Damn, I love this module!
Back at Gary Con, my wife Jennifer and I had the opportunity to play Jon Hook's Shadow Under Devil's Reef with the incredible Judge Jeff Goad. The other worldly creepiness of this adventure was so, so good, and I knew that I wanted to run it for my own group at some point. While I never felt rushed during Judge Jeff's four hour event, I knew that there was a lot more to the adventure that you couldn't explore in a short convention setting. Fortunately I had a group that was looking for yet another challenge: our monthly DCC Road Crew Group!
I remember how nervous I was back in June about moving back to the Philly area. Would I be able to continue running Road Crew events, or would I only be able to play online games? How lucky we are to have found the Games Keep, and such terrific players! Our open table now includes seven players, and we're four sessions into something that has transformed from a one-shot into a full-fledged campaign.
Cast of Characters
- Larkin, Elf, played by Shannon
- Glassblower by trade, whose magic is derived through careful use of lenses, crystals, and light.
- Native of the Eastern Forest.
- Owns a prized hen.
- Seeks the Great Pumpkin as a patron
- Turd Fergeson, played by Ryan
- Faithful servant of Amon-Tor, goddess of mysteries.
- Originally from Earth.
- Has possession of an endless suite of one-liners to fit every occasion.
- Marco, Thief, played by Cody
- Born and raised in Black Sand Port.
- Tried to join the Thieves Guild, but was too rebellious.
- Learned several alien alphabets from his former Guildmaster's secret library.
- Steve James, Wizard, played by Will
- Earth native who left home, joined the French Foreign Legion, fell into the DCC Planet, and became a great wizard.
- Father of Steve James II (evil Cult Wizard, RIP) and grandfather of Steve James III (lost teen who wanted to discover his family, RIP)
- Specializes in all-fish magic (Ichthyomancer).
- Tonya, Warrior, played by Robert
- Badass figure skater from Earth.
- Wields a big-ass sword, and not afraid to cut you with it.
- Lars, Dwarf, played by Rob
- Human from Earth who was transformed into a Dwarf after traveling to the DCC Planet.
- Seeks entrance into the CCPR (Card Carrying Punk Rockers) but needs to complete three acts of legendary vandalism.
- Bueno, Cleric, played by Evie
- Gender-shifting villager from Reed who was a simple hireling trying to save some of their friends from the Crimson Flame before gaining Clerical powers.
- Twisted worshipper of the froglike Bobugbubulz.
- Extremely chaotic.
The party left the village of Reed for the biggest little city on the eastern coast: Black Sand Port. After spending a few weeks resting up at Steve James' favorite inn and tavern, the Sleeping Salmon, the team awoke to terrible news. The Golden Sun, a diplomatic vessel from far away Fu-Lamia, had run aground on the cursed Devil's Reef just off of Devil's Horn Island. The ship had been carrying Princess Kaeko, daughter of Lord Takkeh-Luum, and betrothed to a member of Black Sand Port's most wealthy Merchant Lords. With storms on the horizon, no sane search party could leave until the following morning.
Fortunately for the princess, our brave adventurers are not a sane search party!
Steve James had a friend (the Shrimpmistress) with a ship (the Jumbo Shrimp) who could take the party to Devil's Horn Island. Marco forged a document from the city's Burgomaster granting passage, which was easily accepted by Captain Shrimpmistress.
The party "knew" some interesting rumors about the Devil's Horn and Fu-Lamia:
- Sirens live on the island, and the sirens try to cause ships to crash upon the Devil's Reef.
- Fu-Lamian soldiers wield soul stealing magic curved swords.
- Devil's Horn island is completely inhospitable and craggy, and nothing lives there (hmm... doesn't mesh with the Sirens, right?)
- Lord Takkeh-Luum is a vampire who has lived over a thousand years.
- Fu-Lamians eat the children of their enemies.
After outfitting themselves for the excursion, Lars and Steve James needed just a few more items (most notably chum) before leaving port. The pair encountered a couple of tough sailors who questioned why they would be leaving with dangerous weather on the horizon. Steve James tried blasting the two with a sleep spell, but misfired and went into a coma. But Lars was able to produce the forged documents, which got the two out of hot water.
Once everything was prepared, the party set out to sea on the Shrimpmistress's catamaran. After several hours they came across Devil's Horn Island. Circling the rocky landmass, the adventurers found the wreck of the Golden Sun just off the northern coastline of the isle. As they approached they found five survivors floating in the water. Despite sharks in the water, the party saved three of the five Fu-Lamians. One was eaten by sharks, and another was killed when Tonya accidentally hit him too hard with a wooden life-preserver.
The party brought the Jumbo Shrimp up alongside the wreck of the Golden Dawn. Everyone except Lars and Tonya boarded the foreign craft. Marco was first aboard, and the thief started searching the forward deck. At the tip of the bow was a great, wooden, six-armed, statue of a demon-woman. Rather than looking out to the waves, the statue looked upon the deck of the ship. When Marco went to pilfer some of the goods from the dead Fu-Lamians on the deck, the statue leveled one of its arms at Marco. The thief stopped, and the rest of the party started searching the vessel.
There was a lot of great gear on the ship. Gold, treasure, gear, weapons, and lots, lots more. But every time someone went near any of the stuff with intent on taking it, the statue moved in a threatening way. Eventually Marco touched one of the ornate boxes on the ship, and the statue had enough. It resurrected all of the dead Fu-Lamians, turning them into raging, red demon-things. The party had no chance of facing off with twelve of the nasties, so they fled the ship. Marco managed to take a few pieces of treasure, including the enchanted Demon's Claw (a magic +2 Scimitar). But other than that, the party seemed empty handed.
Until Larkin introduced her new friend Wani.
Wani was a Psi-Spider, a telepathic creature that was bound to Princess Kaeko. Larkin discovered Wani hiding in the princess's quarters. It revealed that the princess was not on board the craft, and that she had been taken to the island. It offered to help the party, but it first it needed to feed. Marco introduced the Psi-Spider to one of the Fu-Lamians, and the creature sucked some of the poor screaming soul's intelligence away for lunch.
Eventually the party made landfall on the western edge of Devil's Horn Island. They set out through the dead coral forest, but not before feeling some alien intelligence reach out to them. The weird message first affected the cleric Turn, whose eyes started to bulge out in a bizarre fish-like fashion. As the party explored the island, the message would also affect Tonya, Steve James, and Marco.
Speaking of fish-eyed weirdness, during their trek across Devil's Horn Island the team came across four disgusting fish-men. Covered in scales, spines, and other bizarre aquatic features, the four were on the hunt for "something" or "someone". Quickly, Marco and Tonya hatched a plot to ambush the fish-men. Marco snuck in and backstabbed one of the fishmen, while Tonya charged in brandishing her greatsword, swung at the air, and ran right out of the fight. Fortunately for the party's thief, the rest of the group waded into combat slaying the rest of the fish-men. By the time Tonya turned around, none of the beasties remained.
The next encounter on the island was a great onyx door attached to a massive coral tree. There was no handle or obvious knob on the door, just a pair of large, star shaped dials. Larkin consulted Wani, asking of the door led to the Princess. The Psi-Spider concurred that her bond with the princess was strong, and that she could sense her mistress on the other side of the door. Based on forbidden knowledge gained while studying at the thieves guild, Marco knew the runes on the dials: they depicted the stars "Celaeno" and "Polaris." But when Marco uttered the words, he was overtaken by alien knowledge, and had to struggle to keep hold of his mind.
Thinking that they would need star shaped keys, the party left the door, and continued searching the island.
On the western edge of the island the party discovered a great, thirty-food tall onyx pillar. After a lot of fooling around with the pillar (and the ruby atop the pillar), the party made some very important observations:
- Touching the weird structure caused a loss of intelligence and stamina, but delivered insight on how to use the alien machines on the island, including the onyx door.
- It was next to impossible to steal the giant ruby, and attempting to do so would invoke lightning bolts. One of which nearly killed Steve James.
- No matter how hard you try to ram the obelisk, even if you are a really tough ex-figure skater named Tonya, you can't knock it over.
With the understanding of how to open the door in the coral tree, the party decided to leave the pillar alone, and rest before their next task.
Crap I forgot to take any!
Open Story Points
- What is on the other side of the great, onyx door?
- What kind of alien intelligence caused the party members to grow bulging, fishy eyes, and what is its ultimate goal?
- Does Steve James actually want to become a fish? Because with all this alien stuff and his own spell corruption, the party's ichthyomancer is headed down that path.
- None this game!
That's easy: Shadow Under Devil's Reef Part Deux!