Beginning the Adventure 3 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 30
It’s about time we got back to the story! What’s an adventure without some series of events to propel our table forward? Last time we talked about the story, it was Part 19 where we talked about the beginning adventure.
Like before, I am not going to focus too much on the specifics, but start with a general idea for our campaign. Just a reminder, here is the basic premise of this adventure:
A brutal regime of sea pirates has attacked your home and made off with family, friends and other residents. You have been tasked to head into the uncharted archipelago and bring them home.
Pretty simple premise.
The Triggering Event
This is something we have discussed before - While out on an adventure elsewhere, the port city on Nepu-Nepu is attacked by a hobgoblin army and the party returns to find the city recovering from the siege from only a few days ago. The leaders of the city, at least those who are left, decide to send the adventurers out using one of the few ships still seaworthy and have the locate rescue friends, family and even important people of the city and businesses. A noble goal to be sure! Of course, if doing the right thing and being a hero isn’t enough, I’m sure we can come up with a few things to encourage the murder-hobos!
Continuing the Adventure
This now brings us to our adventurers out on the sea looking for the citizens of Nepu-Nepu. Unfortunately for the party… there are 100 islands (at least, there will be by the time this is all finished) how does our party find the right island? Beyond blindly sailing around the archipelago, they could find more information with goblinoid hostages and ransacking office desks. With each piece of information, they can come closer and closer to locating the specific island to find the prisoners!
One way we encourage this is adding in Key Points. Every time the party gets information from a location, either by friendly-interrogation or ransacking a goblin boss’ office space they can find another missing information to find the next island. This will encourage them to take goblins alive… or they’ll just have the cleric cast Speak with Dead… Far easier to ask questions when they aren’t trying to kill you!
But that is a topic for another article. Today, we are continuing this adventure!
So let’s go ahead and assume that our party wants to continue the story and have done the necessary things… where does our story take us?
There are going to be 4 or 5 key story islands that will further the plot. Only 2 or 3 of them will be important for the story, with the other islands adding in more information and a way to expand the story for your players. If you just want to run a short campaign, those other islands would be purely optional. This is the same as many other adventurers, like in Curse of Strahd has a few optional locations and Storm King’s Thunder has entire chapters that are optional.
These islands can show up whenever the GM feels like they need to for the party, some tables may enjoy just sailing around looking for new islands. Others may just want to head straight for the story and see other islands as just filler not worth their time… people are weird.
Our first key story island is the prison island where our citizens of Nepu-Nepu are being held. Here the party will have to figure out a way to rescue almost 100 people from the oppressive hobgoblin army. Sure they could go in with force, but that would probably be the hardest part for them and may even end up with a few dead characters and prisoners. Another option is allowing the characters to sneak in and begin plotting a huge heist of people! I could see having a familiar scouting out the island would be a huge boon for any party, and should be well rewarded by the GM.
After the prison island, our party will probably return them to Nepu-Nepu and here they will be tasked with putting an end to this hobgoblin threat. The prisoners learned that the leader’s island is hidden in the archipelago through magic, to be able to locate this island is to get access to a special helm for their ship. To get a helm, they must locate a hobgoblin general and take it from the ship (or take the ship).
From here, the party will have to find more information on locating an island with a general, an important story island. Here, the ship they want will be undergoing repairs/new magical goodies on it. They will have to plan out their approach and if they want to kill the general or just take his helm. Again, more planning! I find that when I give my players a completely open area to cause mayhem in, they end up coming with some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.
After they get the new helm for their ship… or steal the general’s ship they can use it to guide them to the final story island. This final story island will be the showdown of the party versus the hobgoblin leadership. Maybe they can come up with some diplomacy and stop all this craziness… or maybe they’ll learn that there is nothing they can say to stop things. Either way, there is going to be some ship combat in there because this is an OCEAN ADVENTURE! If we don’t have ship combat throughout this adventure, they could just as easily be walking around doing all this.
But Wait… What About The Other Islands?
Those other islands are going to be our secondary story islands. While they are not required to go to progress the plot, it can provide a deeper understanding of what is going on. If they go to one island, they can get equipment to help them fight the hobgoblins. If they go to another island, they can gain important information on where they can get allies to fight the hobgoblins. And the last island may give them the chance to update to a more powerful ship than what they could normally find.
Laying It Out
So now that we have the rough plot in some sort of order, let’s go over the islands we will need:
Story Required Islands
Our party arrives at an island for prisoners. This will probably be some sort of mining operation or as a workforce to build up hobgoblin fortresses.
Hobgoblin General Island
Our party must steal a special, magical helm that will lead them to the Leader Island.
Hobgoblin Leader Island
The final story-island where our players can end the menace of the Hobgoblins!
Side Story Islands
Special item(s) for our party to find to help them fight the Hobgoblin menace.
Valuable allies against the hobgoblin can be found, this can affect the final fight in that they will have others to help them.
Powerful Ship Island
A powerful ship can be found here that will help them win ship combats and make them feel like badasses.
Next week we are going to take a closer look at our adventure and maybe get started on our first story island!
The crew shouts in alarm as a school of Flying Fish comes jumping out of the ocean.
1. The officers can attempt to collect the fish and have Fresh Food for today. The chef must spend his day gutting, cleaning and cooking the fish.
2. While an officer is patrolling the deck of the ship, they must succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or be smacked in the face by a Flying Fish.
3. A school of Flying Fish is quickly making their way past the ship with many jumping well over the ship, and others swimming under it. Behind the school of fish is a massive shark fin that is on a ramming course with the ship. 1d4 Giant Sharks will slam into the ship unless they are deterred or somehow stopped. For each shark, roll a number of d10 in damage against the hull of the ship. The Giant Sharks will quickly swim after the Flying Fish after a short period of time.
4. Off in the distance, a school of Flying Fish is flying high above the water. Strangely, they seem to be flapping their wings and flying higher into the air, well above the ocean waves. A sudden burst of wind slams into the sails and the ship must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or the sails take 4d10 bludgeoning damage. Half damage on a success, unless the sails have been put away in time; in which case they automatically succeed on the saving throw and take no damage.