Broken Atoll is a short Porphyra encounter for four 7th level PCs. This encounter is designed to break the monotony of seafaring, and to give the heroes a chance to stretch their legs instead of zooming from isle to isle. This encounter takes place on a small strip of coral coastline, with a wrecked ship. This area can be found anywhere in the waters of the Seven Principalities. About 40 miles offshore stands an abandoned lighthouse.
Encounter Background: The Big-eyed Jester Squid ran aground nearly 60 years ago during the brutal rule of Asterion. Captained by the fearless Whitlock ‘The Handsome’ Gabranth, goods were smuggled into the isles for the people, while other goods as well as people were smuggled out. Turning a tidy profit, the pirate sailed off one day from Mael, never to return. Dozens of bard tales make mention of his final voyage, some having him lost at sea, others say he was blown off course, and others still say he was a coward who had finally had enough of the pirate’s life. Little did those storytellers know that the truth was just a few hundred leagues away.
Encounter Synopsis/Encounter Hook: Your adventurers should want to explore things, it’s kind of their thing. You can also promise them gold, jewels, pirate booty, or the potential for food and water, or appeal to their hero complexes and suggest the potential of damsels in distress or bachelors in a bind. This will lead to the exploration of the coral reef, and the various levels of the ship.
Beginning the Encounter: The encounter begins as soon as the PCs disembark for the shipwreck, either by use of a dingy or magic. While it is possible for the PCs ship to gam with the shipwreck, it is highly inadvisable as the atoll is treacherous. It takes two DC25 Sailing checks to manage to meet The Bigeyed Jester Squid and not get stuck, and an additional two to move away.
Landfall: The atoll is thin spanning less than 100 feet in most places. The water within the atoll is clear and sparkling and happens to be teeming with life.
There are two Advanced Crab Swarms present on the atoll.
Crab Swarm ( Advanced ) [CR 5; XP 1600]
N Diminutive vermin (aquatic, swarm)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2
AC 22, touch 18, flat-footed 18 (+4 Dex, +4 natural, +4 size)
hp 52 (7d8+21)
Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +4;
Immune mind-affecting effects, swarm traits, weapon damage;
Speed 30 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee swarm (2d6)
Space 10 ft.Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks distraction (W-DC 16)
Str 5, Dex 18, Con 17, Int -, Wis 14, Cha 6;
Base Atk 5; CMB 2; CMD 4
Skills Swim +12; Racial Modifiers uses Dex to modify Swim
The inside of the atoll contains Oyster’ Beds. Countless oysters cover the broad reef here, starting at about 20 feet below the water, clearly the food source for all the crabs.
Characters knowledgeable about oysters [DC 15 Kwoledge (nature) or Profession (sailor)] know they can dive for pearls here.
Creatures: The oyster beds here attract a lot of crabs, every day there is a 50% chance of a new advanced crab swarm forming, up to a maximum of three.
Treasure: Every day a single PC (or NPC hireling) may devote 8 hours to diving to recover 1d4+1 pearls, with a 1% chance that one of them is a black pearl. (Normal pearls are worth 75gp, but a black pearl is worth 500gp).
Main Deck: To get into the ship the PCs are going to have to either climb to the main deck, or find their own way in. A DC15 acrobatics check will allow the PCs to climb the destroyed masts.
The deck of the ship, once meticulously cared for, no longer shone in the sunlight. It was covered in seaweed, barnacles, and other life the sea slowly clawing the ships carcass into the water. All three masts lay broken. A single ladder leads down into the holds of the ship.
As each PC descends the ladder to the Gun Deck roll a D20. On a roll of 1-5 the rungs break and the PC must make a DC 20 Reflex save or fall. Each PC beneath the falling playing must roll a DC 15 Reflex save or be knocked off as well. Three PCs may be on the ladder at any one time. On a roll of 6-10 the PC must make a DC 15 climb check or fall. On a roll of 11 or higher the PC descends without incident. Typical fall damage from one deck to another is 1d6.
Gun Deck: This long corridor has several rusted cannons, as well as various barrels mostly labeled as gunpowder, water, rations, or some other supply. Muffled sounds of movement can be heard coming from below in the cargo holds. Two ladders descend into the darkness below, a large ornate door stands Fore, and a small set of stairs lead into another chamber Aft.
A Large Water Elemental (CR 5) is hiding in one of the barrels, alerted to the presence of the PCs (unless they’ve stealthed the entire way onto the ship). It is bound by the Cursed Kanseeran below and will fight to the death.
Crew Quarters: This chamber is found at the Stern of the ship. It is a large room filled with rotten rope dangling from the ceiling, decayed chests, and rotten food. Several decayed birds scatter the room, a DC 17 Knowledge Nature check reveals them to be the broken bodies of several cormorants.
If the time is taken to thoroughly search the area 100 gold pieces of assorted jewelry is found, as well as a magical crystal, and a short sword +1.
Cursed Item: Albatross Ioun Stone
Aura moderate abjuration; CL 12th
Slot none; Price: 10,000 gp; Weight — .
This stone looks like an amber spindle Ioun stone but in addition to granting you a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws, it has other effects.
After equipping this Ioun stone over the course of 1d3 days it changes the wearer’s type to undead, granting the typical responses to positive and negative energy. Additionally, after the transformation is complete an additional +1 resistance bonus is granted but the wearer is affected by a geas spell. Each day the Mariner must tell the tale of the cursed gem to someone who willingly listens and has never heard it before or the negative effects of the geas will take place. This effect does not end once the story is told.
Once the curse of the Albatross Ioun is removed all effects immediately end.
Craft Wondrous Item, resistance, curse, creator must be 12th level; Cost 5,000 gp
The item can only be removed with a Remove Curse spell.
I hope you’ve enjoyed part one of the Broken Atoll. Next week we’ll look at the monsters who are already looting the holds and learn the fate of Ol’ Captain Gabranth. Until then,