The complete "make over" of the pearl is what I like best. The fact that it brought about the unlife of a savage pirate who feels compelled to hunt them down is great.
Thanks! I have to give credit to a buddy of mine who made an offhand comment about the pirate "coming back" and I ran with it.
One of my players, upon meeting Savage Quenn, said out-of-character, "Geez, he's the Scourge of the Wooly Bay
but I--a first level PC--was able to defeat him in combat? He's not that
During the game, without knowing why, I said "He's supposed to be that way--there's a reason behind it." Naturally, I had no idea what that reason was, but I bluffed and they fell for it hook, line & sinker. Yet the player's comment gnawed at me.
I also played Quenn as slightly "Zapp Brannigan"-like, basically a loser who has a higher opinion of himself than he should, slimey and dripping with insincerity. (Easy for me to portray, as I work with people like that.
Eventually, I resolved the idea that Quenn was a middle man--he was working as a lacky for someone else that was either unwilling, or unable, to terrorize the coast. A twisted version of a 'mentor and student'. I also recalled a TV show about pirates, in which it was stated that "the infamous pirates are the ones that got caught--the really dangerous
pirates remain unknown and uncaptured."
That's when I struck on the idea of a pirate, much higher level, that was able to impart knowledge to Quenn (who would reap the rewards of the more experienced pirate's suggestions).
Tranicos the Damned (I'm a R E Howard fan) was shipwrecked on a small isle in the middle of the Nyr Dyv. Tranicos discovered a black sceptre at the bottom of an unnatural well on the isle. This sceptre drained his life essence and made him into the ghost he became. (I actually used a critter I found in the Tome of Horrors 3, as I recall--not really a "ghost" per se
Tranicos was looking for an item that "slots" into the top of the sceptre--a dark orb of maign power. (Can you see where this is going?
) When the orb is joined with the sceptre, it creates an artifact that opens a breach between worlds--in this case, Greyhawk and Ravenloft! Tranicos is stuck, though, at the bottom of his well, and can't track down the orb himself.
Quenn discovered the isle...and the ghostly pirate. They struck a bargain. Quenn would retrieve the black pearl, and Tranicos would "teach" Quenn how to be a better pirate. For years, Quenn searched dark places, poured over tomes of questionable morality, listened to loathsome gossip and rumors...and discovered that the pearl was in Sezrakan's tower.
...Now, if it weren't for those pesky heroes coming along and messing everything up....
As a spoiler: The heroes failed. TPK. Tranicos merged the sceptre & orb. The barriers between Greyhawk and Ravenloft blurred & dissolved. I advanced the timeline 300 years, adding a crazy mix of steampunk--heavy influences from Gibson & Sterling's Difference Engine
, Ravenloft and Greyhawk. I didn't tell the players that they're in the same world, but had them create new PCs.
Now the new PCs are running around Dementlieu, battling men who're weilding "the first guns ever in this world" and avoiding steamjacks, and I get to do a horribly bad
fake French accent! Mon dieu