By Jeff Quick
Pirate Escape Portal
At one point in his long, checkered career, Jhaurmael was hired by a band of sahuagin to create a portal so they could destroy a large triton settlement and take over their territory without a long swim. He knew what he was getting himself into, but Jhaurmael worked on the portal for the challenge of the underwater construction. Predictably, the endeavor ended in the sorcerer's near death. Instead of becoming shark food, Jhaurmael was saved at the last moment by a pirate captain named Opal Cazendhel (CN female gnome Rog11). She didn't care much for a soggy elf, but she enjoyed breaking up sahuagin fun whenever she could.
Jhaurmael didn't have enough influential friends or enemies to be worth a ransom. Nevertheless, he did have valuable skills. In exchange for his freedom, Jhaurmael offered to make a portal for Opal's use.
Opal, however, had been suckered by spellcasters before. She clapped him in leg irons while she considered his offer and ordered her mates to wake him up every time he tried to sleep so he couldn't recover spells. For the better part of a month, Jhaurmael didn't sleep more than an hour at a time.
Opal used the time to check out the elf's story. She set into port on the Dragon Coast and asked a couple of local know-it-alls about a portal-building sorcerer. All her sources confirmed his claim of being a powerful sorcerer and portal builder, so Opal gathered some resources and set out to sea again.
A few days later, she slapped him awake personally and dragged him into her stateroom. Near delirious from lack of sleep, he agreed to a list of demands and subjected himself to a geas spell to see their completion. Among other things, the list included a set of magic sails, a magically toughened hull for her ship, 50,000 gp, and a case of beer from a brewery near Baldur's Gate.
Chief on the list of demands, however, was a portal built into the back of a cabinet in Opal's stateroom. The portal is a small affair; it's only 2 feet square. A Medium-size creature could squeeze through with some effort, but a Small one needs to stoop only. Normally, the back of the cabinet is solid wood. When the activation words ("precious freedom" in Common) are spoken, the one-way portal opens. The first creature through the portal teleports to a safehouse in Murghôm that Opal keeps just in case.
This was not especially difficult for Jhaurmael to accomplish (beyond the crick he got in his back from building a portal in such a cramped space). Even though he'd been a prisoner for a month, he bore no grudge. He would have done no less had the situation been reversed. So to make things interesting, he decided to trick the portal out in gratitude for Opal saving his life. The first person to pass through the portal teleports to Murghôm, as planned. The next 1d6+6 people who go through teleport 50 miles due west of the ship's current location. Most of the time, this puts the user wetly into the Inner Sea, though sometimes he or she is fortunate enough to wind up on land. If no one else uses the portal, it resets to the safehouse location after a tenday.
When he explained this feature to the captain, she cackled with glee and decided not to strand him on some small rock, even if he did know about her secret. Over the next month, the two drank and pirated together, forming an unlikely friendship. When they set into port again, she freed him from his geas. To this day, they keep in touch, and Jhaurmael delivers her an occasional case of Baldur's Gate beer, which she continually claims not to have received.
What Jhaurmael never revealed to his friend was the extra effect he placed on the portal. Once the portal teleports its user to the safehouse in Murghôm, the user is affected by a slow spell for the next month. Attempts to dispel it must be made against a spell cast by an 18th-level sorcerer. Riversedge bears no grudges, but he does leave fond remembrances for his friends.
How to Incorporate the Pirate Escape Portal Into Your Campaign
- One of the items on Jhaurmael's list of demands remains undelivered. It's true that he doesn't really have to deliver it at this point, but he wants to for the sake of his friend, Opal. He has had it in his possession for some time, but he's busy working on some project or other. However, he'd pay well for the PCs to travel to the Inner Sea, hunt down his pirate friend, and deliver it for him.
- A Sembian noble sends the PCs on a pirate-hunting mission to finish off the scurrilous plague known as pirate Opal Cazendhel. Finding her is hard. Capturing her is even harder thanks to her portal.