Populating a tropical archipelago

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  1. #1

    Populating a tropical archipelago

    What combination of monsters would you expect to find occupying the land and waters of a tropical island chain?

    It's been a while since I ran a seafaring adventure (AD&D Savage Coast days, in fact) and I need some help creating an island chain where the adventurers can plunder, fight, and otherwise violently upset delicate ecosystems.

    My initial thoughts were: kobolds on the islands (fishers/hunter-gatherers); locathah and sahuagin in the waters; perhaps a kraken BBEG; and, of course, plenty of human and half-orc pirates floating about.

    Any uber-appropriate beasties spring to mind?


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    Does D&D still have bullywugs? I can't even remember. But I think brightly-colored frogmen that turn out to have poisonous skin might be a cool surprise. They would, of course, apply their poison to all their weapons, but they'd use it most effectively when ganging up in a grapple attack. Make it a paralytic rather than a CON drainer, and they could capture the the PCs for some horrible--possibly religious--purpose.

    As a general rule, I think poison, parasites, and disease are the way to go. Those things make the tropics of our own world horrifying despite the nice weather. As in that bullywug example, making any regular critter poisonous could work (especially if you give the players the subtle warning of unusually bright coloration). And basically any wound left un-attended in the tropics could require some fort checks for disease. For the life of me, though, I can't think of any parasite monsters. Man, there have got to be some.

    I think lizardfolk would fit in nicely. Also, plant critters like shambling mounds, tendriculos, and assassin vines would be cool in the jungle. Chuul would work nicely along the coast.

    Oh, and don't forget that tropical archipelagos often have volcanoes. You could definitely do a lot with that. Fire critters, sacrifices, lava-lit cavern areas, eruptions...

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    Lizards, turtles, monkeys, birds, crabs, wierd insects. Plenty of templates. Various sizes and varieties but those would be the themes, so perhaps dinosaurs for lizards and monstrous beetles of some kind for the insects
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    Free Associating:

    Zombies, Nazis, Voodoo druids, pirates, piranha, mudmen, dinosaurs, dire apes, cannibals, tourists, polar bears (obligatory "Lost" nod), and castaways.

    It really depends on your overall genre/theme, the type of island chain it is, and what other things you've got surrounding the islands...things like that. Personally I think I could put almost anything in an island chain without making it stand out too much, because there's just such a wealth of media and fiction references you could draw upon to make things stick. Want a castle on an island for a dungeon crawl? It's an old prison, or a castle from somewhere else brought over piece by piece to the island by vampires. Strange experiments from mad scientists with accents explain almost anything. Need a rest and relaxation spot? Plenty of places to just steal entirely from real life. Undead, things with gills, etc? Done. Armored soldiers? Picked directly from Spanish Conquistador references, done.

    Part of the fun with islands is that they're distinct and separate, what goes on on one island doesn't have to mix much with the others. That's episodic D&D adventuring at its most pure, IMO.
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    Stormwrack has some aquatic critters in it
    Then there are sharks, squid, octopi, kraken, dinosaurs, sea serpents, dragon eels, merfolk, aquatic elves, sahaguin (sp), ixi... (those smart manta ray things)

    For the land you could have ruins with yuan-ti. There are also some nagas that do well w/water.

    Aren't there some sort of small froglike creatures - grippli I think.

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    Poisonous sea snakes, yuan-ti, su-monster (don't know if that's in 3e) pirate ghosts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thompgc
    Stormwrack has some aquatic critters in it
    Then there are sharks, squid, octopi, kraken, dinosaurs, sea serpents, dragon eels, merfolk, aquatic elves, sahaguin (sp), ixi... (those smart manta ray things)
    Ixitxachitl -- see my avatar!

    In my Pirates of the Caribbean game, I've also used blackscale & poison dusk lizardfolk from MMIII plus the littoral makara and the bonethief from the Penumbra Fantasy Bestiary.



  • #8
    Some great suggestions. Thanks.

    A salamander volcano and poison dusk lizard swamp seem irresistable...

  • #9
    Don't forget the Dinosaurs, Aquatic Otyugh and Luchadores
    Quote Originally Posted by IcyCool
    Man, given the average Int of an Otyugh, I can just see the boss monologue now...

    PCs: "Before we fight, why don't you tell us your master plan?"
    Otyugh: "I like poop."
    PCs: "Umm, what?"
    Otyugh: "Do you have poop?"

  • #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Tonguez
    Don't forget the...Luchadores
    In our game we call them "PCs". With CHA scores like that, the masks help.

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