The city of Tak is the greatest den of thieves, pirates and cut-throats that the civilized world has ever seen! In this city of scum, there are two pirates infamous for their ruthless greed, their daring raids and their countless skirmishes with death. One of these villains is Abdul the Butcher. The other is YOU. Only one of you can be King of the Pirates. A wager is laid, a race is on. But which of you will win?
Out of Granite bay in Tak we set off on the good ship ‘Banshee’, our opponent Abdul’s ‘Haveldar’ cutting through the water beside us, the game was on and I needed to collect a massive haul of booty within the next 50 days or not be considered the greatest pirate ever. At least within the area designated in this map anyway, no other pirates were invited to this competition so I apologise if they are reading.
I had fear of no man or crew, getting personal stats of 10/22/12 and crew stats of 12/18, so feeling good about my chances of showing up this Abdul character to be the fool that he is I set about making my first choice of who I would be rinsing for all that they own. Trying to be clever I opted to set out for the mountainous isle of Enraki, ignoring the rich port of Lagash and the desert caravan routes. They just seemed too obvious to me.
Four days later I was coasting off the northernmost tip of the island which I now knew was the home to the warrior priests of Asswr sel Dablo. Thankfully, these fearsome holymen were very rich. A direct assault on their fortress seemed like a fairly dumb option, so I aimed to work my pirate cunning and throw in a little deception to try and gain access to their wealth. An unoccupied cove provided cover for the Banshee and I left my crew similarly hidden as I went up to the fortress posing as an emissary from the port of Lagash. Without any effort on my part this was all accepted and I was granted entry and an audience with the abbot. I came with word of an ‘impending attack’ from Lagash, but for a small fee I might be able to misdirect any potential assailants… snigger. Thankfully, if only for the credibility of the story, the abbot didn’t believe a word and dismissed me as an opportunist, having one of his monks open up a Mr. Burns-style trap-door beneath my feet, sending me falling into a pit for the cost of 2 Stamina. My way out was apparently through one of four doors, marked individually with a star-burst, a wheel, an upside-down triangle and a horizontal crescent.
Deciding to have a go at the star-burst door was a bad idea, on turning the handle, large metal spikes were thrust through the door, impaling me on the opposite wall and killing me instantly. My adventure was very much over. Is that my quickest fail yet??
So let’s try that again shall we, the horizontal crescent door was my next pick and was an instant upgrade on the previous experience as I wasn’t immediately murdered. However, looming through the dark behind through the doorway were two large eyes considering me with ‘carnivorous rage’, some very expressive eyes I gather. These eyes then came out from the dark to consider me more carefully in the pit and showed themselves to belong to a gigantic beast, horns sprouting from its head and down its scaly back and tail (not really horns then). What a great opportunity for an illustration, huh? Well tough, because there isn’t one. Anyway, presented with the option of taking evasive action I decided not to fight this thing and pulled off some Legolas moves by grabbing its horns and leaping off its head, success without a single Skill or Luck test needed. This pirate stuff is easy. Having climbed out of the pit though, there were still some warrior priests to worry about. Drawing my scimitar quickly I killed the monk before he had time to react, leaving me to fight the 10/8 abbot who fell without landing any hits at all. Searching the chamber brought me a chest containing 110 gold and a very fine scimitar made of Marad steel which would add 2 Skill, but not while my current Skill matched my Initial Skill. And in a move Skyrim would applaud, another hidden trap-door would lead me straight back out of the fortress to my ship and an exit from Enraki Island.
I decided that for my next move I’d be a little more direct and actively seek out some vulnerable shipping channels for some delicious loot to swipe. Predictably, four days later and we were still looking across a flat, monotonous, empty horizon. But things soon changed when a passed Luck test saw us sail upon some floating driftwood that, full of teeth marks, appeared to be the wreckage of a vessel with less Luck than we have. Amongst the remains, a few barrels of booze were fished out and onto the deck of the Banshee for my crew to enjoy, although as they had yet to do anything useful, the 2 Crew Strength it restored were wasted.
Chalk up another four days of sailing south and a storm was brewing off the Shoals of Trysta, but Luck remained with us and we ploughed straight through it without any harm to ship or crew and went through to the island of Trysta itself.
A day later we landed and on disembarking a collection of well-tended, but apparently unsupervised fields welcomed us. The cows within these fields made my crew suggest we take a few for our ships provisions, but I decided to hold fire until we knew just whose cows they were. Heading out cross-country, we at last found some of the island’s occupants in the form of a heavily armed cavalry who sent out a herald to address us. And yes, I’m not being lazy, this is the first illustration I’ve come across.
Oddly enough for a group of heavily armed warriors encountering a group of pirates sneaking across their land, they were remarkably friendly, ‘Adventurers, know that you are in the land of the King of the Four Winds and that His Majesty requests the pleasure of your company at his table’. How did he know we were here? Regardless, we set off to have dinner with the king. His castle was full of revelrie and whilst my crew indulged in wine and song, I took a seat next to king at the banquet table where through the course of our conversation I decided to be honest with him about who I was and how was in the middle of an all-in-good-fun pirate competition. He was actually very understanding of my predicament as Abdul had passed through these very halls a few days before. Perhaps that’s why the kings men were waiting for us? He had granted Abdul sacks containing the east and west winds and so felt it only fair he send me away with the north and south winds, also contained in sacks. None of which really makes sense, but I went with it anyway, he told us to open the bag containing the north wind on our way to Nippur and the west wind bag to return.
Leaving with full bellies, my crew became very interested in the sacks, thinking they be full of treasure, things were on the verge of turning nasty so rather than bribe them to keep their noses out I simply gave the scurvy dogs a volley of verbal abuse and they backed down. I’d found only 110g so far and wasn’t about to turn it over to these likely drunk idiots! The book then told me the actual point of these wind-bags and that was the manipulation of days spent travelling, standard checks were periodically being made against my Crew Strength (3D6) and these wind-bags would allow me to deduct 4 from the score in order to reduce the time spent travelling.
Two days of sailing south-west brought us to the Roc, an island formed by a mountain jutting out of the sea, rising up into the clouds, and so named due to the large species of bird that inhabit it. The text wasn’t lying either as one failed Luck test later and one of the things had swooped down at the ship and flown off with me in its talons. Typical.
Fighting my way free seemed like a risky decision to do whilst in flight, but I went for it anyway against a very strong opponent (11/10) who managed to take me down to 12 Stamina – quite a blow given that the only way to heal in the absence of provisions was the 1 Stamina recovered per day of travel. Combat was a waste of time though as she safely dropped me into her nest alongside three large eggs. In the bottom of the nest however was a small hole which led into a tunnel which would form my escape route. In the tunnel I came across the mutilated bodies of a half dozen or so men, presumably old victims of the Roc. A chance for finding valuables was how I saw it and looked a bit closer. Unfortunately this didn’t reveal a huge jewel or a gleaming bag of gold, just worms, brain-eating worms, brain-eating worms that burst from the flesh of the dead bodies in my general direction. I was not wearing the Helmet of Ut-Napishtim as the text enquired and so the worms ate into my brain, reducing my body to a shell within minutes and filling my carcass with eggs ready to leap into the brain of the next person foolish enough to not wear a Helmet of Ut-Napishtim. Can you imagine being the kind of fool that wouldn’t wear one of those! Boy is my face red! But also, more importantly, my adventure was over.