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O My Island in the Sun

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell ©2001 - 2002

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Introduction

O My Island in the Sun was initially designed as a short scenario for the British Role-Playing Society's 2001 Rocococon convention to demonstrate Run out the Guns! (RotG). It is a vague sequel to A Fistful of Doubloons. It could be adapted with minimal effort for use in an ongoing RotG campaign.

Prerequisites

O My Island in the Sun requires that the gamemaster have access to the main RotG boxed set. It does not require access to Written in Blood or All Hands on Deck. The latter book will be useful to provide a greater variety of characters.

Background

O My Island in the Sun can be set in any year during the mid to late seventeenth century. The action takes place in the Western Caribbean and the scenario opens on the 20th July 1666.

Adventure Overview

The Bonaventure, a pirate ship, has spent the past week in Port Royal, Jamaica, allowing its crew opportunities for carousing and vice in that den of iniquity. The captain and crew receive word from a trusted informant that there is trouble on Hispaniola between the Spanish and the native Arawak Indians. The planters are apparently desperate to get their goods and possibly themselves out of Santo Domingo. The governor has committed most of his forces to battling the Indians and keeping the buccaneers of nearby Tortuga Island at bay. An audacious raid could capture an entire convoy of merchantmen. More daring pirates could attempt a (partial) sack of the town as well. The party must decide upon their goals and plan their attack during their voyage from Jamaica to Hispaniola. The events at Santo Domingo will depend wholly on the party.

The Tale

Hispaniola is the oldest Spanish colony in the New World founded by Christopher Columbus, with its capital at Santo Domingo. The discovery of greater wealth in New Spain and elsewhere has led to a collapse in the island's Spanish population and the immigration of French Huguenot settlers to the western half. Pirates from the northern isle of Tortuga and restive Indians have been disturbing the peace - the latter have made common cause with escaped slaves leading to a full-scale uprising in the interior. The Huguenot settlers have little time for the Spanish and some are actively hostile.

Governor Don Luis Alvarez has sent two-thirds of his garrison inland to deal with the uprising while sending the heavily armed pinnance San Alfonso under its captain Don Pedro Gravina to hunt pirates in the offshore waters of Hispaniola. Santo Domingo is weakly defended by the remainder of the garrison split between the palace and the small fort guarding the town. The town itself has an inadequate and inexperienced militia of some hundred men led by half a dozen local grandees who are more concerned about saving their own lives. The warehouses are full of sugar and low-quality tobacco ready for shipment. The palace treasury is very full due to Alvarez's assiduous collection of taxes. Likewise the cathedral has enjoyed substantial tithes, which have been invested in gold and silver plate. Of the three ships in the harbor, the felucca Isabella has been chartered by a wealthy aristocrat (Don Mondez) intent on getting himself and his young wife (Marie-Caroline) to safety in Cuba; the other two boyer ships (the Anna and the Maria) are already heavily laden with processed sugar and tobacco. With the exception of the Isabella, the ships have only skeleton crews aboard at night; the Isabella is at half-crew strength. The ships have delayed sailing owing to the recent bad weather. Though the cannons of the harbor forts can bear on any ship in the harbor, the risk of hitting the wrong ship is high.

Joining The Story

If O My Island in the Sun is being run as a one-off scenario, the players should simply be given their characters, allowed to select a captain from among their number, and told that they are enjoying some relaxation in Port Royal.

If O My Island in the Sun is being run as part of a continuing campaign, the player-characters will already be established and the scenario should be inserted within the story arcs of the campaign at the discretion of the gamemaster.

The Adventure

Event #1 - Shore Leave

The Bonaventure's officers are enjoying a well-earned carouse in the Wooden Plank, part tavern and part brothel, drinking, wenching, or whatever takes their fancy. During the evening, they will be approached by Seamus O'Halloran, an Irish trader fallen on hard times who has no love for the Spanish as they've interfered with his (il)legal commerce with various Spanish ports on the Main and in the island. He's lately returned from Hispaniola and has interesting tidings. He'll tell the PCs, if they are willing to give him a small cut (one-twentieth of any loot they take).

"Sure, isn't there trouble in Hispaniola, and the governor is hard-pressed to stamp it out. The Arawak have attacked plantations in the interior, slaughtering men, women, and children. Slaves have escaped and made common cause with the natives, bloodthirsty villains that they are. Day before I left Santo Domingo, Alvarez (that's the governor) had sent most of his garrison inland to suppress the revolts, saving only his palace guard and few squads to man the fort and they'll be too busy looking inland. Doubtless he thinks the militia will be enough to guard the town in their absence. Bah! Half of them couldn't find their backsides with both hands, let alone point a musket in the right direction. The other half are too busy trying to get their sugar and their baccy aboard merchant ships. Damn me, the three ships that were berthed in the roads will probably be fully laden in another week and carrying only the best if their masters have any sense. That whoreson Alvarez is enforcing the averia too, squeezing every piece of eight that he can out of honest traders, blast his eyes. His palace treasury must be groaning with loot ... heh, the King of Spain will be damn lucky to see half of it. Alvarez's feathering his own nest, like the rest of the Don grandees."

"Sure, a good crew could sail in and cut out the ships before the Dons could get their britches on. Taking the ships at sea would be harder, but a bit of smart sailing, fast gunnery and hard boarding could nab some pretty prizes. Like as not, men who knew their work could even land in the town and steal the treasury from under Alvarez's poxed nose. Sure, didnae Drake himself sack Santo Domingo once upon a time."

"But if you're keen, I'd sail on the morrow. There are others with eyes to see and the wits to think. Wait too long and the Tortuga buccaneers will hear of it and sack the place themselves. I'll let youse think on it and look forward to my share of the loot."

O'Halloran will answer questions on the general layout of Santo Domingo and then leave the party to plan.

Event #2 - Back to Sea

If O My Island in the Sun is being run as part of an ongoing campaign, the GM may want to play through rounding up the crew. Most will be out drinking or wenching; a few will already be slumped in the gutters; the remainder will be aboard the ship to deter unwelcome visitors. The sober crewmembers will be quite happy to disrupt the misadventures of their fellows.

If O My Island in the Sun is being run as a convention scenario, let the PCs roust out a handful of sailors in The Wooden Plank before returning to the Bonaventure and detailing the petty officers to round the men up.

The Bonaventure should sail as soon as possible the next day. It is already suitably provisioned and equipped for immediate departure with enough supplies to reach Hispaniola and back twice. Sensible PCs won't tell the crew anything until the ship is safely at sea. It should take five days to reach Santo Domingo. The next three events will enliven the voyage and keep the PCs from spending all their time planning the raid.

Event #3 - The Poxed Sailors

On the second day out from Jamaica, the surgeon (if played by a PC) will be approached shyly by some of the younger crewmembers. After some prodding, they'll admit to experiencing some form of venereal disease. A successful Diagnosis will indicate it's not life threatening and relatively easily curable with the surgeon's medical concoctions. The PC may choose to simply prescribe the necessary medicine discreetly (and gain the friendship of these men) or may choose to add a more embarrassing surface treatment to shame the men.

Event #4 - The Waterspout

As dusk comes on the second day, the weather will turn squallish. Failure to reduce canvas now will lead to the sails "flogging" during the night and the mainsails ripping. By morning, the weather will have worsened to a gale, which will last for the rest of the day. The Bonaventure is actually sailing through the surrounding storms of a hurricane. Fortunately the hurricane is moving away from the pirates' course; unfortunately there is a waterspout (tornado) coming their way. A sharp lookout will spot the funnel cloud in good time to steer away from it. If the party is still planning, then the lookouts will be less alert and will be confused at the sight, simply requesting that an officer investigate. Weather Watching and Sailing will be key to survival. The ship should survive but the narrowness of their escape will hopefully keep the party on their toes. The weather will subside overnight.

Event #5 - The Spoils of Trade

On the fourth day, the cook will approach the purser (if a PC) to complain about one of the casks of beef that he's just opened. Apparently the meat is rotten. An investigation will reveal that the entire contents of the cask are spoiled. So are all the other beef casks. This isn't bad luck. This is deliberate roguery on the part of the supplier in Port Royal—John Gauntley. In an ongoing campaign, the PCs will want to punish Gauntley when they return to Jamaica. The beef is good only for shark bait. Fortunately the pork is fine—different supplier.

Event #6 - Santo Domingo

On the fifth day, the lookouts will sight Hispaniola on the larboard bow. Sharp lookouts will see occasional smoke trails in the cloudless day - inland plantations are being burned down. Sensible pirates will fly a Spanish flag or none at all if they plan to hug the coast round to Santo Domingo. The navigator or other crewmembers may have maps or local knowledge concerning the city and its harbor.

What happens next will depend on the pirates:

They may choose to send a scouting party ashore (preferably with people who speak Spanish) to find out how much of O'Halloran's story is true. It's all true and there are three ships anchored in the roads and they all look heavily laden. GMs may choose to arrange an encounter with some suspicious locals.

They may decide to sail (possibly under false colors) into the anchorage in broad daylight and attempt to seize the ships outright. All the ships will be fully manned during the day. The Maria and the Anna will be easy captures. The Isabella will be much harder to seize as they will weigh anchor and reposition themselves closer to the mouth of Rio Ozama broadside on to the Bonaventure. Meanwhile the governor will have moved his troops to the coastal fort to bombard the Bonaventure with up to 6 of the fort's twelve 24-pounders. Thanks to Drake, the town wall and the fort aren't terribly strong, so the Bonaventure can hit back - and if the gunners are very lucky and fire on the uproll perhaps silence a fort cannon or two.

They may opt to mount a cutting out expedition at night, either using the ship's boats directly or by sailing into the harbor mouth and then sending in the boats. Luckily it is a moonless night. There are only five sailors apiece on the Maria and the Anna, so if the pirates can make a quiet approach to both ships and board without waking the sleepy lookout, then dealing with those below should be easy. The Isabella has thirty crewmembers aboard with two lookouts (one at the bows and one at the stern) that are relatively alert. Don Mondez and his wife are also sleeping in a small cabin. Don Mondez will attempt to fight with pistol and sword to defend his fortune and his life. His wife will shriek in hysterical terror (which will sound the alarm on the ship) if not silenced quickly. Cold steel is preferable; shots will carry and will disturb the town. Within ten minutes of any shots, the fort will be manned and officers will be trying to determine what's going on. They will order the ships to stay at anchor, threatening to fire on any attempting to leave. Such assaults will be less effective at night as the gunners will quickly become blinded by their own firing. (They also only have enough men to fire six of their twelve outward facing cannon at any time)

They may decide to raid the palace - in which case they'll need to send landing parties via the skiffs to the beach. They could sneak through the cluster of docks and warehouses - there will be no people on the streets. There are two guards outside the palace doors who need to be overpowered. The doors are shut but not locked. The remaining eight guards are asleep in their barracks. The two officers are also in their quarters sleeping. If the pirates are careful, they should be able to eliminate any threats and by trial and error (or by compelling a frightened servant or soldier) locate the treasury. It's locked and the governor has the key. One solution is to kidnap the governor and make him open it up (and even order his servants to carry the chests to the Bonaventure's boats). Another is to pick the locks. A third is to blow the locks. Getting the loot to the boats may be difficult, and there won't be enough room on the skiffs for men and loot. However they can steal the two skiffs belonging to the Maria and the Anna (which are moored at the docks). How long the pirates can get away without someone noticing is at the GM's discretion - if they take the governor with them, then the Spanish will be powerless to intervene. If they kill him, then the fort commander will have no qualms firing on any boats or ships trying to escape from the Ozama Roads.

They might decide to raid the town. If so, their best bet is the cathedral and its treasury. There'll be little resistance but one of Dominican monks will make it to the bell-tower and start ringing the bells, which will wake the garrison and the townsfolk. The militia will mobilise, as will the ordinary soldiers. If the pirates run for it quickly, they should be able to reach their boats with only one or two run-ins with the locals. Tarry too long and there's a reasonable chance the militia will cut them off from their boats. Fighting through the streets in an unknown town is a very chancy business.

Event #7 - Aftermaths

The scenario can end in many ways. Hopefully the PCs will escape Santo Domingo with some loot.

The Isabella is carrying 30 tons of processed sugar (in 150 casks, worth 30 PoE each). Additionally Don Mondez has two small locked chests in his cabin, one contains 8,000 PoE, the other contains 1,000 Doubloons (16,000 PoE). In addition, his wife has jewelry (rings, earrings, necklaces, etc.) worth several thousand PoE and he has various valuable personal effects such as fine dueling pistols (+5) and a good sword (+5). The Isabella requires a minimum crew of ten to sail her effectively.

The Maria is carrying 50 tons of cured tobacco of average quality (as 250 bales, worth 75 PoE per bale). The Maria requires a minimum crew of fifteen.

The Anna is carrying 40 tons of cured tobacco of good quality (as 200 bales, worth 100 PoE each). The Anna requires a minimum crew of fifteen.

The treasury of the palace currently holds 30,000 PoE in six largish chests and a further 3,000 Doubloons in three chests.

The cathedral has some 5,000 PoE in its treasury plus silverware and gold plate worth a further 10,000 PoE (as candlesticks, chalices, etc.)

The Ships

Bonaventure

The Bonaventure is a 140-ton Barque (see page 14 of Ships Booklet) equipped as follows:

Cannon:

On the gun-deck: seven 6-pounders on each side

Swivel guns: 1 mounted at bow, 1 at midships, 1 at stern (3 per side)

Bow chaser: one 6-pounder

40 sponges and rammers, 50 long powder ladles, 50 priming powder horns, 100 lintstocks, 120 handspikes, 60 vent auger and priming wires

Small Arms:

100 flintlock muskets, 30 matchlock muskets, 10 flintlock pistols

200 pouches for smallshot, 200 small priming powder horns

200 bandoliers having twelve wooden cartridges each

200 bolts of linen for wadding, 300 flints suitable for replacements

Side arms:

2 rapiers for colourguard, 150 cutlasses, 50 boarding pikes, 50 boarding axes, 10 grappling irons

Shot Locker:

600 6-pound shot, 100 bags of grapeshot for 6-pounders

2000 musket shot, 500 pounds of lead for the making of musket shot

Powder Magazine:

24 casks of coarse powder, 2 cask of priming powder

20 quarter-casks of coarse powder, 10 quarter-casks of priming powder for muskets

300 slow-matches for cannon, 300 slow-matches for muskets

Ship's Anchors

One 10-man standard bower anchor secured at bow (+10)

Two 4-man stream/kedge anchors for light anchoring (+0)

Bosun's Stores

500 pounds of fresh laid cordage, 300 pounds of twice laid cordage, 400 pounds of uncut canvas, three mainsails, 300 pounds of replacement blocks, tackles and chainplates

Carpenter's Stores:

2 cask of tar, spare lumber (750 pounds), unworked iron (500 pounds)

nails and spikes for repairs (200 pounds), tallow for hull repair (200 pounds)

Provisions:

56 casks of water (20 days for 140 crew), 6 casks of rum, 2 quarter-casks of French wine

24 bales of ship's biscuit, 9 casks salted pork, 5 casks of salted beef, 4 casks of salt, 3 casks of pickled cabbage, ½ bale of fresh fruit, ½ bale of fresh vegetables

Ship's Boat:

Two 16-man (8-oar) skiffs, lateen rigged, rowing speed of 6 knots (towed aft)

6-man (4-oar) jollyboat, (not rigged), rowing speed of 4 knots (on deck)

Isabella

The Isabella is an 80-ton felucca with a total crew of fifty sailors (use Merchant Sailor stats) and the two aristocrats (use Grandee stats). The crew are armed with cutlasses and either pistols or muskets. Don Mondez has a sword and two pistols.

The ship is armed as follows:

4 3-pounder cannon on each side, 1 3-pounder bow chaser, 2 swivel guns at stern

In terms of powder and shot, the key statistics are:

300 3-pound shot, 180 bags of grapeshot, 500 musket shot, 5 casks of powder, 1 cask of priming powder, 4 quarter-casks of musket powder, 1 quarter-cask of priming powder for muskets

Additionally the Isabella has enough provisions to supply its crew and passengers for 30 days.

Maria and Anna

The Maria and Anna are 100-ton boyers, each with a total crew of thirty sailors (use Merchant Sailor stats). The crews are armed with cutlasses and either pistols or muskets.

The ships are armed as follows:

2 3-pounder cannon on each side, 1 3-pounder bow chaser, 2 swivel guns at stern

In terms of powder and shot, the key statistics are:

200 3-pound shot, 120 bags of grapeshot, 500 musket shot, 5 casks of powder, 1 cask of priming powder, 4 quarter-casks of musket powder, 1 quarter-cask of priming powder for muskets

Both ships are provisioned for 20 days.

NPC Statistics

Bonaventure Crew Statistics

Petty Officers (15)

1-Handed Edged

56

Defensive Bonus

12

1-Handed Firearms

41

Awareness

50

2-Handed Firearms

45

Body Development

66

2-Handed

38

Climbing

50

Ambush

19

First Aid

32

Boxing

11

Rowing

42

Brawling

33

Sailing

57

Cannon

52

Sea Legs

75

Disarm Foe

28

Stalk/Hide

39

Polearm

41

Swim

22

Thrown

40

Initiative

4

Sailors (120)

1-Handed Edged

53

Defensive Bonus

9

1-Handed Firearms

39

Awareness

40

2-Handed Firearms

34

Body Development

62

2-Handed

38

Climbing

55

Ambush

31

First Aid

39

Boxing

28

Rowing

39

Brawling

45

Sailing

59

Cannon

45

Sea Legs

70

Disarm Foe

45

Stalk/Hide

36

Polearm

33

Swim

14

Thrown

34

Initiative

3

Santo Domingo

Grandees (Governor, Don Mondez, half a dozen militia officers)

1-Handed Edged

58

Defensive Bonus

12

1-Handed Firearms

53

Awareness

30

2-Handed Firearms

68

Body Development

70

2-Handed

38

Climbing

41

Ambush

38

First Aid

31

Boxing

38

Rowing

-10

Brawling

33

Sailing

-10

Cannon

10

Sea Legs

10

Disarm Foe

28

Stalk/Hide

48

Polearm

33

Swim

26

Thrown

28

Initiative

4

Militia (100)

1-Handed Edged

25

Defensive Bonus

0

1-Handed Firearms

41

Awareness

26

2-Handed Firearms

61

Body Development

78

2-Handed

32

Climbing

35

Ambush

30

First Aid

35

Boxing

32

Rowing

-30

Brawling

42

Sailing

-30

Cannon

34

Sea Legs

10

Disarm Foe

23

Stalk/Hide

35

Polearm

52

Swim

30

Thrown

37

Initiative

0

 

Soldiers in Santo Domingo (12 in palace, 60 in fort)

1-Handed Edged

68

Defensive Bonus

0

1-Handed Firearms

53

Awareness

48

2-Handed Firearms

68

Body Development

74

2-Handed

43

Climbing

37

Ambush

64

First Aid

30

Boxing

23

Rowing

-30

Brawling

56

Sailing

-30

Cannon

45

Sea Legs

20

Disarm Foe

36

Stalk/Hide

30

Polearm

48

Swim

15

Thrown

58

Initiative

0

Merchant Sailors

1-Handed Edged

59

Defensive Bonus

6

1-Handed Firearms

43

Awareness

38

2-Handed Firearms

43

Body Development

58

2-Handed

44

Climbing

60

Ambush

32

First Aid

25

Boxing

19

Rowing

45

Brawling

49

Sailing

40

Cannon

32

Sea Legs

52

Disarm Foe

34

Stalk/Hide

32

Polearm

39

Swim

10

Thrown

38

Initiative

2


Maps

Click for a map of the City of Santo Domingo

Click for a map of the area around Santo Domingo


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