by Michael Cole
1 Part 1: Pirates in Tolkien
Aside from the Corsairs of Umbar, Tolkien himself does not make much mention of pirating. There are some notes of Numenor raiding the mainland, but given the naval power of Numenor, this could not be considered piratical pillaging in the strictest sense.
"…after Minastir, the Kings [of Númenor] became greedy of wealth and power. … their havens became fortresses, holding wide coastlands in subjugation. Atanamir and his successors levied heavy tribute, and the ships of the Númenóreans returned laden with spoil." (The Return of the King, Appendix A (p316))
So to evaluate pirates in Middle Earth, we must only consider the Corsairs.
1.1 The Tale of Years and The Annals of the Kings and Rulers
This (Appendix B of The Return of the King) is where we get most of our information about the Corsairs. The first note is for 1448, with "Rebels [of Castamir's forces] escape [the siege of Pelagir] and seize Umbar". From the Annals, we are informed that "…Castamir's sons escaped, and with others of their kin and many people of the fleets … sailed away and established themselves at Umbar."
We then have in the next entry, 1540, almost 100 years later, "King Aldamir slain in way with the Harad and Corsairs of Umbar". From this we can assume that we had almost 100 years of war, and that during this time, the Corsairs, once pure-blood (and proud of it) Gondorians were now reduced to alliances with the Haradrim. We could also assume that the pure-bloodlines had become diluted somewhat simply due to the length of time and lack of initial stock.
Then in 1634, almost another hundred years later, "The Corsairs ravage Pelagir and slay King Minardil." The Corsairs are stated in the annals to have been "…led by Angamaitë and Sangahyando, the great-grandsons of Castamir."
No further mention until 1810, when "King Telumehtar Umbardacil [Umbar-victor] retakes Umbar and drives out the Corsairs." Here, in the Annals, it is noted that "… the last descendants of Castamir perished, …" Once Umbar was lost again, which occurred "soon", it was held by the Men of the Harad.
And this is the last mention until they are overrun by Aragorn at Pelagir. It is noted in the Annals that "… Umbar remained at war with Gondor for many lives of men, … [and] was never again completely subdued until the days of Elessar; …"
1.2 The Battle of Pelennor Fields and The Last Debate
Here we get our best picture of the Corsairs, even though their ships are now crewed by the Grey Company. "…dromunds, and ships of great draught with many oars, and with black sails bellying in the breeze." In the later chapter, we are told that, "… the main fleet of Umbar, fifty great ships and smaller vessels beyond count." Also mentioned is that the ships contained, "…slaves chained to the oars. … [many of] who had been folk of Gondor taken in raids."
A "dromund" is a generic term for a large, fast-sailing ship of the Middle Ages. It is also the Middle-English form for dromon, a Greek galley, and the most important warship of the Byzantine Navy. Given the above passages, and Tolkien's own love of history, I would go with Tolkien intending to represent a force of galleys rather than sailing vessels. The exact details are too long to go into here, but I would encourage readers to visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dromon for some background.
Whichever way you interpret it, the standard idea of piracy from the age of sail is not applicable in Tolkien's Middle Earth. I would suggest that the Professor was envisaging the Naval warfare between Rome and the Byzantine (or East Roman Navy), with Umbar as Constantinople - refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_navy for more details.
2 Part 2: Pirates in MERP - The Corsairs of Umbar
The first issue with this supplement is that as written, it is set in 1607, which is different from the standard ICE date of 1640. This is not a major issue, and it can simply be rewritten without major change.
The major issue is that it envisages Umbar as held by a council of Ship's Captains - this works fine in practice, but there is no mention of Angamaitë and Sangahyando from The Annals of the Kings, who would be present and major players in this time. This can be fixed, and has been in various fan modules, by placing Angamaitë in Gobel Mirlond with the major land forces of Umbar, and having Sangahyando as his deputy left in charge of Umbar. The Captains then become an advisory council to Sangahyando, as well as major players in their own right.
Apart from this, the module is pretty good, remaining faithful to the types of ships envisaged by Tolkien, with Cogs as the only sailing vessels and the major combat ships being galleys.
3 Part 3: Additional Material
3.1 The Azûladanakh'irim of Methrast
This material was originally written by myself for my Tol Aduil campaign setting; Tol Aduil being the small triangular island off the bottom of Tol Falas (see map below). They were created to provide"good" pirates or privateers to oppose the Corsairs of Umbar, and to have a distinctive style all of their own.
3.1.1 The Arrival of the Faithful
This story starts back at the fall of Númenor, back in SA 3319. As has been told, at the fall of the Island and the bending of the seas, Elendil and his two sons set sail for Endor. After a tumultuous time, Elendil landed in the Eriador, and founded the realm of Arnor. His two sons, Isildur and Anarion, were separated from their father, and landed in the Anduin Valley with five ships, and founded the realm of Gondor, which they jointly ruled as vassals of their father.
These five ships were not however the first Dúnedain to settle in the Anduin valley; Númenoreans had been settled in and around the bay for almost 1500 years prior to that. They had already founded the city of Pelagir, and had made many other settlements in the region, mainly in the Gilrain and Serni valleys. A few of the early settlers had moved further west, the most westerly settlement being at Metrast (Methrast) at the tip of the Belfalas peninsula.
3.1.2 The Beginnings of the Azûladanakh'irim
Whilst these people could not be considered to be numbered amongst the Faithful, on the arrival of Isildur and Anarion, the majority of these early settlers immediately swore their allegiance to Elendil, and rapidly assimilated into their ranks. Some sections of the original settlers however, whilst swearing their oath, preferred to continue their own customs and ways, and became known as the Azûladanakh'irim, an Adûnaic word meaning "Those who came eastwards first". The majority of these people resided at Pelagir and in manors in Lebennin, but the Dúnedain of Methrast also held to their common origin. Over time, this distinct cultural grouping became less and less distinct, as people died, and marriages happened, until it seemed that the only people aware of the cultural distinction were the Azûladanakh'irim themselves.
3.1.3 The Kinstrife
We then fast-forward to the time of the Kin-strife, in TA 1432-48. As has also been told, at this time, the Usurper, Castamir, attempted to take the throne of Gondor by force, using the part-Eothraim heritage of the rightful King, Eldacar, as an excuse. In this, the people of Pelagir and the southern Gondorians supported him. Foremost amongst these supporters were the Azûladanakh'irim of Pelagir, who saw this as an opportunity to reassert their cultural identity. They automatically counted on the support of their brethren in Methrast, however they had sadly miscalculated.
The Azûladanakh'irim of Methrast were immediately hostile to the usurpation of Royal Authority, and to their brethren in Pelagir. This was not because of any great love for Eldacar, (for they didn't really care one way or the other about him), but because they considered the uprising to be in effect, the breaking of the Oath of Allegiance that they had made to Isildur all those years ago. The Methrast Azûladanakh'irim had lived with the Enedrim, descendants of the Daen Coentis, the original Oathbreakers, for many years. They had held them in distrust ever since. And they were not going to make the same error. They were most vocal in their opposition of the Rebels, and vociferous of Castamir and his claims, and of anyone who supported him.
The then Prince of Dor-en-Ernil, was personally supportive of Eldacar, however the majority of his people were supportive of Castamir, and many pushed for the Prince to put his full support behind the Usurper, in order to give him some measure of legitimacy. In some way, the opposition of the Azûladanakh'irim of Methrast to Castamir worked in the Prince's favour, in that he was able to use that opposition to explain his official neutrality in the matter.
A lot of political maneuvering was required by the Prince to try to keep tensions to a minimum, and even with his efforts, there was a great deal of antagonistic behaviour between the Aroquain (S. High Knight) of Methrast and his people, and the other people of the province. This antagonism boiled over into some border warfare; however the Prince managed to keep it from totally going out of control. Castamir and his supporters from the east remained out of the area, due both to other pressing events in the Northern Provinces to take care of, and for fear that their entry into Dor-en-Ernil would upset the Neutral stance of the Prince.
After the return of Eldacar, the death of Castamir, and the fleeing of his supporters to Umbar, life in the Land of the Prince returned mostly to normal. Castamir's supporters in Dor-en-Ernil were quite happy to try to forget all about the rebellion, and to let bygones be bygones, however the Azûladanakh'irim have much longer memories.
3.1.4 Appearance and Attitude
In many ways, this division was exploited for their own benefit, to give an "Us versus them" situation. Whilst they do not push themselves on anyone else; indeed, their existence as a distinct cultural grouping within Gondor is mostly unknown; they do exploit the image to give themselves a reason to continue the story. By pointing out the breaking of the oath, they were able to draw parallels back to the oath-breaking at the beginning of the age, and thus to their origins. In many ways, it gave their own political aspirations a boost.
Politically, the Azûladanakh'irim are traditional mortal enemies of Umbar, particularly of their once-brethren. They are generally most active amongst the Prince's Naval Forces, and many of the best-known Gondorian Privateers hail from the tip of the Belfalas Peninsula. They are also traditionally amongst the most antagonistic of the Belfalas Dúnedain towards the Enedrim, and this feeling is reciprocated. Strangely, they do not seem to have the same antagonism towards the Haruze, and in many ways, tend to have a better relationship with those people than the majority of the citizens of Gondor do.
They retain their cultural heritage via both appearance and education. They are all given an Adûnaic name at birth, but this name is generally not broadcast, and remains only for use by their friends and people. For general use, they also are given a Sindarin name. Appearance-wise, they are fond of facial hair, particularly moustache sans beard, which is extremely uncommon amongst the Dúnedain. They tend to favour a moustache that curves down around the mouth to the jaw line, which gives them a distinctive look. This style of moustache is commonly known in Gondor as the Zôni Moustache (commonly known in modern times as the Zapata Moustache, after Emil Zapata of Mexico), after an early Aroquain of Methrast who first favoured the style.
The Azûladanakh'irim are destined to go out of history, not with a bang, but with a whimper, killed, not by hostile action, but by apathy. As time passes, and the events of the founding of Gondor fade from memory, and as they fail to find new causes to show their distinctiveness, their cultural identity becomes less and less relevant. Until that day comes, however, they continue to be a force in events, at least in the Dor-en-Ernil and the Bay of Belfalas, if not in Gondor proper.
3.2 Escort Duty: A Seaboard Adventure in the Bay of Belfalas
This adventure is the initial section of the first adventure of my Tol Aduil Campaign Setting. It is designed to give the characters an overview of the island, and as such, in many ways, may appear like a travelogue. Note that this adventure takes the form of a narrative, and as such is tightly scripted. There is some room for the PCs to affect the outcome, but the general timeline is pretty such set. Footnotes will be provided to explain some names or terms that are from the Campaign Module.
Setting: Lond Ernil via the ship Halatir to Endil and then around the cape and across the bay to Lond Aduil. Reference should be made to the map at the end of this article for details as to geography.
Requirements: The PCs are recruited in Lond Ernil to escort Girchel, the son of a local noble, to the school on Tol Aduil. It would help if the PCs were on good terms or well known in the area, for them to be approached for this task. A good recommendation or a referral would be a bonus for the receipt of the mission.
Note that the task does not feature any personal combat or extensive tasks for the PCs, and acts more as an introduction to the island. It is social skills that are most required. For the majority of this adventure, the characters will on board a ship with a set itinerary, so the options will be limited.
Enemies: The ship Bagarrân, running out of Umbar.
Aids: None, except for the wiles and sea-craft of the Halatir's Master, Ragaer, and the skills of her crew.
Reward: Note that the reward for the task will not be great, as it is expected to be a simple task - some small stipend would be appropriate. Note that if the PCs are intending to journey eastwards anyway, then this could be offered as a, "Well you're going that way anyway, can you just drop the kid off on your way?"
Girchel's father will also provide funds to cover the voyage by both the PCs and his son, and accommodation and meal allowance for a one night stay at both Endil and Lond Aduil. He will also provide details of the expected route and a letter of introduction to be given to Himbros, the Headmaster of the Tol Aduil School.
Note that the trip from Lond Ernil to Pelagir by sea would take roughly the same time as by land, and there are plenty of ships from Lond Aduil to Pelagir or any other port that the PCs may be aiming for.
3.2.1 The NPCs
Girchel is 14 years old, and the eldest son of the Chief Herald of Lond Ernil. Whilst he has received a good education, as befits his and his father's position, he is being sent to the school in the hope of the travel and new environment broadening his outlook. Whilst he does have quite a few good friends, his life has been rather insular, being home schooled up till now, and not having much interaction with others outside his immediate circle.
He is a fit young lad, and acts older than what he is, but does tend to be rather studious and emotionless. He also can sulk if he doesn't get his own way. He is a good lad; he just needs to learn that there more to life than what he is comfortable with.
Ragaer, the Captain and Master of the Halatir (Kingfisher), is a highly skilled and knowledgeable Ship's Master. Originally from a small village in Belfalas, he started his life as a sailor at a young age, and worked his way up to where he is now. He is one of those people whose age is indeterminate - he just looks like he belongs where he is.
He is very well respected in the shipping trade, and trusted implicitly. He is still very humble about his position, and has always had a good relationship with his crew and those he deals with in his business.
He has been plying the Lond Ernil - Lond Aduil route for years now, and knows the journey like the back of his hand.
Emelin (Arbelthâni) an-Amonhîth is the 17-year-old daughter of Namion, the Roquain (Knight) of Tol Aduil, and along with her younger brother, spends three months of each year with her father on Tol Aduil. She is very attractive, slightly shorter than average height and solidly built, with dark wavy hair down her back and a very pretty smile.
She is intelligent, friendly and talkative, and has very good social skills, able to relate to almost anyone. She possesses a wicked sense of humour, and is very rarely in a bad mood. If she has one fault, it is that sometimes can act immaturely, however most of the time, she will behave as if she is older than her years.
She tends to wear her heart on her sleeve, and can be very passionate and headstrong at times - she takes after her parents in that regard. She adores both of her parents and her younger brother, and is very much in love with her father's squire. She does try to keep this to herself, but she is not very good at it.
Diorethrin (Arbazinâth) an-Amonhîth, Emelin's younger brother, and Namion's second child, is 14-year-old Diorethrin, normally called "Rethie" by his sister. He is slight of build and possesses dark auburn hair and freckles, courtesy of his maternal grandfather's mother, who was of Northman ancestry.
He is much quieter that his sister, and tends to allow his sister to take charge when they are together. He is, however, very intelligent and perceptive, and has the same sense of humour as his sister.
3.2.2 The Setting
The Halatir is a fast 60-ton merchant ship of Linhir Long-Fisher design, with caravel hull constriction and carrying three lateen sails and a jib on two masts, fore and main. It possesses a 4' after castle with no forecastle, and is oar-steered.
The ship has no armaments apart from personal weaponry, and is not armoured, and normally carries a crew of around 25, with a Ship's Captain and Master and three Mates.
It is advised that the GM should familiarise him or herself with some basic sailing knowledge and nautical terminology, so as to both purvey the appropriate atmosphere, and to correctly play the role of the sailors. In particular, some knowledge of the following would be advantageous: -
Differences between clinker and caravel hulls.
Differences between square, lateen and jib sails.
Effects of the tide, currents and wind.
Basic sailing manoeuvres and what good and bad tacking is when using lanteen sails.
The ships in use in the Bay of Belfalas Region. Reference should be made to the ICE Havens of Gondor, Sea-Lords of Gondor and Umbar supplements.
The general geography of the area.
Note that the terms Port and Starboard will be used frequently. For those whom are uninitiated, Port is the left side of the ship, being the side that the ship docks on, and is shown by a red light, starboard is the right side, being the side that the steering oar (or steer-board) is on, and is shown by a green light. I have always found that the easiest way to remember is to group them by the number of letters - port, left and red all have fewer letters than starboard, right and green respectively.
3.2.3 The Timeline
The First Day and a Half:
The day starts very early down in the Lond Aduil Commercial Harbour, with the PC's expected to be on board by first light so that the Halatir can catch the morning tide out.
Here they get to meet their charge - his father, along with the rest of his family, are here to see him off. Girchel is in a bit of a huff, and is very short with his family and extremely abrupt with the PCs. His father explains it as his son is a bit upset, but give him a little while to sulk and he should be okay.
The ship carries around 20 ton of cargo, and up to 20 passengers, although for the first leg of this trip, it carries only the party and their charge. Ragaer will explain that they may be picking up further passengers in Endil, their first stop, which is two days down the coast.
Not much to do as the ship is readied, and sail is set. Even with the ebb tide, it still takes two hours to clear the heads, before the ship catches the Gulf Stream and the prevailing Westerlies, and sets of south-southwest down the coast. The day is overcast, but other than that, the weather is fine.
Note that passing the heads is a rough trip, and it would be appropriate here for seasickness rolls for the PCs, with the extent of the failure indicating how long the PC would be out of action for.
By late afternoon, it passes the Outer Lighthouse set on the westernmost of the Belfalas isles, and turns southward. Around this time, Girchel stops sulking and comes out of his cabin to watch, but he remains reasonably non-communicative
The first night is spent out at sea about halfway down and 60 miles out from the Belfalas mainland coast. By about 3 o'clock in the morning, the captain swings the ship around to run southeast, and shortly after, the fire of the Outer Endili Isles Lighthouse is seen, giving the captain something to aim for. Even still, dawn breaks before the arrival, and the Halatir passes the Lighthouse Island to starboard as the just as the sun is rising.
Passing between the islands, the Halatir turns east-northeast, resets the sail, and begins the run into Endil. Whilst they still have the wind, now they are running into the powerful current, and the going slows. It takes until just after lunch before the Inner Endili Isles Lighthouse is reached. Once the ship passes beyond the Endil Promontory, the effects of the current eases, and Endil is reached by early afternoon. Light drizzle starts falling as they reach the bay.
During this phase of the journey, there really is not much for the PCs to do. In the early morning of the first day, the views of the Lond Ernil Peninsula, with the Prince's Citadel and the Seaward Tower, which dates back to the Second Age and was built for Noldor Galadriel, are very impressive when seen from the sea. After that, however, the ship heads out to sea quickly to pass around the multitude of isles extending out from the coast. Apart from the Outer Lighthouse Island, the next sighting of land will not be until the next day.
Girchel will not be very talkative, even after he stops sulking, and will provide mostly simple answers to questions. The PCs will quickly get the impression that he is not interested in conversation with them.
After rounding the heads and setting sail, Ragaer will have more time to spend, and will happily chat with the PCs. Again, he is probably not the most social of people, but he is happy to talk. His conversation will be limited, however. He knows everything about the sea, and will happily discuss sea travel in the area, ships, winds and tides, the various forces and interests in the bay, and the various ports of call. He can describe the Island and Lond Aduil in general terms, but is certainly not up to speed on internal political issues. He is aware of the school, and can state that a noble from northern Anorien started it only a few years ago, but apart from that, he doesn't know much.
As the ship sails into Endil Bay, the bay is quite active in terms of shipping. Quite a few small fishing craft dot the waters, and friendly waves are exchanged between many of the fishermen and the crew of the Halatir.
Endil is a mid-sized provincial town situated in the top of a bluff south of a river that flows into the bay through a deep gorge. The docks are located at the foot of the bluff below the town, and are quite extensive. Approximately twenty odd ships of various sizes are spotted either moored or in the process of coming or going, and many smaller craft dot the waters. To the north of the river mouth is a small Naval Station, with a single Coastal Patrol vessel tied up.
The Halatir makes for the docks and moors, and Ragaer, after asking all to remain on board whilst he speaks to the Harbour Master, departs. He returns shortly in the company of an official looking gentleman, and after having a private discussion with him on the dock, he returns and informs the passengers that they may disembark.
He mentions that it looks like they will have two additional passengers for the trip from Endil to Lond Aduil, who will be meeting them later tonight at the Endil Inn. An offer is made to provide an escort for the passengers up to the Endil Inn, where they can stay the night in slightly more salubrious quarters - the crew will be coming up to the Inn for dinner, but will return to the ship to sleep. They will then be leaving Endil at first light the next day.
The Endil Inn, located up the road from the docks directly overlooking the bay, is a reasonably large establishment, of good but simple quality and rather busy. The town itself if of a reasonable size, and the locals are generally all pleasant and friendly. The town makes its living from the sea trades, and visitors are very common.
After registering at the Inn, the players are free to explore the town for a few hours. Not much will happen here - the town is as per usual towns of this ilk, and is quite civilized and law-abiding. The PCs will be expected to behave themselves - the locals are very much good solid provincial types who don't take kindly to ruffians.
The constant drizzle continues throughout the evening and night. All the shops shut at five, and the town really doesn't have much of nightlife, so the PCs should return to the Inn for dinner. Ragaer and much of the crew will meet them in the dining room, and the PCs are welcome to either join them for dinner or sit alone. It's a large room but it gets rather busy rather quickly - many of the crews eat here - so it is wise to grab a table early.
As dinner is about to start, a party of three accompanied by two men-at-arms enter the dining room. They spend a brief moment scanning the room before spotting the party's table, and making their way towards it. Ragaer spots them and waves them over, and introduces them as Tharolfin, Steward of Amonhîth, and Emelin and Diorethrin an-Amonhîth, and informs the PCs that Emelin and Diorethrin will be travelling with them to Lond Aduil.
If any PCs are watching the other guests, and are rather perceptive, they may notice that one of the men at another table will notice the newcomers as they are standing in the doorway looking around the room, and react with a start, which he will quickly suppress. He will then get the attention of the other three at his table, and whisper to them. As the newcomers make their way over to the table where Ragaer resides, the four men will get up and exit quietly and discretely.
Ragaer will invite them to join them for dinner, which they will accept, after getting out of their damp cloaks. Additional chairs will be found, and places for the five made. The men-at-arms will gravitate towards the sailors, and Tharolfin will sit with the Captain, and enter into discussions with him about boring things such as trade, shipping, economics etc. Emelin and Diorethrin will greet Girchel - it seems apparent that they all know each other - and if given a little encouragement, will join the PCs and Girchel for dinner.
If any of the PCs make their way out of the dining room to the entrance of the inn, they will overhear the last part of a conversation between the inn-keeper saying, "What, not even going to stay for dinner?" and a man, one of those from the table that got up and left, saying, "No, sorry". Some financial matters are settled as the other three men come down the stairs carrying belongings. All will be quickly resolved, and the four will leave the inn with haste.
If the PC is standing in view, then they will take a good hard look at him or her as they leave, but they will not stop to talk. Any attempt at conversation will be met with a non-committal grunt. The innkeeper will attempt to return to his duties - he is busy given dinner is about to start. If the PCs insist, he will assist them, but the most he can say about what happened is, "They said they had to leave." accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.
The PCs can spend the dinner talking with Emelin and Diorethrin. Both are friendly and talkative, far more so than Girchel was, and will be happy to chat about various matters. They will inform the PCs that they are going to Tol Aduil for three months to stay with their father, who works there in the army.
Diorethrin will chat quite happily with Girchel, Diorethrin doing most of the talking, asking him about various people and social matters from Lond Ernil. If the PCs ask, they will be informed that they used to live in the city - their father was transferred to the island a few years ago.
They will not specifically inform the PCs as to their father's rank unless specifically asked - not because it's a secret, but because they don't think it's all that important. The way that they are dressed and the fact that their father has a steward and men-at-arms accompany them may clue the PCs into the fact that they are of a reasonably high birth, but they certainly do not dwell on it. In many ways, they are a lot more down to earth than Girchel, and are completely free from airs and graces.
Emelin will be able to answer a lot more questions about Tol Aduil than anyone else they have run into - she and Diorethrin have been there often. She doesn't really think of it as a big deal, and would be much more interested in asking the PCs where they are from and where they have been. She is particularly interested in Pelagir, Osgilliath and Minas Tirith - she has visited those places when she was younger, but not since the plague, and she is interested in what has changed.
If anyone follows the four men, or wanders down to the harbour whilst dinner is happening, they will notice that the men have a quick talk to the Harbour master, and then board a small trading vessel and prepare to set sail. Otherwise, the Halatir's Third Mate, when he comes up to get his dinner, will mention that a small Trader just left the harbour. There will be some comments about the stupidity of people leaving on the flow tide and just as night is falling, but no one will think much of it.
After dinner, very little happens. The PC's can continue talking, but the ship's crew will leave early, and the newcomers will wander up to bed early - its going to be a very early start tomorrow.
The Third Day:
The PCs and all other travelers are called before dawn to make their way down to the docks for boarding. All board, Tharolfin comes down to see his two charges off; all are in good spirits - even Girchel. The weather has fined up, and it looks like it will be a fine sunny day.
If any of the PCs mention to Ragaer of the events of the previous evening, he will make sure that his men keep a good watch, but won't show much concern outwardly. He will suggest that the PCs don't bother mentioning this to any of the other passengers.
The ship sets off very early, at daybreak, south-westwards out to sea. Travel is quick with both the wind and the currents, and by breakfast, is approaching the Methrast Bight Lighthouse. On the way, Emelin or Diorethrin may point out where their manor is as they pass it, but given that the ship will be twenty miles out to sea at that point, not much will be able to be seen.
Just after noon, they round the Methrast Bight Lighthouse Island and set sail southwards. That is the last land sighted that day - the ship pretty much then sails due south till nightfall.
All three of the other passengers will be in good spirits, as will the crew. The sun is out, the sea air is bracing, the journey good, and not much will happen.
Feel free to throw in some sightings of whales or other marine life, or perhaps the passing of a Gondorian Merchant Cog - perhaps even a Naval Ship - but this part of the trip should lull the PCs into a false sense of security.
Perceptive PCs may notice that when Emelin and Diorethrin talk to each other in private, and they do tend to gently insult each other quite frequently, they do so in Adûnaic. If any PCs comment on this, they will be told that it is the language that they use at home. They can also both speak fluent Quenyan and Sindarin, and some basic Dunael.
Morning of the Fourth Day - The Sighting:
By morning on the fourth day, the ship is now heading east-south-eastwards - she changed direction sometime during the night. Ragaer will inform the passengers that they passed the southernmost of the Methrast Isles a couple of hours ago, and should spot Tol Aduil by early afternoon, and make Lond Aduil by late afternoon. The good weather has continued from the previous day.
Only about half an hour after the PCs rise, the lookout at the crow's nest will call out that there is a ship trailing them far astern off to starboard. Ragaer will watch the ship for a while, but won't be too concerned. He will indicate that it is most likely a Privateer Carrack, but they are too far ahead of her for there to be anything to worry about. He does check all sails though. As the children come on deck, they are told about the Privateer, and get excited for a minute, as the trip has been mundane so far, but after a short while, they get bored with it and wander off.
If anyone asks, he will explain what privateers are, and how the politics of the Bay work. He will also state that the Halatir will make about 11 knots and the Privateer at most about 12. Most likely, she will shadow the Halatir for a little while, but as she realises that she cannot catch her, she will break off and go in search of easier prey.
The Privateer will continue to chase the Halatir. As the pursuit continues, Ragaer will start to check and recheck the sails, and check his speed. Outwardly he continues to state that there is no concern, and that they will make Tol Aduil way before the Privateer can overtake them. The fact that she is continuing the chase rather than breaking off does seem to worry him slightly, though.
Perceptive PCs may overhear him talking almost to himself, as he watches the pursuer through a telescope, making comments such as, "She sails well." "Whoever is sailing her is doing a good job." "Hmm, she may be faster than I thought."
By lunchtime, with the ship perceptibly closer, he sends a message up to the crow's nest to see if they can spot her ensign.
Early Afternoon of the Fourth Day - The Chase:
Just after lunch, a call comes down from the crow's nest, describing the ensign of the following ship - "Red flame on blue field, black edging." Ragaer's face darkens, but all he will murmur is, "We can still outrun her." He will say no more to the passengers, but the crew seems to recognise the ensign as well.
The PCs will notice Emelin and Diorethrin in deep conversation, and then Diorethrin will make his way to the bridge. He will lean against the railing with arms crossed, and after a moment, enquire gently, "Red flame on blue field, black edging - that's Teldûmeir, isn't it?" After a moment, Ragaer will nod his head. Diorethrin will then comment, as if to himself but loud enough for others to hear, "Just a Privateer…" Ragaer will give him a look as if to say, mind your place.
By now the PCs, if they don't know who Teldûmeir is, should be asking. If so, both Diorethrin, and Ragaer, after some prompting from Diorethrin, will explain who Teldûmeir is, and how Umbarean politics work. Refer to the ICE Umbar supplement for further information.
The intent of this section is both to increase the suspense, and to provide an opportunity for some expose. Given that the situation is two ships, both sailing in a straight line with a fair expanse of water between them and no land in sight, the opportunity for adding drama is limited. Effectively, you will have to use the attitudes of the NPCs to convey emotions to the PCs.
Ragaer will remain tight-lipped and apprehensive, staying on the bridge to watch the pursuer, even though it is well out of range. He will give orders to the Crow's Nest to keep a good lookout forward (for land), and will repeatedly check sails, ship speed, the charts, ropes, anything just to give him something to do. He will talk to the PCs but it will be in an almost absent-minded fashion, with long pauses between sentences, and continuing even when you had thought he had finished.
The biggest change will be between Diorethrin and Girchel. For two fourteen-year-olds who were very similar in their conversations back in Endil, Diorethrin will seem to be acting far beyond his years in maturity, whilst Girchel, if anything, becomes more child-like, becoming more and more anxious as time goes on, and needing constant reassurance. If the PCs won't provide the reassurance, Emelin will take it upon herself to try to calm his nerves.
Like her younger brother, Emelin also takes on a more somber, mature outlook. They both are calm and collected, though slightly anxious, and are the most willing to talk to the PCs through the next couple of hours. The crew will follow the lead of their captain.
Through this period, several points of exposition can be made, such as:
(Assuming that this hasn't already been discussed out previously), the First Mate will wander up to stand beside Ragaer, and comment, (mention what the party saw in Endil, if anything) "…, the small trader that slipped away just before dinner. This isn't a random attack - we've been targeted. They were waiting for us." Ragaer nods, and they both turn to glance at Emelin and Diorethrin on the deck below.
The PCs should hopefully ask what they mean, and thus, if they aren't aware of the nature of the job of the father of Emelin and Diorethrin, should be made aware of it now, and thus the point that the pursuer will not break off pursuit.
Ragaer, saying almost to himself, "To target the Azûladanakh'irim, and their children at that. If they find out that Teldûmeir is behind this, they won't rest…"
The PC's should then ask, who or what is or are the Azûladanakh'irim? Emelin, passing below, will overhear and respond, "We are." Following this, she can provide an explanation of the Azûladanakh'irim, and their history, with obvious pride.
After a short pause after she finishes, Diorethrin, who wandered up halfway through her speech, will speak, again with a sense of ownership and pride, of Marahil's3 adventures across the Bay to raid the Umbarean coastal fiefs (See ICE Havens of Gondor supplement). If anyone asks who Marahil is, he will inform them, including his full title, and finishing with, "… and my Godfather."
The insinuation in all this is that either Teldûmeir has become insane in his old age, or that the pursuers aren't planning on letting any of the people on the ship live to tell the tale…
Around 2pm, there is a shout from the Crow's Nest, "Land Ahoy!" Ragaer practically grabs the telescope from the Second Mate, and goes to the bow of the ship. After a few minutes studying the horizon, he turns to the PC's (assuming they have followed him forward), and states with obvious satisfaction, "Tolfalas".
He looks back at the pursuing ship, and then back at the horizon, as if measuring. He turns to the PCs and says, "We're doing eleven and a half knots, they're doing about fourteen. It's going to be a close run."
Mid Afternoon of the Fourth Day - A Close Run
Now that land has been sighted, Ragaer's demeanor changes. Now he has some control over the situation, he will become much more talkative, and almost cheerful, in a grim sort of way. He will actually seek out the PCs on occasion (assuming that they haven't panicked); to inform them of what is happening.
He will explain the route that they must take, to pass the island to the south and then travel up its east coast, and then come back westwards into the Lond Aduil Bay. Charts and maps will be shown to the PCs, and the issues concerning the currents and wind patterns described. Refer to Section Error: Reference source not found Error: Reference source not found (Page Error: Reference source not found)
At one point, Emelin slips below deck, and returns a few moments later dressed in trousers and shirt with a fleece-lined leather vest, instead of her dress. Ragaer, noticing this, will smile to himself, and call down to her, "Don't bother looking around for a sword, your father would never forgive me if I allowed that to happen." Both Emelin and Diorethrin will smile and laugh, and most of the crew will smile too.
This will lighten the atmosphere somewhat, and most people will become more cheerful. Girchel, however, will become even more scared by the mention of swords, and will take some calming down - Emelin will do this if the PCs don't.
Around 3:30, and the pursuing ship continues to close, Ragaer, will give an almost imperceptible signal to his crew, and some will disappear below decks. They will reappear a few minutes later carrying handfuls of short swords in scabbards, which they distribute to the sailors. Several sailors will be seen to be stringing bows, and quivers of arrows will be distributed around the ship and key locations. A few heavy axes will also appear and be placed in various locations and buckets of sand and water will be brought up and placed down the centreline of the deck.
The PCs may want to take the hint and gear up, if they haven't already. Girchel will become even more anxious at all this, and almost start crying. Emelin and Diorethrin will be nervous but controlled - they will offer assistance to the crew, but will mostly try to stay out of their way. The crew seems to all know what they are doing, and look practiced. They all show calmness, and exude competence and resoluteness.
Around 4pm, the Halatir will approach the southern tip of Tol Aduil, and Diorethrin will take the opportunity to point out to the PCs where his father's house and keep are - the lighthouse should have been visible for some time. There will be a short debate with his sister as to whether anyone will be looking out for them, during which he will comment, "I'm sure Gimi will be." Emelin will smile wanly at this, but neither will elaborate further.
As they pass the cape, all crew will be ready for the tack, but Ragaer will hang on waiting and watching the pursuing ship, which is now very close, running only a few hundred feet to starboard, and only about a quarter mile behind. If anyone asks, he will reply that he is waiting to see if they tack in. "If we tack first, we commit ourselves, and we will lose speed with the tack, and they could possibly come straight on, and catch us broadside. If they tack first, they are committed to going northwards, and thus are gambling so are we. Of course, the downside is that the longer we hold on, the further away from Tol Aduil we get, and the closer they get to us."
He smiles grimly, "Of course, if we do tack, and he comes straight at us to ram and misses, then he will have over-committed himself, and we will be able to make Lond Aduil easily as he will have to tack back. If we don't tack and he does, then we will be forced to take the outside route, and thus he should easily be able to cut us off at the heads. So the question is, how will he gamble? Will he continue on our course, and thus force us either sail on to the open sea or tack and present our side to him? Or will he tack north to cover the heads where, assuming we tack, he will be able to cut us off, but he will only get one shot at it? He looks at the PCs with an ironic smile, "This is the fun part of sailing…"
All of the crew watches the pursuing ship intently as she passes the cape. As clears the rocks, she tacks to port, and up the coast. The crew almost as one let out their breath. Ragaer comments to no one in particular, "He blinked first", as he turns and studies the sky.
If anyone looks, it does look as if there are dark storm clouds on the horizon coming from the west, but it is uncertain as to when they will arrive.
One of the mates, with the telescope studies the side of the pursuer, as she cuts across the Halatir's Wake, "The Bagarrân, 80 footer, two ballistae bow, catapult stern. Probably about one hundred odd crew including soldiers." He lowers the telescope, and adds, "Armoured bow."
Ragaer looks down, "They're running about a quarter mile out from the coast. We'll tack a mile out. If we're lucky, we'll catch a good squall of wind coming over the top of the island by running out wide, which should hopefully give us an edge to make the heads. Of course we will have to tack back in to make the heads, so we will lose speed on that. He smiles and shrugs, "It's a roll of the dice."
Late Afternoon of the Fourth Day - A Dice Roll
Very shortly afterwards, the Halatir tacks northeast, and faintly, a cheer can be heard from the ship to port. Ragaer almost smiles in spite of himself, "Sounds like they're pleased."
Both ships now run along the coast northeastwards, parallel with each other. Again, there is a bit of a lull in what happens, and someone will take the opportunity to point out to the PCs the various landmarks of the Tol Aduil east coast - the Mausoleum, the Arch and Blowhole, the Torr, Big and Little Cow.
As the Torr is pointed out, some birds will be seen circling above it, and someone amongst the crew will comment on the Sea Eagles, and how their sighting is one of good luck. The storm will look a lot closer behind them.
Perceptive PCs who look at the area closely may notice the figure of a man on horseback riding fast northwards. If this is pointed out, Emelin, after a moment's intense staring, will add hopefully, "It could be Gimi." This time if anyone asks who Gimi is, Diorethrin will comment, "Androth, my father's squire."
As they pass the Torr, the storm sweeps in, with blustery gales and the light but cold rain driving into the faces of those watching the Bagarrân. The Halatir will surge forward and start drawing ahead. A muted cheer will come from the sailors on the Halatir, and Ragaer will give a small smile. He will comment to himself as he looks skyward, "Don't know if it will be enough."
By the time the Halatir draws close to level with the Heads, it is about two miles in front of the Bagarrân. All of the crew is nervous, and some discussions will be had amongst the Captain and the Mates as to whether to try for Lond Aduil, or keep going straight on and aim for a different port.
Ragaer will mention to the PCs that if he wants to make the heads, he cannot hold his course much longer, and will have to tack soon, as the wind is coming in from the west-norwest, and he would like to make it through the heads on a starboard tack. Even though he is making ground on a straight run, if he leaves it too long, he may have to make a port tack, and not only will he lose time on making the tack, but given the setup of the ship, a port tack will be the bad tack4.
Ragaer comes to a decision, and gives the order to make for the Heads, and the ship starts to tack. The sails are drawn tight across the ship, as the wind is now coming from tight on the port bow - as such, the ship speed slows considerably. Across the water, a faint cheer is heard from the Bagarrân.
As the ships draw closer together, everyone on board readies themselves. All are nervous, and no one speaks unless they have to. Whatever happens, it is going to be very close. If anyone bothers to look for him, Girchel can be found tucked under the ladder to the aftercastle, drawn up in a ball. He will resist any efforts to make him go below decks, as down there, he will be alone. Ragaer will order Emelin and Diorethrin (and any non-combatants amongst the PCs) below decks. Emelin and Diorethrin will go to the door into the aftercastle room, but will prop just inside the door with the door open, watching.
The time seems to drag on, and on the Bagarrân as it gets closer, it can be seen that the crew is reading the catapult and ballistae, but they don't make any long-range attacks - it seems that everyone is waiting till they are at their closest. It looks like the Halatir will make it to the heads ahead of the Bagarrân, but not by much, and they will definitely be within range of the siege weapons…
Suddenly, there is a cut off shout almost simultaneously from both the Crow's Nest and the Bow. Someone then comes charging back along the ship towards the Captain as someone almost flies down the ropes from above. The man from the bows makes it onto the after castle first, and pants out, "It's the Oneth sir, and she's coming through the heads. She doesn't have full sail up yet, but she's coming."
Early Evening of the Fourth Day I - End Game
Ragaer pauses only for a second, before bellowing out, "Hard a-port," and swinging the wheel down hard. The crew drops their weapons and rush to drag the sails across to the other side of the ship. The ship shudders as she crosses the wind, and the ship swings onto a bad tack and slows, and starts heading back behind the Bagarrân, away from the heads and directly into the rocks along the Point. On the Bagarrân, there is a moment's confusion, and the order is given to reef sails, as they try to slow the ship down.
Ragaer will take this moment to quickly inform the PCs about the Oneth. "She's a Royal Naval Tender from the Tolfalas fleet at Caras Tolfalas, must have been visiting in the bay. Carries four ballistae - two front, two rear. We have to keep the attention of the Bagarrân - allow the Oneth to get sails up and clear the heads. If the PCs want to take this opportunity to try to do something to confuse or draw the attention of the Bagarrân, allow them to do so.
Whilst the Halatir is now travelling away from the front-mounted ballistae, it is now travelling directly into the path of fire of the rear mounted catapult, and it can be seen on the Bagarrân that the crew is preparing the machine for use. Ragaer gives the order, "Hold fire - don't do anything to start them firing - just draw their attention." A couple of the seamen take the opportunity to drop their pants and moon the Bagarrân over the rail. The two ships are now within extended bowshot range.
Behind the Bagarrân, the Oneth can now be seen coming into view through the heads. She has got full sail up now, and is starting to increase speed. She comes on quietly directly towards the side of the Bagarrân.
She covers a fair proportion of the distance between the two ships before there is a sudden shout from the Bagarrân, and faces suddenly swing around and look behind them.
Almost simultaneously, the whump of two ballistae is heard, and the catapult on the aftercastle of the Bagarrân swings around to face the rear and jerks forward. Screams are heard from the aftercastle, as some of the catapult crew disappears from view underneath it. The swing arm snaps near the bucket, and the bucket disappears onto the deck. The remaining arm snaps forward, unrestrained, and the catapult jerks upward, before crashing down and onto its side, precariously balanced on the edge of the castle. It pauses there for a moment, before rolling off the aftercastle onto the deck and railing below, where it also balances for a moment before gracefully tipping off the ship and disappearing into the sea. Quite a few bodies from the railing above follow the catapult in its dive into the sea, some of them looking quite mangled.
Screams can also be heard coming from the forecastle of the ship, but as that is hidden from view of the Halatir by the sails, the damage cannot be seen. The Halatir has now come into direct view of the Oneth, and massed archery fire can be seen coming from the Oneth onto the Bagarrân, and the crew can be seen quickly reloading the ballistae. Much screaming and panic can be heard coming from the Bagarrân, but above the screams, shouted orders can be heard, and sails are unreefed and the ship starts to pick up speed again.
One of the Ship's Mates says to Ragaer, "They're running!" to which Ragaer replies, "They can't do much else - they're caught dead to water." He yells out orders to swing the ship back onto a port tack, and heads northwards along the edge of the point, towards the heads.
If the PCs would like to try some archery at the departing Bagarrân, feel free to allow them to try. The range will be long, and they will be firing from a moving surface at a moving target, but they could certainly hit something.
As the Oneth turns to chase the Bagarrân, the Halatir's crew gives a cheer, and the captain of the Oneth turns and raises a hand to the Halatir. Ragaer mutters, "Don't cheer just yet, I've still got to bring this in through the heads, and we'll be travelling at a walking pace."
Early Evening of the Fourth Day II - The Heads
The ship moves slowly up to the point, and then tacks to port in through the heads. As it swings in, Ragaer yells for everyone to hang on, and the ship starts to bounce as it hits the turbulence. If you want, you could make the PCs make rolls to avoid being loosing footing or being thrown about, but it is possibly overkill at this point.
As the ship passes through the heads, it runs directly into the wind and current, and its speed slows right down. The ship starts drifting with the current sideways towards the rocks. Ragaer gives orders to untie the longboat. Suddenly there is a yell from the bow of the boat, "It's the Desert Rose, and she's sent a longboat!"
Assuming the PCs go to the bow, they see a longboat crewed by Haradrim pulling towards the Halatir. As she heaves in sight, the longboat pivots around, and the officer at the rudder yells for a rope to be thrown. One of the sailors heaves out a hawser, which the officer in the longboat makes fast.
As it swings about, Emelin squeals out to her brother, "It's Gimi, look!" She then rapidly remembers her place, and quickly resumes a demure pose. The squeal carries, and a white face amongst the rowers raises a hand. As soon as the hawser is made fast, the longboat rowers start pulling hard, and the Halatir is pulled through the point and into Lond Aduil Bay.