JJ is Fenfaril, and Elf Mage aligned to The Clock: a chronomancer. She has styled, short hair, a think body, and is of indeterminate age. Her robes are a mishmash of styles, some dated, some futuristic.
Bill is Marikoth, an Elf Fighter who wields a shield and wicked, flesh-rending flail covered in piercing spikes and hooks. He has hard eyes, wild her, scarred skin, and a ravaged body: battleworn.
Both are of neutral alignment.
GM: You are struggling to stay afloat in violently churning water, grasping at bits of wreckage from The Cupid. It is sinking so fast that only its wide stern is still visible. Aside from that single break in the horizon there is only water and wreckage as far as the eye can see. Your greatest fear is the sharks that are happily picking off your fellows one by one. That is, until…
The water begins to “boil” beneath you, fish leap from the surface all around, some of them flying blindly into you with great force in their sheer panic. Then a ring of translucent white spikes break the surface in all directions. These rapidly growing peaks form a circle easily 30 yards in diameter.
A whirlpool begins to form inside this growing ring of … Teeth!
Only when you see a ring of grayish-pink gum beneath the tree-sized spurs of bone do you realize these jagged triangles are the teeth of the most massive creature you have ever seen …. and you are going down its gullet!
Let’s go back about 10 minutes…
The Sinking of The Cupid
[Note, I planned this one-shot to run at a con for a table of six, so I went ahead and asked all my questions, even though there were only two players.]
GM: Marikoth, what disturbing rumors floated around the docks about The Cupid, and why did you board her anyway?
M: She's in bad need of repairs, but we are desperate!
GM: Fenfaril, where is The Cupid headed and why is it so important you reach there?
F: To the forest island of Quendril. We carry a summons from the queen of the elves; she calls for her brother.
GM: Marikoth, you once swore you would never get on a ship again. Why? What changed?
M: I get terribly seasick! I have sailed three times since anyway, but only to serve the Queen herself will I get on a ship.
GM: Fenfaril, what made the Captain of the Cupid turn south into the fabled Sea of Monsters?!
F: Three pirate ships were closing in on us.
GM: Fenfaril, there was a famous explorer lost in this sea nearly ten years ago. What was that explorer's name and what did they seek to discover?
F: Bombaril was searching for the Isle of Mermaids.
GM: Marikoth, you catch one of the other passengers looking at you several times during the voyage, describe them. Why do you think they are interested in you?
M: The person I catch staring at me is a refined man in charge of others. I think he's looking at my scars.
GM: Ok, both of you, where were you when you felt something collide with the ship and everyone began shouting?
F: In my cabin, reading.
M: On the focsle, heaving!
GM: The ship is listing hard to starboard, stern down. It makes you slightly nauseous. Everyone is screaming for help and clawing at the higher and dryer portions of planking. What do you do?
[Marikoth grips the mast, but (Defy Danger STR, 6-) it cracks beneath the weight of fallen rigging and everyone climbing on it.]
GM: He pitches into the water and will surely drown in all that armor if he doesn't find a bit of flotsam soon! (M: Defy Danger STR to swim to the fallen mast, 7-9.) You see a piece of the mast, but it is already overloaded with people. To get a spot you know what you will have to do! (Put them in a spot.)
[Marikoth pulls another poor soul off, into the water, without a second thought and grips the mast!]
GM: In the hold, Fenfaril, your cabin is beginning to fill with water. Through your cabin door you hear pounding feet and the cracking of timbers. What are you doing?
[Fenfaril hears the confusion and tries to assess the situation (Discern Realities 6-), but he can't see much from inside his cabin and the water is rising! He summons his magical energies and tries to slow time around him so he has more time to act (Cast 7-9, in doesn't last long). He manages to gather his stuff and work his way through the confusion and up the ladder before he feels the spell slipping.]
GM: Marikoth, something bumps into your leg and slides by. Seconds later you catch the round eyes of another swimmer nearby, and then they are jerked under - mouth open for a scream that never escapes their lungs.
Marikoth: I see the inevitable and I try to hold onto the mast until the last second. As the creature closes his mouth I'm hoping the mast lodges in it sideways. I try to paddle with my feet and position it. (Defy Danger STR, 12!)
GM: You do that! Fenfaril, your head is peering out of the hatch. The shipmates you just climbed over to get there are now slowly, slowly turning their heads to stare at you. What do you do?
Fenfaril: I look around. Is there a captain's launch? A small boat I could free?
GM: There is, but how are you going to get there with the deck nearly vertical?
Fenfaril: I assess the situation, running through the steps of what I'm about to attempt in my mind. I'm visualizing a complicated, acrobatic path to the boat.
[GM: Like in the Sherlock Holmes movie? F: Nods. GM: Yes!! -- I can't remember what we rolled here, but he got a 7-9]
GM: You see it! But at one point you have to swing from a rope and "catch" a spar as it swings around. Trouble is, that spar is heavy looking and it's coming fast. It's going to hurt!!
Fenfaril: Yes it is. I leap into the air, landing on the second mast that is now horizontal, running along its length. I grab the rope I've seen will be there and swing into empty space.
GM: The spar catches you right in the midriff, knocking the air out of you (roll d6 damage).
Fenfaril: Oof. Okay, I drop into the boat though. Shaken but mostly ok.
[Fenfaril tries to cut both ropes holding the launch up at the same time and fails miserably. One end swings below the other and he is forced to choose (put them in a spot) to either hold onto the boat or his bag of books, which he used to grab one of the ropes and bring it within cutting distance. He chooses his books and falls into the drink and goes under.]
GM: Mariketh, your plan worked! For what that's worth. As the massive creature draws its jaws together, blotting out the sun, the mast catches for a moment, holding the jaws apart. Below your dangling feet you see the water, wreckage, and people draining away into its gullet. And ... you see a whole world below. It's like you are looking into a huge natural chimney. There are strange living creatures on the walls and flitting through the air below you. The last of the water is almost gone and you can feel the mast flexing. It's time for you to take the fall or ...
M: Yeah, I drop!
GM: You do...
GM: In your final moments you think back over your life...
GM: Marikoth your weapon bears scars on it too. What great battle are they from?
M: They are from the war against the bugbears and giants.
GM: How did your weapon save your life in that battle?
M: I was falling, spent, and an ogre was bearing down on me. I flung my weapon at his head as a last ditch effort. It smashed into his forehead, flying higher and farther than could possibly be explained by my weak throw, and felled the ogre. It toppled and landed just inches beside me, then I passed out. When I awoke the battle was over and I had been counted among the dead.
GM: Fenfaril, you are seeking a rare ingredient for a ritual that you are desperate to perform. What is the ingredient?
F: A pixie trapped in amber.
GM: What do you hope to do with that?
F: The queen is passing into the West. It's why she has called her brother. We need a repository for her knowledge that we can consult when she's gone. We want to save all that lore.
GM: And the amber is/will be the repository?
GM: Your mentor tried the ritual once before you. What is your mentor's name and why did he fail?
F: Quelan, In his pride he tried to be the vessel himself. He is now a mindless, drooling invalid.
GM: Intense cold. Muffled sounds. Tumbling uncontrollably in a rush of seawater, alongside other creatures and bits of The Cupid. No sense of up or down, no hope. The end comes with a crash that knocks the remaining air out of your lungs. Against your will you gasp for air …
And there is air!
You are lying on a spongey beach of flesh and the remaining wave of water flows past you into a dark tunnel. The stench of rotting flesh and seawater is almost unbearable, but you are, for the moment alive. And you have no idea which way is out. What do you do?