The Rum Runner

Maps created with DungeonFog and Wonderdraft, Characters Created in Hero Forge unless otherwise noted, Cover art done by me.
"Look, far be it from me to tell you what to name your ship, I'm just lettin' ya know that there is a reason even pirates and smugglers dont use that name, I seen the original, and I dont know whether its the captain, the crew, or the ship itsself that's the jealous sort, but one way or another misfortune befalls those who take unearned the name Rum Runner"
  • Jasper Cameron, Leader of the Bronze Ravens at a ships naming ceremony, the ship in question was lost at sea with all hands 5 days into its inaugural voyage
  • The Rum Runner
      "I don't see what the big problem is, you said you needed to get from Elm Shores to Iceward as fast as possible," Halliana said, exasperated that she was once again explaining to this fool, no doubt on some god's given quest, why they were sailing the shortest path between the two places.   "Because its the Usan Uuls ! Its SUICIDE!" shouted.... Thomas... Reginald maybe.... *sigh.   "Look. I'm not the desperate fool who needed to get from a to b, BUT I have traveled the world a bit, so let me explain the options you had and why you choose me, and then if you dont settle down I will knock you out and lock you in your quarters until we get to Iceward:  
    1. Hire on to the first caravan in Elm Shores headed to Favortown, walk or ride the better part of 3,500 miles so that once you get to Favortown you can catch the next caravan to Silmere. Once you have traversed the 2,000 miles to Silmere, you would need to hire a ship to take you 6,400 miles to Iceward, if the captain is smart passing through the Gates of the North Wind to offer tribute, if the captain is crazy then taking the slightly shorter coastal route.
    2. Charter a ship to take you to Deepturtle Quay. If the winds are good you should make it there the week after the Autumnal Equinox, so you can catch The Twilight Trade to Outh Mead. From there you can hike the better part of 2,500 miles across the Myrdhor Desert, in the summer, to Thunder Dunes. Now a strapping young thing like you should be able to push and make it there by Years End with a bit of luck, in which case this should be the year that you can take the Twilight Trade straight from Thunder Dunes to Iceward, but if you are even a day late, or I read the lunar calendar wrong, you are shit-outta luck on the opposite side of the world from where you want to be.
    3. Have some ship drop you at Deepknight, spend 7 or so months there waiting for the seas north of Blizzards Heart to clear, then sail up and around through the Northern Sea in the summer when the sea serpents are breeding.
    4. Your fastest option by far, and the one you bought and paid for, was to hire the only captain with a ship fast and durable enough to shoot the gap this late in the season. Despite the dangers you may think we face, which are many, I personally guarantee that you will make it to Iceward no later than 3 weeks after the equinox, which is over month sooner than any other option you had.
    "So if you dont mind, stop bothering me, let me get my ship ready, and do whatever you need to to prepare for what will undoubtedly be a bumpy couple of weeks, We reach the foothills of the Usan Uuls in tomorrow." Halliana stated, firmly putting an end to the conversation.   "But..." Richard perhaps?... started, and then thought better of it seeing the look of fury cross Halliana's face as she reached for an ever-present bottle, no doubt (in his mind) to bludgeon him with. Quickly exiting the captain's cabin he looked out over the ocean. Already, the mythical water mountains could be seen on the horizon. From this distance they were beautiful, glistening azure peaks, almost a match for the sails of the ship he was on. Occasional white specks (no doubt icebergs several times larger than the boat he was on) breaking from the top to fall almost gracefully down the slopes leaving a wake behind them visible even from this far out. Yup, he thought, we are all going to die.  

    History of the Rum Runner

    Year Event
    ~404 In the Time before Time, the Rum Runner is built for a purpose as forgotten as the god who made it.
    4934   While the details of the story remain sketchy (at best) and ever-changing as the years pass, (now captain) Halliana discovers/recovers the Rum Runner from a location as fluid as the rest of the story. Spoiler
    Halliana in fact took the Rum Runner as a reward for descending to the base of the Tower of Forgotten Gods, but as with most who have completed the journey, she has no memory of her journey to the Tower or her time inside.
    4936 After a night of drinking, feasting, gambling, and no small amount of negotiations in Favortown Captain Halliana convinces Igotak, Exiled High Shaman of the Aboom Clan to join the crew of the Rum Runner as a replacement for its cannons... all of them.
    4939 Crazy Ivan is "rescued" from a slave ship, admittedly the crew did not know there were still captives on the ship, and were in fact just attempting to recover "the only hunk of wood Igotak had ever failed to burn." It wasn't until 2 days later that Ivan was discovered in the ships hold (well, on a previously not there outdoor platform adjoining the ships hold) conversing with Tim about, of all things, what puppies are the most fun to play with.
    4943 Captain Halliana and her crew are labeled as pirates in the lands surrounding the Obake Sea and the Dark Basin after sinking a majority of Magnnus Sorensen's Fleet at Blood Moon Cove. While responsible for much of the shipping of other legitimate goods across the region, Sorensen made most of his fortune as a slave trader. Were is not for Crazy Ivan this probably would never have come to light.


    "If the wind wont take us there, the water will" - Halliana Stratford
    A 3 masted caravel, the Rum Runner is usually powered by wind using its distinctly sapphire colored sails. However, according to most of the crew it is also capable of assisting its propulsion by controlling the water around it to some degree, a statement that Halliana will neither confirm nor deny. There are also rumors that it is capable of gliding long distances by launching itself from high up on the Usan Uuls and using its sails as fixed wings. This, of course, is a completely ridiculous statement, ships cant reconfigure like that and it is generally accepted that even dragons require the assistance of magic to stay aloft.

    Weapons & Armament

    Igotak, Exiled High Shaman of the Aboom Clan
    Igotak Aboom screenshot.png
    "They may call the Rum Runner and her crew pirate's, but Halliana and Igotak have always done right by me. They sank Magnnus Sorensen's whole slaver fleet in 2 days. Once Igotak was done with them there weren't even wrecks to sink into the harbor, his flames burned so hot. Down right terrifying considering that with a few notable exceptions, such as the ship he is on, most things floating on the ocean's surface dont take too kindly to fire."
        There is also Crazy Ivan. He's one o' those nature wizards or some such. He can do things to wood, magic things, and those bees o' his aint normal... I mean, who ever heard o' bees living happy as can be so far from flowers and still making honey for breakist. He also once had the boat stopped so he could argue with a sea serpent, a freAKIN' SEA SERPENT! An he won too, least wise thats what we all assume based on the fact that it swam away without attackin.

    Armor and defense

    No one knows quite what material the Rum Runner is made of. It is waterproof, flexible in the thinner areas, and hard. Witnesses to one of the few battles it can be accurately credited as being in claim that it took several chain shots and at least 1 ballista bolt to the sail with no damage. The hull appears to shift colors based on the temperature of the water it is in, transitioning from what appears to be a vibrant polished cherry wood in warm waters to an almost slate grey when the waters take on an arctic chill. The sails have been best described as resembling the wings of a blue dragon. Both hull and sails are incredibly durable and, as far as Igotak as been able to determine, completely fireproof.   Any who wish relieve Captain Halliana of her ship, or perhaps attempt to forcibly board the vessel at sea, should also be aware of Tim. Tim is a rather interesting suit of animated armor, who may or may not be the bound soul of some lost battlemaster, he can't or won't leave the Rum Runner, but he will defend it. So far the only things that have managed to put a scratch in his armor, or stand up to his sword made of the same material, are a Duke of Asmodeus, a shield made from the scales of and Elder Dragon, and Bet's sword. He is rather polite, and almost always will give his opponents a chance to surrender. Tim is also exceedingly good with children, and can keep them entertained for hours


    I would greatly like to know why Tim has a more complete and accurate map, of not just our journey, but THE ENTIRE KNOWN WORLD, than MY NAVIGATOR DOES!
    — Captain Halliana Stratford
    The true and accurate voyages of the Rum Runner according to Tim (as the crew have named me)

    Additional & auxiliary systems

    The kitchen contains a special stove that was enchanted by Igotak. Burning wood is not required and, at least according to the most recent ships cook, "its a shite load better than any other galley " Halliana also claims that the boat's fresh water supplies are kept full from a treasure found in her younger days, but has the crew keep rain barrel's to remind them how it ought to be done.  

    The Anchor

    "The Runner doesn't have an anchor..."   "Yes"   "But is is currently moored offshore in my harbor waiting an open berth..."   "Yes"   "Without an anchor, or as far as we can tell, a bound water elemental, dedicated mage, or symbiotic leviathan..."   "Yes"   "and it doesnt drift..."   At this point Captain Halliana was quite exasperated with this middling functionary of the Harbormaster and decided to show it. "look, you have inspected the cargo, which if I may say so is a rather fine collection of mead and spirits out of Outh Mead, and some of the finest ghostspider silk ever shipped from the Island. I've docked here many times before, as you boss knows, and always give Southcove its fair cut of the profits. Nothing besides myself and my crew can possibly pose any danger to your town, and that will only happen if we are treated with hostility. You might as well be asking why other ships dont have an indestructible suit of living armor or a mysterious unmovable throne in THEIR cargo hold, but you dont. So you can go back to the you boss now, and give him you report and recommendation on which berth we can use, or I can have Tim escort you off the boat, also now, in which case we will take our goods elsewhere!"   "Choose wisely..." a deep, echoy voice said, and on turning around the inspector let out a squeak as he came face to face with Tim. how the armor had made it into the captains cabin silently, and without opening the door,  he had no idea, but wisely kept his questions to himself.   "W-w-we should be a-able to have you b-b-b-bearthed in the next hour or 2," the inspector stuttered, staring up at Tim's almost smiling visor. "W-we are of course h-h-happy to assist y-you with mooring, and may I b-b-be the f-first to s-say w-w-w-welcome."   "Excellent!" exclaimed Halliana. "So glad to have the formalities out of the way, mooring assistance will not be required and if you could let Harbormaster Willowwater know i will stop by with payment on the 'morrow." She put a hand on his shoulder and started escorting him out of her cabin and back to the rope ladder that led to his dinghy.   As Harbormaster Jacobs was rowed back to shore he had some rather disturbing thoughts. Who is Harbormaster Willowwater, and where the 13 hells is Southcove?
    Halliana screenshot.png

    Captain Halliana Stratford

    The Chaos Caravel
    "Its only impossible until somebody does it"
    18ft (5.5m)
    54ft (16.5m)
    12 knots
    Complement / Crew
    13 for luck
    Cargo & Passenger Capacity
    20 Passengers (beds for 4)/70 Tons

    Notable Passengers

    With notes from the captain.
    Jerry The Jello.jpg
    by Model: Dungeons and Lasers /Painter: drunkenpanda951
    Jerry the Jello    The crew were somewhat hesitant, but admittedly a passenger who eats "whatever" and doesnt need to sleep can be a boon on certain voyages. Cargo hold hasn't been that clean ever again.  
    Maze Walker screenshot.png
    Maze Walker   Fairly reserved, but he can spin a tale with the best of bards, and is more handy in a fight than most of them. Seems sad though  
    Mutt and Bailey by Model: Steamforged Games/Painter: drunkenpanda951
    Lucky    Apparently the head of his (their?) adventuring group, they were most notable for the fact that their stay was relatively uneventful. Always welcome if we see them again.  
    Relsk screenshot.png
    Relsk    I dont usually complain about paying customers, but I am missing my 3rd favorite hat since he was on board, and Tim no longer has his right ring finger...  
    Tim screenshot.png
    *sigh* ..... you're part of the crew, Tim...


    Please Login in order to comment!
    16 Sep, 2021 13:28

    Nice to have the return of the water mountains in the story section ^^ Nice read and I like the mystery still around the ship.

    Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
    17 Sep, 2021 03:15

    So this comment is solely responsible for them also appearing in the art. it was, interesting trying to figure out how to illustrate them, especially considering i dont normally draw

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
    17 Sep, 2021 06:57

    Oh that look good! Better than I could draw it most likely :p

    Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
    17 Sep, 2021 10:02

    What a great article!   Love the included timeline and love the quote   "If the wind wont take us there, the water will" - Halliana Stratford

    Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

    18 Sep, 2021 01:26

    Oh, I really like the options! The map is very clear and gives so many interactions. I see a fellow fan of Hero Forge. Great chars art!

    Come vist my world of writing Pangorio or my world of RPG Adventures All-In !
    30 Sep, 2021 04:15

    I have a growing appreciation for hero forge since their color kickstarter went live. its is just so much fun to make so many characters and then be able to show players "this, this is what the NPC looks like." also having them get a screen shot of their character.

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
    29 Sep, 2021 19:01

    That looks great! I really liked the voyage map, it makes the whole article feel much more connected to the rest of your world

    30 Sep, 2021 04:09

    Its awesome that you like the voyage map, i wasn't sure how i felt about it as it honestly came about because i was doodling on my world map while a little tipsy and very sleep deprived over the weekend.

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
    2 Oct, 2021 15:01

    Very good little detail to hint at the crew's journeys. I would suggest making parts that tell a section of a story to be more distinct from the rest.

    3 Oct, 2021 02:15

    I really enjoyed the unique passengers and crew of the ship especially Tim. Tim's map was also a great touch.

    Creator of the the Disputed Lands, a bronze age world of politics and clockwork magic.
    Check out my shipwright challange article: Little Victory
    3 Oct, 2021 18:45

    This not only has the description of a ship, but also some history and lore to ground it. Really like that! :)

    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    5 Oct, 2021 08:32

    Nice article, I love all the little stories about the ship and the crews :D You also have great illustrations all along, I especially like how you've done the map of the world to show Tim's writing on it. I was a bit confused when the captain explains the different paths possible. Are those visible on the map? If so, moving the map closer to that text and showing a starting point on it would help I think

    Feel free to check my ship challenge article.
    6 Oct, 2021 17:43

    Thanks for the positive feedback. Sadly, the paths possible arent that readily apparent on Tim's map as it is a low enough resolution that a lot of the names aren't super readable.I am working on getting it to the proper resolution in wonderdraft, as Tim's map was made during a late night doodle session on my phone screen. .

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
    6 Oct, 2021 17:47

    The specific leg in question though is the one labeled "Going to a wedding" with Deepturtle Quay being the city under the "cold feet" annotation

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    6 Oct, 2021 18:07

    (sorry I just noticed the like I gave you when I commented did not go through!)

    Feel free to check my ship challenge article.
    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    6 Oct, 2021 20:08

    I'm impressed you managed to do any kid of art-thing on your phone XD

    Feel free to check my ship challenge article.
    9 Oct, 2021 08:28

    Hi ! Congrats on this, I really liked your style! The addition of the travel map by Tim was a great and hilarious addition. I like the way you added a lot of unresolved mysteries regarding the ship itself, its past, and its odd crew members and passengers.   I cannot give you any major criticism, to be honest : the amount of information you disclosed was well controlled, and largely sufficient. Is the ship part of some TTRPG campaign? Some story being written?

    With love,   Pouaseuille.
    9 Oct, 2021 14:48

    Thank you. it is part of a TTRPG campaign world. My players have been nice enough to give me a hiatus (sarcasm there, 3 of 5 are currently on deployment, as military life tends to works) so i have another 3ish months of stress-free world building which is kind of nice.

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner
    9 Oct, 2021 10:13

    You have done a really nice article. I loved the dialogue on it. The Tim’s map and descriptions of notable passengers are wonderful add to article and I love the humour in them. The cover art is beautiful, and I love the colours in it. It gives the article very nice feel right from the start. Only issue I had was, that when reading the Armor and defense section, I had no clue of what the changing of colours and the colour of sails had to do with ship’s armor and defense. Overall great job!

    9 Oct, 2021 14:52

    Thank you for commenting on the cover art, i was a little stressed about it is really my first attempt at cover art.   I do now see that i did not mention the durability of the materials at all in the armor and defense section. I will get that fixed, thanks for the catch.

    Check out my Shipwright Challenge Entry The Rum Runner