Seahorse Run

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Featuring Basic Rules v0.2's Most Deadly Monster:

THE SEAHORSE

No XP. No Damage. NO MERCY!

 

The Sitch

 

This might be the seaside community of Hightide's last day above water. The super-intelligent sea grell Hippocampus has hatched a plot to summon The Kraken after discovering a ruined monument containing twenty of the creature's eggs. The magical song of Sirenia has gone silent and no longer does it power the mer-ward which heretofore hid the egg repository from the eyes of land-dwellers and kept sea life at bay. Hippocampus knows now is the time to strike, so it sends twenty-one of its most terrifying seahorse servitors to take the eggs and awaken the sleeping giant. When The Kraken rises from the deep - so goes the sea grell's logic - Hightide will be its first stop as it ravages the coast in search of its precious ova.

 

The adventurers have discovered this dastardly and pointlessly-complicated scheme and through painstaking interviews with quirky, cagey fishermen. fisherwomen, fishwives and fish-husbands have finally arrived at the location of the sunken monument just in time. Will our heroes be able to stop Hippocampus' seahorses from taking the eggs and awakening The Kraken? Or will the market value of beachfront property take a sharp, downward turn in the very near future?

 

The Sunken Monument of Sirenia the Sea Maiden

 

Thirty feet below the surface of the water, resting upon a bed of colorful coral, are the ruins of an old monument at the center of which rests a weathered statue of a mermaid holding a broken harp, her mouth open as if in song. Seaweed and kelp grow like a flowing forest among the fallen pillars and crumbling walls as well as near a sunken fishing boat and the skeletal carcass of an immense hammerhead shark, known to hunt in these waters.

 

In the distance, a hammerhead shark swims about, eyeing the commotion with curiosity. Meanwhile, fell seahorse attendants of the sea grell Hippocampus are streaming in from all directions. What do you do?

 

Read the above to the players to frame the scene. The players can then place their characters anywhere on the map, at any level from on the sea floor to up to 30 feet above (the surface). Now they roll initiative and can take one turn each before seven seahorses are placed on the edge of the map (DM's choice where). Roll initiative for the seahorses as well and it's on! At the end of the next two rounds, seven more seahorses are placed at the edge of the map and can act on the following round on the seahorse initiative count.

 

The seahorses can swallow an adjacent kraken egg as an action. Dead or unconscious seahorses expel any swallowed eggs. The seahorses' goal is to get an egg and swim away. Once they've gotten "off the map" with an egg, they are effectively removed from play.

 

Victory and Defeat

The adventurers win (and earn 600 XP) if:

  • The seahorses are no longer able to move at least 10 kraken eggs more than 20 feet (4 squares) away from the monument; and/or
  • The statue of Sirenia is repaired and the mer-ward restored.

Hippocampus wins if:

  • At least 10 kraken eggs are moved more than 20 feet (4 squares) away from the monument - The Kraken will arise and destroy Hightide in a few hours' time.

But wait - there's more:

  • If 10 or more seahorses are killed or knocked unconscious with slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning damage, the blood in the water attracts a fearsome (and hungry) giant hammerhead shark (see the DM section of the v0.2 Basic Rules PDF) which goes after the largest target it can see. It is driven off when reduced to 32 or fewer hit points.

 

Features of the Area

 

Dense Kelp: Small or smaller creatures can hide in dense kelp.

 

Kraken Eggs: These nondescript spheroids are about 1 cubic foot and take an action to safely pick up and handle. Destroying the eggs has the same effect as moving them more than 20 feet (4 squares) away from the monument.

 

Shark Skeleton: Hammerhead sharks won't go near the skeletons of their kind. Any creature standing on the skeleton is ignored by hammerhead sharks. An adventurer might be able to recall this lore with a DC 10 Intelligence (Nature) check.

 

Statue of Sirenia: This weathered mermaid statue once generated the mer-ward. A DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals its purpose and the means of restoring the ward: Making a suitable offering to the Sea God (DC 10), repairing the harp (DC 15), and tuning the sea maiden's song (DC 20). All of these tasks require an action.

 

Sunken Fishing Boat: As an action, an adventurer that searches the boat can recover one of the following (player's choice) - a sharp fillet knife with a scrimshaw handle (treat as a dagger), two lobster tickle sticks (treat as javelins), a barnacle-encrusted spear, a tarnished trident, two tangled nets, or two serviceable crab/fish traps (one foot on a side).

 

Salty Option

 

If your players are up for an additional challenge, sea horses arrive on a powerful rip current which pushes and pulls creatures without a swim speed 20 feet (4 squares) in a random direction (roll 1d8, 1 is north and count clockwise on a compass). This can be resisted by characters making a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check or by taking prudent precautions. Award the group an additional 200 XP for being so salty. Be sure to telegraph this effect so players have an opportunity to prepare for it.

 

Helpful Rules References

Read these prior to play and have them handy for reference. Note that spells with verbal components will not be useful in this scene unless the spellcaster has some means of overcoming this complication.

 

  • Hiding, Player's Basic Rules v0.2, page 60
  • Swimming, Player's Basic Rules v0.2, page 64
  • Suffocating, Player's Basic Rules v0.2, page 65
  • Variant: Playing on a Grid, Player's Basic Rules v0.2, page 71
  • Unseen Attackers and Targets, Player's Basic Rules v0.2, page 73
  • Underwater Combat, Player's Basic Rules v0.2, page 77
  • Giant Shark, DM's Basic Rules v0.1, page 28
  • Seahorse, DM's Basic Rules v0.1, page 43

I welcome your comments and feedback. How would you improve this scene? What would you do as a DM to run it effectively? What would you do as a player to prevail against Hippocampus?

 

Special thanks to bawylie for collaborating with me on the design of this scene.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Dat tagline, tho!

Area effects, preferably ones that halve damage on a save. Take out a bunch of dem horses at once, even if all of them save. Though I'm not sure how those tiny sea horses are going to swallow eggs that size.

 

Also, you give DCs for restoring the mer-ward, but not what ability check is used for each task.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

Seahorse is listed as tiny. Usually cats are also in the tiny category. Eagles, I think, too. 

 

Theres a lot of room for what tiny means. 

 

As as far as the repairs on the Ward go, I would personally call for a check dependent on their approach. A bard might use his proficiency with instruments and thus roll CHA. A wizard might use his magical knowledge and roll INT. A rogue could take a different approach and use Dex. 

 

Anyway, I'd ask "how are you doing that?" before I asked for a roll. 

The_White_Sorcerer wrote:

Area effects, preferably ones that halve damage on a save. Take out a bunch of dem horses at once, even if all of them save.

 

Yep. A couple of complications: If we're talking spells, we'd need something with a verbal component if the spellcaster is underwater. Also, once we kill 10 of them, we draw in the giant shark which attacks largest to smallest targets. The giant shark is pretty nasty.

 

The_White_Sorcerer wrote:
Though I'm not sure how those tiny sea horses are going to swallow eggs that size.

 

They're big enough (Tiny's up to 2.5 ft. x 2.5 ft.) and they got those cute bellies with lots of space inside. Hippocampus has used his sea grell bio-sorcerery to engineer them specifically for this purpose.


Or you know, make something up. The fiction's the easy part.

 

The_White_Sorcerer wrote:
Also, you give DCs for restoring the mer-ward, but not what ability check is used for each task.

 

I provided a DC for the task. What ability check will be for the DM to decide based on the player's stated action in tackling it.

 

Good comments, thanks!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Fun little side-trek encounter. Clever and interesting.  Well done!

 

ShadeRaven wrote:

Fun little side-trek encounter. Clever and interesting.  Well done!

 

 

Thanks! I was flipping through the DM Basic Rules and started obsessing over reasons why the designers put a creature in there with Challenge 0, XP 0, no damage, and 1 hp.

 

Something had to be done to make sense of this madness.

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iserith wrote:
They're big enough (Tiny's up to 2.5 ft. x 2.5 ft.) and they got those cute bellies with lots of space inside. Hippocampus has used his sea grell bio-sorcerery to engineer them specifically for this purpose.


Or you know, make something up. The fiction's the easy part.

2.5x2.5 is fighting space, not the actual dimensions of the creature. A halfling (small) probably doesn't take that much space (though a halfling could swallow the egg, he'd cook it first).

 

What I'd do instead is have the seahorses generate a magical protective bubble out of their mouths that will not break while the seahorse is conscious. I think players would be more likely to accept a magical explanation than one that involves strange seahorse dimensions.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

It's a totally superfluous creature. But it's fun to think of scenarios that include them. 

 

Like a DM challenge - what can you do with the most absolutely useless possible creature?

Obviously they are mounts for tiny mermen.

 

 

bawylie wrote:

Seahorse is listed as tiny. Usually cats are also in the tiny category. Eagles, I think, too. 

 

Theres a lot of room for what tiny means. 

I don't think any of those could fit a 1 cubic foot egg in its stomach, let alone swallow one whole.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

The_White_Sorcerer wrote:
What I'd do instead is have the seahorses generate a magical protective bubble out of their mouths that will not break while the seahorse is conscious. I think players would be more likely to accept a magical explanation than one that involves strange seahorse dimensions.

 

See, grell bio-sorcery can do anything! In my mind, the grell has transmogrified these wee beasts and given them a sac of extradimensional fluid that can shrink the eggs when immersed, effectively increasing their immersion abilities.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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iserith wrote:
See, grell bio-sorcery can do anything! In my mind, the grell has transmogrified these wee beasts and given them a sac of extradimensional fluid that can shrink the eggs when immersed, effectively increasing their immersion abilities.

Now, see, THAT's a plausible scenario I can accept without problem.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

iserith wrote:

 

The_White_Sorcerer wrote:
What I'd do instead is have the seahorses generate a magical protective bubble out of their mouths that will not break while the seahorse is conscious. I think players would be more likely to accept a magical explanation than one that involves strange seahorse dimensions.

 

See, grell bio-sorcery can do anything! In my mind, the grell has transmogrified these wee beasts and given them a sac of extradimensional fluid that can shrink the eggs when immersed, effectively increasing their immersion abilities.

 

What happens when a transmogrified seahorse with a sac of extra-dimensional fluid enters a bag of holding?

Wuzzard wrote:
What happens when a transmogrified seahorse with a sac of extra-dimensional fluid enters a bag of holding?

 

The seahorse explodes and the contents of the bag of holding - all your character's nudey mags - are expelled onto the ground. You're deeply embarrassed.

 

Just kidding - you're not embarrassed.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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@iserith

 

You, sir, deserves all praise!

iserith, this is awesome! I really love how the map looks too.

Akeisha Roberts on Twitter

 

Akeisha's Moonhaven Forest Blog

 

Thanks all. I think my next project is to work with Shirebrok on his tarrasque encounter to build a map and such for it. If he'll have me, of course.

 

I welcome any monks to that party to come knock the tarrasque down!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Here's hoping the players all get under the shark skeleton and start walking it around the sea floor.

 

"Grrr. I'm a shark!" 

autolycus wrote:

Here's hoping the players all get under the shark skeleton and start walking it around the sea floor.

 

"Grrr. I'm a shark!" 

 

Cool, that'd be a clever tactic for the PCs to use!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Curse you and your insane and awesome ideas! Now I have to find a large saltwater body to send my players to.

 

We've got a tendency towards light comedy, and this is right up their alley. Especially the Seahorses of Holding. Which the elf wizard-type will try to harvest for storage. Which will cause the cleric of the Sacred Nostril to complain about the smell. Damn. Is there an easy way to drop an ocean in the middle of a 24-mile hike through open fields?

 

autolycus wrote:

Here's hoping the players all get under the shark skeleton and start walking it around the sea floor.

 

"Grrr. I'm a shark!" 

...and now the shark skeleton is on the Object layer instead of the Map layer. Because if anyone will come up with something that hairbrained, it's my lot.

Thanks for the feedback and kind words! Let me know how it goes if you do use it.

 

The shark skeleton tactic is an interesting one. I could see it being used to keep the shark at bay while going over the kill-limit on sea horses. There would have to be some complications of course: It's heavy and potentially difficult to move around. It's brittle and at risk of falling apart. Its movement encourages a second hammerhead to enter the area and watch the goings on, increasing the tension...

 

Also, it might be a good way to scare sea horses in some fashion say with the limitation being that it only scares off ones its maw is facing, potentially leaving open some avenues of approach to the eggs.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Is it possible to link that map as a file?

You could right-click and save it that way I imagine. It's just a screenshot of what I have in Roll20 so I have no way of exporting it and making the quality better as far as I know.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Thank you for this fun and imaginative encounter.  well done! 

Thanks for the kind words!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Out of curiosity, what level is this intended for?

1st to 3rd level.

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iserith wrote:

You could right-click and save it that way I imagine. It's just a screenshot of what I have in Roll20 so I have no way of exporting it and making the quality better as far as I know.

 

How did you make this in roll20? Where did you get the tiles and icons? Maybe I suck at searching, but most of the free stuff isn't very good.

intently wrote:
How did you make this in roll20? Where did you get the tiles and icons? Maybe I suck at searching, but most of the free stuff isn't very good.

 

This was all free stuff. I'm sure I just searched by keywords: dais, ruins, statue, seaweed (or kelp), coral, underwater, shark, pillar, etc. Make sure to toggle between "Tokens" and "Map/Tiles/Textures." Sometimes, one of those options will turn up images that the other will not. Just about the only things I upload anymore are tokens because I'm very particular about what images ares used for NPCs and monsters.

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These seem to be just tactical board-game scenarios, like Squad Leader (great game).

Brock_Landers wrote:

These seem to be just tactical board-game scenarios, like Squad Leader (great game).

 

Excellent. My goal is to create scenarios that are really simple for the DM to execute, much like a boardgame. From the player's perspective, they're meant to challenge on multiple levels and offer a lot of meaningful choices but  otherwise look like just any other scene in their game. Now, if the DM presents it like a tactical boardgame, that is not intended, though they could if that's what the group likes.

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