So, our Friday night gamers (including our new arrival!), have decided to give another crack at the previously failed "Pirates of the Underdark" game, which we had originally tried about a year ago. I've been looking forward to actually pulling off this concept for a while, as it's something of an open world concept, but with heavy story elements...much of which are driven by pirate legends and the like. Think "Pirates of the Caribbean" meets "Snatch" meets "Xena: Warrior Princess".
Weirdness, I know.
At any rate, to give you a feel for what this campaign will be like, here's one of our assorted pirate legends, typically told at the Styx Oarsman tavern, at the subterranean island-port of Freeport.
Baron Samhedi, Carrefour, and the Zombi Serum
In the darkest places of the world, there are roads where no man walks. Roads of the mind, of the spirit—the roads and ways of the loa. You’ll tell me they are legends, but I know better. I’ve heard the stories—not the children’s tales told at bedtime, but the real ones. Ones of the walking dead and the black-clad spirit who rides his hougan servants’ minds like on horseback. Ones of ancient creatures and degenerate islanders, who serve none but the loa and their own cannibalistic urges. Ones of the serum of the zombi.
No, not zombie. Zombi. I don’t mean a simple necromancer’s walking corpse. I mean one of the loa, riding the dead like a bucking mule, thrashing through the deck of your ship like a madman, holding the body together as it buckles and bursts with gore. I mean a thing that was once dead, but will not die again. Something you can’t kill.
Some say that the Baron Samhedi first created them—a powerful Voodoun loa who walks by night through the seas, corrupting islanders and turning them into something not quite man and not quite beast.
Some say that a surface man named Carrefour was the Baron’s first servant. He was a fencer, straight out of the Amnish school, who ventured under to seek his fortune. A fop, he thought only of gaining the best, the fastest, the most powerful. When he heard of the loa from a grimlock shaman early on in his cavernous questing, he immediately went out in search of them.
Carrefour found in an ancient subterranean swamp the flower known as “Midnight Romance”. The flower, crimson red and dripping with a green venom, serves as the primary ingredient in the Zombi serum. Carrefour harvested the flower with impeccable care, slicing it from its thorned stalk with his saber.
Carrefour’s first zombi was one of abject failure, screaming hate and gibberish into the Great Dark night. He persevered, though, and created a massive army of the creatures, berserk and maddening to behold. Soon, hundreds of the creatures roamed, mindless and mad, through the Underdark, and fields of the “Midnight Romance” bloomed amidst the shrieking fungus beneath the world.
What Carrefour didn’t count on was the savagery of his creatures. Wandering amongst the thorny vines of his precious flowers, one of his zombi servitors burst from the baskets where it lay and ripped Carrefour apart, strewing blood and gore across the venomous flowers.
Carrefour’s zombi horde dissipated throughout the Great Dark, and the creature was forgotten. The black secrets of Baron Samhedi faded into the background as time went on, and the patches of Midnight Romance grew wild through the deepest depths. This went on for years in silence, with the loa shifting through the spirit world all the while.
That is, at least, until tales of a foppish fencer, wrapped in green-venomed vines, starting to wander through the vast caverns beneath the stalactite-cities of the duergar. Wanderers and border guards disappear with regularity, and the scent of mysterious flowers sometimes fills the great halls of Gracklestugh, the ancient duergar citadel.
The loa? I know they exist. Is Carrefour one? Probably. Does that mean Gracklestugh is overrun? Not as far as I know. I still sell slaves there, and pick up fresh-forged chain to sell to the mind-flayer slavers. Will you believe me after you’ve finished your drink? Well, that’s up to you.