Insertable Encounters #1: Captain Yurik needs all hands.
Although the fishing is rich in the Bay of Ceol, the fishers of the coast dare not to cast their nets beneath its murky waters. They speak of the matter to none, but know well that another sets his lures there, though he seeks men, and not fish.
Sunk deep below the choppy green water of the bay lies the ship of Yurik Blacktooth, once the most feared pirate of the coast. Few now remember the sight of his red sails on the horizon, or the terror that rolled before him. It is said that finally Yurik descended into such depravity that the sea itself reached up and sank his vessel to end his blasphemies. What act brought down the curse, or what power the pirate offended is a secret known to none now living.
What the fishermen will tell, should their closely held confidence be won, is that Yurik died, and yet he lives. He is seen on rare occasions, walking across the bottom of the bay, or stalking those who come near to the shore. The fishermen say that the pirate captain is cursed to remain below the waves and may not leave the confines of the bay until such time as he has gathered a new crew to man his ship. In places near the shore, the gleam of gold may sometimes be discerned upon the seafloor. Though they are poor, the fisher folk let the treasure lie untouched; for they know that Yurik lurks nearby, waiting to seize any who would venture into the water.
Captain Yurik is an undead creature in a category of his own. He still appears to be a living man, though fish-pale and hungry eyed. His curse prevents him from leaving the water, or extending any part of himself above the waves. In order to draw victims within his grasp, Yurik has made tempting heaps of golden coins and treasure in shallow, (8’-12’ deep), water near the shore. He stays just out of sight in the hazy depths, eager to seize and slay any whose greed overcomes their caution.
Yurik will always concentrate his attacks on a single target. If he successfully hits with both of his attacks, then as well as the given damage, the victim must Save (VS Spell), or drown instantly.
If a drowned victim is rescued from the unliving pirates grip within 6 rounds, he can be resuscitated by clerical magic such as Heal, or Cure Heavy Wounds. Yurik is no mindless undead, he will fight with a weapon if need be, but prefers to kill using his Drowning Touch if at all possible. His victims must be slain in this manner if they are to be of use to him in breaking his curse.
All those which Yurik slays, he will then bear back to the wreck of his ship. There they are reanimated as sea zombies and bound to the service of the remorseless raider. When the day comes he has gathered a full crew complement, the ship will rise again to the surface, and Yurik will be free to leave the bay and resume his life of piracy. Or rather, his unlife. Nothing will lift the whole of his curse. Only final and total destruction will end Yurik Blacktooth’s reign of terror.
* I'm going to put up one shot encounters like this that will be insertable in any game with a bit of willing modification on the part of the DM. I'm leaving them suggestive, but not completely nailed down, so that you can fill in or change things to suite your game world and style of play.
Captain Yurik was inspired by the pic at the top, of course. It's an illustration by the Mighty Howard Pyle and from his Book of Pirates, 1902. Do some image searching if you love classic pirate illustration, only maybe Frank Schoonover came close to Pyle in the great pirate art department. Heh... pirate art department. "Arhhh! Today class, we be study'n impressionism, drink up me hearties and it'll be makin more sense tah yeh."
I found a bottle of jagermiester in the back of the fridge this evening. Buried treasure me lads, yo ho!