Thursday, July 9, 2009

A possible outline for SHIPWRECKED ON THE ISLAND OF DEATH

For my own home games, I don't "write" adventures per se, but I do often have at least a rough outline of what I think is likely to happen. Here's a very rough outline of what I see this potential SHIPWRECKED ON THE ISLAND OF DEATH adventure looking like.

To be honest with you, I'm not quite sure how to fit all of the DINO-PIRATES elements in. A true DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND adventure should always have:

1. Dinosaurs
2. Pirates
3. Ninjas
4. Robots
5. Monkeys

So, I'm going to assume, as grafted on as it may feel, that the PCs have a monkey with them. A little, cute, monkey, albeit one with long teeth and a pirate hat. They also have a robot with them. They don't know what it is, or how it works, but they brought it with them in the hold of their ship. When they get washed up on the ISLAND OF DEATH, this robot gets struck by lightning, falls into the saltwater bay, and comes to life. At the start of the adventure, it's missing. The PCs don't know what happened to it, but assume it's lying a good 50 yards or more underwater just offshore.

Anyways, here's the outline. The outline function on blogger isn't the best, so forgive the formatting:

  • We start en media res after the ship has already crashed on the offshore reef, the PCs have loaded a lifeboat, and made their way to the sandy beach. It's stormy, windy and rainy, and the PCs are the only survivors (that they know of) of an entire small fleet of ships that made up the Yamamiya (no relationship to the ABBA song "Mamma Mia" except that it rhymes) ninja clan. PCs don't necessarily have to be ninjas, of course. A ninja clan has a number of hangers-on and other "civilian" accessories too. Allow the PCs some time to assess the situation, and figure out what to do. Potential ideas are:

  • Explore the jungle a bit (could result in an encounter with wild dinosaurs, saber-tooths, or other big nasty predatory animals.)

  • Head back to the ship for anything you can salvage.

  • Start building a fire or a shelter or something.

  • Climb a coconut tree. They may be hungry, after all.

  • Get drunk.

  • Let them figure out what to do, though, and adjudicate something interesting accordingly.

  • At night, a party of natives who watched their arrival sneak into their makeshift camp and attack. Fight a bunch of natives off. Try not to get kidnapped.

  • It's possible (but hopefully not likely) that your PCs will not follow up on this and attempt to assess the threat of the island as a whole. If they just sit on the beach, now would be a good time for a pirate ship to show up, possibly also blown off course in the same storm that wrecked them, but looking for a place to stash some loot. They can either fight pirates (if they're spotted) or watch them and see where they bury their treasure otherwise. The pirate ship is not seaworthy after traveling through the storm, so taking their ship and getting back to civilization isn't really an option. Yet. Otherwise, you've got a journey through the jungle to find the native village. It shouldn't be hard to find. There's drums beating and bonfires blazing, and all that jazz. Jungle journeys include 1) crossing crocodile infested rivers, 2) giant snakes, bugs, and carnivorous plants, 3) dinosaurs. This is a smallish island. You may want to dispense with the T. rexes and go for smaller dinosaurs. A sneaky flock of Comsognathus, or some other dinosaur that you wouldn't think would be dangerous except that there's a lot of them and they're, well, very sneaky, would be good.

  • Assuming at some point the PCs go in search of the native village that launched the attack, well, it's not just a village. This is a ritual site, a heiau temple built of black volcanic rock, hibiscus bark woven together, and banyan wood. The islanders don't really live on this island per se, they just come here for religious observances. Which include, most prominantly human sacrifice. They're in the middle of sacrificing folks as the PCs approach, as a matter of fact.

  • It's most likely that the PCs and the natives become aware of each other. Handle accordingly. There could be a big battle, a negotiation, a big party as they're all welcomed together, etc. Give the PCs their head and see what they do. Regardless, things start to happen that cause their efforts to spiral out of control. Notably:

  • The robot. Remember that guy? He's turned into a murder machine, and he shows up and starts killing. Yes, we rely on unlikely coincidences in timing to make this thing happen. What of it?

  • An eruption. The natives believe that this is a sign of displeasure because their rituals were interrupted. Be that as it may, you now have to deal with earthquakes and lava flows. Oops. Don't fall in the lava. You'll die, no save.

  • Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes cause all kinds of problems. You've already got the killer robot, probably hostile natives, and how you've got dinosaur stampedes running through the camp. The pirate ship, off-shore (which should have shown up by now regardless of whether or not the PCs waited on the beach to see it) is swamped by turbulent seas caused by the earthquake. So now you've got pirates.

  • How does this all come to a head? Ideally, the PC's are able to survive the islanders, the dinosaurs, the killer robot, the lava and the pirates. They may be able to take the pirates treasure. They should be able to find a navigator either amongst the pirate survivors or the natives that can help them find their way home. They can steal a pirate ship or native outrigger canoe and make their way off the island. I dunno. I'm not thinking too far ahead here.
Anyway, I whipped up that outline in about ten minutes. It's pretty rough, and could use a great deal of polish, but it's at heart a workable outline. Any ideas for improving it? Post 'em!