The group was part of the crew of the Adrianne, a frigate hauling Lumber from the Free Towns to the Kieran Empire. Off the coast of Torath-Ka, your ship was hit by something large below the waterline. Several of the crew were sucked out thebottom in an instant, and a broken lantern set the hull ablaze. Your captain, Jonas Abraham from Earth’s England, managed to beach the ship on the shores of Torath-Ka—the Savage Land, but it seemed the Adrianne was doomed. Captain Abraham send a group out foraging for provisions while the other 20 sailors of the Adrianne began salvaging what they could from the wreck.
After about an hour, the search party found a sloop, the Antelope, also wrecked on the shore, apparently for some length of time. It had been severely damaged by cannon fire and the main mast was long gone, but most of the wood seemed it would still be serviceable. With luck, this ship could be cannibalized to repair the Adrianne. Most of the search party ventured inside the wreck, while Gramps the Scurrilian, Steve the Doreen, and Jason the Chinese gadgeteer (what the heck are your characters’ names again?) waited outside.
The three outside failed their Notice rolls, and were caught unawares when a yellowback (basically a 7’ tall velociraptor) sprang out from behind some rubble to attack Jason. The Doreen drew his knife and attacked, while Gramps let fly with hot pistol lead. Hearing the gunfire, the rest of the search party quickly emerged from the wreck. The Kehana called Resig sent a dagger flying into the beast, and moments later, Ozark the Faht had crushed its head with his Grael Battleball. It didn’t take long for the animal to be carved up for meat, and the group started back toward the Adrianne with vittles and good news.
Unfortunately, the Adrianne was the site of a disaster. The fire, which had been mostly under control only a few hours before, now almost consumed the ship. Worse, the sand was covered in blood, and several bodies floated in the water. The Doreen recovered the body of the ship’s cargo officer, and Resig confirmed the group’s worst fears when she pulled from the waves the body of an Ugak, one of the savage Red Men of Torath-Ka.
Searching for tracks, the group found a trail of humanoid footprints and drag marks leading into the jungle. Readying their weapons, they followed. About two miles in, they heard chanting in a clearing ahead. The helmsman, Sanguine “Halitosis” Eddie crept forward, finding about ten Ugaks gathered around a large boiling pool of blood the few remaining crew tied on their knees next to some sort of shaman. A large statue of an ape looked on as the shaman of the savages pushed Captain Abraham into the pool, where his flesh was quickly burned from his bones.
Quickly, the group mounted a surprise attack. Within moments, the Ugaks were falling like flies, assaulted by bullets, swords, black powder bombs, and mystical blasts of air and fire. The shaman was ignited by magic fire from Coniferous, the Kraken mage, and fell into the pool, screaming final curses as he perished. It was a little too soon to celebrate, however, as the blood began to bubble, and soon a 20’ tall ape burst from the pool. The crew managed to hold together, pelting the creature with lead and sorcery. Sarlacc Bonez, the cabin boy and arrogant swordsman, leaped on the monster, climbing up its back. Sanguine Eddie soon followed suit, stabbing the beast in the kidney with his cutlass. Sarlacc reached the neck and drove his rapier in deep, and the beast howled in rage and agony. Coniferous finished it off with a volley of fire that blasted clean through the mighty ape.
After freeing the last of the crew, the survivors of the Adrianne returned to the beach. Putting Ozark’s great strength to use, they began dragging supplies from the ship to the Antelope, realizing that the Adrienne was lost. The next few days were tense, as the crew worked frantically to make the Antelope seaworthy, all the while watching the jungle for hostiles. Jason put his engineering genius to work directing the labor, while the massive Ozark lifted the timbers into place. After three grueling days, the ship was dragged into the water at high tide and the survivors pulled aboard. The Antelope sloop was a sickening sight, as was once noted. She leaked furiously and listed to the port. The sails, affixed to the new, crudely fashioned mast, were in rags.
But she floated. The crew began the slow journey back to the Free Towns, their trade mission abandoned. The next day, about noon, Amda the Minstrel spied something floating in the distance from the crow’s nest. As the ship closed, they recognized the debris field from yet another wrecked ship, floating on the surface. Clinging to the largest piece was, presumably, the sole survivor. A rope was tossed down, and Equias the Scurillian was hauled aboard, along with a large sack full of charts and surveyor’s tools. Grumbling in the manner of the crab-people, she (Gramps recognizes her as a female, nor that the rest of you have any idea how they tell the difference) muttered her gratitude.
“Thanks. I think. Your craft might be less safe than that debris I was floating on. One of those big sharks the ugaks summon hit us. Ripped the hull right out of the Lala’s Pride and sent her to the bottom. The men went down with her. It tried to take a bite out of me too but spit me out. Too tough, I guess.” She chuckled, tapping her hard shell.
Over dinner that night, Equias told her tale more thoroughly. “I used to be a super for the Spanish Guild. I got to travel a lot. We scurillians like to measure things, y’know. Facts and figures. That’s us. So everywhere we went, I began measuring the depth of the water. Over the course of a few months, I noticed the water level had risen nearly six inches! Numbers don’t lie, so I cashed out my retirement plan, hired a boat, and started cruising around the isles measuring the water depth. I’m sorry to report that Caribdus is still drowning. My best guess is that the Free Towns as we know them will disappear in five years. Within fifteen, the entire world will be underwater and all surface-life will cease. You can imagine the wars that will be fought over the last few islands in the meantime as well. If you’ve got it in your heart to perform some noble quest to stop it, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I don’t know why this is happening or how to stop it. My best guess is that our assumption that the Sea Hags’ flood was over was wrong. Perhaps it has just slowed to a steady drip. I had thought about asking Tressa the Red about this matter, but I have no means of navigating the Gullet, and am not sure she’ll want to share anything she knows anyway. You know how those damnable mages are with all their secrets and shenanigans.”
The mood around the table grew somber. If what this creature said was true, the world was doomed. And what could a dozen sailors aboard a leaky old boat do about it?
Thus begins our tale.