Undersea Adventures: Comments, Concerns, & Concepts

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I am cross-posting this here and in a handful of other D&D boards, across the web.


 


I have been running undersea D&D campaigns since 1998; first with “Beneath the Pinnacles of Azor’alq” (play-by-post) followed by “Heirs of Turucambi” (chat-based). The campaigns draw from my interests in marine biology and my hobby of keeping saltwater aquariums, coupled with my fascination with various mythological creatures such as hags, dragons, and demons. I started my current game 3 years ago. While I have a stable following of devoted players (thank you, folks!), I occasionally get the urge to step back, look at my game from a distance, and reinvent my approach as Master Storyteller for my players.


 


If your current DM approached you with the idea of starting a new campaign set primarily beneath the surface of the sea, what would be your first reaction? Suppose the “core races” were replaced with the likes of sea elves, locathah, and merfolk (or any race that that has a swim speed and the aquatic subtype). Would that be enough to alienate you?


 


I set my games on Oerth, the world of Greyhawk. Prior knowledge of the campaign setting is not required. I also tend to scale back on the use of dragons, while overpopulating the world with hags. Again, this is simply my personal signature in my games. Is that the killing blow that distances potential players?


 


My games tend to be role-play heavy and combat light. Rolling lots of dice tends to break my “willing suspension of disbelief”. Spending hours speaking in character as a room full of NPCs is my bread and butter. Again, I know this does not appeal to everyone.


 


I am aware that life underwater has its limitations; typical potions are all but impossible to imbibe, paper scrolls will quickly disintegrate, and typical metal items are subject to corrosion. Many typical spells may not suitable for underwater casting. Treasure may be similarly altered, as many undersea races value rare corals, pearls, and shells far more than coins and gemstones. This is one of my most enjoyable aspects of the game - creation. 


 


Some of the best inspiration for an underwater campaign can come from the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, visiting a local aquarium or fish store, and perusing ocean-related materials in a bookstore. Discovery’s “Blue Planet” series and Penguin Book’s “OCEAN” are as invaluable to me as “Stormwrack”. 


 


With that in mind, what are your preferences, for such an adventure? What would you expect to see, in an undersea game? What would make the campaign memorable, enjoyable, and enduring? What would make you want to spend years exploring the realm of liquid space? 

(Again this is cross-posted at EN World, wizards.com, Giants in the Playground, Pen and Paper Games, RPG.net., PhoenixLore, and Canonfire)


 


Apathy.


 


I suppose that’s what it boils down to. In a few weeks, this thread might be 6 or 7 pages back; buried beyond discovery, save for those searching for keywords. So, how do we prevent that? How do we keep a topical and current thread available, for those of us interested in either creating underwater encounters, running undersea games, devising an entire milieu in the realm of liquid space, or all of the above?


 


Some time ago, I started underwater-themed groups at www.enworld.org/forum/group.php?groupid=..." title="www.enworld.org/forum/group.php?groupid=...">EN World and community.wizards.com/underwater" title="community.wizards.com/underwater">wizards.com , both entitled “Under the Sea”. Click on the links, to explore them. Yes, they seem to have fallen victim to apathy. 


 


So, what would be the best course of action? Should I establish a message-board on a  different site altogether, to prevent playing favorites with more established boards? Do we set up a Facebook group (alas, that requires using “real” names) or a Google Wave? Do we set up a weekly chat via IRC or mibbit? How about a merfolk Sim on Second Life? As an experiment, I set up an iWeb domain for my current game. Should I bite the bullet and work on one with Dreamweaver, for future endeavors? I’m open to a weekly offline chat, of course, though I cannot assume everyone is within driving distance of Greensboro, NC.


 


I have been running undersea D&D games since 1998. I have a passion for the sea. I keep saltwater aquariums as a hobby. This isn’t simply about my desire to find a new batch of players. I do not wish to see this topic get forgotten, buried, and die.


 


Yes, I always have my list of music, websites, books, and DVDs that I recommend, for inspirational purposes. How do we take it a step further? Mind you, some of my players seem to have technological barriers to the likes of MapTools, Second Life, and other CPU and Bandwidth-intensive activities. I would like the means to keep an open dialog, 24/7, for whatever subaqueous thoughts tickle our fancies. How shall we accomplish this? 



Apathy seems to effect a lot of people these days. My reccomendation is something like my "Random Aquatic notes" thread. Pick a forum,start a thread,show up for 5-10 minutes a week and write down anything that's passing thru your head. DO NOT edit your thoughts too much,just get some crap down on the screen!!!!!!

I will immediately report any Phishers or Lonely Hearts Scam Artists.

If your current DM approached you with the idea of starting a new campaign set primarily beneath the surface of the sea, what would be your first reaction? Suppose the “core races” were replaced with the likes of sea elves, locathah, and merfolk (or any race that that has a swim speed and the aquatic subtype). Would that be enough to alienate you?



Depends. Underwater is a totally different environment from what is normally found. This means that it may be less relatable to RL and thus less attractive. Also the races underwater are normally not human or half-X (unless aquatic template) which again causes some problems in relating to the character especially for politcal campaigns. Weapon types may also end up forcing a few types to predominate so people with a preference for weapon X (i love flails and morning stars) can't use them without some magical help


I set my games on Oerth, the world of Greyhawk. Prior knowledge of the campaign setting is not required. I also tend to scale back on the use of dragons, while overpopulating the world with hags. Again, this is simply my personal signature in my games. Is that the killing blow that distances potential players?


More likely a bigger problem monster wise would be no variety of monsters. Underwater montsers are much fewer than land monsters 


Some of the best inspiration for an underwater campaign can come from the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, visiting a local aquarium or fish store, and perusing ocean-related materials in a bookstore. Discovery’s “Blue Planet” series and Penguin Book’s “OCEAN” are as invaluable to me as “Stormwrack”. 


I understand what you're saying. You find the underwter world fascinating and wish for people to share this fascination. And yes the underwater scenes show many colourful and beautiful scenes but that beauty is visual. Its hard for a audio based environment to appreciate the beauty of something visual especially if your audience does not have the same prior knowledge as yours (and thus cannot mentally visualise what you describe, even if you describe it vividly)


With that in mind, what are your preferences, for such an adventure? What would you expect to see, in an undersea game? What would make the campaign memorable, enjoyable, and enduring? What would make you want to spend years exploring the realm of liquid space? 


First of all it would need to be more relatable. Perhaps an air filled cavern undersea is found by the party that can be used as a base, maybe it has some immovable magic fountain or whatever that proviode incentrive for the party to use. Or maybe a pirate campaign (where going undersea is more likely than a landbound campaign but aerial exploration and land exploration is also available) rather than one that is always only underwater.

The biggest incentive would be for a DM to not force the issue. Very few players like being forced with a hammer to the head, into a certain experience. Rather cajoling is more useful. Perhaps an NPC gives them a undersea based quest where they meet some undersea races that become further quest givers. If they party wants to explore some land dungeon, run it for a few sessions then maybe some SOS from the undersea races reach the party etc

Underwater is a totally different environment from what is normally found... less relatable to RL and thus less attractive. Also the races underwater are normally not human or half-X (unless aquatic template) which again causes some problems in relating to the character especially for politcal campaigns. Weapon types may also end up forcing a few types to predominate so people with a preference for weapon X...


     It is the feeling of being “totally different” that appeals top me, as a DM. I get to create more monsters, magics, terrains, and so on. A player looking for a standard dungeon crawl would most likely not enjoy adventures in liquid space, but they are not my target audience. 

More likely a bigger problem monster wise would be no variety of monsters. Underwater montsers are much fewer than land monsters 


     I enjoy creating new races and monsters, so this isn’t an issue. I can always use the Monster Index, in a pinch. www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/lists/...

Its hard for a audio based environment to appreciate the beauty of something visual especially if your audience does not have the same prior knowledge as yours (and thus cannot mentally visualise what you describe, even if you describe it vividly)


     Ahh, but I run my game in a chat-room so audible and visual elements are provided by descriptive narrative text supplemented with web-links. 

First of all it would need to be more relatable. Perhaps an air filled cavern undersea is found by the party that can be used as a base


     Again, you are assuming that I allow core races for use by player characters. I do not. PCs must have a natural swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater without the use of magic. There are very few encounters above the surface, in my game. 

You were asking about what a gamer (eg me) would find problematic with an aquatic game. I did not understand that as being specific to your game. My apologies as i do not think i can contribute to such a specific discussion.
No worries. I can only reply using my own personal experiences. In the spirit of healthy debate, I took your comments as a challenge. However, I can see your point. A player looking for a typical dungeon crawl may very well not appreciate a campaign which strays so far from the established norms. And that's it in a nutshell. An undersea game would not appeal to such players, any more than would an arboreal game or game set within a historic time period. 

For some, willing suspension of disbelief ends when a player chooses a race other than human. For others, a brief excursion beneath the waves is quite enough. After all, the realm of liquid space is not covered in detail, within the core rules, and there are some who do not like to venture past the written word. And then there are those who wish to stretch their imaginations, or perhaps those who already possess an affinity for a particular setting or genre.

 In the end you have made a valid point. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. If a player is used to rolling up an elven cutpurse and the DM says it has to be a sea elf, there might be a conflict. I haven't run a game offline since 1994, so sometimes I forget that if I put a notice up at the FLGS advertising an undersea campaign, it might well be duly ignored.

So, no worries. You explained why you personally would find an undersea game problematic. I replied with my own personal views as to how I would address such issues. 
An entire campaign set in undersea environs?  To me, that would be fascinating, and it might even fly with my primary gaming group.

We are currently playing a sea-based campaign, primarily on the ocean surface.  This has included a lot of 'lost island' scenarios, with restless natives and primeival creatures.  Piracy and privateering also figure strongly into the story.

To your point, we just finished a lengthy adventure that took place fully underwater -- deep underwater.  The PCs were exploring a sunken city in a thousand feet of water, so there was plenty of opportunity for truly unusual creatures.  It was very entertaining for all of us to enounter creatures that simply don't exist elsewhere.  Of course, since the PCs are surface races, it was vital that they have access to appropriate magic to protect them from the hazards of the depths, including preasure and cold.

I have found that, as a DM, it's useful to inject a bit of something unusual into an otherwise 'standard' campaign.  From that, I can gage the player's reactions.  If there is clear interest in whatever little side trip was used, then broader exposure may be warranted.  In our case, with that positive experience under our belts, I may develop a fully undersea campaign concept for future play.
Animal Planet is showing "Blue Planet" episodes from 8pm-2am (Eastern), tonight. Enjoy! 
An entire campaign set in undersea environs?  To me, that would be fascinating, and it might even fly with my primary gaming group.

We are currently playing a sea-based campaign, primarily on the ocean surface.  This has included a lot of 'lost island' scenarios, with restless natives and primeival creatures.  Piracy and privateering also figure strongly into the story.

To your point, we just finished a lengthy adventure that took place fully underwater -- deep underwater.  The PCs were exploring a sunken city in a thousand feet of water, so there was plenty of opportunity for truly unusual creatures.  It was very entertaining for all of us to enounter creatures that simply don't exist elsewhere.  Of course, since the PCs are surface races, it was vital that they have access to appropriate magic to protect them from the hazards of the depths, including preasure and cold.

I have found that, as a DM, it's useful to inject a bit of something unusual into an otherwise 'standard' campaign.  From that, I can gage the player's reactions.  If there is clear interest in whatever little side trip was used, then broader exposure may be warranted.  In our case, with that positive experience under our belts, I may develop a fully undersea campaign concept for future play.



I developed a similar ocean surface adventure, but in Faerun.  I had a crew of NPCs manning the ship 'Sea Dragon'.  I used the rules from the d20 book Sea Adventures.  Really a good resource.  The PCs were hired muscle to fill in for recently lost crew members.  They hired on in Southport, a coastal metropolis/city I invented on the continent west of Faerun.  The hook of the adventure for me was to plan several mass-battles where the PCs play a small, but crucial role in the overall success of the battles as they travel back to the Sword Coast through the Moonshae Isles and up to Waterdeep, including an initial all-out assault from Sahaugin raiders trying to take over the ship for slaves and treasure.  The idea was to similarly have them come across several islands, one near a time/space rift that featured a lot of creatures that could phase in/out, battle several smaller pirate vessels (which the Sea Dragon's captain was on the patrol for), and culminate in a pitched battle against two vessels at once, including the Dread Pirate someone-or-other. 

Anyway, the game was going well, and the players were having a blast actually doing an adventure on the sea, as it happened instead of "two weeks go by with nothing happening"..."oh, look there's an island, maybe now something will happen."  Never did finish, though, as real-life got in the way.  If the players had flubbed it up and sunk the ship (a possibility I was fully prepared to allow), I could have always had the "saved by the fishes" storyline allow them to embark instead on an undersea tryst.  That would have been fun, too.
Alluria Publishing has a 290 page undersea sourcebook (and aquatic campaign setting) that covers everything from aquatic PC races, aquatic classes, weapons, combat rules, spells, feats, 90 new monsters, ...everything you need for an undersea campaign. It is for the 3.5 d20 and Pathfinder RPG.
You can find it here: www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products...
And now for something completely different:

Christmas Tree Worm:
www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display...

Christmas Wrasse:
www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display...

Christmas Tree Coral:
www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display...

(searches for Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Festivus, and Kwanzaa had 0 results)

Deep-Sea News Holiday Gift Giving Guide:
deepseanews.com/2010/12/dsn-holiday-gift...
A recap of last Sunday's game session, just to set the mood:

In the last session (12/26), the party arrived at the site known as the Chamber of Dissolution. Charged with the task of inspecting and preparing the ancient clockwork mechanisms within four sites, they recalled freeing the hivemind witch Guri from the Grail of Impurities but leaving the site without attending to the musical machine within. At the second site, known only as the Orb of Purification, the party encountered the spectral kraken Mikrokosmus. One site, the Deadwater Fountain, remained undiscovered.

It was the undead kraken that shared the means of destroying the enclave of mermaid witches which now wore his tentacles, grafted in place of their tails. The four sites must be prepared with care and a sacrifice must be placed upon the altar hidden beneath the isle, causing the Sinking Isle to rise once more. Then ancient gears would spring into motion, acting in unison to forge a weapon of the mysterious metal known as Oerthblood.

The tsantsa Meir, once a shellycoat of great power but now an unliving shrunken head slain by her own daughter, reflected upon the party’s predicament. Having visited Turucambi Reef, the party collected the first of three tomes which outlined the means by  which her mother Xaetra might be restored to life. With the knowledge gleaned from the first tome, they collected Xaetra’s soul within an artifact known as the Lazarus.

Transported from Turucambi to the waters near the Sinking Isle, in the realm of the Sea Barons, the party recovered the second tome which trapped the hag’s soul within a magical construct, an eidolon, fashioned from ambergris. The third tome, which would restore the hag to life, was supposedly lost within a region known as the Jungle of Lost Ships.

Upon Xaetra’s resurrection, the evils of the blackwater hag Diadema would be undone, for her unliving form incorporated the mortal remains of Xaetra herself, as well as Xaetra’s sea hag granddaughter Tempest and daughter Salkt, a salt hag. Xaetra had learned that, upon her return to life she would embrace the path of the Chronomancer. She would travel to far future to witness the destruction of Oerth, before being trapped in the distant past. Upon her temporal travels, she would leave clues to her future self, in the form of the three tomes. 

The viletooth lizardman Dorman was the first to see that, standing atop the remains of the tower walls which held the Chamber of Dissolution, were six skeletal forms. NeeKaa, the oceanid, spied gears turning beneath the bony ribcages of the strange creatures and plates of opalescent pearlsteel bolted to their bones. The sea elf Sakura watched as the skeletons ascended the tower walls to throw the bones they had collected into its hollow interior.

Wielding spears seemingly fashioned from the spines of dolphins, the clockwork skeletons closed upon the party. The diminutive anemoid known as Knot, member of a race of intelligent anemones, divined that their opponents were not creatures of the undead. Dorman was the first to discover that the bony spears held electrical magics. 

As Sakura’s young ward Reiko watched two of the skeletons fighting one another, the party’s locathah companion Canthus used his magical cuttlefish quill to coat the gears of one skeleton with viscous ink. The skeleton turned upon the unwary artisan and unleashed the fury of its spear upon him. Canthus noted the spears were actually the skeletons of eels, coated similarly with pearlsteel.  

Sakura felt her own powers of stealth and darkness grow, in part due to her growing attraction to the unusual blackwater currents within a shallow trench upon the isle. Her ward Reiko, however, had been dealt a crippling blow during her recent abduction by the mermaid witches and their benefactor, a sea hag fleshwarper known only as Purl. Purl removed Reiko’s legs and grafted in their place the body of a water naga, while simultaneously grafting two tentacles from a giant squid and an eye from a powerful beast known as the eye of the deep.  

Reiko’s fragile sanity had been saved, in party due to her timely bonding with Shadow, a ghostly visage. Dorman had previously bonded with the living tattoo Echo, another of the soul shards cast off by Xaetra before her murder at the hands of a covey of hags led by Tempest. The third shard, known simply as Me, remains undiscovered. 
During the ensuing battle, NeeKaa, Canthus, and Dorman were injured by the magical spears. One of the skeletal assailants was destroyed in a cloud of bubbles spewing from the base of the tower, while another was destroyed by one of its own. The part noted that each skeleton seemed to have one component which was made entirely of metal and enshrouded in eldritch fire of azure hue.

In due time, the battle was won, in part due to the aid of the party’s many companions, including the amphisbaena eel Jur, hatchling coral dragon Gobble, and Hasu the half-dragon sea cat. The locathah Canthus, struck twice by the electrical spears, was slain in the course of the combat. Removed from the innate abilities she once held in life, Xaetra relied upon the components held within her mystic apothecary. Using an arcane infusion, she transformed the corpse of Canthus into a statue of stone.
Examining the base of the tower in closer detail, the party noted it was ringed by a circle of statues, each of an unknown humanoid that seemed both reptilian and fish-like. One statue stood out from the rest, however, as it appeared as a concave depression instead of a sculpture.  

DM’S NOTES: To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to show up on the day after Christmas. We gamed an extra hour, so I was more than pleased. The players of Ryllis the shoal halfling, Junae the mermaid, and Sir Boral the aventi did not attend tonight’s game.

The four sites of ancient clockwork mechanisms were inspired by equipment used to keep saltwater reef aquariums. The Grail of Impurities, Orb of Purification, Chamber of Dissolution, and Deadwater Fountain were simply a protein skimmer, ultraviolet sterilizer, calcium reactor, and reverse osmosis/deionization filter, albeit in a grand scale with some magics thrown in. 

The clockwork skeletons, inspired by the Antikythera Mechanism, were actually gold clockwork horrors. 
I just noticed that Cerulean Seas now has s a softcover print-to-order option, over at RPGNow; $20 for the PDF, $40 for the hardcopy, $50 for both.  
It's been awhile since I posted a recap of a Game Session.


In the last session (03/20) the party spoke with Scia, the elderly shaman who seemed to lead the remaining slaves abandoned by the kraken Mikros, in a subterranean passage deep within the Sinking Isle itself. Concerned by the appearance of the child Reiko and her well-being in the face of the grafts she unwillingly received, Scia slowly approached the girl and revealed grafts of her own.


"These..." she touched the green scaly skin around her gills "Were once part of Shulshalus, a mighty sahuagin warrior. He speaks to me, from time to time." she smiled "At first I was afraid. But soon I understood that I honored him, by keeping even this small part of him alive."


In time, Scia led the party to a rectangular chamber filled with massive intersecting metal pipes. Between the pipes, hammocks fashioned of netting and seaweed were seen. Along the wall, enormous barnacle shells seemed to grow in a cluster.


As the shaman continued to interrogate the party, regarding their knowledge of the sea hag fleshwarper Purl, NeeKaa recalled the words of the hivemind witch known as Guri. "Purl's weakness is blackwater, as I have told your companion." she had spoken "Aiptasia is a seahorse of a different color. In her madness, she fears her own reflection". The topic turned to talks of the unliving hag Diadema and the mysterious substance known as Blackwater. When NeeKaa revealed what she had learned, Scia’s interest was obviously piqued.


"Covey?" Scia questioned "Purl spoke of a Blue Coven, when she thought she was alone. Three hags in the service of Olhydra. I believe she worshipped them. Does this help, in any way?"


When reprimanded by Xaetra, for mentioning the name of the Elemental Princess aloud, Scia shrugged off the warning.


"Did you ever wonder, eidolon?" Scia turned to face the ambergris hag "Why? Why does she seek to drain the sea? Malice? Chaos? A dire untoward plan? What does she stand to gain?"


This spurred Xaetra into further debate.


"And you, druidess." Xaetra retorted "What do you stand to gain, waiting here countless centuries? Aye. I can sense both your time upon this Oerth and your calling."


"I... I cannot leave." Scia stammered "To leave is certain death. The forge forestalls aging, but its effects do not carry beyond these walls. Suffice to say that the Hearth of Hearts has prolonged our lives, here. But if we leave these caves, our years return." slowly, Scia added "I admit that I am over three hundred years of age."


Leaving the party to their rest and slumber, Scia returned to her people. Those who slept once again found themselves sharing a communal dreamscape. Emerging within a dimly-lit oubliette, each party member beheld phosphorescent etchings depicting several sea creatures commonly found in the shallows. Those who had visited the spherical chamber once before recalled the tattoos, bearing the likeness of a single etching they had chosen on their prior journey, now illustrated upon their skin.


Within the tide pool, Xaetra appeared as a hagfish, Jaena manifest as a silver shelled hermit crab with Jariah fastened to her shell as a barnacle. The reef hag Ciliaris emerged as a blue-eyed scallop, while Meir had chosen a humble chiton. Beside the sea urchin Reiko, a sea snake, puffer fish, and striped shrimp manifested.


"Do you remember me, young one?" the sea snake asked "I am Jade."

"And I am Pin'clarr" the puffer added

"What... what is this place?" the shrimp asked with the voice of Scia "Am I dreaming?"


"Scia, is it?" Meir asked "What do you know of this Blue Coven? What do you know of the Princess of Elemental Evil... Olhydra?"


The naming of the Elemental Princess invoked a trance within the shellycoat.


"The elemental princess bore the offspring of the demon lord."Meir began, her voice monotonous and distant. "Twin daughters ostracized by their father. Imprisoned, in distant lakes, far from impending waters." 


Aware that Eyebite, the hag’s tooth artifact seemingly responsible for both her unliving animation and her unbidden prophesies, had spoken through her once more Meir recalled the second artifact, a hag’s tooth, was now in the possession of the insane shellycoat Aiptasia.  
My game has been between session for a few weeks, which leads my mind to wander...

Secure in the knowledge that her companions were safe, Xaetra took a moment to herself, before the hours of slumber marked the time of dreams. Unrolling her burlap apothecary, the medicine bag that had stayed with her even beyond death itself, she inspected the hundreds of small pockets sewn into its surface. Shards of stone, dried herbs, and stoppered vials all seemed in order.

Turning the unrolled bundle, the ambergris eidolon exposed the crudely-stitched door upon the opposite side. Knocking gently in a deliberate pattern, she steadied herself against the flow of warm waters as the apothecary stiffened and and the door slowly opened.

Swimming swiftly beyond the doorway, Xaetra emerged into a water-filled stairwell. Along the stone walls of the passage grew a variety of corals and seaweed. Several small wooden traps held crabs which seem to be unmoving. The mortar between the stones illuminated the stairwell with a pale blue phosphorescence.

Slowly drifting past traps of wood and wire which held their captives in unwaking sleep, the hag encountered the barrier of shimmering mucus which divided the stairwell. Xaetra steadied herself, as she entered the portion of her root cellar filled with breathable air. Shielding her eyes from the golden light cast by the stones set in the ceiling above, she inspected the growth of her garden. An abundance of tubers; potatoes, carrots, turnips, and radishes grew within decorative urns, while flowering vines clung to the walls themselves.

Walking further upward, Xaetra felt the vines beneath her toes as pumpkins, melons, and gourds enveloped the stairs below. Clinging to trellises secured to the stonework walls, herbs and spices filled the air with a cacophony of pungent aromas. An earthen layer upon the stairwell served to nourish a variety of vegetables, while fruit trees grew within soil prepared with care within receptacles seemingly shaped in the likeness of massive conch shells, skulls, and geodes.

Pausing by an an unassuming section of stone, Xaetra traced her fingertip in a peculiar pattern atop the mortar. In response, a hidden chamber was revealed. In the passage beyond, resting upon a bed of ferns and wildflowers, Anasta slept. The alu-demon, restored by a single drop of blood protected by her sacred amulet, silently awaited the time of awakening.

Glaucus held the key. The scarab beetle, seemingly fashioned of glass and roughly the size of a man’s fist, had once served as Anasta’s own amulet, the sanctuary for her soul. Having attained sentience after the demon’s death, Glaucus now served as caretaker for Xaetra’s magical cellar.

“Greetings, my granddaughter.” she whispered in quiet reverence “Our last story explored the origins of the Devils’ Purse; the shard of the sea between Turucambi Reef, the Sinking Isle, and the Jungle of Lost Ships. Marked by ancient altars, each capable of unleashing maelstroms of unfathomable strength, the angles of the Devils’ Purse should be well remembered, as they define the birthplace of the Leviathan - guardian of the Solnor.

But one Leviathan may dwell within the waters of the Solnor, though many have assumed the mantle of power granted by the Devils’ Purse. In bygone ages, the Leviathan was borne from the stock of a nautilus and zaratan. Aye, the Chamber of Reflection within Turucambi Reef marks the remains of the nautilus. The hollow shell of the zaratan is ensnared in the waters to the north. The last Leviathan was fashioned from the form of a kraken.

Do not say it aloud. I know what you must be thinking. In life, the spectral kraken known as Mikros served as the Leviathan. 

Within the currents of current days, the hydrimera retains the right to the title of Leviathan. Once banished from the Solnor into the Dramidj Ocean in western waters, the beast was fated to return to the Devils’ Purse.

I am loathe to speak of this to the others, but I bear responsibility for the beast’s return. My beloved Zander, in what surely must have been an epic battle, captured the hydrimera and imprisoned it within a magical pearl. The beast had vexed me in days long passed, so he wished to assure that such tidings would never again come to fruition.

It was this pearl that brought life to the iron hag, the construct I once called Grandmother Clock. It was this pearl, which Jaenan inadvertently carried through the Underflow, when the construct was destroyed. It was this pearl, which Jaenan unintentionally awakened, to avoid capture by Tempest and Salkt.

The rebirth of the hydrimera marked the deaths of the blood hag Tempest and salt hag Salkt, though heralding the birth of the blackwater hag Diadema. Their fates are intertwined in a manner I cannot fully fathom.

Of one thing am I certain. The Leviathan of future days will arise from the form of the amphisbaena.”
Silently, Glaucus crept from the concealed chamber, up the stairwell, and out of the magical root cellar. Without remorse, he shared the secret knowledge of Xaetra’s confession with all who would listen.
A recap of last week's game, to tide you over, as there is no game this week.

In the last session (07/03/11) the party explored the site of a seeming cemetery; a bed of giant clams arranged conspicuously in rows. Their appearance not unlike unkempt tombstones, the clams held a sinister secret. Each contained a blackwater wraith, a spirit given substance by the unnatural waters below. As the party noted the wraiths’ affinity for the sea elf Sakura and her blackwater-infused weaponry and cape, a school of bony blackskates formed overhead.
One wraith in particular seemed most interested in Sakura, pointing to her with a whiplike arm before retreating within the clam shell from which he arose. As he did so, the blackskates above formed into a larger amalgamated shape, that of a manta ray. Sakura discovered, within the clam, a massive black pearl etched with golden runes. As the pearl grew inexplicably larger, the blackskates formed into the likeness of a massive jellyfish.
Drawing closer, Sakura watched as the golden runes lifted from the black pearl. As they slowly swirled, they approached the cautious sea elf. Two writhing black tentacles rose from nearby clams and seemed to attack the drifting runes; tearing them to shreds and reforming the wayward light into words familiar to all.
“Free us;” the words read, as they drifted freely in the surrounding sea “the pearl is our prison.  Our ship, entrapped above. Our lives, forfeit. We are the Pirates of the Black Tide, held fast to our graves by the power of the pearl placed here by one who dwells below.
The Pearl steals from us. It grows stronger. We do not. The Pirates of the Black Tide must endure!”
Grasping the pearl, Sakura flinched as the golden runes exploded in a shower of sparks. The blackwater, freed from its bond, flowed over Sakura's hands and seemed to disappear beneath her skin. The pearl that remains does not resemble the one first seen. It now appeared as a crystalline egg of azure hue, etched with a delicate spiral encircling its surface. Sakura was similarly affected, for the darkness of her eyes now swirled with the essence of blackwater.
As if summoned, the massive bone jellyfish rose slightly, before moving to the north. There it began to sink into the depths. Acting on impulse, the triton called Current swam swiftly to the surface of Synsaal, the Barrier Between Worlds. There he searched for the ship mentioned by the umbral wraiths, yet he found only overgrown mounds of seaweed, writhing vines that moved of their own accord, and groves of trees growing upon the mats of seaweed that comprised the Weed-Sea.
The aventi Noie was the first to see the approaching form to the north. Humanoid in form and stature, the creature seemed to be made of stone entrusted with coralline algae, soft corals, and sponges. Sea fans, stony corals, barnacles, and seaweed grew upon its stout frame, like badges of honor upon a tattered uniform. 
"You have destroyed the pearl. Why?"  it asked, a crimson-hued crab crawling from between its lips as it spoke.  "Now the cloud pearl is exposed. Now they will return for it, the storm hags, as they seek control of Cloudsea.
The covey wreaks havoc upon the waters of the Devil's Purse." the form continued “ for they control terrible waterspouts, but do not yet control the cloud itself. The pearl must be concealed. It must be contained within a natural sheath, or one of magical origins, to mask its location."
When the party retold the events leading to the cloud pearl’s exposure, the man of liverock seemed unconcerned.
"Unfortunate... and unintentional." it began "Many pirates have met their fate in the weed-sea, it is said. Pirates, treasure fleets, fishermen, and crafts from unknown waters.
The pearl gathered blackwater. I assumed it was from a natural source. Rest assured if the blackwater nacre is gone, the souls will be as they were.
How do you intend to cloak the pearl? If they sense it, if they scry it, they will come."
After a brief exchange, the ambergris hag Xaetra procured her daughter Jariah from within her magical apothecary. Conceived from the stuff of dreams while the hag was imprisoned within Dream Lake, Jariah appeared as a human infant with skin of pearlescent hue. When the stone-man saw Jariah, he held his arms across his chest.
"A child? A child of pearl?" he stammered “They will want to know. The whitebeards are the keepers of the forges. They tell of one with skin of pearl."  
As the party spoke with the unnamed newcomer, they sensed movement in the waters above. An unmoving form, entangled in a fishing net, fell from the shallows. Several small sharks, their underbellies glowing with bioluminescence, took advantage of easy prey, ripping bits of flesh from the body.
The corpse appeared to be that of the lizardman Rikas, the lycanthrope who had assisted them upon their arrival to the Jungle of Lost Ships. 
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