Story Arc 2 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 17
Last week we traveled to our second island and now we are going back to the beginning. We are going to go back to one of the first articles in this and go back to talking about the story for this adventure.
In my second post I talked very briefly about the story though it was mostly on how to get the party out on the Sea. Today we are going to go over how we are going to set up our adventure... Also, we return to Nepu-Nepu (so good they named it twice).
Originally I wanted some dark force to be causing mayhem on the island of Nepu-Nepu (so good they named it twice) but then I realized I had watched Moana just the day before, so that idea was scrapped. And then I thought, what if we had a newly discovered land and the King wanted it claimed/documented? Well... that's a bit of Pocahantos and wasn't sure how the characters/players would respond to being imperialist for the Monarchy, So now I've settled on another idea. Thanks to a highly valued resource, the King has promised protection to the island of Nepu-Nepu from the threat that resides in the "Archipelago" (name to come soon). In exchange for providing protection, the King is being offered access to rare luxury goods, minerals, etc, etc.
Which brings us to another bit of trouble. The book The Ghosts of Saltmarsh has just come out and my original idea wasn't that original. See in that adventure, the port of Saltmarsh is home to a mine for precious iron and the King has sent dwarves to mine out the hills and what not. But that's OK, I don't mind that WotC read my blog and changed their storyline within a matter of months before they printed out their big adventure book... This actually helps us tie-in to The Ghosts of Saltmarsh for those that want to build upon the adventures in our campaign.
Let's set up a few things before we really get into the story of the adventure:
Nepu-Nepu is the starting island for our adventure and will be where our adventurers will begin the journey, and I plan on having a few things to do around town for characters from level 1 to level 3. After that, I largely expect the adventurers to be on their ship and exploring the archipelago and in search of the kidnapped villagers and the BBEG, but we will get to that later on.
Nepu-Nepu is the name of the island, and there is the main port city known as Amiens (I'm on a plane, and we are currently over that city). Amiens is home to the locals of Nepu-Nepu and is who the King has made the deal with. In exchange for the King's Protection, Amiens has promised reduced rates for merchant ships from Harrogan (the land that the King represents) and has promised to supply Harrogan with valuable and exotic resources that can only be found in the Archipelago and on the islands of Nepu-Nepu, Colial, etc. These resources fetch a high price on the mainland and include things like fruits, good iron, exotic gems and trees that are more rubbery (palm trees) than what can be found on the main land.
This deal was made with the understanding that Amiens has very little in the way of protection from the constant attacks from the Archipelago and that the King will send weapons, guards, military advisers and the promise of rewards to adventurers and all those that would go to protect the new ally of Harrogan.
The attacks on Nepu-Nepu and the other islands is from more than just pirates, but from the hostile hobgoblins that reside in the Archipelago. They send out constant raiding parties to pillage supplies, riches and kidnap anyone they can find for forced servitude. Amiens has sent many envoys into the Archipelago in an attempt to negotiate deals between the two parties, but none have returned and Amiens has decided to make a deal with the King of Harrogan in an effort to better protect themselves for future raids.
The Archipelago is unmapped because of how dangerous it is to go through it. It is a large area that has been 'roped off' from the rest of the world, and many of the locals see no problem with that. Instead of inviting more trouble, they choose to give the Archipelago a wide berth and use safer, if longer, shipping routes that skirt the Archipelago. Inside the Archipelago are several near-constant warring nations of Hobgoblins. Most hobgoblin 'nations' consist of one to five islands, but the largest, and most militaristic/violent out of all of them spans several dozen islands, with many of them claimed by only a garrison of soldiers. The mighty Katalinka empire is slowly expanding their conquest throughout the Archipelago with sights on taking over all of the islands and eventually taking over parts of the mainland. To fuel their conquest, they send out constant raiding parties to bring back slaves to work the mines, farms and other important jobs while the true population of Katalinka is training to become soldiers. (Suggested Reading: Volo's Guide to Monsters)
The King of Harrogan, the mainland about 100 miles away from Nepu-Nepu, has long tried to build a relationship with the islands, though in the past there were deals made that favored Harrogan quite greatly and many of the locals are distrustful of anyone from Harrogan and are wary to make deals with them. Harrogan is known for their enterprising behavior and many new technological/magical advancements have taken place within Harrogan, which has made the country for very rich and very eager to keep growing in technological/magical ability.
How To Set Saltmarsh in the Campaign
Another topic I am going to discuss is how to set The Ghosts of Saltmarsh into this adventure, and I’ll go over a few brief points down:
The town of Saltmarsh is located on an island just outside of the "Archipelago" where none travel through. One could simply replace Amiens for Saltmarsh and make a few minor adjustments to the townspeople and locations around Saltmarsh.
Chapter 2 (Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh) can run as is, though any information for the Lizardfolk will point to whatever island they are currently from (See below for more information). The players can have the choice of taking over the ship at the end of the chapter to have their own ship, or you can introduce a ship to them later.
Chapter 3 (Danger at Dunwater), the swamp exists on one of the nearby islands like Lynem, Colial or Samien. This will get the players onto a ship which the counsel of Saltmarsh can provide if the players don’t want the ship in Chapter 2.
Chapter 4 (Salvage Job) I don’t have my book on me as I am on vacation, but I’m pretty sure this can be run as-is.
Chapter 5 (The Finale Enemy), the stronghold of the Sahuagin just needs to exist a few miles near the swamp of the Lizardfolk from Danger at Dunwater. As the Sahuagin are slowly sinking the old home of the lizardfolk, it will be off the shore and close to the Lizardfolk.
Chapter 6 (The Abbey) can take place on another island, like Colial or even on an island just off the coast of Nepu-Nepu.
Chapter 7 (The Styes) can take place on another island, like Mo'Coui or you could reflavor many elements and set it on an undiscovered island where the locals are bringing forth the kraken and working with the aboleths.
More information on how to run Ghosts of Saltmarsh will be in future posts, unfortunately I forgot to grab my book when I left for my vacation.
So, we’ve put out a bit of information about the area and how it can work with other adventures, let’s go ahead and add in what last part to this post. Let’s go over the story arc as I understand it now, though we may have to revise it in the future once we start learning more about how things will work.
Our adventurers will have a few different reasons for being at Nepu-Nepu. They could be men hand-selected by the King, crew of a merchant ship, locals in Amiens or adventurers looking for treasure in an uncharted archipelago. Upon the start of the adventure, there will have to be some sort of uniting force/adventure that cements the party together. If you are working off of Ghosts of Saltmarsh that has already been solved for you and you can run The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh but for those just running the adventure, we will have to come up with that adventure, probably next week.
After the first adventure is done, there will need to be the party’s first adventure out to sea where they learn about working on a ship. For Ghosts this would be the Danger at Dunwater adventure, but for us we will travel to one, or more, of the other islands to do some quests there.
Once our adventurers have grown closer together as a party, they will arrive back in Amiens (Saltmarsh) and there will be the big Event. This Event will be where the first big raid from the Katalinka raiding parties and will be the driving force behind much of this adventure. The Katalinka raiding parties will capture important people of Amiens, maybe loved ones of the characters and be what draws the adventurers into the Archipelago.
Once the party begins exploring the Archipelago, they will find and rescue the taken people of Amiens (Saltmarsh) and take the fight to the ruler of Katalinka and put an end to the raids.
Obviously, everything after the Event needs to be expanded on, but that’s a problem for future Stephen. Next week, let’s talk about opening adventures!
1. The ship is rocked hard from unexpected waves that appear out of nowhere. Splashing onto the deck of ship are 1d4 Water Elementals that take on the shape of strange, watery humanoids. They immediately start attacking the ship, trying to destroy the hull of the ship.
2. The ship seems to have stopped all movement in the water. The crew is confused and blame this on bad omens that many of them had seen that morning. Upon going in the water and investigating, they are attacked by 1d4 Water Elementals who have stopped the ship from moving forward.
3. A ship can be seen on the horizon, and from it giant waves are heading towards you at breath-taking speeds. Upon reaching your ship, the ship must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 bludgeoning damage from the massive waves, half on a successful save. As the water sprays up onto the deck of the ship, 1d4 Water Elementals form up on the deck and begin attacking the crew. The ship on the horizon leaves once the Water Elementals are destroyed and heads to a nearby island, if the ship is tracked down it is a hobgoblin raiding party and a hobgoblin has the ability to summon Water Elementals to attack ships.
4. When the party swims underwater, a Water Elemental waits to grab someone by themselves and drag them deeper into the water to drown them. They bring their prey down to their lair 100’ below the surface where a natural cave formation appears. Upon the victim drowning, they remove all valuables on the body and add those to its treasure hoard, it discards the body into a tangle of seaweed already choked with bodies. If the adventurers find the lair, roll on the Treasure Hoard: Challenge Level 5 - 10.