Thursday, 29 January 2015

Any Port in a Storm. Plot hooks for your nautical/sea-side adventures.

“I steer between the crashing rocks, the sirens call my name

Lash my hands onto the helm, blood surging with the strain

I will not fail now, as sunrise comes, the darkness left behind

For eternity I follow on, there is no other way…”

- Ghost of the  Navigator – Iron Maiden

You’re at sea, desperate, trying to claw your way out the throat of a deadly storm that’s threatening to send you all to a watery grave. But wait, what’s that? On the horizon, it’s… it’s a lighthouse! Praise Poseidon and his barnacled beard! It’s a port!

But…just what type of port is it? Random plot hooks for your nautical/sea-side shenanigans in strange harbour towns.


1) There’s a killer on the road…

The harbour is near deserted at this time of night. Mercifully the winds have abated the moment you entered the shelter of the cove. It looks like you might be able to wait out the storm here after all. But first, you need food and grog! And not necessarily in that order. It’s a short trip from the desolate docks to an inn called, ‘The Salty Dog’. It’s full inside but the locals eye you with great suspicion, and answer your questions guardedly. It seems that strangers are not to be trusted, especially now, since the killings began. They call him the Ripper, and he’s left a body every night this month; not safe to go outside. “Strange though, how you said you just came in from out that storm. Old Haggerty said she got a good look at the Ripper, and bless my eyes if he doesn’t seem to look a lot like you…”

2) Do the Mash, do the Monster Mash!

The first thing that hits you is the smell. Yup, it clambers right over the aroma of brine and tar, and grabs you by the throat, making your already queasy stomach heave. You’ve spent your life adventuring; you’re no fool. It’s the smell of death if ever there was, and not recent death either, we’re talking flyblown and maggot-wriggling death. The worst kind. You head off the boat and into the darkened harbour town. Cautiously. It’s quiet. Too quiet. No fires are lit, no greetings on the air. Doors and shutters bang loudly in wind. But wait, what’s that moaning sound? And what’s that coming down the main street toward you? It’s…it’s the, undead…

3) This town is coming like a ghost town.

It might be the dead of night, but the harbour is bustling; it’s full to the gunnels with boats and junks and tall ships from lands both near and far. A veritable cornucopia of sailors, and navigators crowd the docks as merchants wait patiently for their goods to be unloaded. But wait, isn’t that old Gunter? The one eyed barbarian? You could have sworn he got killed back in the great delve of 06…and there, next to that stack of yellow wood, it’s Maxim Ling! Problem is, you know he’s dead. Why? Because you’re the one that killed him, that’s why. But the closer you get, the less sure you become. And when you come right up to them to take a closer look, they are gone. Slipped into the crowd most like. You shrug your shoulders and head to a tavern called ‘The Flying Dutchmen.’ The evening is spent carousing and drinking, whoring and wagering. A good time is had by all. But in the morning you awake, cold, stiff sore, and on the ground,with your head resting drunkenly on a moss covered gravestone, a stone’s throw from your boat. There is no harbour, no inn, and no farmer’s daughter called Sally; and, to make matters worse, you have the cold-iron taste of ghost in your mouth and not a penny to your name.

4) All the fine young cannibals.

There’s a welcoming committee waiting for you, on the docks, with torches lit and smiles that stretch from ear to ear. Never before have you seen such looks of concern, and compassion, on the faces of complete strangers. The burghers of this port ply you with hot, spiced wine, and wrap you in cloaks of the finest wool, before leading you for a hearty meal at a tavern called, ‘The Long Pig.’ All is going swimmingly, until your feet give out from under you, and, just before you hit the wooden floor, you could swear you saw the inn-keep adding what looked to be a handful of human heads to the soup tureen you all just ate from. Thank the gods the thief is a teetotaller. You might just survive this yet.

5) Spreading the Disease.

The harbour is filled with decaying slave ships. Sails untrimmed, crew lying unmoving on the swaying decks. Rats scamper everywhere. Death is in the air. You proceed up the gangplank, cautiously, and are greeted by a mob of coughing and crawling locals, begging for help. Huge boils, weeping pus and filth, cover every piece of skin you can see. One of the townsfolk gets a little too close for comfort and sneezes on you all before collapsing, dead, at your booted feet. What do you want to do?

 6) Bloodbath in Paradise
The harbour town’s locked up tighter than the Vatikaan’s Vaults. No one around. Doors and windows barricaded. The reek of garlic and wild roses is everywhere. Each abode has the sign of the Hunter’s eye painted on the door to ward off evil. When you finally convince someone to let you in they make you all drink holy water to prove you are who you say you are. It all started last month, with a strange ship that crashed into the harbour. There was no one at the helm either, the only thing to make landfall from that cursed boat was a gigantic black dog with eyes of fire that went running off into the night. Since then, strange lights have been seen up at the abandoned abbey and, people have started disappearing… only to return, pale and wan, and looking for blood. It seems as if a vampyr has set up shop…

   7) I’m just a runaway.

It’s a port, just like any other. There are boats waiting out the storm alongside you. The inn is full, and the beer is no better, or worse, than most other places you have drunk in. The next morning you leave the tavern, and the harbour, unmolested. It such a pity that those bandit stowaways had to ruin it all…

8) You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. 

The people are just so friendly! And you can think of no better place to ride out that ferocious storm. Everyone really enjoys your company…until sunset, then everything just goes Pete Tong. Bound, trussed, and about to become a sacrifice for some writhing, wriggling mass of tentacles that has erupted from the harbour waters. You’ve had better days, that’s for sure. Apparently, living here, is such a sacrifice

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