OOC: As you will learn, it’s not exactly a demon cult, though a demon was indicated in the spiders’ mostly true propaganda movie. The Executioner revered to it as a Blood Cult, the lizardfolk’s native religion gone wrong, basically.
There’s not much more that can be learned about the actual cult before you leave for the Monkey Isles. The Executioner, the guy who’s running the mission, regards your characters as the present experts so efforts at getting more INTEL will prove circular.
It’s still a very long haul mission, which has only been made a few times by locals, once by the Pirate Lord himself in his younger days. Tne PL deigns to meet the Dragons , arriving during one of your meetings with the Executioner.
The Pirate Lord greets the Dragon’s leaders heartily, congratulating them on their decision to undertake the mission.
Few ships have made the journey to the Monkey Isles. He himself made the voyage in his younger days. Today, it is mostly lizardfolk trade cats that ply the trade route.
He describes what he remembers of the voyage. A stormy sail eastwards, across a sea of dangerous reefs. Once in the night they were attacked by sea-ghouls. A giant shark rammed them. Sea elves poured on board and demanded they be feted with music and exotic wine.
As for the islands. Lovely but dangerous, tropical, clad in steaming forests that teemed with monsters. Small, but rich and well organised lizardfolk towns produced valuable resources but were stingy with trade rights and suspicious of visitors. Only one town, Rainbow Bay, permitted full trade and has been linked to Cove Secret ever since.
Performing a favour for the sole trade partner might help trade relations not only with the town, but perhaps boost the pirates’ reputation in neighbouring communities.
A trade cat captain, carrying the credentials of an unofficial ambassador, visited the PL while the Dragon was away with the attack fleet. He has asked for a pirate ship to visit the town and assist with their problems. Cult activity sounded similar to the antics uncovered locally by the Dragons. A ruined jungle temple inland from Rainbow Bay was restored by cultists for cult sacrifices, but the town’s military invaded and destroyed the cultists. Now it seems to be operating in the town itself as an undercover cult...
...the town’s ruler wants the cultists’ base revealed or ideally destroyed. Local police, bribed, blackmailed or subtly in cahoots with the culprits have had no succcess...
...the pirate ship is to arrive incognito, as an official group of adventurers and chancers. By brawling, drinking and doing adventures in the area they will seem to present little threat to the cult. But as outsiders they may be able to discover what is really afoot....
...a contact , an ex-soldier named (patriotically) Rainbow Spear, will be their secret liaison in the City...
OOC: I’ve tried to provide the main exposition there but if you wish you can try to pose questions that the PL or Ex can answer. Perhaps more importantly, work out the terms of the mission-would you like to be paid in treasure, 5000 for the mission, or given a percentage of any trade deal negotiated afterwards.
It is an official, Cove Secret mission so provisions, gunpowder etc will be provided by the town chandlers at the PL’s expense.
Shelly tries not to get involved in the negotiations over their reward, both because she knows how badly things tend to go if she uses her particular brand of negotiation tactics on a Pirate Lord and also because the manner of reward matters less to her than the amount. She does point a couple of things out to her fellow officers who are taking a more active role in the negotiations. Firstly that their crew tend to be the type to prefer a smaller reward now than a larger reward at some point in the future when a trade deal bears fruit. Secondly that posing as adventurers will give them lots of opportunity to pick up interesting treasures off the natives so maybe negotiating a cash advance for the crew, leaving all fruits of the trade deal for the Pirate Lord and letting the officers keep any treasures they make while "adventuring" is a fair way to divide the potential spoils.
Obviously she is less eloquent than this in getting her point across to her fellows "So as long as we get some gold to pay tha crew, we can hold on ta any shiny stuff we find out there and the Lord can 'ave tha trade deal or whatever. Wrap that up in yer silver tongues fer the big man and see if we can get a deal, right?"
Meanwhile she pores over the Pirate Lord's tale of his previous voyage, trying to figure out how much of this is boasting and tall tales and how much actually happened. Did they really have to host a party for sea elves or did his crew drink all the wine they were supposed to be trading with and he made up a story that sounded better?
Shelly will, however, pipe up and ask what type of trade goods the Rainbow Bay locals are into. Most of the hold will be taken up with provisions for the voyage probably, but it would be a shame to waste a trip if they could make a little cash on the side by selling the locals something nice and profitable like a crate of muskets or some fine imported silks or something.
Sense motive (natural 1, total 6) on the Pirate Lord, trying to cut through the normal pirate boasting to get a decent idea on what actual dangers they have in front of them
Shelly begins to think that the dangers must be great indeed and the Pirate Lord is withholding information in case the pirates give up the quest.
But as the conversation continues, the PL does not stint in expressing the degree of risk. Lizardfolk catamarans travel across the Sea of Storms in small convoys, accepting the frequent loss of a boat or two as a necessary cost.
OOC: I don't want his intentions to be a mystery. In fact he is dealing failry-suggesting that they will not arrive at the Monkey Isles without many incidents, including a possible visit to the Sea Devil's Chest.
Is there a flotilla of lizard cats going out soon? Convoying with them would be to our mutual advantage. It would probably pay, as Shelly notes, to bring some goods along to trade on our own account, to fill out whatever loot we pick up en route. An empty hold is wasted space.
Motives. Twitch's hunches confirm that the PL and Ex are not hiding anything especially. They clearly value the Dragon's experience in these matters. Not hiding anything concern the risks and outcomes.
Reward The PL and Exe agree to a cash payment in advance of 1000 poe, with 4000 on the mission's completion, on the understanding that there will no further claim on trade deals negotiated as a result of the mission's success.
Cat fleet. Since the passage across the Sea of Storms is so dangerous, square-rigged cat fleets move only when the "Messenger" Trade Wind is at full strength. Let's check if there's anything going out. Next player please roll 1d6:
1. a fleet of (1d3+1) boats is ready to go; they have been informed of your expedition and are waiting for you
2 an unrelated fleet is scheduled to sail today
3 ...in 1d6 days
4 ...in 1d6 weeks
5 ...in 1d6 months
6 no eastbound ships leaving in the foreseeable future
The PL/Ex will resist efforts to delay by more than a week.
Preparations. we can assume that you make careful preparations for the ship, taking int account sails, ropes, stores, medicines, gunpowder, etc. If you want, those with profession (sailor) can roll on the following (I'll use best roll) , which is weighted towards high standards of prep. I'll assume the time limit of a week.
0-5 the chandlers and crew achieve poor standards for long-haul travel
15-19...good standards... morale will be maintained by good provisions, medicines and fortifying grog
20-24 ..excellent standards.... as above, includes availability of gear even for unlikely emergencies
25-29...exemplary standards ....as above, but includes modifications to the ship's rig, trim and layout
30, 30+...legendary standards....chandlers will later refer to the preparations for this voyage as a model undertaking
Describe any measures that your character, individually undertakes for the voyage if you wish....
Fergis dives into the Pirate Lord’s tale, cajoling him to reveal further details, while sifting the facts from the tall tales that calcified into memory. He also relates the sequence of events to the navigation route, trying to get a sense of what happened where.