The Bard's Tablet - Part 11 - Doppelgangers of the Spanish Main
Stay a while and listen

Welcome back to The Bard's Tablet. Today's story is one submitted by a friend of mine after reading a little of The Bard's Tablet, and it was too good not to pass on. I’ll probably regret doing it, and if I get a lot of spam and junk mail I’ll just stop checking (it’s a troll account anyway), but if you have a story you'd like to share then email it to me at [email protected] and maybe I’ll use it in my column.

But on to today's story.

So a college friend of mine (let's call him Bill) sent me an email the other day titled, “How to create trust issues in one 3 part game”, which detailed a small campaign he had written for some players who wanted a pirate based GURPS adventure. Now some of you may not have ever used the GURPS system but it's a handy little D6 system that can be used to create just about anything. Pirate adventure, Wild West showdown, Knights vs Vikings, you name it and GURPS can make it happen. So his players had requested a Pirates of the Spanish Main style adventure with a fantasy twist (Thing Skyrim on the ocean) and he had set out to concoct the best adventure imaginable for his group. This was his initial intention of course, until the group began making demands. They wanted a “classic” Pirates of the Caribbean experience, they wanted a ship of their own, they wanted magic, they wanted flintlocks, they wanted and wanted and wanted, and after two weeks of this he had enough. So for the two days before the game he scrapped his initial story and wrote a new one; a better one.

A game they would never forget.

So the game begins with a group of pirates out for pillage and plunder. They attack a couple of ships and plunder them up good, and decide it's time to find a friendly port to go sell all this crap at. But on their way there, they run aground on a sandbar and the people of the port pull them to the dock to help them get their ship repaired. The boat carpenter tells them that the boat won't be ready for a couple of days so they should stay in town while it's being fixed. So they are invited into the town with open arms, and after a wonderful meal they get rooms at an inn and spend the night.

In the middle of the night though they are ATTACKED! They wake up to find six bandits in their room trying to kill them. After a rousing battle with swords and pistols flying, the bandits are dead and the pirates are only slightly injured. They go outside and don't find the town in distress so they are forced to chalk the whole experience up to a fluke. They go back to sleep, some of them staying up on guard, and figure they will sort this out in the morning.

In the morning they ask the innkeeper, who's like, “I dunno?” and then they make their way to the constable who's also like “I dunno?” So they make their way to the boat carpenter who...doesn't have their boat. When asked where it is he tells them, “Well you came by an hour ago and picked it up. I worked through the night on it to get it seaworthy again and then all of you came to get it and sailed away on it.”

The group is FURIOUS! Where did their boat go? Who has stolen it? So they go to the dock and sure enough, it's sailing off into the horizon. So do they go to the local constable and tell him that someone stole their boat? Of course not, they're pirates; they steal a boat from the dock and give chase. So after a while they catch up with the boat and, sure enough, they're aboard it. One rousing pirate battle later they have taken themselves into custody and scuttle the boat they stole (no evidence, no crime!) and sail their boat back to the town to return these imposters to the law for a reward (they hope).

Well, when they bring them to the constable he takes one look at the group and turns them loose. Then he and his deputies draw their swords and tell the group to surrender or die. The group gets real curious as to what's going on here and suddenly all of them, the constable, imposters, and his deputies, become grey skinned creatures known as doppelgangers. The constable, in true villain form, then tells the group how this town was settled by doppelgangers so they could rob clueless seafarers. They run them aground on the sandbar, offer to fix their boat, kill them in their sleep, and then assume their identities and assume their day to day lives until they have all their assets to bring back to town.

The group is like, “Okay well, that's super complicated and convoluted but now we’re just going to kill all of you". So another huge fight ensues and the party gets beaten up pretty bad as they're outnumbered nearly three to one. It climaxes as the battle spills from the constable's office into the town and the whole town joins in. The group attempts to flee, town in full pursuit, until a mysterious voice offers them shelter in the sewers. They accept, not having many choices, and are unknowingly saved by The Anti Doppelganger League!

I'd like to say this is where it ends but it only gets better from here. Join us next time as the tangled web already weaved gets even more tangled, and the players enter an inception style maze of shapeshifter weirdness.