As The Wild Isle of Wide Eyed Dread unfolds every week through gaming, so grows the raw material for the final product. Offering hardcore gaming material has always been a focus for my corner of the web here, and this will be my largest project yet.
An expert level Adventure Site for characters entering the paragon tier
The original adventure X1 Isle of Dread is the driving inspiration behind my current campaign (read about it here) but I draw inspiration (and more) mercilessly and guilt free from everywhere I can. In this adventure I plumb the depths of Pirates of the Caribbean I thru IX, King Kong, Chateau D Amberville, CS Lewis, and many many others, like Joe vs the Volcano.
The idea of an adventure site in this case means to set no limit, or order, for the adventuring done on the island. The encounters themselves are geared toward a party of 4-6 characters levels 8-10. Some are easier than others, and a few are damn nigh impossible. The original idea behind this Isle of Dread Adventure Site project was for the Isle to be a smorgasbord of different sized delves or mini-adventures, to be played in whatever order the group chose. However, there are over-arching story-lines that link many of the individual adventures together, so it is still possible to play through the adventure site as one large sandbox-style adventure. The Wild Isle of Wide Eyed Dread will be presented in the form of one such story-line, that of the characters who are taking part in its formulation every Friday night at my house.
Break it down, tear it up, paste it back together, or string it along, this adventure site is built to survive and prosper through such misuse.The Wild Isle of Wide Eyed Dread will be presented in several parts over the coming days. When the project is complete, the edited version will be finalized and offered as a free pdf download on my lil website here. I hope it to be the first of many more to come.
The premise of the story is very simple. A group of heroes are cast into the mouth of a volcano on an unknown island, and must survive and escape. The means of their arrival is a magic summoning circle of ancient origin, that somehow survived among the ruins of a stone temple built into and over a volcano. If they survive their arrival at the Monastery of SU, they will find themselves overlooking a panoramic view of the entire island. Their perception could pick out any number of things as they gaze to the far southern tip of the island many days away.
Shaped like a hand, with the five fingers being the long, crooked, and spiny mountain ranges that separated the island into separate regions. Where the hand should have met the wrist was the volcano, the highest point on the island. The backside of the island was tall craggy cliffs, with savage crashing waves, in a great arc from the eastern limits around the north to the western wall. Large flying creatures could be seen swooping between the spires and outcroppings, diving into caves in the sea wall.
The western finger of habitable land stretched almost to the horizon. From the altitude of the volcano, that meant at least 25 miles. Nearest them, the volcano sides sloped down on the eastern side into a green bog, misty and forested. The bog gave way to a great lake, in the center of which rose a hillock of an island, perfectly round. Elven eyes might detect a mansion surrounded by a hedge on the pinnacle of that isle-within-isle. Adepts of the Arcane might wonder about the mystical energies of such an islet. South of the great lake, fed by swift mountain streams on either side, was a vast expanse of pampas, tall grasses waving in the tropical breezes. Miles and miles of pampas opened up between the first two fingers of mountains. It ended only at the aquamarine coast, fringed in golden beaches. On one of those beaches lay the broken hull of a great ship like a beached whale. Split in two by some grave calamity, the halves lay open to the sun, cracked like a clam, half buried in the shifting sands of high tide.
The mountains themselves were not overly tall. They were like long lines of knife and spear thrusts of stone many hundreds of feet high, sharp edged, pointing skyward. They could be crossed, at great peril, or through known passes, but the ways were few, and they separated the regions of the isle as surely as the expanse of a continent might. Stair-like outcroppings led to dark cave mouths or into dead-ends.
Coming straight down the mountain form the volcano leads to a highland raised plateau. The mountains peaks were like teeth poking over the perimeter of the lava field. South of that began the central region, known as the Steaming Jungle. Pinned in on all sides, this wild jungle grew tall and verdant, protected from winds and weather, the trees here grew hundreds of feet high. There were multiple levels of tree cover, and a dim uncluttered forest floor. The trunks rose like curving pillars into the sky. A single river, fed from the mountain walls, snaked through the jungle, to end at a great crack in the southern crook of mountain range, where it spilled into the tourmaline sea. Where the mountains separated, they leaned apart their sharp points askance, and a long narrow bridge of rope and board spanned that gap.
That same stretch of sea was turbulent where the river spilt into it, and it cut through the mountain range of the third finger, leaving a natural stone bridge as the only connection between the mainland and that rocky spur of beach and jungle. Keen eyes could detect the tell-tale signs of habitation. Camps or villages dotted the southern region, at least half a dozen spaced along the coast. Where the turbulent sea cut through the third mountain range, it led to a deep calm wharf, where a black sailed ship lay at anchor. On the narrow coast near the ship was a walled village made of wood. Smaller ships were tied up at its dock.
The only area left to mention were the eastern hills. Great dusty plumes rose from the trampled hills as some great pack of beasts moved from one area to the next. A smaller lake in this hilly region begat a river which wound its way through the hills to spill over into the sea by way of a great cascade, at the narrow end of the pirates cove.
Thus was the island first beheld by those doughty adventurers as they pulled themselves up and out of the steaming pit of the volcano to gaze upon their next problem to overcome, their next chance to shine, their next adventure.