The ship christened The Queen’s Desire is the notorious trickster Marie de Lech’s most recent acquisition, won as a gambling prize like many of her expensive possessions. Baron Tarvel Ilvayne found it galling enough to lose his ship to a woman, but her beating him wagering on a horse race further infuriated him. The losing horse’s breeder had assured the baron of the race’s outcome. The baron is convinced that de Lech cheated, somehow, but without any proof, his attempts to reclaim The Queen’s Desire have met with frustration.
Since the Baron has no direct influence in Messori Harbor, where the ship is docked, he employs alternative means to recover his ship and its cargo. Enter our heroes…
This short, exploration-and-stealth-heavy adventure requires smarts and steel in equal measure, and it is designed for four 4th-level characters. This 5th Edition adventure is designed by Mike Welham, and it features cartography by Dyson Logos and art by Karl Waller.
Michael Fuchs –
This is a very solid adventure and one that has great bones for a DM to play with. It’s well laid out and easy to present. I bounced between four stars and five – then leaned towards four due to some mild confusion on how to play the Zerxle at the end (see below).
I played with five fourth level players (of extremely varying levels of d&d experience) and it took approximately 5.5 hours to run through the whole thing. I think with a very dedicated group of adventures who stay on point you could get through it in 4 hours; my core group of players (the more experienced ones) like to rp and that can quickly eat up time.
The good: the setting is creepy and by describing the ship’s condition, the smell of the rank fish, and the water lapping against the hull – you can ramp up the tension. One character wanted to molotov cocktail the ship shortly after walking down to the middle deck! All of the encounters felt connected and not out of place. The traps worked and created a few gotcha moments – especially the falling net which caused a bit of chaos during the encounter with the Deep Ones.
The bad: Not much here. The only issue I had was how to play the Zerxle. Was this creature REALLY going to let the group take it out of the ship, onto the dock,, and be handed over to the thugs where it would then decide enough was enough and attack? Also: what happened to the guards at the end? This adventure also seems pretty difficult for 4th level characters – I killed two characters and really went to town on a third (thank god for bards!).
The reality :I strayed on two things. I had the ghost attack but he didn’t stay too long. He possessed one character for a bit, scared the crap out of another, then ran through a third and disappeared. There was no cleric in the party and I could tell this one encounter was going to do some massive damage.
The second was the very end and due to time. I went full deus ex machina at the very end. The group ‘freed’ the zerxle who eventually panicked, killed one player, and started to rip apart the planks while keening loudly. At this point everyone had had enough and bolted out of the now sinking ship. I had started telling the players that they heard loud thumping noises on the hull early in the adventure and played that up at the very end. I had massive (Aboleth?) tentacles start to drag the ship into the deep waters of the harbor (hey – one of the characters saw tentacles through the floorboards of the The Wild Rose – why not play off that!?!?!). Everyone successfully jumped onto the dock and watched – wided eyed – as the ship slipped into the harbor waves. I did not have time for the Hybrid Priest attack and ended the whole edventrue with the Baron’s sellswords asking if they had gotten the Iivayne’s ‘pet’ off the boat at which point the groups barbarian yelled and swung his great axe at them …
Again: this is a fun adventure and I am fully hooked on the Midgard setting. My group was loud, not very subtle, and full of great banter which killed any chance of a stealthy approach to ANY of the encounters. Now I need to find a follow up adventure with either the Baron of Marie …
An enjoyable adventure for our group of four 4th level PCs. It is nice when a short adventure has enough depth to it to allow the players to feel like their choices matter in how the outcome plays out. Our game clocked in at around 5 hours or so; very long final battle (~1.5+ hours or so), one PC unconscious, no deaths.