Featuring Basic Rules v0.2's Most Deadly Monster:
No XP. No Damage. NO MERCY!
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).
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.