Tale as old as time, a lonely crabber (Colbert) falls in love with Clawdette, the Crab Queen, and attempts to free her people by opening and breaking all of the crab pots in the harbor. When Colbert is caught by the community smashing crab pots, he is taken to jail. Hearing of his imprisonment, Clawdette summons her minions and attempts to free her soulmate.
As the party is walking through a coastal fishing town they may happen upon this encounter in a few ways:
- They are returning to their home base and an NPC they know runs to them screaming
- The see in the distance several swarms of crabs carrying screaming town guards into the ocean
- Sailing into harbor the docks are eerily quiet and all of the boats seem to be scuttled
- Clawdette – The Crab Queen, she speaks broken Common and wears a tiny crown fashioned from coral upon her carapace. Her beady eyes have a sort of beauty to them and any who gaze into them have a high likelihood of being charmed. Her red pincers
- Colbert – A local crabber and hopeless romantic. Star-crossed lover that was imprisoned because he kept freeing crabs from crab pots in the harbor.
Command and Conchquer
The scene in town is chaos. Swarms of crabs are scooping up townsfolk, specifically the town guards and attempting to carry them into the ocean. If the individuals resist, they endure many pinchings, but if they go with it, they seem to get set down in the ocean with just their heads above the water. The crabs also seem to be carrying tiny flags that say “Rostrum Propodus Merus.”
If the party attempts to save the guards from the crabs, the crabs take on Swarm of Rats stat blocks, replacing the Bites action with a Pinches action.
Pinches. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target in the swarm’s space. Hit: 7 (2d6) piercing damage, or 3 (1d6) piercing damage if the swarm has half of its hit points or fewer.
Saving the guards they will learn more about what is going on (read To Shell In A Handbasket)
If the party lets the swarms take the guards away, they can follow the tiny creatures to the nearby prison where Colbert is being held. The scene here is even more chaotic. Several town guards have been pinched in half, while others are nursing hundreds of smaller pinch marks all over their body.
Krill or Be Krilled
Using advanced weaprawnry, the crabs have built several tiny catapults that are launching stones and shells at the prison walls, attempting to make a dent, but they are not making much of a dent. A high-pitched scraping noise is heard from an alley where Clawdette emerges with several Giant Crab bodyguards.
She stridulates and all the crabby bodies perk their antennae up, taking in new instructions. They clear a path as the body guards back away from the prison door and skitter sideways into it, blasting the wooden door with all their might.
Two attempts at this will break the door down and the swarm will scurry into the prison, searching for Colbert.
Primary Options For The Party
- Defeat the crabs – Undeterred by the love story, the party might murder all of the crabs, becoming heroes to the town, but making a new crabby enemy in Colbert who vows to take revenge for his dearest Clawdette once he gets out of prison. The townsfolk will reward the party with free crab any time they return to town and they will eat like royalty.
- Convince Clawdette – That she can do better than this fleshy meatbag and let Colbert be punished. The persuasion here will be difficult as Clawdette has invested a lot of time in Colbert and needs this to work out. The result will need to be extremely convincing and favorable to Clawdette and her people.
- Reunite the two and shellebrate their unholy matrimony – This result is the best for Clawdette and Colbert, but the townsfolk will attempt to ruin the ceremony at every turn. It is unclear whether Clawdette and Colbert will live a life on land or if they will retreat to the ocean after they are wed. Clawdette will knight the party and hand off a Dodecapod, a mysterious twelve-sided crab sculpture that when rolled has the ability to spawn 1d12 Swarm of Crabs.
There are likely other results available here, but this is what we see as the most likely outcomes.
To Shell In A Handbasket (Background)
While out crabbing one week, Colbert looked wistfully out into the sea, dreaming of a day where he would find true love. So many of his friends and crewmates were in relationships, he was about to give up. He’d heard stories of individuals coming to town after receiving messages stashed in glass bottles so decided to give it a go.
He wrote a sweet, but desperate note, pouring his heart out. Placing it in a glass bottle and tossing it out into the sea, he hoped for the best. A few days later, while at his home, he heard a thud on the door, followed by some skittering. Opening the door he found a note stuck to the door with some coral. The handwriting was grotesque and barely legible, but the message was pure. He’d found his soulmate!
The letter begged him to meet at The Shallows at low tide that day. Dressed in his finest crabber gear, he headed down to The Shallows to meet his dearest. What he found was likely to scare off anyone else, but Colbert would have fallen in love with his wardrobe had it talked to him. Emerging from The Shallows was Clawdette, the Crab Queen.
Possessing extremely little capability to speak, Clawdette stridulated, rubbing her claws and legs together to produce broken Common. Staring into her eyes, Colbert fell in love immediately.
Clawdette, in her scratchy, chitinous love language, convinced Colbert that in order to be together he must free all the crabs from the crab pots in the harbor. Deeply enamored with his briny queen, Colbert did so, smashing all of the pots one evening and freeing all of the crabs.
On his return to shore, several crabbers and the town guard were waiting for him and they hauled Colbert to jail. The chaos that followed is where the party enters the town.