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Domain of the Month

The Nocturnal Sea

Adventure Hooks

 

Darklord: Meredoth
3rd Edition: RL3E / RLPH
Second edition: Domains of Dread
Adventure: Ship of horrors

Graben Island created in 635 (as an Island lost in the mists by then, and as a domain formerly composed of: Graben Island, Todstein, Nebligtode)

The Sea appeared in 750. Graben island is now located in the Nocturnal Sea and its darklord now rules the whole sea.

 

Undead Cabbage

Meredoth's Trap

The players are approached by an old friend (ideally a close one that they trust) at an inn in Darkon (or other realm). This friend of theirs proposes to the players a deal. He knows of the location of a lost ship within the Nocturnal Sea that is said to be the personal ship of a wealthy merchant. On this ship are crates of valuable goods as well as a large cache of gold. The friend offers to split it with them if they aid in excavating it. Little do the players know that their friend had since been turned into one of Meredoth's Lebentod servants.

After a long journey (possibly with some encounters) they find the ship. Inside the hall the players find a fortune. On the ship they easily defeat an army of ordinary skeletons and zombies that look to be the old inhabitants of the ship. After a few more encounters, the players do some research to find that the ship was lost helplessly in the mists, and that everyone died from starvation or plague. The players should discover some typical, Ravenloftesque reason why the Ship is the way it is.

In truth, this ship is an elaborate Mirage Arcana spell devised by Meredoth to collect more subjects for his experimentations. Scrying from afar, Meredoth then begins to toy with the players. He shows them illusions of family members and loved ones being torn to shreds by zombies. The players begin to see themselves in twisted and corrupted forms (if your players know about Power Checks, you might make them think they've failed a couple). Meredoth tests to see just how far he can push these new test subjects before they reach insanity.

Eventually, Lebentod on the ship capture the players, in hopes to bring them to Meredoth himself for 'hands on experimentation'.

 

Irving the Meek

Heart of Ice

Late one night as the PCs are travelling the coast, they see a flash of blue over the moon-lit sea. When the PCs investigate, they find a young girl, clasping a chalice to her hands, entombed in a black of solid ice. No heat the PCs can muster can melt this ice... and a violent storm looms on the horizon. The only shelter to be found is a half-collapsed farmhouse a half-mile from here. After the short, violent storm passes, a chill mist clings to the ocean... and a horde of Meredoth's zombies and skeletons come climbing from the depths of the sea, their creator's name on their bloated lips. A ghostly knight of Meredoth leads this horde as they attempt to retrieve the maiden in the ice. After a long, hard-fought battle that takes the PCs to the shoreline to confront the ghostly knight, the PCs return to the ice tomb to find it smashed to pieces, and the maiden vanished. Who was she, why did Meridoth want her, and where is she now? The next adventure reveals more...

 

ScS of the Fraternity

Here's one from an old QtR article of mine:

The taverns and salons of the Eastern Coast are abuzz with rumours of the latest pirate menace; the demonic Captain Teach.

A privateer gone rogue, Captain Teach terrorizes the coast of the Core. He has raided countless vessels and even sacked the docks of Egertus. A terrible figure to behold, Teach is a massive man distinguished by a jet black beard. In battle he is said to wear burning slow matches underneath his hat so as to wreath his head in demonic smoke. Some whisper that he is in fact a man possessed, becoming more like a true devil with each passing year.

The rumors are no exaggeration - Teach is being transpossessed by a true fiend. Soon, he will be damned completly and a terrible demon will be unleashed upon the sea. Until then, Teach is dedicated to slaughter.

 

Drinnik Shoehorn

The party arrive in the Vaasan coastal village of Inglecrook, investigating the kidnapping of a friend. When they arrive, the residents are all hostile, refusing to speak to the party. Investigating the village, they come across a cult who worships a sentient reaver.

The reaver received its intelligence after chasing prey into the ruins of Shay-Lot. After touching a strange stone, the creature received the powers of a Sor5. The reaver has used the powers of a ring of dominate to coerce a sea-spawn into infecting all the villagers.

The PCs must confront both the reaver and the sea-spawn to save their friend, who is to be a sacrifice to the sea creatures.

Loosely based on the Shadow Over Innsmouth.

 

David of the FoS

  • While traveling by boat the Mists rise up and the wind dies. Stranded the party must cope with limited food and water and increasing claustrophobia. How long can the heroes and the ship survive with no outside contact and the fog-like whiteness on all sides?
    Things only become worse when one of the crew turns up dead. Was it another crewmember? Another passenger? A fellow party member gone mad? Is it something from the water? Or has someone -or something- stowed aboard the boat
  • Though the thick Mists a new island is spotted floating in the Sea. The party (presumably on a boat because why else would they be on the sea?) stops for supplies. Fresh water and fruit are always needed on journeys and the crew is anxious to stretch their land legs. However, things are not well on this new island, the people act strangely. They are friendly enough, willing to share their ample supplies, but something is odd about their behavior.
    Perhaps they only sleep during the day. Perhaps they are never seen to eat or drink themselves. Perhaps they have few emotions. Perhaps there are no children or elderly on the island. But something is odd.
    Is it there way? Is this how they have adapted to some outside threat or are they themselves the threat? What happens if the crew or party begins to demonstrate the same habits?
  • Pirates! A small band that has moved from the typical corsair infested waters of the Sea of Sorrows to strike at fresh targets. The heroes might be hired to defend coastal villages or sent to hunt them down. Or perhaps they are simply encountered and conflict erupts.
    But what if, either shortly after the pirates (or when they are first encountered) the boat is found adrift. Has the entire crew been slaughtered? Or has ever man-Jack of them vanished into the Mists? Or is it a trap? Either way it is tempting target as their plunder must still fill the hold.
  • The party is hired by a woman whose brother/husband/fiancťe/son has gone missing on the waves. He went out sailing and fishing for an afternoon and never returned. The seas were calm and the skies clear so it is a mystery where he went. No wreckage has washed up on the shore.
    Did he spring a leak or run aground? Or did something grab him from below the waves?
  • A man washes ashore wearing only rags. He claims to have no idea who he is or how he ended up on the Sea. But for some inexplicable reason he has an intense phobia and aversion to _____. Is he telling the truth or is there something he is not sharing? Can he be trusted? And what happens when his past catches up to him?
 

Cure

The Groom of the Sea

Seafarers are a suspicious lot and those of Arbora are not an exception. They know well that the Nocturnal Sea is a fickle mistress, caressing one day, killing the next. To divert her fell attentions, every year they kidnap a youth possessed of great beauty, array him in fine garments, put a coral ring upon his finger, and wed him to the sea in holy matrimony the night of summer's first new moon. Much stock is put in this rite for the groom is always seen to go willingly and the sea is invariably calm, as though the bride were awaiting her lover's coming. The rite is performed by an ancient ship's chaplain. The few sailors who have accompanied him, rowing him out of sight of land, whisper variously of the sea reaching up with taloned hands, webbed-fingers, tentacles, or even black mists to claim her prize. Of course these men usually imbibe not a little rum before setting off, so who can say what is truly to be seen.

 

Bluebomber4evr wrote:

The FoS report description of Shay-Lot is contradictory to that of CotN: Werebeasts where it is described as a sealed-up city.

Rotipher answered:

The "city" that the CotN:WB wereray found wasn't truly the city of Shay-Lot, just an old abandoned outpost of the real city. Hilde Borganov is many things, but she's no trained archeologist: her belief that she'd found the heart of a lost civilization, where the former inhabitants lay slumbering beneath their sealed-up temple, was simply wrong.

There were plenty of old settlements from before the submerging of Xalot (river ports, agricultural communities, etc) that no longer had a purpose after it sank, so had to be abandoned. The transformed population migrated to areas where underwater resources were now available to sustain them. Ironically, if Hilde hadn't been so obsessed with digging out the vacated ruins, she might've explored the Nocturnal Sea's depths more widely and discovered where the Xalot had actually gone!

Granted, I suppose there could be something else down there in Hilde's ruins, that even the Xalot were afraid of, and tried to seal away. Gotta wonder what it is she'll really dig up....

 

These are various comments and author notes on the FoS report about the interludes (that covered generic Nocturnal Sea material):

Archedius

I thought the interludes were very well done and were just the thing to really give life to the sea. I especially liked the map showing the temperature gradients (very useful for a DM).

Sea trade definately has to be very profitable if sailors are willing to put up with the horrendous perils.

cure

As a contributor to the first interlude, I am perhaps not ideally suited to fairly comment on contributions.

I would say, in a different respect, that the tiny size of the sea that we inherited is a problem and one that I somewhat regret was not, as Mangrum suggested, fixed by resizing it (which would have been a far less controversial change than resizing the core and its populations). That said, a more than adequate solution was offered in terms of navigational rules together with the permanent cloud cover. Getting lost and hence delayed on this sea should be a very easy thing to do with the consequence that voyages are, on average, not nearly as quick as they would seem on paper. Arguably the the DC's could be increased further. I have not sat down and figured out what would be the average time of voyage from place to place, but longer the better as that helps justify larger ships and fosters an atmosphere of isolation. Additionally, better captains show their worth by taking less time and not getting stuck in the Mists.

JoŽl of the FoS : The mechanics of getting lost at sea were designed by me. I wanted two things Ė the first was that indeed distance seemed longer than just the suggested 20-25 miles an inch. Without increasing canon, this mechanism made trips hazardous, unreliable and long.

Expect the same thing in the Sea of Sorrows, I guess. But it should be different.

Also to introduce a simple mechanism to help DMs send their players in the mist, mainly to islands in the mists. So it means a DM having their players navigating on the NS should always have a contingency plan for an island in the mist planned adventure or fun side trek.

The 'movable reefs' are, I suppose, partly an attempt to address the same problem. Do I presume correctly that they are in truth the denizens of the deep swimming up at night to claim ships? Or are they entirely more Dagonesque (for the Lovecraft fans among us)?

JoŽl: Left vague by us as a DM tool, but indeed my own view is that Those from Below can cause hazards wildly interpreted by fearful sailors (well, those sailors that do not find themselves Below).

I did appreciate the attention to detail in the integration of my contribution, with the bone ooze making something of a cameo appearance later on the beaches of Toldstein which are described as being covered with sharp bone fragments.

I also learned that there is such a thing as departments of cartography. My first instinct was to suspect that a geography department would have been more than adequate. A little research yielded a 10th century school of cartography in Baghdad, so it certainly fits.

JoŽl: Liffe seemed one of the best (the only) place in the seas to do such a thing. You can of course expect this departmentís result to be sketchy at best outside the core.

The addition of Rookhausen was nicely done. Although a link to more info on it would have been useful (or did I miss it?).

JoŽl: You are right that it wasnít included in the Further Reading part, p 395. My mistake as I was the one compiling these. Hereís the WW link - http://www.swordsorcery.com/Rookhausen/Rookhausenfactsheet.html

There was a debate as to how we would (and if we should) incorporate these. I first wrote the acidic part in the main Interlude 2 text, but Sharon came with the cool DP which you can read in the box p 127. We kept both.

Is the slandered woman S by the way?

JoŽl: Yes, I wanted to give a FoS wink to the events S tell in the Darkon Gaz i.e. of her meeting with the FoS and their refusal to take her.

cure

Currents, as far as I can see, were not really treated. This seems odd, especially as water temperature was. I am not insisting that the two be related as in the real world, but each is of importance to sailors and currents perhaps more so.

An overview of tides might also have been added. Treating them individually where they actually occur does make some sense, but it leaves one searching here and there and trying to compare and contrast.

JoŽl of the FoS : That sea is very strange (high temperature to very cold one in just a couple hundred miles), so we could suspect strong temperature contrast effects in the water. But could these effects be mainly the storms? Can it be that there are no main currents? Other then the one created by DLs there (Monette, Easan and Virundus being the first one I would think of)?

Ultimately the question is how credible the Dark Powers wish their world to be. Given the existence of Vechor one may wonder . . . .

Hurricanes at least should sweep from the warm ocean to the cold, so out of the northeast.

Currents, especially unpredictable currents, would have the merit of increasing the DC for arriving where one wants.

They would also be important to those living below. Why swim 100 miles on one's own steam when rising to the correct level would allow one to catch a current?

Why the ocean should be warm in one place, given the general absence of direct sunlight, is of course part of the problem. Extensive subsea volcanism might be the answer. And it would connect well with Vechor's earthquakes and related mutable characteristics. Add some ash slicks, pumice-burgs, or other traces of it on the surface and it would work.

So water warmed by the volcanoes on the bottom near Vechor would rise, drawing in cold water from the deeps to the south to replace it, and this in turn pulling warm water on the surface from the north towards the south which would cool as it goes. Periods of low and of high volcanism would modify the strength and even the existence of the current.

 

To contribute to the Domain of the Month, post on the forum.

Send your adventure hooks to Joel@fraternityofshadows.com

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