Sunday, October 11, 2009

Noffel - Hokka and Some of His Crew

Hokka [pronounced HAWK-uh] is the famous Noffelian captain of the vessel Sea Scorpion, a man and ship whose exploits are already legendary in Ara. 

My most definitive memory of Hokka took place during the aforementioned “Hotel Kaladarian” campaign refereed by Scott Peoples, Hokka’s creator.  The party was in a Noffellian seaport, seeking to book passage to hunt down a huge sea serpent that was terrorizing the Bay of Noffel.  Hokka agreed to take us out to the serpent’s known feeding area, and when the serpent attacked the ship, Hokka eagerly joined in and raised his cutlass against the huge monster.  During the height of the fray, Hokka was seen dangling from a rope high on his own ship’s mast, swinging his cutlass at the attacking sea serpent while simultaneously shouting curses and, using his off-hand to hold himself, taking a piss on the giant creature as well.  That moment veritably defines Hokka: fearless, hard-drinking, adventure-seeking, and seemingly impervious to death. 

Equally proficient with the Noffellian longsword and the Suhlian cutlass, Hokka makes a deadly opponent in melee combat.  He is seemingly fearless, and is well-known for yelling insults and jibes at his foes while fighting.  His courage and apparent indestructibility help him confer a morale bonus of +2 upon anyone fighting alongside him.

Hokka can be wounded, even swept out to sea from time to time, but should never be outright killed, unless his death is used as part of an incredibly world-changing, cathartic, climactic battle in a large-scale campaign.  Hokka is a more or less permanent fixture of Ara, the ultimate ally to befriend and share seagoing adventures with.  Hokka and his crew, being fearless adventure-seekers, are almost always willing to transport adventure parties for a cash fee or fair trade.

Hokka’s ship, the Sea Scorpion, is a small galley with the following stats: 90-person crew complement, Cargo Capacity 2,000 lbs., AC 8, Structural HP 100 (see Labyrinth Lord p. 57).  Since Captain Hokka prefers to keep his ship at sea (and earning money) as much as possible, and due to the often illegal nature of the work Hokka accepts, I am not certain if Hokka and the Sea Scorpion have a stable “home port,” but if they do, it is Jakama.  (In fact, I believe Jakama is where my party first met Hokka during Scott Peoples’ “Hotel Kaladarian” campaign.)  While Hokka can be found and hired out of any port on the Bay of Noffel or the Arandish West Coast, he is far more likely to be found in the Noffellian seaside city of Jakama than anywhere else.

Due to his thirst for dangerous adventure, Hokka has a tendency to lose ships from time to time; the last time I used Hokka in a campaign he claimed to be on his seventh ship, having survived the sinking of six previous Sea Scorpions.  In any case, Hokka is legendary for surviving the destruction of his vessels and any new ship he acquires is immediately renamed the Sea Scorpion

Hokka is a legend amongst most Noffellians and seafaring folk, and since almost everybody loves and/or fears him, he has few direct enemies.  Some tight-assed coastal mayors or governors may have it out for Hokka for his black marketeering, but Hokka usually (barely) eludes legal trouble to sail again for the unknown!

I think the reason I have kept Hokka and the Sea Scorpion around for so long is that I like to have a ready-made and fun way to get character adventure parties out to sea or across the sea to new adventure areas.  Hokka certainly does NOT show up in every single campaign I run; but pretty much every time a party goes to sea, it is with Hokka.  In this connection, please note that Hokka is an ocean-going sailor, NOT a swamp-barge or riverboat captain.  He is proud of his Noffellian heritage and mostly sails the Bay of Noffel and the Arandish West Coast, including Suhl as well as the riverway up to the Free City of Kaladar.  He could be persuaded to sail across the Algar Sea to the Duchy of Galen but has only rarely done so before, and possesses little knowledge of the Duchy or its denizens.

Hokka’s gaming statistics follow – please remember that I am using the Arandish Alignment system, which is a direct steal of the Dwimmermount Alignment System

Hokka, Seafarer Captain (see Labyrinth Lord p. 48)
Human Fighter Level 12
Sex: male
Alignment: neutral
STR 15, DEX 14, CON 17, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 16
HP: 66
AC: 5
Weapons: cutlass (treat as scimitar), dagger
Armor: Studded Leather (base AC 6)

Next, vital statistics for some of Captain Hokka’s key crew members.  Hokka sails at all times with one of the best crews to be found in the south Arandish seas.  Over half of his crew is made up of Suhlian rodians, joined also by a goodly number of Noffelian humans.  Here I provide detailed profiles for only a few possible / representative crew members.  Hokka’s crew members, while overall quite loyal to their legendary captain, also evince a fairly high killed-in-action rate due to the extremely dangerous missions Hokka routinely accepts.  Therefore, referees using Hokka should feel free to flesh out their own Sea Scorpion crews, even changing the crews (in minor ways or substantively) from appearance to appearance of Hokka.

Again, remember that for all the following entries I am using the Arandish Alignment System.)

Felda Barris
Human Fighter Level 9
Sex: female
Alignment: lawful
STR 16, DEX 16, CON 16, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 13
HP: 54
AC: 3
Weapons: Long Sword, Dagger, Short bow, mace
Armor: chain mail (base AC 5)

Felda Barris, Noffellian warrior, is Hokka’s First Mate, acting as chief of security and crew drill instructor onboard the Sea Scorpion.  Prior to joining Hokka’s crew, Barris was a soldier in the Noffellian High Guard for many years; it is rumored that she was dismissed from the High Guard for insubordination, but no one in Hokka’s crew would ever mention this in her presence, since she would beat the crap out of them for saying it.  Chief Barris, as the crew calls her, is fiercely loyal to Hokka and is one of his main personal and professional confidantes, but she does not fraternize much with the rest of the crew and is rarely friendly toward ship’s passengers.  In other words, excepting her friendship with Hokka, she is primarily a disciplined loner.  Hokka usually leaves Barris in charge anytime he is off the Sea Scorpion.

Zigg and Higbar Karibekian, rodian brothers:

Rodian Duellist Level 6
Sex: male
Alignment: neutral
STR 14, DEX 15, CON 14, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 11
HP: 24
AC: 5
Weapons: cutlass (treat as scimitar), dagger, light crossbow
Armor:  studded leather (base AC 6)

Rodian Duellist Level 5
Sex: male
Alignment: neutral (balance)
STR 11, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 12
HP: 18
AC: 4
Weapons: duelling rapier (treat as short sword), dagger, light crossbow
Armor: studded leather (base AC 6)

Besides Hokka himself, the most consistent elements of my Sea Scorpion crew have been  Zigg and Higbar Karibekian (of the famous generations-old seafaring family, pronounced CARE-uh-BEEK-ee-an), two rodian brothers who constantly bicker and compete as a way of demonstrating their love for each other.  Zigg and Higbar are always debating who is better with the cutlass, or at any other endeavor for that matter.  Neither brother will admit of any fault or wrongdoing to the other, and each works very hard to one-up his brother whenever possible.  The  Karibekian brothers are, if you’ll forgive the reference, the Legolas and Gimli of the Sea Scorpion.

In actual fact, the elder Karibekian brother, Zigg, is stronger and a more skilled fighter than his brother; and Higbar, faster and nimbler, is a more natural sailor and crossbowman.  But both brothers are formidable melee combatants and often serve Hokka as key boarding party members.  (Of course, never one to miss an opportunity for combat, Hokka leads all his own boarding parties.)

Human Fighter Level 7
Sex: male
Alignment: neutral
STR 18, DEX 15, CON 16, INT 7, WIS 10, CHA 8
HP: 50
AC: 5
Weapons: Bastard Sword, Dagger
Armor: studded leather (base AC 6)

By contrast with the Karibekian brothers, Barnacle-Head is a relatively new member of Hokka’s crew – I have only used him once, in my most recent Arandish campaign.  A large and muscular Noffellian human, Barnacle-Head is retained largely for his fighting abilities and raw stamina.  Barnacle-Head may not be the intellectually sharpest member of the Sea Scorpion crew, but he knows sailing, he is incredibly effective under pressure, and he obeys Hokka unflinchingly.  Barnacle-Head acts as Rowing Master when the Sea Scorpion is under oar.  In combat, he is almost always seen near Hokka or directly at his captain’s side; Barnacle-Head would probably be considered Hokka’s bodyguard, if the idea of Hokka needing a bodyguard weren’t so inherently ridiculous.

Saladari Xaelar
Rodian Illusionist Level 6
Sex: female
Alignment: neutral
STR 8, DEX 16, CON 10, INT 16, WIS 11, CHA 9
HP: 15
AC: 7
Weapons: dagger
Armor: none (base AC 9)
Spells (1st): Color Spray, Hypnotism, Wall of Fog, Detect Invisibility
Spells (2nd): Fog Cloud, Invisibility, Magic Mouth
Spells (3rd): Fear

Saladari Xaelar [pronounced ZAY-lar] is the latest in a long line of rodian Illusionists to emerge from her family, and is believed to have connections very high up in the hierarchy of the Black Cloister.  Xaelar serves as the Navigator of the Sea Scorpion.  Secretive and introverted, she has nevertheless become one of the boisterous Captain Hokka’s closest confidantes—for while in matters of crew conduct and discipline Hokka clearly relies primarily upon Felda Barris, when it comes to ship navigation, overall operational strategies, cargo profit margins, and general “life coaching,” it is Saladari Xaelar to whom he turns.  It is probably largely due to Xaelar and her (highly secretive) obligations to the Black Cloister that Hokka ensures the Sea Scorpion makes port in Suhl at least once every few months.  (Though the Karibekian brothers, Zigg and Higbar, have many relatives there as well, including a great-uncle who owns a tavern.)

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