure for the crew. I can understand having such a warlord on board for a variety of reasons, but in practically all cases, you are better off making him or her a passenger rather than sacrificing the ship's move. Why is the non-seafarer either first or second mate?


Back in #2 of this story, we are told that it is being part of the crew that makes Duke Forecastle cost them move and attack, he questions why he wasn't made a passenger instead. Passengers, not considered part of the crew, have different rules that apply to them. I'm guessing in addition to not being calculated in move and attack there's also different rules for upkeep and the like, including what they can actually do on the ship. It stands to reason that passengers have significantly less ability to take action at a given moment compared to crew. A passenger lubber might simply not be able to give commands in the way Anchorbar requires, either to tamed creatures, crewmembers, or both.

An authority in erfworld can give direct and compelling commands, verbally and nonverbally. In a crisis moment, a passenger shouting advice, even if orders have been given to heed that advice, just isn't going to work as efficiently. By contrast, the first or second officer on the ship can make those orders.
All this talk about Lubbers in the command structure makes me wonder: are there "Marines" on board? I'm thinking no -- since it would have made sense to make Forecastle in command of a Marine unit as opposed to in the First Mate position, if any level of command will do.
You know, we don't know how the Double Eagles work. They seem to be able to cause bad luck to accumulate a Luckamancy reserve, sure, but Clay was observed to be able to give people good Luckamancy banked against future bad Luckamancy inflicted on other units of the side, or poor rolls on different things.

If Anchorbar's secret really IS mass accumulated Luckamancy bonuses through a catch-and-release policy towards double eagles through their non-seafaring warlord command crew, and the reason they're winning now because they've maximised their own shockamancy damage rolls (possibly while minimising Seaworld's), and they've paid for that by choosing to tank their rolls in other, non-essential areas, this boarding action might be a slaughter as they'll all be rolling natural 1's to repel it.

Maybe they'll lose ships to boarding so quickly that they won't be able to sink each freshly converted Anchorbar ship before another full-hp Anchorbar ship gets boarded and rapidly seized to replace it.
wvscififan wrote:
With all this talk of armies of wake snakes, it makes me think of Stanley's Hammer taming all those feral dragons. In a different context, I might wonder if there was an Archensextant or something like that for a shipboard officer to use to tame ferals.

As pleased as I would be to see another Arkentool , I highly doubt it.
Parson's stupid meal claims that four Arkentools are known. Since we know four already (Dish, Hammer, Pliers, Shoes), a fifth one would require explanation. How come five tools were in use by mortals, but only four are knwown?
LordBiscuit wrote:
wvscififan wrote:
With all this talk of armies of wake snakes, it makes me think of Stanley's Hammer taming all those feral dragons. In a different context, I might wonder if there was an Archensextant or something like that for a shipboard officer to use to tame ferals.

As pleased as I would be to see another Arkentool , I highly doubt it.
Parson's stupid meal claims that four Arkentools are known. Since we know four already (Dish, Hammer, Pliers, Shoes), a fifth one would require explanation. How come five tools were in use by mortals, but only four are knwown?

The stupid meal qualifies them as "known". More could be possible, hidden in the wild somewhere. We don't actually know where the Titans originally placed the known Arkentools or how they were obtained.
LordBiscuit wrote:
wvscififan wrote:
With all this talk of armies of wake snakes, it makes me think of Stanley's Hammer taming all those feral dragons. In a different context, I might wonder if there was an Archensextant or something like that for a shipboard officer to use to tame ferals.

As pleased as I would be to see another Arkentool , I highly doubt it.
Parson's stupid meal claims that four Arkentools are known. Since we know four already (Dish, Hammer, Pliers, Shoes), a fifth one would require explanation. How come five tools were in use by mortals, but only four are knwown?

Just a reminder: the Stupid Meals are not comprehensive.
Incomplete information: it's part of this complete breakfast! Stupid, Stupid Meal!

Additionally, there almost has to be more Arkentools. The Stupid Meal (our only source of info on this) said "there are four known Arkentools," not "there are four Arkentools." Why would it make that claim conditional instead of straight-up declarative?

As for how come this mystery tool is unknown? Erfworld's a big place. The only reason to travel is conquest, since no Side seems inclined to commerce. Add in the "diminishing shmuckers" factor, and there's no reason to expand beyond a certain point. There are Sides that have never heard of each other and will never meet.

If anyone has more knowledge about the theoretical 'Tools, it's Charlie and other mercenaries, the Magic Kingdom, and possibly barbarians. Units not tied to a few hexes, and have reasons to keep moving.

(that being said, I still think the portals in the MK are an Arkentool. Infinite move/turn bypass? Shyeah.)
No one in particular wrote:


Additionally, there almost has to be more Arkentools. The Stupid Meal (our only source of info on this) said "there are four known Arkentools," not "there are four Arkentools." Why would it make that claim conditional instead of straight-up declarative?

As for how come this mystery tool is unknown? Erfworld's a big place. The only reason to travel is conquest, since no Side seems inclined to commerce. Add in the "diminishing shmuckers" factor, and there's no reason to expand beyond a certain point. There are Sides that have never heard of each other and will never meet.

If anyone has more knowledge about the theoretical 'Tools, it's Charlie and other mercenaries, the Magic Kingdom, and possibly barbarians. Units not tied to a few hexes, and have reasons to keep moving.

(that being said, I still think the portals in the MK are an Arkentool. Infinite move/turn bypass? Shyeah.)


A couple of thoughts here:

First, declaring "Known" Arkentools (as opposed to just "Four Arkentools") allows for any spin-off stories or perhaps a "Tool that's not been seen so long that it's probably mythical" story. If spin-offs get popular, they can always have Arkentools that get "destroyed" or otherwise lost to memory without violating the "Known" rule. Even though Retconjuration is an option, might as well limit it with proper wording to allow for changes.

Second, since the MK appears to have access all over Erf -- at least, there's been no discussion of regions where multiple sides lack a Portal -- most likely even though sides would never meet, any side that possessed an Arkentool -- even briefly -- probably would have had at least a few casters that would enter the MK, interacting with casters from distant sides. It's likely in that case that at least brief mention of the Arkentool would be made.

Conversely, any side with an Arkentool would have attempted to use it on other sides during a conflict, and their casters would also be likely to mention it in the MK -- either "Wow, we curbstomped a side with an Arkentool! Pity it got smashed in the fight" or "Hey, does anyone know ideas on how to fight a side with an Arkentool? We're getting our butts kicked here".

And lastly, of course any side with an Arkentool should have had some mention in the "Books" that pop in Libraries:

https://wiki.erfworld.com/Library

For that to not have been mentioned would be very unusual, since at least we should see something like:

Quote:
Yeah, and on the two thousandth Turn of our Mighty Kingdom, our Majesty King Blowhard the Apocryphal, did so send Warlord Robin the Runaway, to the Wuthering Heights to investigate a Lair of Gibbering Simpetons. He found within an ArkenShrubbery, and there was much rejoicing. Unfortunately, he ransomed it to the Knights of Ni to spare his life and then bravely Ended the Turn, so that his trousers could unsoil.


The only feasible way I could see an Arkentool being not in the "Known" list would be:

1. It was most definitely obliterated at some point with no possibility of recovery - not simply vanished like the Arkenshoes, but crushed or thrown into a volcano
2. A side that had one never actually used it -- such that it wasn't mentioned in that side's history after the fall -- and it's currently in some stash (Dwagonhoard anyone?); see above why I think this is not very likely, unless the side's story is more like a pamphlet than a book and nobody ever read it
3. A side currently has one in secret -- either because they don't know how to use/attune to it, or because they think it's a one-off item that they must absolutely not use until some critical moment (this would look like an Ass Pull so unlikely to be the case unless we start getting some hints in advance)
4. It's yet to be discovered
5. It's not been seen in so long that it only has a mention in really, really old books and assumed to be lost due to the time since being lost, or possibly an early version that was called something different and not as powerful or interesting as the current Tools

I'm personally leaning toward: "Four Arkentools unless the writer decides we need one due to an undiscovered plot hole, or we decide to do spinoffs where Arkentools would be kinda cool".
El Chupacabra wrote:
I'm personally leaning toward: "Four Arkentools unless the writer decides we need one due to an undiscovered plot hole, or we decide to do spinoffs where Arkentools would be kinda cool".


The ArkenCanoe is going to fly in and grab/cushion the fall of Jillian and Ansom. Jillian will instantly attune. Jillian will then use the ArkenCanoe's Canoodling power to turn Ansom, will cause a rogue wave to take out GK and TV and Charlie in one fell swoop, and paddle away happily into the sunset together.
OneHugeTuck wrote:
El Chupacabra wrote:
I'm personally leaning toward: "Four Arkentools unless the writer decides we need one due to an undiscovered plot hole, or we decide to do spinoffs where Arkentools would be kinda cool".


The ArkenCanoe is going to fly in and grab/cushion the fall of Jillian and Ansom. Jillian will instantly attune. Jillian will then use the ArkenCanoe's Canoodling power to turn Ansom, will cause a rogue wave to take out GK and TV and Charlie in one fell swoop, and paddle away happily into the sunset together.

So, you're a firm believer in the Jillian/Ansom ship? :D
OneHugeTuck wrote:
El Chupacabra wrote:
I'm personally leaning toward: "Four Arkentools unless the writer decides we need one due to an undiscovered plot hole, or we decide to do spinoffs where Arkentools would be kinda cool".


The ArkenCanoe is going to fly in and grab/cushion the fall of Jillian and Ansom. Jillian will instantly attune. Jillian will then use the ArkenCanoe's Canoodling power to turn Ansom, will cause a rogue wave to take out GK and TV and Charlie in one fell swoop, and paddle away happily into the sunset together.


That would either be a very bad Episode of VR5.... Or we'd find out they were actually in Girard's Pyramid this whole battle.