Dream Tides of the Sea Queen

An IncarnaSteel Realms [fantasy] Side Trek for characters resting during the Transformation of Crestwold campaign. Set on the dream isle of Shanlehare, the characters are pulled from wherever they are in Crestwold and catapulted in a dream to the dangerous isle that represents the anger of the goddess Elancil. The characters must figure out a way to thwart the goddess and get off the island.

Challenge
Approximate character level designed for: 4th
(Approx. 12-16 levels total.)

ADVENTURE PRINCIPAL Do not let strict campaign or challenge level dictate your use of adventures. Story and play should be able to be modified to support most measures of Player Character capability. A good Game Master can generally use a system & tools to support them in telling a story with whatever characters and circumstances the Players have.
Written by: Kelly Berger
Designed by: Kelly Berger
Published: March 8th, 2018
Edits: Zophie Leslea
Testing: Arabus Grenier, Duncan Huber, Morgan Nunely

 

Using the Adventure Materials

Familiarize

Read through the entire adventure and familiarize yourself with the entire scenario and encounter set. If its too much to track, break the game session and milestones into what you can manage - generally it is better to end early with a good experience than fumble through a poor one. Materials are presented here in groupings of the most likely order the players will experience them in. If they go off-script, you must be ready to adjust and improvise.

Maximize Online Materials

The optimal experience for using these materials is as online content. This material contains links to material outside the text - familiarize yourself with this content as well. Follow the links, and print out or have loaded on a device ahead of time all materials needed to effectively run this adventure. Print friendly PDF or ePub versions also maintain the links in most cases.

  • All linked materials were publicly available at the time of original publication.
  • Linked materials usually contain more information about creatures and places, though some are to assist the Game Master's running of the adventure.
  • The stats for creatures are not presented. It is assumed GMs have access to system source books or materials for them. Where possible, creatures are linked to online resources.

Prompts and Formatting

This adventure contains text that is formatted in a certain way to enable easy narration and play. Familiarize yourself with these to make the pace of the adventure and flow of each encounter is smooth.
This is primary text for you to read aloud to the Players - it is what their characters will perceive upon interacting with the encounter.
This is supplemental text that can be read aloud after the related primary text.
This is a dialogue option you can read aloud.
This is information which can be gained with a noted skill/knowledge [check].
[GM]> This is a note to the GM for options and preparation ahead of time.
Online Reference: This is a Character or Creature in an encounter (# appearing if more than 1)

Tactics to be used by the creature appearing above.

party# This is the number of characters in the players party; you will find suggestions on scaling the number of creatures in an encounter based on this.
NARRATION > This is a tip on how to read to or interact with the Players.

Challenge Summary

Combat vs. Story: Combats come often and are very deadly. Characters cannot die permanently, though death results have campaign impacts. Combat dangers can be greatly reduced using the skill outcomes.

Rule Set: This adventure is compatible with the D20 System. Additionally, it has descriptions and mechanics which use the Essential D20 System Modifications for Incarna.

Specific Challenges: Traps, tracking/finding, physical and survival skills, sailing and boat skills, sea creatures/kelp, zombies, apes, goblins, a strange mist, bedraggled cloud giant, dire wolves, and a sabretooth tiger.

  • Horror/Sanity Checks: Little or None; The adventure is very physical and horror does not factor in much.

Background Information

Part of the backdrop of the Transformation of Crestwold adventures is the forces of Elancil against the gods of the Bronzemen. The goddess Elancil decides to cast a dream web about the party as a warning to them not to meddle. She seeks to protect her agents and schemes by bringing misfortune to the party.
Who: The goddess Elancil.
What: Because the party is beginning to upset the balance of power on the barony of Crestwold, the goddess casts them into a dream realm where they cannot die, but can indeed suffer. The characters have to fight for their lives and plot a way off the island.
Where: A dream realm island located in the Aether.
When: No time elapses for the party, the start and end tracks through a night of sleep and meditation.
Prerequisites: The character must have completed the Sacking of Hotherwale adventure in the Transformation of Crestwold campaign.

What the Characters Know

The characters have no idea or clue about the nature of the adventure to start with.

Fitting into Existing Campaign

It is intended to be part of the Transformation of Crestwold campaign. Because it is a dream, it can be used as a side trek in any campaign. Some of the names can be changed easily to fit an existing campaign theme.

Timeline

Only the events mentioned in the prerequisites are pertinent. These set up a reason for the goddess to be angry.

Setup

Here are some preliminary items the GM must be familiar with.

Misfortune Tokens: See the Transformation of Crestwold Campaign Guide for more details. The tokens of misfortune gained in this adventure are for Elancil. They have no bearing in this adventure.

SALT Damage: The salt water that is inimical to the PCs in this adventure is from the dreams of the goddess Elancil. Where SALT is noted as the source of damage, it does either Acid or Necrotic, whichever is more effective. It is a watery liquid that has a slight salty smell and flavor, and has crystalline fragments – like salt – in it. Where it is noted to do splash damage, fire damage negates and piercing damage prevents splash effects.

Character Death: Characters cannot actually die in this dream quest. If a character dies, the PC group gains one Token of Misfortune for Elancil in the Crestwold campaign. Any death result, or drop below 1 HP indicates the character experiences the wrath of Elancil in its full fury, scarring them mentally in addition to granting the group misfortune. For each death, they suffer a cumulative -1 on Sanity and Constitution checks while caught in the dream quest. Total Party Kill > This counts as double the misfortune tokens. Skip to the [Waking Up] encounter afterwards.

> Read This To Characters Who Die >

A storm crackles all around you. Thunder shakes the ground and you collapse. A shock wave twists your body and lights fill your eyes. Your back cracks, your neck twists like a giant has corkscrewed your body and pain lances through every nerve, overwhelming you into unconsciousness. A terrifying woman’s voice screams in your ear, “Touch not, lest ye be touched!” You scream in agony as breaths fills your lungs again. Your wounds slowly transform, bleeding subsiding, ripped and sundered flesh tearing, toxins purging. In a few moments, your scream tapers off and death becomes just a memory.

Characters return to play where they died after 3 rounds of intense healing and returning to 50% of their health. Their body slowly knits and repairs itself before their companions eyes. If they died at sea during the storm, they can rejoin the rest of the group after their body washes onto the shore.

Introduction: The Mood Sea of Elancil

Shipboard Experience: Any characters with a navigator, sailor or similar background or Favored Terrain that involves boats (sea, coastal) gains advantage on all checks to move around on a ship.

The adventure picks up right where the PCs are, at night or during a rest period. Characters start off in the dream with the HP they had when it started.

Disturbing Dream

Your dreams and meditations are disturbing. For days you have dreamt of crashing waves and stormy seas. A woman’s voice, distant on the winds, can barely be heard crying a warning not to come closer. It seems nothing more than a scene from a play you once caught out of the corner of your eye. Finally one night, you fall into a deep trance like state, surrounded by a wet sea-fog. You wake up swaying, in a hammock, in pitch dark, with mist all around you. Its covering your skin in cool wetness, almost caressing it.

If any character is damaged, DC 10 Constitution save or D4/2 more SALT damage from the mist. The PCs are in full battle kit, with a single primary weapon and smaller backup weapon if normal. They may have a field kit (medical, satchel with spell book, etc.) if they normally have one, but no adventurers day packs or the like. Really, just ready for combat.

DC 10 Perception check to hear the rush of a brewing gale storm. The party has 2 rounds before it hits.

Finding the Exit: DC 12 Insight (Wisdom) check to figure out where the stairs are. It takes one round to find them, and another round to unbolt the hatch and open it – flooding the area with light.

If they party has not moved out of the hold at the ends of 2 rounds, the gale will hit. In the hold, if it is dark or the character cannot see in absolute darkness, they suffer D6/3 damage as they go tumbling about. Getting out of the hold requires either 3 rounds of DC 15 Dexterity checks to move and find a way out (each failure means the character is thrown for D6/3 damage). Characters may hold on indefinitely until the ship finally breaks up (5 rounds) using a DC 10 Strength check and gripping whatever can be found. If they do so, proceed to the [Cast Upon the Shore] encounter next.

Sailor on the Seas of Terror

The characters must grab rigging and sails, steer the ship.

Controlling the Ship

As you stumble onto the deck, you can see there is no crew. A massive wave is coming at the ship and the winds are following. The mainsail whips in the wind, unsecured, and the rudder flounders with no one in control.

Sail Control: DC 20 Dexterity check; DC 15 if the character has Shipboard Experience. Two characters may attempt this concurrently.

Rudder Control: DC 15 Strength check; DC 12 if the character has Shipboard Experience. Characters grabbing the rudder and failing the check will take D4/2 damage each round from the beam hitting them and tossing them about. Only one character can get on the rudder at a time.

Surviving the Gale Hit

Success > If at least one of these can be prepared when the gale hits, the characters stand a chance. If the characters manage to get the ship under control, a warm southern wind blows through, healing characters of 50% of the damage they have taken in the dream.

Failure > If both are not secured when the gale hits, the ships keels over and breaks fairly fast. Characters may hold on indefinitely until the ship finally breaks up (5 rounds) using a DC 10 Strength check (or suffer D6/3 damage) and gripping whatever can be found. Or, they may attempt to swim using a DC 11 Athletics check for 3 rounds – failure indicates a part of the ship hit them and they drown. If the ship breaks up, the characters die. Proceed to the [Cast Upon the Shore] encounter next.

Familiars and Pets: All die in either case unless the character can get a hold of it without the expense of letting themselves die. If a familiar dies, it cannot be re-summoned while in the dream.

Riding Out The Storm

The gale not only tests your strength, but your sanity as well. The wind is howling, like a screaming banshee, the waves are crashing, and the water covering the ship is freezing cold. You struggle to control the sails and rudder, to keep the boat from going broadside into the storm and ripping apart. This goes on for a seemingly endless amount of time.

The PCs have 3 rounds to get control of the rudder and main sail as per [Controlling the Ship] encounter. At the end of the three rounds, they must have secured both, or the boat capsizes as described in that encounter. If the PCs get control, they must make enough continuing Rudder Control and Sail Control checks to get them near the island.

Rudder Control: DC 12 Strength check; 2 characters can contribute to 10 checks or 5 checks each. There must be at least 6 successes. Failure indicates the outcome of in [Surviving the Gale Hit] in the [Controlling the Ship] encounter
and read the following:

With a sickening sound of wood rending, the rudder strains and breaks. Wood splinters fly everywhere. The ship turns violently, throwing everyone off their feet.

Characters failing to control the rudder, and those within 10’ take D6/3 damage from wood splinters when it breaks. The characters die. Proceed to the [Cast Upon the Shore] encounter next.

Sail Control: DC 10 Strength check; 3 characters can contribute to 12 checks or divided evenly among them. There must be at least 8 successes. Failure indicates the outcome of in [Surviving the Gale Hit] in the [Controlling the Ship] encounter
and read the following:

The ship hoves to the side and the wind twists the ship. The strake groans under the strain. The ship lurches sideways, pulled by poor rigging, throwing everyone off their feet.

The characters die. Proceed to the [Cast Upon the Shore] encounter next.

Characters managing to maintain control of the ship to endure the gale will negate the first Misfortune Token they acquire in this dream trek (one per character).

Enduring the Gale

The rudder lurches but you hold it steady. The ship is moving far faster than it has a right to, powered by waves and wind behind it. The timbers groan and creak endlessly. The sun sets and the sky is dark, though the gale rages on. A huge, bright moon rises in the sky, seemingly so close you could touch it. You have no idea how long you have been fighting this battle, but the fatigue is beyond anything you can imagine. A wall of mist looms ahead and the prow splits it and a warm wave of air hits you. An island hoves into view through the storm.

Character should all make a DC 10 Constitution check. Those failing take D6/3 damage from extended fatigue and exposure.

Rudder Control: DC 10 Strength check (2 checks; 2 characters can attempt at the same time); if the character failed their Constitution check above, it is made with Disadvantage.

Sail Control: DC 10 Strength check (2 checks; 2 characters can attempt at the same time); if the character failed their Constitution check above, it is made with Disadvantage.

Success > If the PCs make the control checks, they sail for another hour with the island in view and the gale dying down. In the end, the ship strikes a rock near the island as they are maneuvering it and the PCs can easily get to shore. A warm wind blows and the characters are healed in full. They flounder in the surf undertow, but persevere.

Failure > If they fail either of them, the mast snaps and the ship keels over while the gale is tossing them about and sucked into the undertow. In such circumstances the PCs must make three DC 9 Athletics check to swim to shore; each failure is 1 damage x char level damage. Familiars and Pets: All die unless the character can get a hold of it without the expense of letting themselves die.

The Dream Island of Shanlehare

The island of Shanlehare is a prison for the enemies of the sea queen who she is punishing my baking them fight for her benefit. It may be an obscure incident, but each creature or band of creatures has thwarted her through her minions in some way and is paying for it now.

Recognizing the Environs: Characters with some navigation, survival or world lore will not recognize the moon, stars and horizon on a DC 6 check or better. It is not the world they are used to – this is evident because nothing is where it is supposed to be.

Resting: The party can get a rest in any time. The mist may be cool, but the breeze is warm. It is a tropical island. After 16 hours of knowing the party has come ashore, the cloud giant Vitorienese will come seeking with the pair of dire wolves, hunting the PCs. When a party resist, have their tracker or scout make a DC 10 Survival check.

  • Simple: A place to rest is found; the party gets a Short Rest and heals 1 HP; the giant tracking them has a normal chance to come across them.
  • Major: A safe place to rest is found (crossed stream, climbed, and hid); as Simple, but the giant tracking them is thrown off and will not find them.
  • Critical: A safe and comfortable rest is found with fresh food and water; as Major but character heal normal for a Short Rest.

Cast Upon the Shore

The waves cast you upon the shore. You are exhausted. For ages it’s all you can do to drag yourself up higher on the beach as the cold waves lap higher with the incoming tide.

DC 6 Constitution checks to keep dragging themselves up. One character who uses a Second Wind or similar ability can pull the rest up, and they all collapse exhausted afterwards. Otherwise, they are too slow and burned by strange kelp that tries to entangle them as the tide comes in. Kelp: D6/3 SALT damage.

It seems like hours. Gulls wheel overhead and sooth you as you cough the last of the cold sea water from your lungs. The sun feels like it has never felt before, you are glad to be alive.

If even one character failed their check/stayed near the water’s edge, it will be bait for the drowned ones to come after them. If all the characters have managed to make their way to the top of the beach, go to the [Taking Stock on the Beach] encounter.

Beach Attack

The drowned come seeking the company of the living again! You are being attacked by blue skinned slime-dripping zombies, covered in the strange kelp you have seen on the beach. They are covered in sharp barnacles and shelled creatures attached to their body.
Zombies – drowned guardians; 1 x party# : Barnacles/muscles cover = +1 AC and +1 damage compared to normal. Body Beyond: -1 Result Shift (normal hit reduced to a miss, major reduced to normal; critical reduced to major); If a non-piercing, non fire source of damage hits a zombie target, the kelp bladders burst and spray D4/2 SALT damage in a 5′ radius.

DC 10 Perception check to notice the gulls are quiet, otherwise the zombies come out of the water with surprise.

After 3 rounds of combat with the zombies, attracted by the noise, a giant crab will come to examine the cause.

Giant Crab; (x 1) : It can use its Reaction to block with the effect of 1 resilience. Once each claw has been used in this way, it cannot be used again until a Long Rest is complete. It has 25 HP.

The giant crab will use Stealth and try and surprise the party. It will only engage in combat if at least 1 zombie is still keeping the party occupied.

Taking Stock on the Beach

You finally get your breath back and take in your surroundings in full. You are on a sandy beach. To one side is a rocky cliff going straight up, with weird deep channels cut into the cliff face going up into scrub and mist. To the other side the beach stretches out what must be a half mile before curving out of sight. All around the island is a ring of drifting mist. The island you seem to be on is sheathed in a cold mist that comes off the sea, meeting a fog that seems to hide a peak on the island. The trees are nearly impenetrable after 10 feet in the treeline. There are many small streams and terrain lines covering the island – the way to the top would be difficult.

Noise: In a weird effect, the channels funnel sound up to the destroyed temple and cloud giant. If the party cuts down trees, one cries out in death fighting a zombie or crab, or any loud noise is made, it triggers a random attack from the cloud giant. A single boulder comes flying down 3 rounds later among the party members.

From the cliff peak far above, you hear a roar of “Beeeee Quiet!” and a loud grunt. Moments later a massive boulder comes down in your midst.

The giant throws one of the few full sized rocks he has at Disadvantage (he cannot see the PCs very well from his perch). After 3 days he will come and retrieve it from the sandy beach where it lies unbroken.

If the party made enough noise to commit the giant to throwing a boulder, after 3 more rounds of exploring the beach, the party will be attacked by kelp from the surf (if they are near enough). If they are not staying away on purpose, each character can make a DC 11 Insight (Wisdom) check. The character who fails by the most (if any) is targeted.

You are stalking around the water’s edge, checking out the sea life and seeing if there are any more threats when one makes itself known! The frothing surf lands a strand of kelp near you that quickly rears up and snaps at you!

Kelp Strand; 1 x party# [The equivalent of awakened shrubs.] : The damage they do is in SALT burns. If a non-piercing, non fire source of damage kills a target kelp/shrub, the kelp bladders burst and spray D4/2 SALT damage in a 5′ radius.

Characters checking the kelp wounds may know how to treat them using coconut based cream, per [Natural Area of Shanlehare].

Finding Safe Cover

There is a clearing leading into the fog shrouded forest. Other have obviously made shelter here – though how long ago it is uncertain. Burnt wood, felled trunks, a rock pit, dead fronds, bones of small animals – its scattered over an area where other animals have obviously come and gone many times as well. You find enough materials at hand to create a small shelter and take stock of your surroundings. The tropical forest is inhabited by strange insects (you can hear their unmistakable buzz), small animals and the island surrounded by ample fish in the sea. There is enough game to live on. A few small streams spill out into the sea along the beach, indicating a supply of fresh water. By the suns unfamiliar position in the sky, you estimate that it is only a few hours after sunrise.
  1. Defeat the cloud giant
  2. Build a boat and escape
  3. Mass suicide
  4. Learn to survive and do not return

Building a Boat

There is plenty of wood, if the group has the skills to build a boat and sail off. It would have to be a crude boat. During the time of building the boat, there is almost no way to hide a boat making camp. After 16 hours the giant and his dire wolves will come looking. The saber tooth cat will stalk and attack a party – trying to drag one into the jungle after 1 day – killed party members wash back up on shore in 8 hours all their gear gone. It will only kill once. After 36 hours, the goblins will have found the camp and will launch a sneak attack to wipe out entire party. After a full 48 hours, the vile mist will find the camp and attack as well. Make a DC 12 relevant skill check.

  • Simple: It takes 3 days.
  • Major: It takes 1 day
  • Critical: It takes 8 hours

Supplies for Leaving: DC 11 Survival check.

  • Fail: Living day to day, one days worth when you leave
  • Simple: Managed to save up a little, 3 days worth.
  • Major: Very successful hunting, saved up a weeks worth.
  • Critical: Two full weeks worth.

The Goodbye Committee

The massive raft-like ship is holding together in the surf as you struggle to get beyond the break water. Just then, you hear blood curdling screams from the tree line and several small figures rush out. The beach becomes full of goblinoid creatures, rushing out into the sun and pitching their spears as the you attempt to paddle away.

Goblins attack as they party is sailing away. The goblins will not enter the water. Round 1 = 3 spears / Round 2 = party# more spears at long range. If any character on the ship is hit, they must make a DC 6 Dexterity check not to let their blood drip into the water. If they do, 1 round later kelp will attack.

Goblin; 2 x party#
Kelp Strand; 1 x party# [The equivalent of awakened shrubs.] : The damage they do is in SALT burns. If a non-piercing, non fire source of damage kills a target kelp/shrub, the kelp bladders burst and spray D4/2 SALT damage in a 5′ radius.

Sailing Away from Shanlehare

You paddle hard and the currents around the island vanish in the distance. New currents take you and you struggle to paddle towards any feature that may hold land – like a cloud cover several miles distant. The winds are silents or gentle, providing little in the way of movement. The low ring of mist that enshrouds the island prevents much from being seen on the horizon, and you strike out to penetrate that curtain and find safe landfall or perhaps a passing ship.

A total of party# x 2 in success results is needed or they ending up after 24 hours floating back to the island.

  • DC 5 Athletics check; it is mostly paddling – first 8 hours
  • DC 10 Athletics check; it is mostly paddling – second 8 hours
  • DC 15 Athletics check; it is mostly paddling – third 8 hours

The party can go three days at sea without much sustenance, then things get bad. Fresh water is especially needed. Once they break the mist barrier it is open ocean ahead.

Attack of the Sea Turtle

The sea is gentle after the curtain of mist is pierced. Floating in one of the moments of no wind, you bask in the sun and lazy waves. For the first time in a long time, you are relaxed. Looking around, you see birds and even the occasional small fish in the clear blue water. In the distance is what appears to be another island, with cloud cover. A grey curtain of rain dumps on the sea between you and it. As it is the only landmark in the area, you strike out for it. The wind is picking up slightly in your favor. The sea water is heavily salted, and very buoyant.
Giant Sea Turtle; (x 1) [As per Giant Sea Horse] : AC: 19 (shell)

The turtle will attack with Stealth from under the boat. The initial attack will require all on the boat to make a DC 10 Dexterity check. This is made with Disadvantage if the turtle succeeded in a Stealth check. The turtle will attack one individual at a time, attempting to kill.

Character must attack from the raft using their Reaction to make a DC 5 Dexterity check, or in the water using their Reaction to make a DC 10 Athletics swim check. This check is made at the beginning of the round. Failure means any subsequent initiative check or attack in the round is made with Disadvantage.

If the characters win the battle against the turtle, it is their last and they can make landfall. In the rainy area, a mist will arise during which they transition to [Waking Up] encounter.

Learn to Survive and Don’t Return

If characters simply try and hunt and survive and live on the island it will trap them. If they stay without trying to leave for longer than a week, in the material world of their body, time will begin the pass – each day they stay in dream a day will pass. They can survive for up to a year before the goddess kicks them out, proceed to the [Waking Up] encounter. Their body will not age, but they cannot be woken up. If they eventually leave the island, it will take a # of hours equal to the days they stayed over the first week to recover physically. All check will be made with Disadvantage during that time. If they stay the entire year, all Misfortune Tokens are negated.

Waking Up

There is a sense you are falling, spinning through the air in an ever turning and twisting motion. Your sanity begins to fray and then you feel a cold, wet, salty mist on your face. You shake your head, and feel solid land under you. Pushing yourself up, you find you are lying on the ground next to where you slept. You are disheveled and sore, but no worse off than when the dreams claimed you. No time seems to have passed. Your gear is in a jumbled heap next to you.

If PCs took items, each one will have to make a DC 10 Sanity save for the PC that is holding on to it. Failure means when they wake up, it is not there.

Notable Characters & Creatures

Vitorienese The Cloud Giant

This once proud figure has really let himself go. His sanity is at a low point. He has been trapped here for a thousand years. He is covered in massive fat rolls. He is weaker, less hearty, and dazed compared to others of his kind.

Cloud Giant; (x 1) Changed Stats = CON 16, STR 23, INT 10 / Hit Points: 124 : Armor Class: 15 (flab and fat give him a greater AC; flab grants 1 resilience that heals after each day). Weapons: large club 2D8/9 (is all he can find). Only a few full sized rocks at the temple – carries 4 x 2D8/9 rocks for throwing when prowling the island.

A character with proficiency in the Nature skill and an Herbalist Kit can make a DC 10 check to extract enough blood untouched to make a few Cloud Giant potions. Simple: 1 / Major: 2 / Critical: 3