The Barnacle's Revenge Campaign
Tidewater Rock of Windward Isle
A tower rises like a solid block from the sea at the edge of this island. The pounding surf rolls around its base and partially covers the steps that lead up to its front gate. A few arrow slits pierce its walls here and there, and a single shuttered window opens high upon the face of the fortress. A roof of metal shingles rises from its battlements where sentries keep lookout and siege weapons stand ready on corner turrets.
This small castle commands a small, protected harbor on Windward Isle, south of Motaku Isle. It is said that anyone who can claim Tidewater Rock as her own will have good luck, as the castle makes a strategic watch point from which one can strike the nearby shipping lanes. Most Free Captains have better things to do than pursue old wives’ tales, but a new pirate captain would surely find a boost to her reputation were she able to claim that she had “cracked the Rock.”
Tidewater Rock is a fortified tower house over 70 feet tall, built upon the same stone shingle that makes up the western shore of Windward Isle. The tower house is composed of reinforced masonry walls atop a 10-foot-high stone base filled with packed dirt. A stone stair rises 10 feet to the heavy front door, and at all times but the greatest ebb of low tide, the shingle below the castle is a swirling morass of tide water. At high tide, the waves lap at the very lip of the door stoop, making assailing the castle virtually impossible.
Interior floors are built of heavy oak beams 2 feet thick, and the tower roof is sheathed in lead tiles. Ceilings are 12 feet high. Doors are of strong wood but only a few have locks (Disable Device DC 25). All the windows except one (in area B11) are narrow arrow slits, some of which are set into deep alcoves providing a broad shelf area that can be used for seating or storage. Lighting is provided by these arrow slits during the day and thick tallow candles in wall sconces at night. The entire castle has a feeling of cramped security but still manages to convey a sense of comfort and safety for those who reside there.
When a Free Captain named Magna Stormeyes discovered the natural harbor on Windward Isle over 2 centuries ago, she immediately recognized that it would make the perfect haven from which to launch a pirate fleet. Starting with just one ship and a small encampment on Windward’s harbor, she began to ply the trade of piracy. With the plunder from her initial hauls, she set about building a keep, which she called Tidewater Rock. From the vantage point atop the Rock, she found she could pick out particularly ripe targets while receiving ample of warning of hostile ships approaching.
Over time, Stormeyes’ successes enabled her to build a sizeable fleet, as well as more strongholds on several different islands. She became the scourge of the southern sea lanes and eventually claimed the Hurricane Crown as her own. Shortly after becoming the Hurricane King and relocating to Port Peril, she was assassinated by rival Free Captains. Stormeyes’ burgeoning fleet fell apart among its squabbling captains. Gerta Frome, first mate of Stormeyes’ flagship, the Cocksure, seized control of the Rock. Within only a few years, Frome became a powerful Free Captain herself, and the legend of Tidewater Rock as both a powerful good luck talisman and an impregnable bastion was born.
Over the many years since, control of Tidewater Rock has passed from hand to hand, and its strategic location and practical defensibility have enabled its owners to enrich themselves substantially. With the rebellion of Sargava and its ostensible alliance with the Free Captains, Tidewater Rock became of less strategic importance, and its owners came to be of less prominence, but the age-old axiom of “Good fortune and sure sail await what one can crack the Tidewater Rock” has stood the test of time among the pirates of the Shackles and is oft-quoted — if seldom heeded — even today.
The most recent lord of Tidewater Rock was Bertram Smythee, captain of the Vale and three other brigs. Like his predecessors, he held Tidewater Rock as his seat, but controlled a few other small castles on surrounding islands as well. Over a decade ago, “Iron Bert” Smythee went to sea with his small fleet in a feud with Free Captain Carola Antiochus and was never seen again. Word came back that Antiochus had lured Smythee into the edges of the Eye of Abendego and ambushed him with the help of a previously unknown ally — one Barnabas Harrigan — and that Smythee’s fleet was cut to pieces between the enemy fleets. Though Captain Smythee managed to sink Antiochus’s Pergador, he was last seen on the deck of the crippled and sinking Vale at the mercy of the Eye’s hurricane winds.
Captain Harrigan claimed the remainder of Antiochus’s fleet and took control of several of Smythee’s undefended castles. He made an attempt to take the Tidewater Rock as well, only to discover that Smythee’s able widow had taken charge of its defenses. She managed to fend off his attack with such alacrity that Harrigan decided to leave the widow to rot in her tower.