Vanthus Vanderboren is the son of Verrick and Larissa Vanderboren, and the older brother of Lavinia. He is ruthless and greedy, seeking to control Calinmport’s sea trade. He was fundamental in forming the fledgling criminal organization known as “The Lotus Flowers.” He has been plotting and scheming for quite some time, slowly gaining more and more control of the day to day business in Farshore, his family’s trading post on the Isle of Albion.
Vanthus set his plan into motion with the murder of his parents. He hired Soller Vark to assassinate them, making the murder look like a common mugging in a back alley. With his parents dead, he inherited half of the Vanderboren holdings. The other half went to his younger sister, Lavinia. Vanthus hired the Lotus Flowers to deal with Lavinia, as well. Her ship, the Blue Nixie, was sabotaged with crates of Alchemist Fire which were rigged to explode as she set sail in the Calimport Bay. With her gone, all assests of the Vanderboren estate fell to Vanthus.
Vanthus is now focused on bolstering the resources of Farshore. He has the business of many pirate crews and the small colony has blossomed. It is perched on the edge of the known world, the last stop before the endless expanse of the Isle of Dread. It is a hub of trade, a bastion of civilization in a realm haunted by piracy, disease, violent weather, and monsters.
His family vault continues to fill and soon he will have enough resources to move on to the next step of his plan. For now, he bides his time, praying to Demogorgon for wisdom and inspiration.
Many years ago, Maztica princes sailed to the Isle and claimed it as their own. They cleared vast stretches of the jungle to settle the area. The land was fertile and bounteous, perfect for farming. The settlers founded a large city on the Central Plateau naming it Thanaclan. For 300 years, the people of the Isle prospered.
Then came the Savage Tide.
Myth talks of a terrible earthquake, of a time when the earth opened and lit the skies on fire. A time when the god’s wrath cast down their ancestors from the lofty peaks. After that faithful day, the Thanclan Empire was no more. All that remained were ruins of a once great- city and a scattering of tribes destined to endure disease, famine, and monstrous predators. The people proudly point to the fact that they have survived, despite the trials there gods have placed before them. Their ancestors must have angered them greatly indeed and as a result, the people of the Seven Villages regard the ancient ruins, particularly the central plateau of the isle, as taboo. It is unwise to tread upon ground cursed by the gods. And so the Great Wall was built.
This is the Myth of the Isle of Dread.
The truth of what brought down the ancient empire is much different. In the weeks before the fall, their civilization was at the height of its glory. Its people had settled a wild frontier and constructed an incredible city atop the central plateau. This was Thanaclan. And yet the people of Thanaclan grew complacent, even decadent. When a new threat arose from the flooded tunnels below their isle, they were ill prepared to defend themselves.
The people did not realize that the Isle was inhabitated by native creatures known as Kopru, a degenerate race of heat-loving amphibians. As the Olman finished construction of a great temple to honor their gods, the koprus of the islands depths took action. Their prayers to the Prince of Demons were answered with a vile plot. For four decades, the koprus toiled in their subterranean lairs, cultivating and nurturing the largest black pearl the world had ever seen. Birthed from a fiendish giant oyster and poisoned with malign magic and liquid madness harvested from the ruined aboleth city, the koprus placed this first shadow pearl where the people of Thanaclan would find it.
Before long the irresistible beauty of the shadow pearl was ensconced within the great temple, and its fell influence began to surface. The religious leaders of Thanaclan grew wrathful and cruel, and powerful storms began to lash the island. At the height of a great typhoon, one of Thanaclans leaders woke from his fugue and realized what evil had come to Thanaclan.
He came to the chamber of the Great One, where the shadow pearl was kept on display, and smashed it to fragments to break its curse forever. Yet this act only sealed the empire’s doom. As the pearl cracked, it unleashed the first and greatest savage tide. Not only did the tide transform many of Thanaclans citizens, it also tore holes in reality between the Prime, Elemental Plane of Water, and the Abyss.
Legions of monsters assaulted the empire. The land itself rebelled. Earthquakes shook the isle, volcanoes exploded, and under the streets of Thanaclan burst massive geysers that brought scalding death. Many perished in that first night, and in a matter of months the kingdom of Thanaclan had all but vanished from the world, replaced by a prehistoric land destined to become the Isle of Dread.
N did some expermimenting with the ship, learning how to effectively operate the Spelljamming helm.
Characters did some research using logbooks. Very little was known about the Isle of Dread, also called Albion. The party knows that they are on the Elmental Plane of Water. One of the few actual islands on the plane is the Isle of Dread. The island is connected to the Prime Material Plane by means of a regular storm that sweeps over the island.
The characters awoke to find that Kua-Toa were attacking the camp again. Several members of the party were captured, and being kidnapped by the fishmen. Half of the party engaged directly, killing some of the fishmen and tracking them to the cave entrance that had been previously discovered. However, friendly fire from the mortar on the ship inflicted heavy damage on Matrim, Ragnir, and Daehir. The decision was made by the captain to withdraw and return to the camp to pursue the Kuo-Toa in the advantage of dayloght to rescue Arlan, Damoolah, V, and the other captured crewmen. Unknown to the party, the Kuo-Toans were kidnapping the crewmen to sell to a colony of nearby Drow.
In the Forgotten Realms campaign setting Kuo-Toans maintain friendly relations with Drow, their Underdark neighbours. Blibdoolpoolp is the focus of the kuo-toans’ lives, and even has her own monstrous, deformed kuo-toa breed—the giant kuo-toa leviathan. They have total hatred for the Sahuagin, another aquatic race.
During the Kou-Toa attack, a misplaced shot from the mortar sent a flamming cannonball into the treehouse fort, setting it ablaze and in the end destroying it. Two days worth of food and drink was lost in the fire.
Also unknown to the party, The Three (Mindflayers) observed the situation as they had been through the use of Arcane Eye spells. The Three discussed what they might logically do in this situation.
The surviving members of the crew recovered with a short time of rest, wakking in the wee hours of the morning on 28 Ches 1491 to find that Conrad the Priest had returned to the camp with three magical box wagons and a small unit of 10 fighting men. Conrad interacted with the crew, managing to talk about the Vanderboren Colony at lot and dropping some arrogant threats towards the crew. Conrad did complete a trade allowing the crew to obtain a scroll of Contact Other Plane.
The party used the scroll to contact Captain Solomon Neegan, asking him questions to discover that he planned to arrive in 24 hours. However, his answers hinted that he might be in distress and in need of rescue. The party wisely spent the next day making plans to prepare as best they could in a known unknown situation.
At this time, unknown to the party, the captured crewmen in the oily cluthches of the Kuo-Toas were being transported to a nearby Drow outpost. Finding themselves now in the clutches of Drow slavers of House Mizzrym, they were subject to mistreatement and hard labor. The prisoners are given cruel or pointless tasks to occupy them, and for the dark elves amusement, including coiling and uncoiling ropes, feeding and care of giant spiders, cleaning and polishing of harnesses and saddles, organizing supplies, and stacking crates of mushrooms. The prisoners learn quickly that the Drow are waiting for a group of Drow to arrived through magical means from Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, to collect slaves and supplies for transport back to the Underdark city.
Back in camp, the party plotted and planned. Finally on 28 Ches 1491, the Lucille arrived along with two other ships. They unfurled their colors, revealing the flags of the Fire Giant known as Maagerra Sutur. Unknown to the party, Sutur is working with the small folk (Smee and the Sea Dogs) under the direction of Duke Zalto in the hopes of discovering some relics on the Isle of Dread.
It became obvious very quickly that dynamics had changed aboard the Lucille. Smee seemed to be in charge now, and Solomon was paraded to the front of the ship in clear view as a prisoner. Two Sea Dogs had him manacled and held pistols ready at his head. Smee ordered landing crafts to disembark, sending four cockboats with 4 Sea Dogs each towards the beach. All the Sea Dogs were armed to the teeth, each carrying either longguns or a brace of pistols. Smee had a keen eyes (“20” on check) and saw the party laying in wait among the trees on the East side of the beach. Surmising that they intended ill towards his new crew, Smee ordered “No Quarter.” The Sea Dogs started to shout “Sails Ho!” a clear sign that they intended to engage the party as enemies.
Ragnir, Machavelli, and N remained on the ship while everyone else was on the beach. The Sea Dogs landed on the beach, and one Sea Dog ordered the party out of the woods. He demanded that they lay down weapons and line up on the far side of the beach away from their arms.
Matrim wisely tried to reason with these demands, but before he could even finish his statement, the Sea Dog leader fired a shot from his pistol, missing barely. And so the fight was on. The party did well dispatching most of the first wave of pirates, dropping Sea Dogs. However, Daehir went down due to hails of pistol fire.
Artillery fire from Boaty McBoatface landed crippling hits on the one Fire Giant ship. As it began to take on water, Captain Sutur ordered his men to abandon ship and attack the party on the beach. Although Surtur had intended not to engage the small folk unless needed, he decided that he needed to defend his remaining ship. As the Fire Giants charged the beach, Surtur joined them, wielding his huge flaming sword. He issued a parley, offering to allow the small folk pirates to surrender rather than being killed. The party did not heed the words of the Fire Giant pirate, likely assuming he was lying. However, Surtur was willing to negotiate the surrender if possible so that he might bring these extra small folk to the cause of Zalto. Instead, the party kept fighting. Surtur shouted “unleash Hell!” and the Fire Giants did exactly that. Without moments, all the party on the beach were overwhelmed, lying bleeding and unconscious on the shore.
Meanwhile on the ship, one of the Fire Giant spellcasters had not only used Quench Magic to disable the spelljamming helm, but also had cast a Mass Suggestion spell to convince N, Machavelli, and Ragnir to surrender rather than throwing their lives away needlessly. Although Smee wanted the party murdered, he had to follow fearfully what Captain Sutur said when another parley of surrender was issued by the huge Fire Giant pirate.
The surviving crew was loaded on to the Fire Giant ship, and rendered unconscious after being slapped into chains. Although Smee argued with Sutur that the party should be executed for treachery and treason, Sutur stated that the party would be sold to the local Drow slavers operating on the Southern section of Albion. Sutur hoped that this offering of slaves might yield some hints about locations of local relics for Zalto.
The party awoke to find themselves in the slave pen with their previously captured friends and a few other slaves.
We recently started playing a swashbuckling pirate themed campaign set in Forgotten Realms called “Really Bad Eggs.” Since I enjoy using random charts to hand out treasure, I created two different downloadable charts that you can add to your collection if you like.
Here’s an example of one of the charts:
LOOT THE BODY d6
My DM Toolbox Page
Whitchthorn was the ruler of all the Fey living in Kryptgarden. When he was a prince, he lived with his spouse, the dryad Ishaldra, who balanced his evil inclination with her good nature.
The Green Dragon Mask is recovered from the lair of Claugiyliamatar in Kryptgarden Forest. Old Gnawbones himself is injured while blows were struck against Thay, the Cult of the Dragon, and Zartruss hobgoblin clan.
Claugiyliamatar near the realm of Whitchthorn, an Unseelie Lord. His presence corrupts Ishaldra, the dryad spouse of Whitchthorn and Ishaldra’s treant bodyguard. Whitchthorn, an archfey and now fey king, unleashes his evil against the dragon, but Old Gnawbones is too powerful.
Ultimately, an adventuring party of Harpers hired to defeat Claugiyliamatar gains an audience with the fey king and Whitchthorn agrees to aid them to defeat Old Gnawbones, but only if the adventurers make a pact with him.
“To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
“A soft word and a knife in the back will always get you more than just a soft word.” – Guild Proverb
Sequestered in high mountains atop tall trees, the aarakocra, sometimes called birdfolk, evoke fear and wonder. Many aarakocra aren’t even native to the Material Plane. They hail from a world beyond—from the boundless vistas of the Elemental Plane of Air. They are immigrants, refugees, scouts, and explorers, their outposts functioning as footholds in a world both strange and alien.
Aarakocra are about 5 feet tall and have a wing span of 20 feet. About halfway along the edge of each wing is a hand with three human-sized fingers and an opposable thumb. An elongated fourth finger extends the length of the wing and locks in place for flying. Though the wing-hands cannot grasp during flight, they are nearly as useful as human hands when an aarakocra is on the ground and its wings are folded back. The wing muscles anchor in a bony chest plate that provides the aarakocra with extra protection. The powerful legs end in four sharp talons that can unlock and fold back to reveal another pair of functional hands, also with three human-sized fingers and an opposable thumb. The hand bones, like the rest of an aarakocra’s skeleton, are hollow and fragile.
Aarakocra faces resemble crosses between parrots and eagles. They have gray-black beaks, and black eyes set frontally in their heads that provide keen binocular vision. Plumage color varies from tribe to tribe, but generally males are red, orange, and yellow while females are brown and gray.
Aarakocra speak their own language, the language of giant eagles, and, on occasion, the Common tongue.
In aerial combat, an aarakocra fights with either talons or the heavy fletched javelins that he clutches in his lower hands. An aarakocra typically carries a half dozen javelins strapped to his chest in individual sheaths.
Aarakocra live in small tribes. Each tribe has a hunting territory of about 10,000 square miles with colorful banners and pennants marking the boundaries.Each tribe lives in a communal nest made of woven vines with a soft lining of dried grass. The eldest male serves as the tribe’s leader. In tribes of more than twnety members, the second oldest male serves as the shaman, leading simple religious ceremonies involving the whistling of melodic hymns at sunset on the first day of a new month. Males spend most of their waking hours hunting for food and occasionally for treasure, such as gems and other shiny objects. Females spend eight months of the year incubating their eggs, passing the time by fabricating javelins and other tools from wood and stone. While resting on their backs, aarakocrafemales can use all four hands at the same time to weave boundary pennants, javelins sheaths, and other useful objects from vines and feathers.
Five aarakocra, including a shaman, can summon an air elemental by chanting and performing an intricate aerial dance. The summoned air elemental will comply with the aarakocras’ request for a favor, though it will not endanger its life on their behalf.
Aarakocra have little to do with other species, including neighboring aarakocra tribes, and leave their home territory only in extreme circumstances. They rarely encounter humans except for an occasional foray into a rural community to snatch a stray farm animal; this is not an intentionally malicious act, as aarakocra are unable to distinguish between domestic and wild animals. A human venturing into aarakocra territory may be able to convince one to serve as a guide or a scout in exchange for a shiny jewel or coin.