The Shanties of Hell

A tattered ghost ship sailing above a hellish landscape

Aboard the whaler "Sovereign Elaine," somewhere in the Atabean

In the middle watch, sky dark and clear, a boy sits high in the rigging and whistles a strange and mournful tune. He scarcely notices the gunner's mate climbing up from below until a heavy hand falls on his shoulder.

"Don't ye let the Skipper hear ye a-whistlin' that chanty there, boy," the man says, low and urgent. "That's one of the chanties of hell, that is. How d'ye come to know it?"

"Heard it from me father, sir."

"Aye, maybe ye did, but if he learn't it first-hand he'd never have let ye go to sea. Run away then, did ye?"

The boy nods. The man settles down heavy on the yard next to him, looking thoughtful. 

"Well, and in your father's house did ye ever hear him tell that he'd come by a partic'lar piece of silver?"

The boy glances down, as though he could see through the deck to his own little sea-chest below. 

"No sir, he never mentioned it," he lies. The man chuckles amiably.

"Just as well, that is. That silver's a valuable thing, to some. If ever I had one, sure I'd keep it close to me heart." The gunner's mate stares into a distance a moment, then rises with a groan. "Take care, lad, and mind whose ears can hear ye. This'll be our secret, for sure." 

In the dark, his eye gleams with something very like hunger.

New Ship Adventure: The Shanties of Hell

Every whaling sailor longs for Fiddler's Green, a fabled place of green grass and fair weather and not a sail nor a plank nor a bit of salt water to be seen. Some of them make it there, bless 'em, but more of them don't. The unlucky ones end up crewing the whalers in hell, fighting leviathans that can swallow the sun. 

Your crew ended up in a hellish otherworld, not a true place of damnation but a bizarre and frightening no-place that few but sailors ever speak of. Perhaps your ship fell through a hole cut in reality by Porte magic, or perhaps you were sent there by the Devil Jonah or a vengeful dievas

You encountered strange creatures and bested other trapped crews there. Everywhere the air was filled with sad and haunting songs. The experience left you haunted, and the shanty melodies come into your mind unbidden each night. Your crew were fortunate, though, and found one of the lost chests of the blessed silver that gives them shore leave to return to earth. 

Others would try to take your silver, if they can. Perhaps they don't know its true value. Perhaps they lost someone in Hell and are desperate to rescue them. Perhaps they have stranger motives yet. Best to keep it secret and secure, and speak of your adventures to no one.

Benefits: As long as they possess their piece of blessed silver, each Hero has the 3-point Advantage "Nerves of Steel." In addition, any character possessing a piece of the silver may spend a Hero Point and sing one of the Shanties of Hell. Soon after, they will learn the location of an entrance to hell. It may take several scenes, or even another session or two, to reach that entrance.

Drawback: Once per session, as needed, the GM may spend a Danger Point. Now, someone knows you have the silver. They may pursue you themselves, or pass that information along to other interested parties. From that moment on, your crew is hunted.

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