Sunday, April 10, 2016

Five Shall Be One: Songs and Sahuagin

Well met honored Greyhawk lords and ladies, today is the eighth installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week? Read on, and beware, this story may contain spoilers!

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (cleaving captain, human rogue)
Sabriel Loreweaver (phonic first-mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (buoyant bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (studious surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (diving deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quarrelsome quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew, they saved a ship adrift in the Azure from a sahuagin raiding party. Seeking a direction to their secret capital city, Sabriel the bard then spoke with the corpse of one sea devil to learn that they followed a certain deep sea current which was definitely familiar to Lash and his sea elf kin, Eristen. They spent the remainder of a day getting the dwarven ship fit to sail thanks to Ostyn's shipwright background. In return, the survivors gave the crew of the Envy their only cannon and an ample amount of shot to go with it, increasing the small pinnace's firepower significantly. They thanked the dwarves and after deliberating on their charts, continued on southward into the deep sea, the weather was strangely serene for the next day's worth of work. Only a vision given to Sabriel by Dreamsinger, marred the perfect time: 

You see a huge, single eye of white stone. The large pupil suddenly turns black, the narrow cornea blood red, while ghostly red light plays around the entire eye. There is a powerful sense of evil about the eye.

That evening they came upon an eerie sight, green glowing lights wavered and played in the sky overhead. The assemblage was transfixed at the omen, while Tyrrus muttered something about St. Idee's Fire. Mallon the mage however ruined the mood pointing out that those had to be radiations of magic coming from some strong source nearby. Lash paled and pointed down indicating the sahuagin city must be below their hull. Ogie the ogre perked up and took this as a cue to get the magical metal diving bell ready. Indeed, there was no time to waste, they couldn't linger on the surface here for too long over sahuagin central. Kuma decided to stay behind with Ogie on the Envy just in case, but the scimitar Greenswathe was handed over to Cullen just in case, they'd need all the power they could muster down below. With Kwalish's Deep Sphere in the water and opened the remaining party climbed in and Lash operated various levers to seal it and begin the steady descent into the endless darkness of the sea. Ostyn nervously sat on a bench listening to the cracks and groans of the sphere, while others checked weapons or haplessly hung onto the rails and poles holding the arcane contraption together. The trip down took nearly a half an hour, and during the monotonous journey Sabriel spaced out again:

You sense the presence of another of the Blades of Corusk. It is obscured by flickering shadows and illusion and you do not see it clearly. You have a keen feeling of semi-reality, as if the Blade is elusive and other-worldly in some way.

Sabriel roused from her reverie and the others were stock alert as the sphere jolted to a stop at the bottom. Lash pulled a lever to open a view port, there was little they could see even through their dark vision goggles supplied by Archmage Drawmij; they were on the seafloor surrounded by emptiness. The sphere was shielded by an air elemental so when they finally gained the nerve to open the hatch, exiting and entering the sphere was effortless. The magic objects supplied by Drawmij made swimming this deep quite manageable and weapons were tested for effectiveness, before Eristen and Lash converged to track a direction to the city following the same undersea currents. Eventually the ground rose up to the lip of the caldera of an extinct undersea volcano on the edge of a  vast chasm, the Mirodian Deep. What was within the bowl of land was startling to see, it was the domed and many-spired city of the sahuagin and it glowed with a ghastly dark green radiance like the skies on the surface above. They group stared in abject horror. Even the aquatic-folk among them weren't ready for a sight like this, an impossible city in an impossible place. Surveying the place from afar thanks to the green lights, they planned on how to best search the vast city.

Sabriel held Dreamsinger and consulted the ancient blade's properties to divine the best course for them to take and though it couldn't directly locate its brother sword Stalker, it would give them a general idea which areas to avoid, namely a temple region and the heavily attended undersea colosseum where the frenzied sahuagin watched their favorite bloodsports. She then lapsed into the fugue state once again: 

You are moving through a cavern with hundreds of sea devils rushing towards you. Their weapons are readied; hatred and bloodlust are etched in their faces. As they close in on you, there is a fuzzy green glow at the edge of your vision and an echoing song in the air. You don’t understand this, but you know you must hasten onwards to a place of even greater evil.

The visions were coming more frequently and this bothered Sabriel and the others but it was a sign they were close. It was decided by the roguish captain, Cullen that since his acquired Cloak of the Manta allowed him to swim fastest, he would stealthily go off alone to create a diversion in one part of the city, while the others tried to search the central spire by diving in from directly above. Mallon gave the captain two potions before he left that could bestow water breathing, in case any allies could be found. Cullen then swam down toward the city vanishing from sight, until he sneaked into the opening of a large dome and soon discovered he was in a prison complex for captured air-breathers brought down to fight in their arena. Lurking out of sight he maneuvered around and plotted, soon discovering a tunnel that passed beneath cells holding air pockets that held a few captives, namely two humans (one catatonic and useless) and a dwarf, the very Godred that had been recently apprehended in the last surface raid. Cullen used his tools to free the two capable swimmers, but he had no sympathy for the captives however, he only wanted them to get loose and create a distraction for the sahuagin guards in the city. The pair were given the potions to give them water-breathing and then Cullen sped away from the complex before he would be found. He had a hunch where to go next.

Half way across the city, the larger group swam downward from the gloom toward the white central tower, surrounded by teeth-like rocks jutting from the ground. A swarm of scores of warriors and a few sharks surrounded the opening in the tower, which lay at the top of the spire, not at the base. They had to detour and landed in the shadows of a dome which seemed to serve as a market place of sorts. One non-threatening sahuagin carrying a net full of shells was skewered by the sea devil hating Lash to keep it silent after Tyrrus and Sabriel tried in vain to calm the frightened creature with offers of jewelry. Blood was in the water now however and Eristen ushered the group to flee from the scene again. Keeping close to the ground they wound their way back toward the tall central tower and were dismayed to still see the swirling mass of sahuagin high above, guarding the obviously important location. Thanks to some disturbance off in the city all the sharks and a modest sahuagin patrol peeled off the mass, but nearly 80 sea devils still maintained their tireless vigil. 

Frustrated, Sabriel held Dreamsinger again and implored it for more insight. That's when Cullen caught up, swimming swiftly around the base of the turret with Greenswathe in hand. Without warning, the two sentient blades' proximity began to create a resonating effect; Dreamsinger sounded a soothing yet loud song added to by Greenswathe's throbbing greenish radiance, more intense even than the glow of the city. Panic came over the questing group that they would be noticed. Sabriel couldn't quiet her sword nor could Cullen cover the glow that surrounded everyone. Despite this, a miracle happened, the sahuagin high above stopped their perpetual circling around the spire and just hung there motionless in the water. The swords had put the entire platoon of sea devils to sleep! Lash's eyes got big and he waved for his compatriots to quickly ascend; their arms and legs kicking hard as they neared the entrance to the tower, evading the scores of scaled creatures in torpor, as if they could reawaken at any moment. Once at the top the team just as impatiently descended again, this time into the heart of what the sahuagin call their tallest structure, the Throne of Teeth. 

to be continued...

Campaign notes: A few quick notes, the group is 6th level at this point. I'd like to mention in 2E that FSBO was originally written for levels 7-10! Yeah I think 5E characters are a bit more stout than back in the day. Second, the sahuagin city is not canon Greyhawk, nor is it my creation. It comes from the 2E module, Sea of Blood by Bruce Cordell of Far Realms fame. I find my mash up of this module with FSBO is a nice synergy. When I get a chance I'll post some of the art from Sea of Blood, it's amazing. The maps likewise were done by Rob Lazzaretti who is better known for his 3E and Paizo work. The original quest however takes players into the heart of an underground orc city named Garel Enkdal. The goal of this part of the module is stealth and searching in caves, but since this doesn't translate perfectly to an undersea environment I allowed the players to use the direct approach to save time. Next session should be a blood bath!


Jason Raabis said...

Fascinating! I've never seen that trilogy of 2e adventures before! I thought I at least had seen all the 2e material at one time or another. Weird! And I'm actually in need of some sahaugin based adventures / locations!

Mike Bridges said...

Well, the entire run includes a source book called Sea Devils which details sahuagin culture. I've hunted for mine in vain. It's lost in a pile of old D&D stuff. :(