Maid Mary (3.5e Quest)
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Intended for four level 4-9 adventurers.
Maid Mary is a fairly developed barge, so any campaign willing to make use of the quest has to have enough of a maritime presence (although most do) and technology at least on level with basic barges (again, most do). Since the crew of the Maid Mary are not evil in any way, the quest allows for a bit of nefarious plundering.
The quest is best played as part of a Years of Gold campaign, since that's where the barge is from, but is easily included in any campaign; remember to exchange the dunner crew to another Small race (halflings, goblins etc.)
- Prep Time 30 min to 1 hour
- Play Time 1-3 hours
|Don't mess with the crew of Maid Mary.|
Maid Mary is a quick, location-based assault quest: the players attack (or infiltrate) a barge. The mood can be dictated by the DM, but goes well with a splash of pirate adventure and exhilarating fun, even comedy.
Admiral Taselhaf von Horinz (authenticity of title questionable) is the captain of Maid Mary, a Calimport-based transportation barge that moves goods and people up and down the rivers and along the coast of western Pansaer. While the captain and crew are innocent of most wrongdoings, they certainly know how to turn a blind eye to some of their less-lawful cargo.
- Wilhelm von Morr wants the party to destroy a shipment of wickerdust that is headed towards Redford aboard Maid Mary
- Someone's got a personal slight with First Mate Gelhar, and is willing to pay for his ears
- The players' greed is sparked when they hear a priceless jewel from Dharuum is being transported on the barge
At the core of the quest is a rush through the Maid Mary to complete whatever objectives the players are on: this allows the DM to tailor the quest for a party of many levels, since it is at their discretion how many of the crew attack the players at once.
All Aboard for Adventure
The players infiltrate the barge - either when its ashore, by swimming to it or by stowing away on board - and the quest picks up from there. The unique aspect of the quest is the encounter frequency, and thus difficulty: the crew isn't found in any given room, with the DM deciding how they are divided into encounters and in which order the players face them. This allows the quest to be appropriate for parties of wildly different levels. See the next section for how to run the encounters.
Maid Mary is a barge in three floors: the basement (A), which houses the rowers, the storages and the lavatory; the base floor (B), which you usually enter the barge from and which houses the canteen and more storage; and the second floor (C), which contains the living spaces. There's also a large mast with a crow's nest (D) to make the job of the scullers a bit more bearable.
(on approaching the barge) The tales told and songs sung of Maid Mary, the grandest barge to sail the rivers of western Pansaer, seem appropriate as you lay eyes on the real deal. The barge is massive, built of good timber and painted a milky white where the original, tarred wood isn't showing. Scores of long oars plunge into the water from slots near the waterline. The roof of the barge is red tile, giving the whole thing the look of a waterborne mansion.
NOTE: Whenever coordinates are present, alphabets are vertical and numbers are horizontal.
A1a and A1b - Sculler's Corridor
Walking through this narrow corridor is a nightmare: every five feet a bench, basically little more than a wooden plank, cuts the going short. The boards are wide enough for a person to lie on, and many have blankets on them and personal possessions under them. The only light in the corridor comes from the narrow oar-slots on the walls and a few sputtering candles mounted on the walls.
10ft.-by-60ft. corridor, 8ft. high. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Staircases to B1 (check map). Ten wooden wall-to-wall benches/beds on each corridor, with only the doorways free; each corridor houses ten noncombatant scullers (1st-level expert). A1a: fifteen masterwork darts hidden under a bench (D2; Search DC 15 to locate), a wallet with 100 gp in low-nomination coins (J1; Search DC 15 to locate). A1b: a tanglefoot bag and a punching dagger in a rugsack (K2; Search DC 15 to locate).
A2 - Storage and Speakeasy
The roof might be low, but this room is surprisingly cozy: it's well-lit by a rough iron chandelier hanging above two wooden "tables" constructed from a sheet of wood propped up by barrels and crates. A few cots have been set up next to and even on top of the many chests and crates that line the walls. The smell of hard alcohol is unmistakable, even through the musky tang of standing water.
30ft.-by-15ft. room, 8ft. high. Door to treasury locked (hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 25 to open, Strength DC 21 to burst), all other doors unlocked. Two makeshift tables (B2, B5), unless the barge is packed, in which case the tables are disassembled and the room is devoted entirely to storage. Crates, barrels, chests and other goods along the walls (A1-6, C1, C4-6). A cupboard filled with spirits from around the world (A3), one of which is a rare and valued Erosian rum (worth 300 gp). A rack of weapons (C4) with four longspears, two crossbows and two harpoons in it.
A3 - Treasury
This rooms is as rough as the ones before it, but at least the contents are easy on the eyes: antique chests, expensive tapestries and pleasantly heavy strongboxes. This must be where the more valuable goods are stored during travel. A colossal chest, longer than a man and embellished with red velvet and silver designs, dominates the western end of the room.
15ft.-by-10ft. room, 8ft. high. Entrance trapped (A2; a poison needle shot from the doorframe; Injury, Fortitude DC 15, initial and secondary damage 1d6 Dex; Search DC 30 to locate, Disable Device DC 25 to disarm). Massive chest (A1, B1) locked (hardness 5, 20 hp; Open Lock DC 25 to open, Strength DC 30 to burst), containing a +1 dwarvenwork studded leather armor, a masterwork rapier, boots of striding and springing and several expensive pieces of jade art (worth 600 gp). The rest of the contents of the room (tapestries, furniture, art pieces) are worth 1000 gp altogether, but are hard to transport.
A4 - Lavatory (EL 3, 5 or 7)
This room is strangely clean, if you are right in what you assume its purpose to be. Only the faintest foul smell in the air suggests at a lavatory, but the many stools, along with a few bars of soap, suggest that the room is even used to bathe! Perhaps the movement of the water keeps the filth away? In any case, the washing takes place on the two grates on the floor, with water just beneath them.
15ft.-by-25ft. room, 8ft. high. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Two iron grates on floor (B2, D2), with three bars in each (Escape Artist DC 25 to push through, Strength DC 25 to bend). Two water elementals keep the room and the grates clean and stop the water from flowing in; they attack intruders from the water on sight, letting the water flow into the room. It takes a full round for the water to be deep enough for the elementals' water mastery to kick in, and the high thresholds on the doorways keep the water from flowing over (at least somewhat).
The type of the water elementals depends on which level range the players are: small water elementals for levels 4-5 (EL 3), medium water elementals for levels 6-7 (EL 5) and large water elementals for levels 8-9 (EL 7). The water elementals fight mindlessly and fiercely, but never leave the room: they are bound to the room and its water, and don't attempt to follow those who escape. They can't use their vortex ability, so they slam foes to death, Cleaving and Power Attacking as appropriate.
A5 - Storage and Kitchen
The gloomy warmth of this room is a pleasant respite from the coolness of the rest of the barge's lower floor. The warmth emanates from the soot-covered oven in the back of the room. Even know, something that smells delicious is slowly simmering on the stove. The rest of the room is mostly made up of more stored goods, a huge barrel of fresh water and a small table with a big pile of vegetables and fruit on it, along with a chopping knife.
30ft.-by-20ft. room, 8ft. high. Door to library locked (hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 25 to open, Strength DC 21 to burst), all other doors unlocked. An oven (D2-3), small table (B5) and a barrel of water (D6). Crates, barrels, chests and other goods along the walls (A1, A3-4, A6, B1, B6, D1, D4-5). A wax paper parcel of Tumbling Fells truffles (worth 450 gp) hidden in a secret compartment in the table (Search DC 30 to locate).
A6 - Storage and Library
Every bit of the bottom floor of the barge is used as a storage, and this room is no exception. It appears some of the more delicate and fragile goods are kept here. A large bookcase with a glass-fronted cabinet contains manuscripts and decorations, and the walls hold paintings. But it is the smell of the room that's the most curious thing about it: a whiff of sweet delight, then a musky, overpowering odor. The barrels near the door seem to be where the scents are coming from.
15ft.-by-15ft. room, 8ft. high. A long bookcase (A1-3) half-full with assorted books, along with decoration items (clay statues from Remoras, glass goods from Dharuum etc.) Barrels filled with common spices (C1, C3). Among the books on the bookshelf, there's a vacuous grimoire, currently masquerading as a book on knots (A2; Search DC 20 to locate).
B1 - Base Deck
The facade of the Maid Mary is perfectly maintained: its planks are pristine, the coating of paint seamless and the round glass windows blemishless. When you peer in, you can just spot movement beyond the dark-green glass. The deck of the barge is dominated by what are either gargantuan crossbows or miniature ballistas. Either way, they're imposing. For a trade barge Maid Mary sure is well-defended.
A 10ft.-wide deck running around the barge (check map), 8ft. high. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Staircases to B1 and C1 (check map). Three ballistas (represented on map by four circles each); these use the stats given in the Dungeon Master's Guide, although the ballistas are only Large, so the attack roll penalties are only -2 for Medium creatures and -4 for Small creatures, and the ballistas only deal 2d8 damage. The deck-apes have been trained to use the ballistas, and take no penalty while doing so (although that doesn't mean they're good at it). Several small windows, about a foot wide, in the walls.
B2 - Canteen
This room is a little less cramped than others you've seen on the barge, but not by much. It's clearly a canteen, but every free space is still filled with cargo - either the loads transported are too large, or the captain too greedy. Two twenty-foot tables span from one end of the room to the other, with the traditional discarded dishes and foodscraps present. A half-eaten ham sits in the middle of one of the tables, with flies swarming over it. Looks like someone took a big bite out of it.
30ft.-by-25ft. room, 8ft. high. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Two long dirty tables (B2-5, D2-5) with assorted foodstuffs and unwashed dishes on them and low chairs all around. Small crates and wares littered around the walls.
A suspiciously empty and clean room opens before you. There is no cargo stored here, no filthy furniture or beds. Instead, the walls are covered in orderly maps and sea charts, although the maps of inland rivers have clearly seen the most use. There's a neat table at the end of the room with all sorts of paperwork, quills and inkpots, along with a beautiful golden sextant. The light that oozes into the dusty air of the room through the windows is colored a dreamy green by the dyed glass.
30ft.-by-15ft. room, 8ft. high. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). A table (C2-5) with maps, calculations and charts on it, as well as a solid-gold sextant (worth 300 gp). Several stools on the floor. An extremely intricate system of maps and charts on the walls and the table grant a +2 circumstance bonus to Knowledge (geography) to anyone perusing them.
C1 - Balcony Deck
You're on a wide balcony above the rest of Maid Mary. Two large rowboats hang off the edge of the balcony, ready to be lowered into the water with a complicated pulley system that you can't make a heads or tails of. All that's between you and the water below is a rope railing that's low for a dunner, let alone anyone bigger. The view is wonderful, though.
(note that both of the balconies are C1) 10ft.-by-60ft. balcony. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Staircases to B1 (check map). Two rowboats hanging off the edge of the balcony on either side, four in total. Plank traps in front of each door (check map; Search DC 15 to locate): when stepped on by someone who doesn't know to avoid the pressure point, the plank gives way and traps the intruder's foot: such a character is entangled and can't move until they manage to get their foot free (Strength DC 15 or Escape Artist DC 20) or break the boards (hardness 5, 20 hp).
C2-3 - Living Quarters
To be honest, the living quarters are much better than you assumed: the beds are sturdy if not overtly comfortable, and they have genuine bedding on them instead of cheap quilts and piles of clothes for pillows. The room contains six bunk beds, with each of the twelve bunks personalized to its owner: some have cheap trinkets and memorabilia on theirs, other keep theirs a spartan blank.
30ft.-by-15ft. room, 8ft. high. All doors unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Bunk beds next to the walls (A1-6, C1-6), personal belongings in the bunks. C2: a runed scabbard of dwarven design (worth 100 gp), containing a ghost touch longsword is hidden in tangled blankets under a bed (A3; Search DC 20 to locate). C3: a rare canary from Ghaer (worth 250 gp, but only to a collector, a zoo or the like) is singing in a small steel cage that hangs from a bed (C6).
C4 - Mast Room
You enter through the door, and immediately the fierce visage of a female titan, brandishing a spear, leers at you! After a moment's shock you discover that it's nothing more than the lifelike illustration of a sail hung to dry on the wall. The room seems to be a storage for seafaring equipment: large coils of rope on the floor, nets hanging on walls, even an old rusty anchor leaning against a corner. The middle of the room houses a thick wooden pole with handhold pegs in it to ease climbing. This must be the base of the mast that you've seen.
30ft.-by-20ft. room, 8ft. high. Doors to banquet hall locked (hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 25 to open, Strength DC 21 to burst), all other doors unlocked. The base of the mast in the middle of the room; the mast is 80ft. high (Climb DC 10 to ascend) and leads to D1. A rusty anchor (A6). Coils of rope (C1, D1). Assorted maritime goods mounted on and leaning against walls.
C5 - Banquet Hall
|Practical, delicious food|
in a posh, phony setting.
After the roughness of the rest of the barge, the haughty poshness of this banquet hall is almost blinding. The tablecloth on the round table in the middle of the room is whiter than snow and has an offensive amount of sequins knitted into it. The tableware is made of silver and equally hideous: the spoons have caricatures of famous nobles etched into them. The walls are covered in azure velvet, and the back wall of the room, which is actually one large window, is polished to an eye-straining sheen.
30ft.-by-15ft. room with a 20ft.-by-5ft. alcove, 8ft. high. A round table (B3-4, C3-4) with silver tableware (worth 500 gp in total) and tall birch chairs all around. The back wall is a half-circle window (the window is smootly round; ignore map) that juts from the prow of the barge. Smaller table (A6, B6) with a bronze serving dish (currently empty) on it.
D1 - Crow's Nest
The wind picks up as you climb the mast, and is a proper gust when you reach the crow's nest. You can see for miles from here, as well as the whole of Maid Mary from above: the red tiled roof is perhaps even more impressive from above.
A round crow's nest (check map).
Crew and Difficulty
The crew of the Maid Mary consists of its captain, Admiral Taselhaf von Horinz, its first mate Gelhar, its coxswain Brutus, twelve dunner deckhands, four deck-apes, Rotplank Hank, and twenty noncombatant scullers (treat as 1st-level Expert). All of these, with the exception of the scullers, will defend the barge at Admiral Taselhaf's orders.
The lowest the characters can reasonably be to beat the quest is 4 or 5; under this, the quest becomes extremely difficult and frustrating, unless the DM is plainly favoring the players. In this level range, the party should fight cleverly and try not to attract attention, there should be pauses between the individual encounters that make up the quest (in the style of a traditional dungeon delve) and the DM shouldn't pull his punches. It can be hard, especially if played realistically: fighting in the basement should logically alert those on the upper levels. You can explain the crew's lethargic nature by them being used to crew infighting and thus the noise, by a storm raging outside the barge or by other such factors.
When the quest is played in this level range, the crew can be faced in roughly the following groups:
- Six deckhands (EL 3): A quantity-vs-quality fight, with the deckhands as the quantity and the players as the quality. This group is best faced in a large open environment, preferably one of the decks - either B1 or C1. A couple of the deckhands should immediately use tanglefoot bags and harpoons to slow down opposition, while the rest back away and use their crossbows. The group will probably have put down caltrops beforehand.
- Three deckhands and one deck-ape (EL 4): This group can be faced anywhere in the barge, with the caveat that the deck-ape must have room to fight. The ape holds the front while the deckhands give ranged support - they can even use their harpoons to pull foes, offering the ape attacks of opportunity.
- Two deck-apes (EL 4): A particularly vicious encounter, and one that you shouldn't pull on a very weakened or unprepared party. The apes should come from two directions, pinning the players: the decks (B1 and C1) as well as the bigger rooms (A5, B2 and C4 in particular) are good choices.
- Brutus the Coxswain and one deck-ape (EL 5): In this group, Brutus mainly tries to trip foes that are fighting with the deck-ape, giving the ape attacks of opportunity when the character gets up. He might disarm two-handed wielding characters if the damage output gets too big.
- Admiral Taselhaf and three deckhands (EL 5): The Admiral should be faced in a proper setting: the banquet hall (C5) is the obvious choice, but the balcony deck (C1) and even the roof of the barge are good locations. This group wants a bit of moving space, since all the combatants are ranged - Admiral Taselhaf especially loses effectiveness if forced into melee. Remember that Fluffles is part of the fight.
- Rotplank Hank (EL 5): Hank is a group all his own, and can be a deadly fight thanks to Hank's high-damage anchor attacks. On the other hand, when surrounded, Hank can go down quickly. He is a great penultimate fight, but works great as a last challenge as well: once Admiral Taselhaf is defeated or nearly so and escaping, have Hank surprise the crew. A little build-up for the fight is a good way to make it a memorable one.
These groups don't include Gelhar. You can have him contribute to one or more fights as a support type (casting a spell from the sideline, then retreating), finally facing the characters either alone or with the remnants of other groups. Remember that Gelhar at full effectiveness can make a fight unbalanced, so use him sparingly.
This level range allows for grand fights that sequence into one another, but with little breathers in-between; a sort of halfway between the encounter nature of the lower level range and the single free-for-all of the higher level range. Drive the players and give them reason for urgency to keep the pace: perhaps Admiral Taselhaf will leave the ship if not reached fast enough (you imply; in reality he stays where necessary).
When the quest is played in this level range, the crew can be faced in roughly the following groups:
- Brutus the Coxswain, two deck-apes and four deckhands (EL 6): This group works nicely in the outside areas (B1 or C1), what with the deckhands firing their crossbows, harpoons and nets from afar and the deck-apes lumbering into melee. Brutus repeats his tripping shenanigans from above, and again disarms when necessary.
- Rotplank Hank, First Mate Gelhar and four deckhands (EL 7): The small size of this group compared to the others means it's a good fit to one of the larger rooms (A5, B2 and C5 all work nicely). Gelhar supports Hank with spells before resorting to damaging spells, and the deckhands harass as effectively as possible. This group allows for a nice entrance for Hank: have the players face just the five dunners, with Hank arriving through one of the walls (or the floor, or even the ceiling).
- Admiral Taselhaf, two deck-apes and four deckhands (EL 7): The boss group, although not necessarily the hardest one. Make sure to keep Admiral Taselhaf in the backlines, with the deck-apes holding the front - along with Fluffles, of course. The group should be a maneuvering one, and thus fits in any of the rooms - even several, if the DM can pull it off.
These groups are more uniform and powerful only in numbers: if the players manage to divide them (and good for them if they do), a lot of their effectiveness is lost. The groups should be fairly mobile, although still faced more or less one by one, and the pauses between the encounters very brief; time enough for a healing spell and a potion, but not enough for tactical contemplation.
The hardest the quest can be tuned to is for characters of levels 8 or 9. In this version, the quest turns into a single, barge-spanning encounter against all inhabitants of Maid Mary. It is up to the DM as to in which order the crew attack the players, but it's wise to save the named individuals at the end, with perhaps a type of miniboss in the middle. Make sure that 1) most of the crew is fighting the players at once, from several locations and tactically, since otherwise the quest is far too easy; 2) the players can't rest, however briefly, in the middle of the encounter, since this nullifies the danger; and 3) the nature of the fight keeps the players moving, since the encounter becomes boring if they stay in one position and slug it out with foes that constantly run to them.