A Pathfinder/3.5 Compatible Adventure for 4-6 PCs of levels 8-11
The PCs are asked by a friend, Captain Erfaran Honamatros, to find out what has caused the death of one of her fellow captains. After weeks of storms and bad weather, ships from Mohkba haven’t been arriving, but a body has floated in. Captain Honamatros is so concerned that she offers her ship, her crew and even to pay for the journey if the PCs come along, as well as everything they find unless it is a keepsake. The captains that sail the Serpent Lake are experienced women and men and the loss of a ship and its complement is a rare event outside of war.
What starts out as a journey to discover what sank a ship quickly becomes more involved. Former companion creatures of a giant appear, telling of a floating island causing chaos, and when the PCs find this island, they discover it holds new occupants who have no wish to leave and a weather machine that has been damaged and is malfunctioning! The task is now to decommission the machine and make the sailing route safe once again. But where do you start when a violent storm is raging around the island and the giant’s former home is now upside down?
Also included in “When the Ship Goes Down”:
Choice of crowd control rules to deal with a riot
A minor artifact weather machine and its extreme weather table
New Monster: the Elektrohydra
New Monster variation: the Lightning Mephit (3.5E), Snow Roc and Incorporeal Giant
4 new Magical Items, including a Weather Machine in need of repair!
3 new Traps!
Suggestions to adjust the encounters for parties of different levels and hooks to continue the adventure
8, 9, 10, 11
This adventure presents some interesting quirks, and is best run for a group of characters who have already become well-known in the area through particpation on earlier adventures.
It begins with some unseasonal bad weather, storms so severe that waterborne traffic has ceased. Although it doesn’t suggest this, if you are running this as part of a campaign set in and around Rybalka, you might want to have the bad weather start during the previous adventure rather than suddenly announce that it’s stormy. When an experienced sea captain shows up dead, his battered corpse tied to a shipping crate and floating into the harbour, the characters are asked to investigate…
The adventure starts rather slowly although there is an interesting scene involving a potentially-hostile mob – and which occasions the presentation of ways in which you can handle a mob scene. One suggestion is to handle them as a swarm, dispersing when they reach a notional ‘zero hit points’ (although no damage is actually taken, unless someone starts a brawl).
Eventually, things get moving and the characters are in for some rough times at sea… and it is not plain sailing once they reach their destination, either. There are a few dangers and opportunities to gain information and items that may help along the way, and characters need to be wary: attacking first and asking questions later may leave them in the dark about what is going on.
Once they reach the end of their quest, the characters are faced with a number of potentially deadly traps and encounters. Finding their way to their ultimate goal will not be easy… but there are some delights along the way. The outcome is not clear, although there are quite a few suggestions about what could follow.
Presentation on the whole is at adventureaweek.com’s usual high standard, although (particularly in the latter stages) there are long blocks of text with the crucial mechanical bits not very well highlighted; GMs will find that prior study is necessary tp run this adventure effectively. A comprehensive Encounter Index is provided, hyperlinked from the main adventure text and providing stats for both Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder rulesets.
Overall, this is a curious adventure. It has the potential to establish the characters as potent adventurers, advancing their reputation and renown far beyond what earlier adventures in this series might have gained them, yet it feels a bit nebulous and less satisfying and does not reach quite the heights of most of adventureaweek.com’s work: guess I’ve been spoiled by their excellence in other works. The underlying concept is good, it falls down somewhat in the execution. Still, it could prove an interesting and quite different mission for an adaptable party – provided that they don’t get too seasick in all the storms!
This pdf is 78 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/front cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 74 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right! Still here? The weather around Rybalka has not been the best and that is an understatement of epic proportions. When the seasoned captain Duglig Merimies (identified via a captain’s token – a cool piece of culture that is also represented via a neat artwork) is found adrift in the seas, his tongue missing, dead and tied to crates, something is obviously amiss and it’s up to the PCs to find out what happened and accompany captain Ertaran Honamatrus. After an extensive research-section (nice), there unfortunately are some problems – Huriendor, obviously upset about the PCs (by now probably accomplished heroes in and around Rybalka) leaving and has gathered a mob to keep their precious heroes – thus we are introduced to the first cool bit of crunch in this module – a crowd-control tug of war between the sailors and the Rybalkan locals, both groups of which want the PCs. That is, the Pcs are not facing a straight-forward combat, but rather a complex, yet easy to run and ultimately more or less harmless and fun encounter, which may nevertheless turn easily ugly, making this perhaps the best introductory scenes in the whole line of adventures and making it rather easy for the DM to make his PCs encounter the results of their actions from prior adventures.
The journey per se will be a kind of paper chase aboard the vessel and feature elementals, a potentially friendly ice roc that may clear up what has happened and even an ice-water Elasmosaurus. And then, they reach the island that is the location of the adventure. AaW does it again. Turns out that the strange weather phenomena are the result of an artifact, the Troposheroscope: Housing a shard of the sun (see also the latest Pathways e-zine…), the device was utilized and kept in the care of a storm giant’s floating island. Unfortunately, said keeper has died in a maintenance accident of the device, which has promptly turned haywire. Worse yet, the floating island’s keel has been torn off by a collision with a cliff, flipping the whole floating island upside down. Yes. The Pcs will have to explore a floating, upside down fortress of a storm giant above a lake. Now if that’s not awesome, what is? Even better, the top of the structure is guarded by multiple traps that belong to the good category – they can be observed and worked around, much like good puzzles. The location also gets neat artworks and the fortress itself is plain awesome – magical horns, a devious trap (paralysis, gelatinous cubes, force cages – ouch!) including a respective warning, mobs of mephits, a library (including 3 sample, rather interesting books) and one of the funniest ways to die, impaled by giant cutlery, are part of the deal. Have I mentioned the electro-hydra and the showdown against 2 young blue dragons (tundra is also a kind of desert, after all) that comes with hoards as well as a selection of tactics? And after the PCs have braved this section of the island, they still have to navigate the upside-down caverns (with side-view map) and stop the malfunctioning artifact and defeat the now undead former keeper of the weather-control device while solving the puzzle on how to disable the artifact and avoiding its deadly blasts. Ladies and gentlemen – THIS is a climax worthy of the name! Iconic, challenging, with both a cool location, an interesting adversary and even a puzzle strewn in, this is an awesome final battle… that may see essentially a kind of magical equivalent of an atomic bomb in the hands of the PCs to determine whom to give the artifact or keep it themselves. I know that my players would try to keep it, if only to give new credence to the phrase “blaze of glory” – removing the lead from the shard, they’d look at a whopping 444 points of damage – some forces are not for mortals to tamper with…
26 pages are taken up by the full stats of the creatures encountered herein, both for PFRPG and 3.5. We also get player-friendly versions of all maps in the module, and a map of Rybalka and a typical Rybalkan house.
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches that would have impeded my enjoyment. Layout adheres to the Pre-B2-two-column layout and the maps, as I’ve come to expect by AaW, are top-notch. The artworks are ok. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and while the player handout bookmark doesn’t work, it’s nested bookmarks do work – no harm done. The pdf comes with a second, printer-friendly version. At the time of me writing this review, Herolab files have not yet been added, but I’m positive they will. This module is AaW at their best – an awesome, iconic location, a cool mini-game, internal consistency, cool effects and a climax that deserves the name and provides us with an excellent set of cool effects. The only potential gripe a DM should be aware of is that the Pcs may very well end this adventure with a powerful weapon of destruction that they may use as a last resort – at the cost of all their lives. However, this is easily remedied by making it impossible to dismantle said tool. Let me say it again: This one of the modules that is not only good, it is excellent, fun and exciting and your players will enjoy exploring the cool location. My final verdict for this one will be 5 stars Endzeitgeist seal of approval.
This is a great adventure which contains an investigation, diplomacy between two angry mobs, a journey upon a ship, and finally a quest into an upside down floating fortress! Very cool!
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