Postfest VIII(UPF1): The Undersea Alliance Adventure Path
|Posted on Tue, October 30, 2007 by Dongul
|wolfsire writes "This article provides for an adventure path between U2 Danger at Dunwater and U3 The Final Enemy. Alternatively, by may be used simply to explore off-shore Salinmoor without connection to the U-series of adventures.
The Undersea Alliance Adventure Path
This article provides for an adventure path between U2 Danger at Dunwater and U3 The Final Enemy. Alternatively, by may be used simply to explore off-shore Salinmoor without connection to the U-series of adventures.
In the module U1 The Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh, it was discovered that a band of smugglers, in addition to bringing brandy and silk into Salinmoor, were smuggling arms to a tribe of lizardmen in the Hool Marshes in their Dunwater lair. Out of fear of attack, the Saltmarsh authorities unleashed the characters upon the lizardmen (FN1).
In U2 Danger at Dunwater, it is developed that these are fairly civilized lizardmen who were driven from their home by a tribe of vicious sahuagin. For the sahuagin, this would provide them with a strategic location to exert control over the Javan River. This grand experiment was not merely of the devising of the local sahuagin baron, but a greater plan between a sahuagin prince and the Scarlet Brotherhood.
The lizardmen were acquiring arms to retake their lair rather than, as it was thought, assault the town of Saltmarsh. Towards that end, they established an alliance of lizardmen, mermen, locathah and koalinth. The nearby tribe of aquatic elves, the Manaan, were not invited into the alliance because of their antipathy with the koalinth and because the koalinth were, wrongly, determined to be stronger. Likewise, the local bullywugs were not invited into the alliance, but that is a matter for other articles (FN2).
According to the module, the koalinth had changed their minds about participating in the alliance and intend to move to safer waters, while the aquatic elves are willing to participate. Very little is provided in the series about gaining the participation of the aquatic elves, although a handy NPC, Oceanus, is there to ensure a fait accompli.
The Final Enemy is a very difficult module designed such that it was not intended that the characters perform anything but a reconnaisance mission to determine the strength of the sahuagin. Indeed, the DM is cautioned about this and warned that the sahuagin should only use their weapons, rather than use their more powerful natural attacks. The scouting plan is supposed to be followed by an assault on the sahuagin fortress by the alliance, not the characters, of human and aquatic races held together in spite the actions of the characters.
For the U2 to U3 play, there exists the very real probability that the characters will not perform as expected. The alliance formed in the U2 lizardmen lair may simply be destroyed by the characters as they kill everything in sight. Indeed, this was anticipated by the authors of U2. Similarly, the characters may be unwilling or unable to limit themselves to mere reconnaisance in the U3 sahuagin lair, thereby exposing themselves to dangers for which they will be unprepared (FN3).
This article has been developed to provide a cure to these problems. Rather than simply hoping the characters will not destroy the alliance, it can assumed that they will. Through this adventure path they will be afforded an opportunity to re-establish an alliance; explore off-shore Salinmoor; gain practical experience, as well as level advancement, and find magic items to enable them to survive a mission assaulting the sahuagin fortress.
Adventure Path Organization
Within The Undersea Alliance Adventure Path are five adventures, but it is not intended that they be played fully or played as is. The DM must adjust them as appropriate and some, but not complete, direction is provided here as to that. They, in approximate order of intended play, are:
1. "The Ghostship Gambit" (OD&D, Dungeon 9);
2. The Locathah Caves portion of Dungeon Crawl Classic #7, “The Secret of the Smugglers Cove,” (d20 with 1e/2e conversion at http://www.goodman-games.com/freematerial.php);
3. “To Walk Beneath the Waves,” (AD&D, Dungeon 77);
4. “Intrigue in the Depths,” (AD&D, Dungeon 12); and
5. “The Wreck Of The Cathaldrane” aka “The Koalinth Caves” (no system, a roughly drafted on-line adventure by Alan Jones located at http://www.zen27196.zen.co.uk/maps/mapsofmystery/up/mallrar_the_wreck_of_the_cathaldrane_general.html, last visited 8-10-07. Get it while its still there).
All may be played, in part or in full, and the order may be adjusted, depending on the choices of the characters and the direction provided by the DM.
“The Ghostship Gambit”
The first of these adventures, “The Ghostship Gambit”, is very short. Stripped of unnecessary elements, as it must be, particularly non-Greyhawk material, it simply consists of an NPC victim warning of the Ghostship and then an encounter with the Ghostship and its fake undead aquatic elf crew. This encounter is appropriate for the return trip from U2, but could take place to or from a side trip to Seaton.
The purpose of this module is to make available for the characters a ship capable of traveling underwater and to provide for the capture of piratical aquatic elves. Consideration should be given as to whether the characters will be allowed to keep the ship and who will demand possession of it. It may be demanded by, or negotiated away to, the Keoish Navy or the King of the Manaan.
Capture of the pirates gives opportunities for role-playing justice, mercy and diplomacy particularly when ultimately dealing with the King of the Manaan. The pirates' non-violent tactics have left all their victims alive (for they are not truly evil) and the King of old was unduly harsh in exiling them, driving them into piracy. However, it is assumed that the aquatic elf pirates will first be taken to the authorities in Salinmoor. This may be Saltmarsh, but would more appropriately be Seaton. If desired, the aquatic elves will willing and loyally serve the characters on parole and in restitution for their crimes.
This rather odd situation can be explained in part by the following articles related to these pirates posted here at CanonFire!:
1. “The Legend of the Lost Seagreen Elves,” http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=790, and
2. “The Ballad of Jack Raptureweed,” http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=784.
The local authorities (either in Saltmarsh or Seaton) will inform the characters that the aquatic pirates should be returned to the King of the Manaan. They will also be introduced to the supposed sahuagin attack upon the coastal settlement of Rawnis, forty leagues north of Saltmarsh, leading into the adventure “To Walk Beneath the Wave.”
“The Locathah Caves”
While undertaking the adventure either to return the pirates to the King of the Manaan or investigation of the events in “To Walk Beneath the Waves,” the party should meet a hunting band of locathah. The party should be taken to the locathah caves, or parley with them where they meet, and provided an opportunity to convince the locathah to rejoin the alliance. They will do so if their ancestor (the haunt that failed to warn the fortress in “To Walk Beneath the Waves”) is freed and they are allowed to recover their fortress.
As the whole module, “The Secret of the Smugglers Cove,” is merely a pseudo-replica of U1 and U2, it is not suggested that it be played in full. However, this could be considered. In any event, the “The Locathah Caves” portion of it is sufficiently interesting to stand on its own, even if only in passing. A suitable alternative subplot could include that the hunting band is a faction ready to rebel against their water naga queen, Sslithia, and that the ancestor haunt was a prince, or is otherwise capable of commanding the locathah or causing a change of their leadership. Appropriate changes would need to be made to the conditions of freeing the haunt. Either way, the party should be made to deal with the Sslithia, directly or indirectly, in such a way as to gain allegiance of the locathah without destroying them. This should be much easier than was the case in U2, as the encounter with the hunting band allows the DM to introduce the appropriate information.
“To Walk Beneath the Wave”
The supposed sahuagin attacking Rawnis are in fact kuo-toa inhabiting an ancient abandoned locathah fortress. The town of Rawnis and its inhabitants are unnecessary to this adventure path. The DM might elect to set this adventure off the coast of Seaton, but with the Ghostship, Sea Ghost or other ship, distance need not be a major consideration.
The DM may decide that re-acquisition of the fortress by the locathah is unnecessary and that merely the release of the haunt must be done. In that case, an assault on the kuo-toa lair would be unnecessary. As the original condition of the releasing the haunt is blowing a horn within a short distance of the lair, the party may be subject to a short, possibly comical chase.
“Intrigue in the Depths”
This is the most complicated of the adventures. After destroying (or running from) the kuo-toa, the party should proceed to the lair of the aquatic elves to return the pirates to meet justice. In the adventure “Intrigue in the Depths” the characters will discover that the aquatic elves cannot join the alliance because they and the mermen are almost in a state of war. The party will have to rescue the merman royal heir from scrags and destroy the aboleth that has enslaved the mind of the merman chief in order to restore relations between the two tribes and bring them into the alliance. Along the way they should discover that the aboleth was sent to the area by the Scarlet Brotherhood for the very purpose of creating a war to keep the two tribes from aligning against the sahuagin.
“The Koalinth Caves”
It is not necessary that “The Koalinth Caves” be played at all. This extremely short adventure is provided in case the characters try to check upon them or bring them back into the alliance, which they rejected in U2. It is also provided to flesh out this area noted to exist in U2. The DM may choose to ignore it entirely, play it in full or devise some alternative system for addressing it. As the U2 plan was for the koalinth to leave the area in fear of the sahuagin, perhaps only a small segment of the tribe has not yet left the area. Perhaps, the characters encounter them mid-evacuation, and must deal with an intercepting army while they are en route to the sahuagin lair. Perhaps, the sahuagin have made a temporary and distasteful alliance with them, promising to leave them unmolested if the koalinths pay a tribute of a merman or aquatic elf head once a week. The possibilities are endless.
If all goes well, the party will have reforged the Undersea Alliance between humans, lizardmen, locathah, mermen and aquatic elves and will be prepared for an assault upon the sahuagin fortress. Unless the DM desires otherwise, none of these tribes will be willing to commit troops to enter the fortress, except as a last resort. They will surround it to starve them out and maybe send one or more scouts each to aid in a mission. The objective of that mission, lead by the characters, will be to kill as many sahuagin as possible, but if overwhelmed to deliver an offer that the sahuagin may surrender if they leave the Javan Bay.
FN1. As general background for the area, the brandy and silk were likely bound for Seaton and Burle, in addition to Saltmarsh, which would have appropriate receivers and warehouses.
FN2. See “Nakimas, Elemental Spirit of the Hool Marshes,” http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=848 and “Cryptical Armaments of the Hool: Squall and Contumely,” http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=829.
FN3. This author is of the opinion that the overpowering of U3 in relation to the scouting task was fully considered by the authors, but as it was the conclusion of the series, alternatives were not provided so the characters would be allowed to kill themselves with their lack of restraint. This author is a little more sympathetic to players who only understand hack and slash. If they understood more, they would probably be DMs."