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"Mystaraizing" the Savage Tide: The Sea Wyvern's Wakeby David Keyser
Continuing my Savage Tide series this thread will cover my "Mystarizing" or making further adjustments to the adventure path to make it more fitting into Mystara.
The Sea Wyvern's Wake is the third adventure in the Savage Tide series, and covers the sea journey where the PCs travel by sailing ship from Sasserine to the Isle of Dread where a secret colony was founded by the parents of the PCs wealthy patron. To start off, I recommend Christopher Davies adaptation which can be found here.
Actually I recommend looking at his entire series as I have been relying on it, but you can also use his outline at the link to get a general idea of the adventure. Now Christopher suggested putting Sasserine much further east on the Davanian coastline(approximate where the Yasuko live) than where I put it. I placed Sasserine in the same place as where Ray Allen put it. You can see Ray Allen's map here.
The adventure as written assumes a journey of approximately 3000 miles. My location for Sasserine means the journey is less than 700 miles by taking the direct route. This actually makes more sense for having the colony be less remote, but in order to use most of the encounters I need reasons for an indirect route. The adventure provides one, and I manufactured another.
The first reason is that Urol Forol(renamed Master Forol and made an exiled halfling master in my campaign per Davies' suggestion) lends his expertise for the voyage and to the colony in exchange for the patron agreeing to take him to explore some ruins on the coast of Davania. This ruin is actually from C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, and the first ten rooms are lifted from the original module and used for this Dungeon adventure.
The second reason is natives of Sasserine still don't trust the Thyatians, and knowing Thyatian spies are still in the city they decide to travel greatly out of their way just to prevent the Thyatians from being tipped off about the colony. This is to avoid any danger of having the Thyatians try to claim the colony for themselves.
So for my campaign, the PCs depart Sasserine, traveling east along the coastline, stopping at Ravenscarp, then continuing on until they pass the Black River(named in MA1018) and reach the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan which is east of the Black River and squarely in Manacapuru Tribal Lands. This is also roughly where Christopher suggests it could be placed as well. After exploring the party will then visit the Pearl Islands, then Ochalea and then proceed west to reach the Thanegioth Archipelago and the Isle of Dread. This makes their journey about 3500 miles, which is probably a little excessive, but good enough. Once the colony can be made secure, the PCs can stop worrying about the Thyatians and take the direct route.
So starting off the lettered encounters from the adventure, I had
B: Hungry Flotsam : Take place off the cape of Davania between Sasserine and Ravenscarp, fairly close to Cittanova. Beware! This encounter can easily kill a PC that gets stuck to the ooze early in the fight.
A: Fort Blackwell : Becomes Ravenscarp. There are some suggested optional encounters here, but they are not statted or detailed. One such encounter became relevant to my players, so I will detail that in the next post.
One of the events during the voyage is that at Fort Blackwell, the fake priest Conrad gets injected with a slaad egg when he stays overnight in the Hieronoeus/Vanya temple. This is done by the Wizards of the Hopping Prophet, a sinister cult which has taken over the temple without anyone knowing. The Dungeon magazine adventure only details what happens a week later when Conrad gets sick, which is presumably at sea and long after the PCs have departed Fort Blackwell/Ravenscarp. Thus only the potential battle with the blue slaad and ways to deal with the egg are detailed. However, it is a sidequest for the Witchwarden affiliation(rules in the 3.5 PHB2) to acquire the box and contents that Conrad delivered to the cult.
Since two of my PCs were Witchwarden members, and they stayed in Ravenscarp much longer, it wasn't hard for them to turn around to deal with the cult. And so I created descriptions and stats below for a battle with the cultists designed for 6th level PCs.
First, the Hopping Prophet is a reference to the lawful evil demigod Wastri in Greyhawk. That background gets completely ditched. Instead these wizards worship whatever Frog entity that is worshiped by the Temple of the Frog during the era of Blackmoor. I am not sure if this was ever defined for Msytara. As part of this they honor and work with slaad, seeking to spread the slaad presence into the world. The slaad who is currently helping them in Ravenscarp is named Nurn, a death slaad that works as a mercenary for Demogorgon as detailed in the 3.0 WoTC adventure module Bastion of Broken Souls.
Nurn has already departed Ravenscarp by the time the PCs return but they are able to catch the wizards and their frogfolk minions who have not yet fled.
The frogfolk minions are surgically enhanced by the wizards themselves, using crude techniques that leave significant scars and make them fanatically loyal to the wizards. For the baseline creature, I used the stats for a Pathfinder boggard.
Starting with that I increased the Dexterity from 9 to 13, this increases their AC and Reflex save by +2 as well as some skills. The sticky tongue I just considered to be a variation among the species of frogfolk that these particular individuals have, but the terrifying croak power is explained by surgery scars on their throats. I also gave these frogfolk the abilities from the Blackmoor froglins as detailed in my adaptation of the Bullywug Gambit, which can be found here.
So six frogfolk minions, two of which are hiding in a pool in the entrance chamber of the Vanya temple. The rest are with the two wizards, a brother-sister pair of fraternal twins named Ciermaeth Jahn and Valia Jahn(thanks to the Paizo messageboard for the names). They may or may not share a telepathic link. Note that these are 30 point buy characters so adjust accordingly should you use them.
Two Human 6th Level Wizards (Ciermaeth/Valia)
Strength 11/10, Dexterity 14/15, Constitution 15/14, Intelligence 17/17, Wisdom 10/10, Charisma 9/10
Initiative: +6, Listen +0, Spot +0
AC 12(16 with shield), Touch AC 12, Flat-Footed AC 10(14 with shield)
HD 6d4 + 12, hp 30/30, Fort save +4/+4, Reflex Save +4/+6, Will Save +7/+5
Ciermaeth's Feats: Augment Summoning, Improved Initiative, Spell Focus(Conjuration), Silent Spell, Iron Will
Valia's Feats: Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Silent Spell, Improved Counterspell, (insert your Bonus MetaMagic Feat here)
Spells in Memory
Level 0: Resistance, Acid Splash x 2, Disrupt Undead
Level 1: Shield, Grease, Obscuring Mist, Enlarge Person(Valia only), Magic Missile(Ciermaeth only)
Level 2: Melf's Acid Arrow, Hideous Laughter, Mirror Image, Summon Monster II
Level 3: Dispel Magic(Valia only), Heroism, Stinking Cloud, Summon Monster III(Ciermaeth only)
Tactics: As soon as the twins hear something out of the ordinary, they begin casting defensive magic starting with Shield and Mirror Image. Each keeps a frogfolk near them in order to cast some augmenting spells like Enlarge Person or Heroism. When enemies get close enough they will summon more defenders and engage with offensive spells. Should things go awry they will try to cast Obscuring Mist and escape. One twin can intuit if the other is dying and may be willing to surrender in exchange for saving the life of the other. Should one be captured and the other is not the captured twin will remain silent trusting their sibling will rescue them from prison.
Next up is the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. This is location C in the adventure and I recommend placing it in the Manacapuru tribal lands as specified by Davies in the link above.
The magazine adventure updates the original 1st edition AD&D module for about ten of the rooms, with some changes. Some Paizo fans decided to continue the conversion and update the whole original adventure to D&D 3.5. So there is actually a word document that was/is distributed to run the whole adventure in two to four game sessions instead of the one to two sessions it would take to get through the magazine encounters. I have a copy of that should anyone want to see it, but I don't intend to just list all the details from the 32 page document here.
But I will take the first major encounter from the document and make some changes to adapt it to Mystara and in particular bring it into line with the Mystara almanacs which feature a Thyatian encounter with an old ruin in Manacapuru territory where they find the natives defend the ruins. More details in my Savage Tide timeline
In any case, the magazine has the pyramid partially collapsed leaving some chambers exposed at ground level. There is a basilisk at location 1 which is the area near the open entrances into the pyramid. At location 2 is a gibbering mouther(which is also present in the 1E version).
The word document replaces these two encounters with the ogre mage Xipe, leading a total of ten dominated lizardmen, six in location 1, and 4 with Xipe in location 2. The pyramid lies in a lizardfolk tribal area, but the lizardman chieftain fears the ogre mage and keeps his people away from it, as the ogre mage has magically dominated many of his best warriors. When the PCs enter the area, they will have to defeat Xipe, and the lizardfolk chieftain will have scouts keeping an eye on the battle, hoping to move in and finish off the survivors of the battle. The word doc suggests having the Jade Ravens(the other NPC party employed by the PCs patron) do the fighting to keep the lizardfolk tribe at bay until the PCs finish their exploration of the pyramid.
So with all this in mind, I have adopted the word document's approach, but replacing the lizardfolk with Manacapuru tribesman.
I customized these Manacapuru to fight more or less as described in the Mystara almanac, prefering greater blowgun weapons, spears and javelins. I have included Xipe's stats as well, which don't use the conventional Monster Manual stats but borrow some ideas from a Mike Mearls Dragon Magazine article revamping the ogre mage. I prefer the idea of making ogre magi greatly differing in ability keeping with the original idea of the Rules Cyclopedia ogre spellcaster that was very rare but capable of up to a twelfth level of wizard casting ability.
Manacapuru Human tribesman, Level 2 Fighter
Strength 13, Dexterity 18, Constitution 14, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 16, Charisma 10
Initiative: +4, Listen +5, Spot +5
AC 18, Touch AC 14, Flat-Footed AC 14
HD 2d10 + 4, hp 18, Fort save +5, Reflex Save +4, Will Save +3
Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fighting, Point Blank Shot, Exotic Weapon Proficiency(Greater Blowgun)
BAB +2, Grp +3, Hide Armor, Light Wooden Shield
Skills: Intimidate +4, Jump +3, Move Silently +5, Survival +4, Swim +3, Tumble +5 (Note add a -4 armor check penalty when appropriate.)
Greater Blowgun +7(incl Point Blank feat) (d3+poison), this weapon has a 10 foot range increment
Javelin +7(incl Point Blank Feat) (d6) this weapon has a 30 foot range increment
Shortspear +3 (d6)
The blowgun poison requires the target to take a DC 12 Fortitude save should they take any damage from the dart. Initial damage is d6 Con points, and Secondary damage is d6 Con points once again.
The first six Manacapuru guard the entrances at location 1. As soon as they detect the party they yell a warning and fan out to take cover behind the nearby trees and snipe at the party until forced into melee. Xipe and the remaining four warriors will arrive in two rounds after the alarm has been sounded.
Xipe Ogre Mage CR 5 (Large Giant)
Strength 21, Dexterity 14, Constitution 15, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 14, Charisma 17
Initiative: +6, Listen +9, Spot +9
AC 20, Touch AC 11, Flat-Footed AC 18
HD 6HD, hp 39, Fort save +7, Reflex Save +4, Will Save +4
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (greatsword)
BAB +4, Grp +13,Chain mail shirt
Skills: Concentration +10, Disguise +10, Intimidate +10
Composite Longbow +5(2d6+5/x3)
Greatsword +9 (3d6+7/19-20)
Space 10ft, Reach 10ft, Speed 40ft, Fly 40ft(good maneuverability)
Atk Options: Sneak attack 2d6
Spell-like abilities(Caster Level 6th)
2/day - Invisbility
1/day - Charm Person(DC 14), Lightning Bolt(DC 16), Gaseous Form, Swift Invisibility(See Spell Compendium)
Deceptive Veil(Su): As per the spell disguise self, save that the ogre mage can appear to be up to one size smaller.
Flight(Su): An ogre mage can cease or resume flight as a free action. While using gaseous form it can fly at its normal speed and has perfect maneuveraility.
Fast Healing 5(regeneration), Spell Resistance 19
Xipe will start off disguised as a Manacapuru tribesman. He will attempt to line up as many enemy targets as possible for his lightning bolt. He will then use Invisibility to repeatedly fly up and drop back down into a position in the combat to make his reach, combat reflexes and sneak attack ability effective. Once he can no longer turn invisible, he fights until brought below 10hp, at which point he takes gaseous form and attempts to escape to his second floor lair(location 27 in the word doc). Should he be pursued to that chamber, he fights to the death.
I forgot to mention any magic carried by the twin wizards in Ravenscarp. I deliberately went light since the Savage Tide AP already provides plenty of magic expected to be of use during the campaign.
There is a spellbook or two to be found in the temple of course, containing the spells I already detailed for the encounter. I will note that the Savage Tide AP is actually short on spellbooks to be found, so having this encounter provide one will be of benefit to wizard PCs. Using the Witchwarden or perhaps the Seeker affiliations to provide new spells to wizard casters is one way to make up the deficit as the PCs progress through the campaign.
I did give each wizard a magic item found in the 3.5 Blackmoor Temple of the Frog adventure module. It is a frog mask which functions exactly like a minor ring of spell storing as specified in the DMG. Each wizard wore the frog mask during the encounter but the masks were not fully charged, carrying only a single false life spell in each mask. The frog masks are not evil magic items, but they are made from human skin.
As for the ogre mage encounter, you can feel free to give him the collected treasure already specified in Dungeon Magazine #141 from locations 1 and 2 of the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, or use the suggestions from the word document expansion of Tamoachan should you get a copy.
Moving back to the main lettered encounters, I realized I skipped a placement between Ravenscarp and the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.
F: River Menace : This is the encounter with the aquatic hydra. I place this in the same river as Davies suggests, just west of the Manacapuru Tribal Lands, which is named the Black River in the 1018 Mystaran almanac by Thyatians who explore it. You can find a link to that entry in my Sasserine timeline(link in post #4 above). As described in the almanac there is no waterfall and the river is navigable for some distance inland. Lavinia will recommend sailing both ships inland a distance in order to collect fresh water, you can have the hydra attack at any time. The Jade Ravens can assist if this encounter is too tough as the adventure puts this encounter later assuming the PCs will be 6th level rather than 5th level which may happen if you go with my reshuffling. Should the PCs find the shipwrecks underwater, the elven corpse mentioned will be a water elf from either Sasserine or Minrothad.
C: Tamoachan : After the hydra and the Black River, now the PCs explore the ruins along with the NPC Forol.
Once the ruins are explored, the ships can head due north toward the Pearl Island of Dwair.
D: Brotherhood Blockade : These pirates can be anyone and here I place the encounter just outside Dwair coastal waters. If you replaced the Scarlet Brotherhood with a Mystara nation or guild AND you have a PC that is associated with that equivalent affiliation than you can associate these pirates with that equivalent affiliation in order to give that PC the opportunity to pick up a +1 score in that affiliation by negotiating a peaceful resolution to the encounter. Otherwise, it won't matter. In my case, since the Heldannic Knights replaced the Scarlet Brotherhood, these pirates fly the Heldannic flag and claim to have a letter of marque from the Heldannic Knights to confront vessels sailing into Pearl Island waters. Whether that letter is authentic or not didn't come up since the PCs didn't care. Lavinia isn't expecting any blockade so there is no prior warning as mentioned in the encounter and two pirate vessels attack.
I will note that as written the blockade encounter is very easy for 5th level PCs, and it was designed that way with the idea that not every encounter should be a life and death struggle. I bumped the pirate captain up a couple of levels and the rest of the pirates were bumped up one level and it was still easy. If the PCs capture the ship I recommend discouraging them from selling it by having potential buyers give only low-ball offers considering its poor condition. If the players put efforts into repairing it then it can pay dividends for them later at Farshore, but if they don't bother it can sink during one of the two storm encounters.
G: Renkrue : This small hunter/gatherer village on an island becomes any one of a number of villages or settlements on the south coast of Dwair. The local Nuari are friendly and all the suggested events for Renkrue in the adventure will work well here. The Blue Nixie can disembark its people in a nearby village if you haven't developed many of the NPCs there so there isn't as much interaction with that crew.
In addition to what is suggested, a couple of other developments happened based on my players' goals...
For any member of the affiliation Zelkarune's Horns, a mercenary company that runs a gladiator arena in Sasserine, there is a requirement that a PC must either fight in the arena or provide a beast for the games about once every three months. If not, their affiliation score suffers a penalty. This isn't addressed by the adventure but with the particular route I have Lavinia following this becomes a factor.
Should a PC decide to capture something on the island with the intention of shipping it back to Sasserine early, a giant draco lizard is a good candidate and may be the only large common predator of the Pearl Islands. One of my players decided to hunt one and convinced the chieftain to assist. This extended the visit longer than a day so the celebration dinner happens the evening on the day they return. 3E stats for a giant draco lizard can be found on Pandius here.
As for actually getting it back to Sasserine, my players will see if they can find a ship at the next stop in Ochalea, with the intention of sending not only the live draco lizard but also the hydra skull heads and the small box recovered from the Hopping Prophet wizards to fulfill side-quests for the Zelkarune's Horns and the Witchwarden affiliations respectively.
One other thing my players decided to do, is some pearl diving/oyster hunting. Why? Well it is the Pearl Islands and the identify spell in 1st through 3rd edition always had a 100gp pearl as one of the spell components. 3/3.5E in particular turned up the whole magic item trade mini-game in order to keep PCs properly equipped for their level, a lot of players enjoy it including mine(much to my occasional irritation). So the identify spell gets heavily used and Dwair is a good place to try and stock up.
Here are the ad hoc rules I used, with thanks to the input by contributors from this thread.
I use the trading rules found in the Darokin/Minrothad gazeteers, and although that normally requires more time(at least a week) I would have the PCs make a single roll on that table for trading the locals for some of their pearls. The basis for pearls as outlined in the expanded trade table on the Pandius website is a -3 modifier(meaning tends to be cheaper than list price). This would be further modified by how successful their pearl diving went, in that they would find some low value pearls which could be offered in trade.
Each PC that participated in pearl diving for a couple of days would make one swim check followed by one search/survival check to see how much they found if anything. The swim check would provide bonuses to the search/survival check.
Swim check with normal modifiers provides a +2 bonus to the subsequent Search/Survival check at DC 10, with an additional +2 bonus for each higher DC reached by increments of 5. So +4 bonus at DC 15, +6 bonus at DC 20, and so on.
The Search/Survival check(player's choice) has the following modifiers in addition to the bonus provided by the Swim check...
+2 racial bonus for water elves(in addition to an elf's +2 bonus to Search checks)
+4 circumstance bonus for Augury spell cast(does not stack with Divination)
+6 circumstance bonus for use of Water Breathing spells
+10 circumstance bonus of Divination spell cast(does not stack with Augury)
A DC 20 result or higher means the PC finds enough pearls to influence the trade modifier by an additional -1. They find some low value pearls which they trade in. A DC 40 result means in addition to that they find a single 100gp pearl themselves. An additional 100gp pearl is found for every +20 on the DC result of the Search/Survival check.
The village will, of course, only have available as many pearls for trade at the final discounted price a total equal to or less than the maximum gp limit as specified in the 3.5E DMG, around 200gp.
Thanks, I will hopefully get through the whole thing, assuming my players stay interested through the whole AP. But I am now committed to at least the first 8 adventures in preparation for a future Threshold magazine issue.
I think this AP is ideal for a group of players who already ran through one campaign in Mystara and want to run through a second campaign with the same characters. The ultimate threat to the world itself is smaller in scope than the Blood Brethren trilogy or Wrath of the Immortals, but hits that much harder for players who already invested in Mystara in a previous campaign. That is the case for my players.
Even though I am using straight up 3.5 rules, I do bend them a bit here and there just to bring things more in line with the feel of BECMI/RC D&D since that is the classic Mystaran feel. All of my players and I have played with previous rule sets and you just never know when some change between editions rubs someone the wrong way just because it doesn't "feel right". One example was the wizard player disliking continual flame...it probably seemed more neat to the 3E designers, but for my player it just felt like needless change.
Easily rectified...continual flame does exist, but so does the variant continual light. The wizard player gets the feel he wants and mechanically nothing changes. Of course, not everything is that easy.
Maybe some day I will post on how the mere existence of darkwood in the 3E books sparked a brief rant that ultimately provided insight on what makes a good campaign into something even better.