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Well, after a year of waiting, delaying procrastinating and preparing, I'm finally going to be running the Savage Tide Adventure Path. Over this time I have accumulated a large set of changes that I intend to incorporate, so I'm going to post them here for scrutiny, ridicule, scorn and hopefully praise.
N.B. despite the time I have had to prepare, much of this may yet change, and some adventures (Lightless Depths onwards) have not been prepared at all.
Character Creation -
Background in Sasserine
Facts the PC’s won’t know about these Guilds
The Azure Cathedral
To give the adventurers a way to be well-known for a recent deed of heroism, the AP will start off with the wreck ashore free WotC adventure.
The Town of Seawell lies to the northwest of Sasserine, and the PC’s are there for the celebration of Demonsend, the 50th anniversary of the slaying of the Demonic Lords of Terror by Offa, a heroic Minotaur from the far north. The PC’s will be celebrating in this town rather than Sasserine (along with a great many other people), as the now venerable Offa has stopped in Seawell on his way home from another adventure. For a variety of reasons (poor planning, good planning, drunkenness, price etc…) the PC’s are all on the Salt Wind, a caravel that leaves during the second week after the festival.
The only important passengers on the ship other than the PC’s themselves are the ship’s captain, a retired human pirate named Valram, his first mate, an enthusiastic Hadozee named Kurgar Saltwind, and a beautiful young noblewoman from Sasserine named Rowyn Kellani, who had been seeing to some business in Seawell (purchasing a custom-made collar of armour for her pet felldrake and killing the last of the Yelloweyes).
1. The Voyage
2. The Wreck
3. Wrecking Crew (EL 4)
Svingal Stonefist and 5 Pirate Wreckers sail their Pinnace (the Pale Pilgrim) out to the foundering Salt Wind. However, two sahuagin have disabled the ship’s rudder and so it swiftly crashes too.
CREATURES: Svingal Stonefist and 5 Pirate Wreckers.
After this encounter, approaching storm clouds should be enough to convince the PC’s to get off the ship and into the lifeboat with whatever passengers are still alive.
4. Sahuagin Ambush (EL 4)
5. The Pirate Camp (EL 5)
1. Lizardfolk Raiding Party (EL 3)
2. Alligator Attack (EL 2)
E6 Constrictor Snake (EL 2)
E7 Viper Attack (EL 2)
E8 Jaguars at Rest (EL 4)
E9 Jaguar Attack (EL 2)
Concluding the Adventure
Valram Taskel is a venerable elven rogue 3 (his age counteracting any class levels)
[u]Adventure 1: There Is No Honour[/u]
PART 1: A NOBLE IN NEED
When the PC’s return to Sasserine, they are each met by Keltar Islaran. He thanks them for dismantling the pirates’ operation, and awards each PC a bounty of 50 GP. Rowyn Kellani hands the letters from Lord Deskoth to the Shadowshore Watch. Faced with such damming evidence, and having watched the Black Harpies for a long time, the watch swoops in and arrests many of the Black Harpies. The corruption of the watch though allows Karne and some of his key lieutenants to buy their way out of jail, and find out the names of the people who foiled their schemes.
0A. Driveby (EL 2)
Creatures: 4 Black Harpy Gangsters
PART 2: TROUBLE ON THE BLUE NIXIE[n]
All of the thugs aboard the Blue Nixie have a tattoo of a fiendish eel on their right arm.
[b]0B. Karne’s Revenge (EL 4)
Creatures: Karne Deskoth
PART 3: THE VANDERBOREN VAULT
The ferry over to Castle Teraknian is operated by one Valram Taskel. Valram explains that he’s doing whatever he can to pay his bills, but he would rather sail the open sea again, he wants to die with a cutlass in his hand, the wind at his back, rum in his belly, and treasure in his hold, not ferrying people about the city. If the players ask about Kurgar Saltwind, Valram says that he is in the local Hadozee house, doing odd jobs to help feed the young ‘uns.
Within Castle Teraknian itself, the clerk is busy doing some sums when Lavinia and the PC’s arrive, and so they must wait around awhile. While they do, Rowyn Kellani comes from one of the passageways with a small pouch (containing 45 PP). After enquiring what brings the PC’s here, she explains that she is here to withdraw funds so she can buy a new dress for her cousin’s birthday party in a few weeks, and personally invites the PC’s for a drink in the Azure District at a tavern she knows called the Bloodthirsty Pelican. She spies Lavinia and the two warmly embrace. Rowyn gives Lavinia condolences on the recent loss of her parents, and says that she will always be there for her. They have a brief conversation where they reminisce about their time together at the Thenalar Academy. They are interrupted by a loud cough from the clerk though, and they go down to the vault.
PART 4: PERIL UNDER PARROT ISLAND
News travels quickly in the underworld, but it isn’t always right. After the recent forcible disbandment of the Black Harpies, the Emerald Claws are suspicious of Lotus Dragon activity. Knowing that both Rowyn Kellani and the PC’s helped in ending the guild, they mistakenly believe that the PC’s are Lotus Dragon Assassins,
Emerald Claw Ambush (EL 3)
Creatures: Emerald warriors (3), Emerald archers (3).
Development: If the PC’s straight out ask Rowyn Kellani if she’s seen Vanthus, then she’ll say that she has, in the company of a young half elf named Shefton Rusk who hangs around the Plucked Parrot in Shadowshore.
PART 5: THE LOTUS AND THE DRAGON
With the defeat of Karne and the Black Harpies, only the Emerald Claws remain in the way of a Lotus Dragon controlled underworld. The party should be asking around about the Lotus Dragons by now, and Rowyn sends out a squad of eight to make sure that the PC’s are intimidated. However, seeking to impress their guild mistress, the thieves will actually try and kill the PC’s rather than intimidating them.
Lotus Dragon Ambush (EL 4)
Creatures: 8 Lotus Dragon Thieves
Emerald Dragon Guildhall (EL 3)
This small factory is barely furnished. At the far end is a huge tank of some foul smelling goop over which there is a narrow gantry. An open door leads into an office. Near this door is a table, gathered round which are five elves, playing cards. One of them looks up at you and starts with recognition. He yells ‘Assassins! Kill them!’ and runs into the office. The four elves abruptly stand up, and another elf on the gantry looks over at you.
Creatures: 2 emerald archers, 2 emerald warriors, 1 emerald task mage.
D32. Rowyn’s Bedroom
Between TinH and BG, I'll insert a fun little free WotC side quest, Eye of the Sun.
Gather Information Check
When the PC’s return to Vanderboren Manor, Lavinia is in conversation with two people, Kurgar Saltwind (from the wreck ashore), and another Hadozee named Siroo. Kurgar leaps up when he recognises the PC’s and runs to shake their hands, Siroo seems a little confused. Lavinia says, “Here are the people I was talking about, they may be able to help you solve your problem.” Lavinia explains the situation to the PC’s as outlined in the Eye of the Sun adventure.
Assuming that they are willing to help out, and returned the stolen money, Lavinia asks them if they could go to help tomorrow, and gives them a slip of paper. It is written in Infernal and says “I, Xanthram, hereby promise that in return for the item returned to me by the Vanderborens, I shall grant the bearer of this parchment a favour of equal worth.” It is marked with a strange seal and a signature (DC 25 knowledge history check reveals the seal to be that used by the ancient (and long dead) empire of Myra, DC 30 identifies Xanthram as the emperor there) and is also marked with a number, 100,000 Gone, signed by both the Vanderborens and Xanthram. Lavinia warns the PC’s that Xanthram is a little strange.
Knowledge Local (+5 to check for Shadowshore residents)
Xanthram was in fact an emperor of Myra thousands of years ago. He was the finest wizard of his age, and the empire boomed under him. However, he feared that all of his life’s work would be for nought and so he became a lich in an immensely evil ceremony so he could keep himself as a testament to his own greatness. Appalled by what their emperor had done, his viziers overthrew him and cast his phylactery into the abyss where it remained in the treasures of Orcus. Realising the evil of what he had done, Xanthram sought to mend his ways through acts of good. He eventually showed true enough remorse that Pelor forgave him his sins and he became a deathless good lich in reward for his good. However, his phylactery still remained in the possession of Orcus and so he was forced to do the bidding of the Prince of Demons. The elder Vanderborens looted the phylactery from a temple of Orcus where it was being used as the focus for a summoning ritual, and they returned it to Xanthram, now a reclusive writer and craftsman living in Sasserine, operating a curiosity shop, not all of the stuff on display there is for sale (e.g. the trident he keeps that some say belonged to Satan himself)
Xanthram’s Curiosity Shop
After their meeting with Xanthram, the PC’s should very soon head out to complete the Eye of the Sun adventure.
Constricted Passageway (EL 5)
The Entrance to the Temple of the Sun (EL 5) (EL 6)
DC 15 Knowledge (religion), DC 10 if Dolmec or Olman to identify these deities.
Creatures: Two of the statues in this room are actually gargoyles. The statues of Mictlantecuhtli and Tezcatlipoca are really gargoyles that will attack the PC’s on the way out unless discovered before then.
The Basement (EL 7)
The salamanders retreat to this room and set up their defence. When they are killed, the lava solidifies within five minutes.
Creatures: Sasselotl the Average Salamander and his four flamebrothers guard the Lizardfolk tribe’s treasury.
Treasure: The chest itself is made out of Baatorian Green Steel and is worth 60 GP; in the chest are 2,000 SP, a finely made silver holy symbol of Itzpapolotl worth 50 GP, an arcane scroll of resist energy and magic circle against evil, a 200 GP solid gold idol of Mictlantecuhtli, a star sapphire worth 80 GP, a small silver chalice worth 20 GP, 30 GP mithral-plated circlet inscribed with a prayer to Quetzlcouatl, an adamantine-plated sword made of silver worth 50 GP, a set of pipes of the sewers, and some dust of appearance in a small bag.
Entrance to the Temple of the Moon
This room once held items of value, but Lavinia’s paternal grandparents broke in and robbed it long ago. Now the room contains nothing of value. There are however, four friendly mice of different colours.
A further, optional detour between TinH and BG is possible if the PC's need/want it.
Bad Light a free WotC adventure
When the PC’s return to Vanderboren Manor, once again, Lavinia is talking to more people interested in employing the PC’s. The high priest of the Azure Cathedral (Dimitri Popadopolis, Cleric of Poseidon V, Lord of the Deep IV), and Oldur Islaran (the reluctant, new harbour master) are both here and wish to get the PCs' aid in solving a problem that has arisen in return for free healing at the Azure Cathedral and free docking for the Vanderborens and their associates.
Pastor Popadopolis explains that ships coming from the east have not been turning up. They need the PC’s to investigate why this has been happening as neither the cathedral nor the watch can spare any men as they are already over-stretched trying to prepare for the Wormfall festival. He further advises them that as the sea route is proving treacherous, they should probably go over land, but should beware of increased activity of local bullywug tribes. Despite what he says, no random encounters occur during this part of the adventure.
Concluding the Adventures
After their deeds, Kurgar is more than willing to help the PC’s in SWW, additionally, the Azure Cathedral is able to provide one or two priests for the voyage, and Lord Islaran is willing to let the PC’s borrow his personal sloop for the trip to Kraken’s Cove. The Azure Cathedral is true to its word, and the PC’s can receive free healing there at any time they wish. They will also not charge for material components below 100 GP in any healing spell, and give a 10-40% discount on spells with larger material components such as Raise Dead.
How it ties in with the AP
ADVENTURE 2: The Bullywug Gambit
PART 1: Journey to Kraken’s Cove
PART 2: Kraken’s Cove
Kigante Valeros is a retired pirate, who used to be a terror of the Volhoun Ocean. He grew rich and powerful, but eventually he gained the attention of Shalvara, a Radiant Sister of Malcanthet. The two had an affair, which ended in betrayal when Shalvara drained most of Valeros’ levels. Though Kigante killed Shalvara, his level loss was permanent, and he no longer had the skill to captain a fierce band of pirates. He thus divided the plunder, dismissed the crew, and with a loyal ogre pirate also keen on hanging up his boots, retired to Kraken’s Cove, with his one remaining ship, the Salty Sea Shanty. He made the place a well kept home, but the Crimson Fleet eventually learned of it. They took over most of the cave complex, much to Kigante’s annoyance, and they have been running smuggling operations from here for quite some time.
K11. Tributary Chamber (EL 4)
K13. Kigante’s Chamber
Kigante Valeros lies here, stabilised at -3 by his companion, an ogre called Morgan Shipcruncher, who is disabled at 0 hp. The two of them managed to bar both of the doors, but the Savage Pirates didn’t go down without a fight. Morgan is happy to explain what happened, even though he isn’t sure of who the PC’s are, and if he and Kigante can be brought back to consciousness, then they are willing to follow the PC’s. Kigante will stand back and shoot with his musket (or crossbow, depending on tech level), and Shipcruncher will attack from behind the party front line.
The Sea Wyvern’s Wake
Securing Vessels: If and when the PC’s get round to talking to Valram or Kurgar, then those two will remind the PC’s about the ships wrecked in Wreck Ashore. Kurgar can get a willing crew of Hadozee to help patch up the ships in no time, and Lavinia or the Azure Temple can provide scrolls of ‘Raise from the Deep’ to keep the ships afloat while they are repaired.
Securing Crew: The PC’s should be fine for crew aboard the Sea Wyvern, but they can recruit new people if they want. There are 8 places available on the Wyvern, 30 on the Salt Wind, and 15 on the Pale Pilgrim. It is recommended that the PC’s stick to the Sea Wyvern as it is the best of the ships. If they do this, then Valram Taskel can be employed as the captain of the Pale Pilgrim along with Kurgar as his first mate. If left to their own devices, then they will recruit Hadozee colonists. Kigante Valeros will happily captain the Salt Wind, with Morgan Shipcruncher as his first mate. Kigante will help find a crew of adventurous colonists who may be of suspect character (a crew consisting of ex-pirates, and half-orc Vikings who worship Grummsh). True to his word, the high priest of the Azure Cathedral is willing to provide up to one 4th level cleric per ship for the voyage. Their service is free as he hopes that they will help in spreading the azure religion to the Isle of Dread, and he owes the PCs as well. Diamondback may be available for recruitment at this stage (or may smuggle herself aboard to help Rowyn).
Supplies and Cargo: There is space on the Sea Wyvern for 30 tons of cargo, 5 on the Pale Pilgrim, and 40 on the Salt Wind. If the PC’s do not wish to use this space, then Lavinia uses it to bring extra supplies to Farshore.
*Maybe a vampire crewmember on one of the ships?
Dinner with Lavinia
Dealing with Rowyn in the future
Random Encounters with Sharks
Day 1: Rowyn’s Mephit
Day 1: Father Feres’ illness (EL 8)
Day 2: Rowyn uses the scroll
Day 2: A fleet of crimson fleet pirates attack.
Day 1: A huge shark (EL 4)
Day 1: Dire Barracuda (EL 4)
Day 1: Offerings AND webs
Day 1: Friendly Olman raiders returning home
Day 1: Dire Barracuda (EL 4)
Day 3: A crimson fleet Hulk
Day 4: Shatterhull Isle
For SWW; i made a good part of it (open sea voyage) into one large sea chase/combat between the SW and 3 red fleet ships. It worked out remarkably well, especially using the chase rules from Dragon Mag (some of the obstacles etc, included weather conditions, a whirlpool, migrating sea serpents, an ongoing sahuagin/merman war etc.)
I also go rid of the next adventure, Here there be Monsters, all together, and added in a lot of fab stuff from Nick Logue's sinister adventures (interestingly, Nick wrote the Isle of Dread section for Dungeon and the stuff he had put out for Sinister Adventures is very similar)to the following adventure, as well as a lot more from the original Isle of Dread Mod. HtBM appears to be very repetitive with it's encounters (and not dinos either, but the Terror Birds)and has no real impact to the overall plot. By expanding Isle of Dread, I was able to impliment a lot more long term NPCs, alliances, and give the PCs a lot more sandboxy time on the Isle.
I like alot of your stuff.
The first thing I changed was as the pcs go to meet Lavinia the first time I had the Jade Ravens escorting Vanthus off the premises. The idea was that he came to "claim" his half of the inheritance, but in reality he was casing the place for stealable valuables. After some arguing with his sister he is "asked" to leave. He sees the pcs for the first time here.
Then I had some new players join the game so I needed a hook for them (the party had finished looting Castle Teraknian so I needed a way other than "You meet new party members") I had them coming from Cauldron, escorting a scholar with a beautiful box containing a scroll meant for a contact in sasserine. In reality it was a missive for a crimson fleet contact in Sasserine detailing the contents being delivered to Kraken's Cove. Vanthus and his goons kill the 2 crimson fleet agents and set up an ambush. Taking the box and running as his goons are cut down. The party starts looking for Vanthus and his lady friend, eventually learning who he might be. They track him to Vandorboren manner, and after finally meeting with Lavinia they basically hook up with the rest of the party to search for him for her (believing the Brissa is the boss, since Vanthus only shot a crossbow during the fight).
They attempt to find the two eventually finding Briss's place, and meet Shefton as originally planned. He however sends them to Vanthus' camp in the ruins of the work farm he was sent to outside the city. There they meet Vanthus, Brissa, and another rogue (Penkus) who ride off on horses when the pcs are spotted as the party fights the thugs left behind. Had any lived they would have spilled about Parrot Island, but since none did the party was unsure what to do. The fighter and Barbarian tracked down Shefton again, who they "persuaded" to find Vanthus again (he then did so but was caught and Vanthus set up the trap as per the adventure) and That's where we left off with them sort of threatening yet befriending the doomed half-elf who is waiting as they are about to climb down into the caves. What's sad is they really like shefton and I'm almost tempted to leave him alive and wounded when he takes his fall so the pcs can take him as a cohort and redeem him (they have commented out of game that he is the coolest npc they've ever met... he pretty much stays extremely jumpy and frightened at all times, and confused as the party threatens to kill him all the time, then took him drinking and wenching right afterwards. A wierd trip to the Sasserine Sleigh Ride and Mermaid's Secret indeed....)
I did this much for the same reason I think your using Rowyn alot, so that later The Savage Brissa encounter and every Vanthus one means a little more than "Hey its that guy..." instead "Hey, its that sonuva!" :P
I completely agree with you there Stewart, if you can build up a villain/npc, then the players will care more if they have to kill him or if he dies.
I like what you did with Shefton, although I would be wary about doing it myself as one or two of my group would find a way to get Vanthus in the foreshadowing.
Well Shefton kind of developed as such accidentally. If he gets offed, he gets offed. I think the players like him now, but sometimes they get fickle and he might get the Queen of hearts treatment if I'm not careful. :P
Thanks for the feedback. Stewart - what's "the Queen of Hearts treatment?"
lol sorry, Alice in wonderland joke.... "Off with his head".(in case you don't know alice in wonderland, for whatever reason the queen of hearts is a crazy ruler who has a short fuse and executes people at kind of random.) :P
Great work Laurellien!
One bit of advice, this is a really long adventure path. Our GM run out of batteries, flopped on the floor and wriggled all over the place on the night we decided to end the STAP.
Seriously, its long and could be shortened in places to speed it up. In saying that, there are bits of the STAP that benefit from being expanded on... I don't know how to do SPOILER buttons! (Anyone?)
I really enjoyed it. By the looks of what you've done here, so will your group!
The way you do spoiler tags is [ spoiler ] [ /spoiler ] without the spaces in the square brackets. But don't worry about that. This entire thread is spoiler material.
As far as the AP's length goes, my group has 2 DM's, and when the group gets to a certain point (say, the end of ToD), then we'll swap over and do another campaign for a while.
I'm lucky in that, my group WANTS a loooong campaign. We've had some issues trying to get the right player balance and also basically weed through who will play and who will just show up eat the snacks and bail after an hour or so (seriously some people don't visit long, but commit like they do). So were mostly set up with the people who are good players and all itching to see an entire long game through. So when I said this was a preplanned game that goes into level 20+ they were excited to finally get a chance to break double digit levels.
On a side note I'm also lucky that NPC romances are easy with my group. There is always someone who hits on the npcs. This time the scholarly healer asked Lavinia to examine the library in her home, and then basically started befriending with intent to woo. :P
(from the spoiler) We do something similar switching off at each adventure (though I try and make two adventures into one). That is why a year and a half after the printing ended, we are only on adventure 5 of 12 O:)
Nice job on the guilds. I would have liked to see more of the affiliation's use, which could work in with much of what you have done.