Heading south on the Selintan River where it meets with the Nyr Dyv
A cloudy day
Life as a galley slave is simple, with very few surprses. You row with all your might and all day enjoy a bowl of thin gruel, and sleep on your bench all night.
That is, if you follow the rules.
In the Depths of The Eternal Sun
Below decks, each of the PCs are introduced to their new duties. They are dragged to the lower banks of the oars, the foulest of all tasks. The light is dim, water seeps through cracks and splashes through the oar sockets, the air is stifling and foul. Rows of hard wooden benches extend from either side of the walkway.
There are 15 oars per side, each worked by 2 men (a total of 60 slaves in the hold). At the head of the hold is a steep ladder leading to the deck. Directly overhead is the upper bank of oars, also 15 to a side. The center section between the 2 banks is open and the deck covers everything.
At the from of the hold, on a platform level with the upper deck, is the peacesetter-a burly man who rythmically pounds a large kettledrum in front of him. The oars are worked according to the pace sets: quarter speed, half speed, full speed.
The overseers assign each PC to a different bench in the lower hold. Each PC is unbound and unshackled, one at a time. The overseers take a chain and manacles, running the chain through a sliding socket wrapped around each oar handle. A large wooden block at the end of the oar keeps this sleeve from sliding off. The manacles are closed around the players wrists. A smith then comes forward with a portable brazier and anvil. Reaching into the brazier he plucks out a cherry red rivet and hammers it through the manacle clamp. Sparks of red hot metal fly from his hammer, searing the wrists of the PC. A bucket of cold seawater is dumped on the hot metal when he is done, further inflaming the burns of the PC.
Eanwulf decides it is best to keep a special watch over Breaker. He is too dangerous and unshackling him for any reason might prove to be deadly. They keep him on deck, tied, shackled, you name it, to the mast. He is watched by 4 men at all times.
Although there is a heavy metal staple in the floor, the PCs are not shackled at this time. Anyone identified as a spellcaster is fitted with a leather muzzle, which clamps his mouth almost completely shut, allowing him to barely mumble.
Once the players are fastened to their oars, they are expected to immediately begin rowing. Those who do not are given a quick feel of the lash to motivate them
After the overseers move on, you have a chance to talk to your fellow slaves. These men (and a few women) speak in hushed whispers. Among the 60 slaves of the lower bank, there is certain to be a wide variety of personalities and maybe a few heroes.
Let The Rowing Begin
Three overseers come, unlock the shackles, slide the collar of the manacles back onto the oar and hammmer the wooden end cap back into place. Both rowers at a bench are unlocked at the same time. This takes about 30 mins to complete, and any slave who does not move fast enough is whipped. Those who died during the night are thrown overboard by 4 of their fellow slaves.
You and the other slaves row. The pace of the rowing varies throughout the day. It is strenous and exhausting work.
All through the day, the slaves are watched by 4 guards-2 at each end of the hold-on the upper bank. These guards are not paid to watch the activities of the slaves so much as to be ready to react to any attempted escape or revolt.
A greater problem for any escape are the 2 overseers-one for each bank-who patrol the length of the hold. These vicious taskmasters maintain order and discipline within the hold, applying the last to those who break the rules or whom they do not like.
During the day, one slave, too weak to assist in the rowing, moves up and down the banks with a bucket of water and a cup, giving drinks to those who need them. The old fellow, while unable to aid in a revolt, when he feels it is safest, whispers to the PCs that he is willing to carry messages to other slaves in the course of his rounds. He is also a good source of gossip and information about other slaves.
First, overseers come around to fit the slaves out for the night. One knocks the end cap off the oar and fits the shackles on the ankles of each slave. The chain passes through the iron staple in the floor. Again, only 2 slaves are unshackled at any time. As they do this, the overseers select 4 slaves to serve dinner for the night. The PCs notice that the servers play favortites towards them by giving them bigger portions of food. 2 of the slaves distribute the bowls while the other 2 ladle out spoonfuls of a greasy broth made from oats, dried fish, and salted cabbage. After this they come around with stale sea biscuits and gourds of water.
Evening to 5am
The slaves sleep. This can be done by lying on the benches or the deck.
The shackles have six-foot chains, giving each just about enough slack to move his feet about.
One guard is stationed on each platform for the night. This is a frightfully boring duty and the guards are none too attentive.
The PCs are told by other slaves that once a week they are allowed onto the deck to exercise their legs and clean themselves. Half a bank is unshackled at a time, watched by 10 guards. The slaves are allowed 30 minutes on deck. Buckets of saltwater are thrown on them to rinse the filth from their bodies. The slaves must then take buckets and splash down their oar bank.