Duke Forecastle - Part 15

Duke Forecastle - Part 15

The great ship went down faster than Forecastle would have believed possible. The sea poured into her ports, and she sank away without much complaint at all. No decks split apart, no yards snapped—she barely made a sound. It was as if Unsinkable II had simply set a new course and sailed away down below the waves.

The gangplanks only worked as a means of escape for a few more minutes, before they were hanging uselessly over the frigate’s rails, or clattering to the ship-of-the-line’s rapidly receding main deck. At that point, the Seaworld sailors aboard the frigate threw cargo nets over for their compatriots to climb up.

A swarm of sailors made it up and over the rails that way. Some took to the big warship’s longboats and launches, and some of the riggers climbed or swung across. But soon after that, they were casting coiled ropes down among the dozens of heads bobbing in the churning water.

He ordered the frigate’s two launches lowered, to help fish out survivors. But Captain Forecastle could see that many of the crew and passengers hadn’t made it up top in time.

And he hadn’t seen Cat Harping yet.

He could no longer tell if she was alive. He’d lost his innate sense of the Unsinkable II’s crew or the ship’s condition, since he was no longer captain of that vessel.

He stood in command of HMS Double Eagle. It was the only name that had sprung to mind when the ship had finally been seized, and he’d been forced to will it a designation. The proper thing to call it might have been HMS Nelson Chequer, but he supposed someone with a higher regard for the man could name some other ship that. (And HMS Hubris Unsinkable III was completely out of the question.)

Carrack had made it to the Eagle’s command deck, though, along with Collier and the third helmsman, Dromond. They’d been able to climb over directly to the quarterdeck. So he had officers, if he needed to do field promotions. Or shipboard, whatever.

“Where’s Cat!” he shouted at Carrack, as lightning flashed overhead.

Carrack looked grim and wet, shaking his head. “She was belowdecks, Cap’n! I don’t see as how she coulda got topside!”

“No!” was all Forecastle could say for a moment. He couldn’t do this alone. He couldn’t comprehend the task of commanding this ship without her. “We need her!”

Carrack shrugged. The two men stood there in the rain, listening to the shouts on the wind. “You could try your, uh...your pet! Sir!”

Forecastle blinked. “My... What, the bird?”

“Yessir!” The helmsman nodded.

“What do you—” What was the man saying? “What can the bird do about it?!”

“Fish ‘er out the water? Like it fished you, sir!”

His eyes went wide. “You’re saying the bird rescued me? When I was keelhauled?”

“Yessir!”

“How?”

“Just...dove in and came up with you,” said Carrack, shrugging yet again. “Thought you knew about it.”

Forecastle made a fist and put a knuckle to his lips, staring down over the rail.

Then he raised his eyes skyward and shouted, “Eaguulllll!”

---

The warlord with the mustache had been automagically clapped in irons when his ship fell, becoming a prisoner of the Double Eagle rather than of the double eagle. But Captain Forecastle only learned about this when the man was dumped in a heap at his feet.

The bird performed the drop with a little J-hook flourish, and soared out over the rail.

“Bring me Cat Harping! Find a unit called ‘Cat Harping’ and rescue her! Give her a point of Luck!” the Captain ordered the flying unit. Its screech of acknowledgment was already muted by distance. He saw it dive, but could not see where it had hit the water.

“That’s a dreadful beast, Seaworld!” snarled the captive. Forecastle turned to look down on him, and his men stepped closer to the prisoner. He was sitting on his rump on the soaking wet planks, black manacles holding his wrists and ankles close together. “The Titans curse ye for puttin’ me in its grip.”

“How did you sink us?” asked the Captain, though he didn’t expect a useful answer. “How do you do it?”

The warlord shook his head. “I could tell you, but I’d rather show ye. Why’n’cha croak me, Seaworld? Anchormen don’t take ta bein’ held.”

Forecastle wiped rain from his brow and turned back to watch for the eagle to emerge. “Get him off the quarterdeck,” he ordered.

“A trick’s a fine thing ta play, Seaworld!” the prisoner shouted, as the stabbers dragged him toward the steps. “Fair enough when it’s turn’d about on ye! Don’tcha think?”

Forecastle didn’t try to decipher that. He was staring out at the rolling, windswept waves.

There weren’t all that many heads bobbing around out there now. By his sense of the Double Eagle’s complement, less than half of Unsinkable II’s 352 units were now aboard. The other half could not be accounted for by the boats and the swimmers. They must have lost at least ninety to the waves.

Where was Cat? For that matter, was the eagle in trouble? Had he just ordered it on an impossible mission? If Cat was already lost, would it stay down there looking for her until it drowned?

It had rescued him... That hadn’t sunk in quite yet. On whose orders would it have done that? Or was it just smart enough to know that it was the only unit that could have saved him at that point? Had it caused the bad luck of the keelhaul line snapping, then spent the point to be able to rescue him?

Titans, you have made a terrible mystery of this world.

He knew the eagle had not perished, since it was attached to his crew. But he couldn’t see it, and didn’t know its condition. It had been under the waves for a long time, and Cat had been down even longer. What did it—

Something broke the water, throwing up a huge splash. In the rain and the churning waves, he thought he saw two splashes or disturbances. What was that?

Then the unmistakable brown wings crested up and beat at the surface of the sea, scooping at the air. The double eagle cleared the water, and it was definitely carrying something: a human form, very limp.

---

In the end, he did the only thing he could have.

Cat Harping was aboard, but incapacitated and only sporadically conscious. No friendly sail was in sight. No more Seaworld units were in the water. The rest of the Anchorbar fleet was forming a crisp battle line, and moving in.

Between no chance and some tiny chance, Captain Forecastle ran for the sliver of hope. But he did indeed run. HMS Double Eagle pulled in her boats, set the gale winds behind her, and spent her last and only move. She fled the hex, to await the enemy’s turn.

Their destruction would only be delayed by an hour or so, but at least it would come to them in warm sunshine.

Recent posts... (See full thread)
Gathrun wrote:
And reinforces the idea that SeaWorld really should not have just tried one land based warlord.

Forecastle was Seaworld's only lubber warlord though, so the alternatives were conceding the field entirely to Anchorbar or sending a fleet with no lubber warlords.

Since Ruler senses allow a Ruler to know the status of their units, Eliteabit will at least know that during this battle Seaworld lost every ship except the one with the lubber warlord in it, which managed to capture a new ship, transfer a lot of its crew and leave the hex. That's pretty valuable information to get from the small change to their plans of assigning one lubber warlord to the fleet.

Arky wrote:
Let's assume that it's completely unreasonable for someone to have physically sailed from Anchorbar to SeaWorld carrying the roster physically.

It's not unreasonable though for someone to have used a sending hat to teleport it straight to Seaworld, and at least some of their ships and surely all of their colonies' capitals would have sending hats.
Got a couple speculations:

Since each of the previous posted backer stories had references to a character in the main comic, it seems likely there will be one in this one as well. From the description of the Unsinkable II sinking, I am definitely leaning towards a weirdomancy spell cast on just one ocean hex, most likely in a multicaster link. This to me points to Charlie being involved here - quite possibly at the expense of most of Anchorbar's treasury. And given Charlie's rules - I bet Seaworld paid Charlie for that key piece of information about the non-seafarer special warlord in the crew of Anchorbar - probably for a substantial amout of Seaworld's treasury.

As for the Anchorbar prisoner's comments - I agree that he beleives he is the reason the captured frigate is still afloat (not suspecting Forecastle also does not have the seafarer special). His comment of a trick - I suspect he is referring to the tamed double eagle. He might even think that the double eagle has somehow been partly protecting the Seaworld flagship.
Just an observation...

1) The ship hasn't been sunk yet.
2) The Unsinkable wasn't sunk until the Land-based Warlord got onto the other ship. I'm not so sure that the Land-Based Warlord is really the one doing any "Controlling" of anything, I'm thinking it's probably some means of protecting their ships from whatever is destroying the Seaworld ships.
My personal thought has actually been that it's about the Ship's "Move". That whatever is attacking the ships only attacks ships with certain amounts of Movement, or that only ships with a certain minimum of movement will be affected.

Just a thought. :)
CarniDollMancer wrote:
Thecommander236 wrote:
Yeah... About that. Do you guys think that he can commit suicide? Like use his belt to hang himself in his cell? If he's the only thing keeping that ship afloat he may decide that duty compels him to kill himself so that the ship will sink.


Oddly, because of using Hits rather than a Constitution score, some kinds of hanging may not be suicide in this world. It could, theoretically, just be a form of incapacitation since the noose tightening may count as 1 hit and then just stay at that level. It is an incapacitation in this scenario because he has hits, but cannot move or act or undo his noose.

Even in D&D, if a character gets hung (without a drop to break the neck) it can be a long death because of Constitution and stabilizing throws. The only time I've ever seen this (the party paladin lost his Divine support and put himself out of his misery in the night) the character was, by the rolls, still kicking a couple hours later. We did not actually do the rolling, and declared him dead when he decided to hang himself for expediency and logic, but the player did the rolls to the side for fun... Longest imaginable death in an RPG. (All in 3.5e mind you)

I guess this could be how it works on Erf as well. X hits taken/Y time period, so he would still die eventually.

In general, game systems do not work well with suicides that are not severe and immediate (Seppuku, cliff jump, poison, crossbow/gun to the temple)... Not that he couldn't get a good drop, but on a ship it would be difficult, so he'd be hangin' for a bit. Maybe even long enough to be found and wind up suffering for nothing.


I assume it would be like poison. One hit a second until dead.
Sturmm wrote:
Just an observation...

1) The ship hasn't been sunk yet.
2) The Unsinkable wasn't sunk until the Land-based Warlord got onto the other ship. I'm not so sure that the Land-Based Warlord is really the one doing any "Controlling" of anything, I'm thinking it's probably some means of protecting their ships from whatever is destroying the Seaworld ships.
My personal thought has actually been that it's about the Ship's "Move". That whatever is attacking the ships only attacks ships with certain amounts of Movement, or that only ships with a certain minimum of movement will be affected.

Just a thought. :)


I used to discount #2 on the basis that it's about landlubbers being crucial to why Anchorbar is winning and that this hypothesis would contradict that, since that would relegate them to just a technical hiccup. But I guess it really doesn't matter as long as Forecastle himself is the hero by being the fish-out-of-water.

Still, it's cannot be based on move, since the captured frigate was sent specifically to destroy the Unsinkable II. All the Seaworld ships had roughly the same move and the Unsinkable II didn't sink mysteriously until that one specific frigate attacked them at the end of the battle.
Daefaroth wrote:
That assumes you aren't allowed to voluntarily fail a saving throw, which is allowed in most versions of D&D.


From memory (I haven't played in quite some time), not always. You usually have to be conscious to voluntarily fail a save - in the 3.5 example if you went unconscious from the damage from the coup, you couldn't voluntarily fail the save.
Free Radical wrote:
Arky wrote:
Let's assume that it's completely unreasonable for someone to have physically sailed from Anchorbar to SeaWorld carrying the roster physically.

It's not unreasonable though for someone to have used a sending hat to teleport it straight to Seaworld, and at least some of their ships and surely all of their colonies' capitals would have sending hats.


This is a fair point, but either you have to get the spy to Anchorbar to physically do that (unlikely) or somehow turn or otherwise subvert an Anchorbar unit at long range (also unlikely unless it's a case of "Charlie did it" in which case Charlie has other ways of getting the information).

It's not like other gameworlds where Anchorbar cities would probably be full of traders and getting a spy in is extremely feasible. Erf doesn't seem to do barbarian trading ships and caravans.
A lot of what Anchorbar is doing seems in keeping with Luckamancy manipulation. I toyed with the idea that maybe they got that Mathamancer + Luckamancer linkup going on. It would give Forecastle the out he needs to survive as the Luckamancy repayment will hit Anchorbar super hard. But, that doesn't explain why they have lubber First Mates. That doesn't explain why the Captains aren't on deck. No. I think they are doing some other manipulation of the Numbers.

So what is going on? Too many people are assuming it's the Archery Specialness that has to do with the unexplainable combat effectiveness of the Anchorbar fleet for that to be the right answer. Plus it doesn't seem like it should be that effective of a force multiplier to make it so that basically no anchorbar ships sink while all of Seaworld's does. And you would think that Seaworld would eventually noticed if they were being engaged by something other than ships. It doesn't explain why the captain was below deck.

If I know Rob it has something to do with a mechanic that was maybe grazed over but not explored or questioned. Something that was brought up but not brought to attention. Maybe the fact that an Anchorbar ship lead the Seaworld fleet into the Hex with the Anchorbar fleet is important. In the early updates it was also said the Seaworld fleet met the Anchorbar fleet. Not the other way around. The crew gives a ship its move and attack strength. The crew represents the collective effort of the people on board in making the ship move and attack. As the ship moves their efforts are spent and their moves are deducted proportionally to represent this. Non-seafarers can't effectively contribute effort to making the Ship Move. They can't effectively contribute to it's attack either. But, maybe this is where the Archery special plays some role. Maybe by putting the Captain below deck and having the First Mate in charge of the ship, he can focus all their efforts into Attack. Effectively shuffling the Numbers around that would go into Move go into Attack instead. Having the Captian on board would mess that up.

Forecastle is in a really bad spot right now. But, maybe this is what will give him an out. An out that for all intents and purposes seems impossible. Many of the other ideas don't give Forecastle a way to survive unless SUDDENLY MASSIVE SEA MONSTER. He's on a fast ship. It's specifically said to be a fast ship. With all the stats of the Anchorbar fleet on Attack, they won't be able to pursue them. Forecastle will figure out what they are doing. From there they can design a strategy where they never approach the Anchorbar fleet. Just go around them. Try to goad them or force them into initiating combat. So they have to spend some Move and can't go all Attack. Maybe use more of those eagles as scouts to see where the Fleet is trying to hide. That'll give their side the out they need even after losing their entire fleet a third time. A strategy they can use to beat Anchorbar.

I've figured your story out, Rob. It's over. Stick a fork in it it's done.
Hmmm, if we assume the tamed beast scenario, I have what I think is a decent working theory (hopefully not about to be smashed to pieces next update):

1. Underwater units can't maintain a stack while just swimming around. That is to say, a lubber warlord who could tame and command a beast can't go swim with it, can't go attack boats underwater with it... since it's doing these things, it's unled. It can stack, but in the purposes of a fight unless you want to stack a warlord and use him till he drowns (Not a very efficient strategy, or a very pratical one) you do not have an aimed weapon.

2. What Ancorbar can do, however, is have the unit understand it shouldn't attack it's own side. So, any ship where it COULD stack with somebody, it doesn't attack. Thus, with lubbers in anchorbar command, it understands it should attack all those ships without a lubber instead. The lubbers on the other side don't matter, it can't stack with those, so Duke is not protection against it. His ship sinking after he left it is just good luckamancy on his part, if he'd stayed on it wouldn't have been any less a target. But an achorbar warlord captured very much is. This confused the beast. This is a ship with somebody it could stack on, so it's not supposed to attack that ship. Hence the enemy's desire to "show" Duke by being croaked.

3. Speculation: Now that they are in a clear hex, the monster might have followed them, after all, this was the closest ship with somebody it could stack with, it may be waiting for a stacking (Units can be ordered to go to a place, so while I don't think you can give an unled unit complex orders like "attack this ship and this ship" you probably can assign it to "go that way/Go to that ship" where the unstacked monster then follows it's instinct to sink ships and attack enemies) And here he might be seen. Anchorbar made their fights in storm hexes to prevent just such a situation.
insanenoodlyguy wrote:

2. What Ancorbar can do, however, is have the unit understand it shouldn't attack it's own side.

Unled units never attack their own side. Auto-attack only occurs against units from another non-allied side.
insanenoodlyguy wrote:
...Duke is not protection against it. His ship sinking after he left it is just good luckamancy on his part, if he'd stayed on it wouldn't have been any less a target.

This is possible, but the text strongly implies otherwise, imo. In real life, weird coincidences like that might happen, but fiction has to be more plausible. :P

As for the rest, we shall see. Hopefully today!