Command Crew of the Graceful Dame

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I-VIII. Departing Bridgetown, Barbados. Saturday, January 20, 1725 Anno Domini

  • With the Princess Mary at her side, the Graceful Dame departs Barbados, well aware that the Rumjack is in pursuit. It’s now going to become a stern chase, Captain Hayden intent on reaching the rendezvous point in the 17-mile separation between Dominica and Guadeloupe where he expect the H.M.S. Pelican to be waiting.
  • Captain Hayden opts to split the crew up into two shifts, with him commanding one and Leftenant Rogers in charge of the second. A pair of “dog watches” cover the 16:00 to 20:00 period to allow for dinner; the captain is quite aware that this watch shift would be untenable in the long run for such a small crew, but the rendezvous spot is only two days away and he wishes someone on watch at all times in case the Rumjack attempts something sneaky.
  • While reviewing his journal, Doctor Spenser notes something strange: his memories of the encounter with “Miss Anansi” do not line up with what he wrote; cautious questioning of Sir Randel and Mister Palange reveal they do not recall anything odd either, which the good doctor would take as indicating he hallucinated that part … were it not for the odd injury to his hand.
  • The first day is tense but uneventful, with night setting in quickly and concealing the Rumjack from view. The pursuing cutter is sailing without any lights, forcing Leftenant Rogers to consults Captain Hayden about whether they should increase speed. Ultimately, it is decided that they will hold the course.
  • With dawn, they discover that the Princess Mary has drifted off-course somewhat; the larger merchant vessel quickly slides back into formation. The Rumjack is still on their tail.
  • Early on the second day, a ship in distress is observed. After considering the distance between their convoy and the Rumjack, the command crew of the Graceful Dame decide that they must lend assistance; recognizing their intent, the Princess Mary also comes about and brings man survivors aboard.
  • The French captain of the now lost merchantman, one Bastien Dufresne, admits that they struck a reef; his first officer, a Portugese man named Bruno, grumbles that his captain as an incompetent fool responsible for this entire fiasco. The two men nearly come to blows over this dispute, but Doctor Spenser steps in to convince them that this is not the place for a duel. They agree to set it aside for the time being.
  • As they near the rendezvous point in the afternoon, a strange fog begins to settle in, which confuses nearly everyone who has any understanding of the weather. There is no sign of the H.M.S. Pelican which is mildly disconcerting, even as the visibility drops sharply to the point that they can barely see more than a half mile. Behind them, the Rumjack increases its speed to keep up, though it does not seem they are yet committed to an attack.
  • Abruptly, Mister Lucroy, who is acting as lookout, calls that a sail has been sighted, dead ahead. It is not the Pelican, but rather a fifth-rate sitting quietly in the fog, its commissioning pennant so long that drags into the water. Captain Hayden recalls abruptly the story of a ship known as the Charon that was cursed to never enter port, and how its commissioning pennant grows longer each year that it is barred from entry.
  • As Captain Hayden begins ordering a minor course change to avoid this mystery ship, it begins moving toward them, clearly violating the laws of physics to do so. The ship passes by the Graceful Dame at less than pistol shot distance, which allows everyone the opportunity to see its crew: there is something undefinably … weird about the unnaturally silent sailors aboard the unknown vessel, enough so that everyone shivers or, in the case of poor Mister Sherd, passes out on deck.
  • The ghostly ship gathers speed, seemingly intent on ramming the Rumjack who desperately try to get out of the way but are too slow and caught by surprise … but there is not horrific crash. Instead, the Charon (presuming that is who the fifth-rate is) passes through the cutter and continues on its way, eventually vanishing entirely in the fog. As it does so, the crew of the Rumjack simply collapse.
  • As the fog rapidly (and mysteriously) burns off, the Pelican appears and races toward the now drifting Rumjack. The cutter is warned to heave-to, but there is no response and, soon after, Captain Lockhart of the Pelican dispatches boarders.
  • Captain Hayden and his command crew are summoned to the Pelican to discuss the events where they discover from Captain Lockhart that they found only corpses aboard the Rumjack. Even the bloody rats were dead! Doctor Spenser innocently declares that it must have been the ghost ship, which prompts a further discussion about what they witnessed. Had they not witnessed this with their own eyes, Captain Hayden declares, they would not have believed it. Still, as the Rumjack was quite obviously “engaging” the Graceful Dame, Captain Lockhart is able to take her as a prize; in appreciation of this fact, he not only allows several of the Dame’s crew to go aboard the Rumjack to try and seek answers as to why the cutter was pursuing them, but he also allows them to take all four of the 4-lb guns, much to Mister Palange’s delight.
  • The French crew pulled from the sinking ship go aboard the Princess Mary as her captain has a schedule to meet and cannot tarry while the cannon are transferred, though he is happy to have lent assistance to the Graceful Dame.
  • A little after midnight on January 22, the Graceful Dame at Saint Kitts.

Player Notes:

  • Our expectations were subverted. All of us were expecting a naval battle, but instead we got a ghost ship.
  • This is the second time we’ve encountered real supernatural stuff and this time, no one has “forgotten” like the encounter with Miss Anansi.
  • The Portugese sailor “Bruno” who we pulled out of the sinking French ship was named for one of our constant Twitch audience members, exactly like the Captain Button we encountered back in episode 5.
  • Something that didn’t really occur to me until after the fact and is really something I may need to consider for other games as well is some indication of how the NPC crew react when Fright Checks are called for. Now obviously, a GM may not want to roll a check for each character … perhaps I should recommend that each player be assigned a NPC and roll for them? Something to consider, I suppose…

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.