The Cliffhanger ending to Part 1 of our “Sunless Sea” campaign.

This is how Part 1 of our "Sunless Seas" campaign recently ended.


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So some quick backstory. I am the DM, and my 3 friends are Onek, Red, and Serrek. 

Onek is a Vedalkin ranged fighter, and captain of their ship “The Verdict” 

Red is a Tabaxi monk, first mate. 

Serrek is a Yuan-ti, second mate. 

The world is heavily inspired by the games “Sunless Seas” and “Sunless Skies”, both very Lovecraftian styled games. The world the players are in in an eternal night and most of the world is covered by dark oceans except for small islands that dot the horizon. Onek, Red, and Serrek were contracted by an Old One named Mr. Argyle to find a way of opening this large black box they had recovered on a previously expedition to the land of the dead. The group cannot remember how they found the box, they just woke up on day aboard the ship with the box in their hold. 

When they had woken up they discovered they had been missing for 5 years and were declared dead by The Trust, the finacial organization of the Avid Horizon. The Trust handles all banking and beaucratic work for the Empire of Albion and her colonies of the Avid Horizon. The group learns that because they are legally dead they will need to prove they are alive, otherwise it will make continuing their mission for Mr. Argyle very difficult. Being dead makes it hard to buy fuel for your ship when the port authority thinks you’re sailing a dead man’s ship. 

So they’re directed to an Archdeviless named Magnolia. Magnolia owns a large island in the north and she is one of the few “Soul Apraisers” approved by The Trust. She can sample their soul and prove they are alive. Once the proper paperwork is filed the Trust can reinstate their status amongst the living. 

They arrive at Magnolia’s and each is given the same proposal. Magnolia will wave her substational appraisal fee if they’re willing to give her any information on the black box Mr. Argyle wants them to open. She either wants the box, or the key to the box. Onek and Serrek refuse her offer, but Red takes the offer when Magnolia sweetens the deal with some information. Red is on quest of vengence, and Magonlia knows where one of her targets is. Red agrees to the proposal and Magonolia appraises their souls, proving they’re alive. Red is certain if she can string Magnolia along long enough she can find a way to get out of this contract without betraying Mr. Argyle, provided he doesnt find out about the deal first. 

The group does some more sailing around the dark seas. They deal with pirates and sea monsters. After a few months go by Argyle contacts them, he’s discovered something that might lead them to the key to the box. He’s discoverved the location of a Grimoire, one of the few books of ancient Eldritch knowldge said to have been penned by the Great Lord Cthulu himself! This Grimoire, named Searchlight, might have the information they need. The group is asked to recover the book and bring it to him on an island called Chrono. Chrono is where another old one, Mr. Houndstooth, maintains the Great Clock that keeps time in the Avid Horizon. 

The group is able to recover the Grimoire, and when they make their way back to their ship they find that some of Mr. Argyle’s men are aboard. A half-elf introduces himself as Mr. Avery Tepish and informs the group that Argyle is rather upset with them, Red especially. What Red didn’t know was every month I would roll to see if Magnolia would rat on her to Mr. Argyle. Red was foolish to trust a Devil. Argyle thugs locked her away in the brig and Mr. Tepish orders the ship to set sail for Chrono immdiatly. 

As a group we like to keep things fresh so usually when we reach a good mid point for a game we’ll change gears to a different game. We’ll play half way through that one then return to the previous game, it’s worked really well for us over the years. 

This is how I described to the group there fateful meeting with Mr. Argyle on Chrono Island…

“The Trip from Haberdash (an island where they had stopped to refuel) to Chrono passes pretty uneventfully. When you arrive you see the island is nothing but scorched white earth, a single tower rises some three thousand feet into the air. The northern face of the tower is topped with a massive clock face, even from the docks you can hear the methodical ticking of the second hand making its rounds. 

Two large gates close behind your vessel as she settles into the dock. A pair of massive arms grip her sides and you hear the water begin to drain from the basin you’re not locked into. 

“Your ship and crew will be sequestered here.” Mr. Tepish waits for Serrek and Onek to disembark before joining his four thugs in escorting Red down the gangplank. A dozen more men are waiting on the dock, they’re dressed in similar suits and argyle ties but aren’t as burly as the thugs they’re use to seeing. Each is also armed with a pump-action shot gun. There’s a lantern dotted path leading to the base of the tower, takes about 20 minutes to walk there. 

The door opens and you’re greeted by a pair of hooden women, they look like nuns but the white and red of their robes doesn’t match any nunnery you’ve ever heard of. Each has a clock face tatooed on their left cheek, their tattoos keep time with the ticking of the Great Clock. The woman on the left introduces herself as February, and the woman on the right tells you her name is May. They’re both representatives of the Calendar Council and welcome you to the Seat of Time. The ticking of the Great Clock is almost deafening but the soft voices of February and May cut through the cacophony. 

You’re given no time to examine the large space around you. Tepish brushes past the councilwomen and leads you to a large door and down a winding staircase. The air gets warmer as you descend. You arrive in a boiler room where faceless men in grey coveralls are shoveling coals into a mighty furnace. A great shadow is cast over you as the furnace mouth opens and shuts. Mr. Argyle stands, arms crossed, with his back to you. 

You notice the rapturous ticking of the Great Clock does not reach you down here. 

“We have much to discuss,” Argyle arches his head towards you, “How you three answer my questions will determine whether you leave this place, of become fuel for the churning gears of time. You do remember what I said from the start, don’t you? You rise and fall as a group!” 

END SCENE! Season 2 confirmed!”


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