"Ch-ch-ch-ch changes! Turn and face the strain"
- Changes, David Bowie
SPOILERS abound for those who are playing in my D&D Christmas adventure. This means you!
I'm on my second week of working on converting the AD&D adventure Evil Tide, by Bruce R. Cordell. As most people have stated numerous times, going from old modules to D&DNext playtesting is quite simple. All you really have to do is grab the monsters and you're ready to go.
In the case of Evil Tide, most of the monsters in the current bestiary aren't in the adventure. This is readily apparent with the sahuagin, but can easily be fixed by using lizardfolk and adjusting their weapons. My players will never know. For sharks, I'm using crocodiles. For the giant octopus, I'm going to use the roper. Dungeons and Dragons has always been a game about imagination, and building this conversion will be no different. I think the only monster that I've kept the same is the werewolf.
As a Dungeon Master though, I'm always about looking into the greater depth of the story that I'm telling. In the case of Evil Tide, this means the island the adventure takes place on. In the adventure, the island is called Angler Isle. I still don't have a name for my campaign world's isle, but I do know some more background for it.
The island will be territory that is claimed by the coastal city of Genkar (the city that my campaign has been stationed around). Looking at the map provided in the adventure, there is a wide area of plains on the island away from the city. To me, this seems like a natural place to raise horses. The horses can then be transported to Genkar and used in the army.
In summary, Angler Isle is a combination of a fishing village on the coast, and horselands farther inland. This also allows me to use a lot of my Rohan soldiers as men at arms in the coastal cities that fight to protect the docks against the sahuagin. My miniatures on hand kind of helped me shape the island, but that's always a solid way of world building. Look at what you have, and then build on that and see what you can come up with.
While some players play theater of mind, I prefer to have maps and miniatures. This method is greatly rewarding, yet is also creates a lot of issues with trying to plan on published adventures. I was originally trying to re-create the maps and locations square by square, but eventually gave up on that once I realized it would become way too complicated. Now, I'm mostly looking to get the correct size/feel and just go from there.
I'm a big fan of how the island's docks turned out, which is where a large host of sahuagin attack at the beginning of the story. I have no PC miniatures in the picture, but I put the city militia in, since they are present. I also plan on purchasing the Paizo ships battlemat, so I can lay that map at the end of the docks so my players can fight the sahuagin that board their ship while the militia deals with the ones on the docks/beachfront.
The stairs (from the Deserts of Athas Dungeon Tiles) are sandstone, which seems like it would be able to be found on a island by a beachfront. The docks, beach/water tiles, and the two buildings in the background are all from the Deserts of Athas set (I have two sets). The city street (raised box) is the bottom half of the Essentials: The Dungeon dungeon tiles set. All in all, I'm extremely happy with this scene, and the players haven't even see it/played yet! This is the kind of preparation I try and do for my players.
I still have to map the inn, but that will be pretty easy, as I own two sets of Harrowing Halls. I plan on using the Dungeon tiles for various buildlings/offices of NPC's the group meets with.
At this point, I'm still working on the Upper Caves. I'm pretty sure I will just be using a wet erase battle map and drawing the various rooms. For the Drowned Caverns, I've grabbed a lot of the rubble strewn tiles and the tiles with bones and pillars in the Cathedrals of Chaos tile set. There's also a lot of diagonal pieces that create interesting hallways/tunnels.
I don't own any miniatures for giant sharks (or a giant octopus for that matter), but I had some small plastic animals from when I was a lot younger and some extra large bases. I just had to set the toy on the base and I had my giant shark to patrol the Drowned Caverns!
Lastly, I had to work on the room where the characters confront the sahuagin baron, K'thstraam. I used a lot of the large 8 square by 8 square tiles and tried to put as many pillars as I could within. This room is full of boiling water, and the sahuagin has created a tunnel made of whale intestine to protect himself. I laid down all the tiles, then put a plastic sheet over the tiles to keep them in place. I then drew with a red wet erase marker on them to show where the whale gut is.
At this point, I'm kind of torn. As I drew the whale gut, I asked myself "how is K'thstraam supposed to move past the PC's when he wants to escape?". It wasn't until I started typing this up that I realized the whale gut tunnel is supposed to be 10 to 15 feet in diameter. This would allow players to be able to swim above/below if they really needed to.
However, I'm not really sure I want to have to try and map three dimensions, especially since I'm involving brand new D&D players in this game. I think it might be slightly easier to just make the whale gut tunnel three squares wide at certain points. Thoughts on this would be appreciated.
The vortex in the background of the picture is the water elemental that K'thstraam has bound to his magical trident, Surge. I can't decide if the players should have to fight the elemental or not, but as I've read more into the background of how the elemental helps channel cold water in the tunnel, I don't think I need to. I think I should just place it somewhere at the beginning of the tunnel and maybe scare the players.
Sahuagin can also use Elasmobranchuvor (also called Chuvor) which gives them bonuses in battle. I'm thinking that this will just give them advantage on attacks for one round. Not sure how much I want to modify their AC with it.
I feel really confident in this playtest. I have a couple issues I'm still working on, but for the most part, it's coming together really well. I'm also really happy to finally own a lot of sahuagin minis (I'll have about 16 when they all arrive) as sahuagin have been one of my favorite monsters, mostly since my friend P@'s character Niz always seem to lead me back to the sea/islands. I'm also working on a tome of lore about sahuagin that the characters can get from Laurish Samprey, an NPC expert on seas and oceans. I have the type of players that will be excited to receive this in game, and I feel like it will give everybody a better understanding of what they're up against.
In summary, here are my current issues.
- Underwater combat? Keep it 2D, or try and have 3D?
- A miniature/item to use for the Stone Which Abides. I need something green.
- A decent way of mapping the Upper Caves. I don't seem to have any good poster maps.
As always, be sure to leave comments below and follow me on Twitter @artificeralf