D&D 5E Enhancing "Dragons of Stormwreck Isle"

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
This new starter adventure comes out of the gate with a number of issues and opportunities. This thread is for offering improvements to the adventure to make it easier and/or more fun at the table.

Straight into Chapter 1 and it seems silly not to foreshadow the shipwrecks (and the Compass Rose) on the voyage into the harbor. Have the sailors call on some blessings as they sail past the wreck (and you see other masts poking up from water - quite a ships graveyard!)

A remote island like this might have a sheltered cove and pebbly beach to land at, but there would be no dock with a dingy tied up. The sailors should leap out and beach their dingy to let the PCs off. And then they should be attacked by the zombies that rise up from the water. A few can attack the crew in the dinghy leaving 3 for the PCs.

Runara's undocumented secret lair seems annoying. Why not just have some quarters beneath the library (with an optional secret door that leads down to some secret lair if you want to add that in).

I don't know what to do about the Kobolds except to whittle down the named kobolds to Myla and Rix (who seem the most knowledgeable). The adventure offers a ridiculous number of named kobolds for a DM (and players) to keep track of. I would suggest that the Kobolds wear hooded cowls and emerge in the late afternoon to do their outdoor work to protect themselves from the sun.

A1. Path and Monastic Cells

The path should wind up the cliff side from the beach and the Dragon's Rest should overlook the beach IMHO. The gardens should be terraces above and below the path where the cliffside can accommodate them. The Cells should have simple sail cloth door coverings, having them just be open to the elements is ridiculous.

A2. Winch House

This is obviously where the Dingy should be stored to be kept safe from the elements. The dinghy can be lowered (with occupants if desired) down to the beach (or water if the tide is in) (not sure what this Winch House is for otherwise and this way they have an opportunity to use it).

A4. Library

Ridiculous that there are no interesting books to find, here are some from Level Up:
• The Rise Of Willow the Telestic, a torn work.
• The Forbidden Tract Of Invocation by Olenna Ironlock, a bulky tome.
• The Handbook Of Nature by Perra Ironbrow, a heavy folio.
• The Rare Creed Of Hunting by Dario the Terrible, a worn title.
• Flora and Fauna Of The Pit Of Fire by King Galan the Inscrutable, a small tome.
• Astrology And Flower Arranging by Sybil Gendry, a decayed publication.
• Animal Husbandry by Betram Rockbrow, a threadbare text.
• The Last Will And Testament Of Theodor the Holy, a thick manual.
• Memories Of The River Of Desolation by Duke Astoria Slatebow the Hidden, a water-damaged folio.
• The Noxious History Of Magic by Huebald the Virtuous, a ripped title.

Also it seems reasonable for Runara's quarters to be located somewhere in here.

A5. Temple of Bahamut

Looking northwest through the open part the PCs should just be able to see the wreck of the Compass Rose, otherwise it doesn't offer much.

Cloister Quests

These are mostly fine, but as can be seen the kobolds are mostly useless for moving the adventure in any interesting direction and can be left in the background.

Exploring the Island

This is very weak IMHO. There should be a few more pages of encounters. Fortunately there's lots of encounter generators. I will say that I think it's entirely unrealistic to expect to PCs to easily navigate the coastline of this island. There should be just two options. Overland or by boat, both should have their unique risks. Looking forward to some suggestions.

Chapter 2: Seagrow Caves

This is generally fine, except interacting with the myconids which is always tricky to pull off and an odd choice to inflict on new DMs). It's unclear how much of the dangers Tarak would know about (beyond the new octopus guardian), though it seems strange that he wouldn't know about the Violet Fungi at least.

B6. Crystal Cave

This area is poorly thought out. The Myconids have to somehow communicate to the PCs that this area is not normally filled with smoke so something must be blocking the vent - something they probably know little about as they already avoid this area. But this is the key part of this chapter. I don't know what the adventure writers were thinking but this is a really hard scenario to present to the players as written. I'm open to suggestions :) . Also when the orange crystal is destroyed, suddenly the area is supposed to be filled with bright light, so where did the smoke go? Obviously when the crystal is destroyed the PCs should feel a sudden movement in the air and the smoke starts to thin and will clear in 1d6 rounds? During that time the combat will be fought in dim light thanks to the thick smoke. Really hoping for some good ideas for fixing this encounter...

Chapter 3: Cursed Shipwreck

C2: Forecastle


Instead of nothing interesting here, how about there are some usable lengths of rope, say one 15ft length and one 30ft length?

C4: Captain's Quarters

How big is the hole to the hold? Looking at the map, I would say it's big enough for a medium creature to fit through tightly, but it would be nice for the text to spell it out.

C5: Galley

Instead of nothing to find how about at least 1 bottle of fine wine (10 gp) from the case down in the hold.

C6: Crew Quarters

Trap but no saving throw? Surely that can't be right? Also no way to determine that the floorboard is trapped? Terrible trap design.

C7: Mess Hall

This is where the pair of candlestick holders and perhaps the lute should be found (instead of in the hold).

C8: Lower Deck

Obviously some of the crates have to have rotted contents, so the PCs should make a d20 roll once they open one to find out if the crate has protected its contents. 11 or higher the crate contents are intact.

C9: Hold

The Journal page would make a great handout for the players.

Planning on coming back with the final chapter and looking forward to other contributions.
 

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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Thinking a bit more about Tarak and the Seagrow Caves and I realize that a sense of urgency is missing. A good motivation for the players would be for one of the residents to the deathly ill with an illness that only the ruby morel in the Seagrove caves can cure. Probably Varnath. Then when Varnath is cured she can recount the story of the ship lured onto the rocks. And then Runara can suggest that the PCs might not be able to safely leave the island until that threat is eliminated?
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Chapter 4: Clifftop Observatory

Looking at the final chapter and it also needs some work.

D1: Overlook

It’s fine but seems unnecessarily confusing to have to two keyholes and one key? Nice that they have to leave the key behind though.

D2: Rotunda Ruins & D3: Kobold Camp

Fun that there‘s a battle up ahead and the sculpture offers some exploration, what’s not fun is that the Kobold Camp in D3 is ignoring the battle. I would change this so that the stirge attack is some kind of hazing inflicted by the other Kobolds and they’re distracted watching and laughing as poor Mek & Minn try to fend them off. The PCs helping them would put Mek & Minn in a difficult spot if the other Kobolds decide to fight off the PCs.

D4: Isolated Study

Fine except there’s no saving throw offered to protect from the noxious green gas? And another opportunity for a handout.

D5: Observatory Tower

Again it seems unrealistic to have expected Sparkrender to have slept through the Stirge attack and any potential combat with the Kobolds or to not have a least one Kobold go and alert their master of the uninvited guests. This kind of static world design really frustrates me because it quickly becomes unbelievable.

Sparkrender should be down in the library working on his ritual or off hunting, roll a d20 to determine where Sparkrender is when the PCs arrive. Then the challenge for the PCs is to either get into the library before Sparkrender returns, or to try and lure Sparkrender out so they can attempt to free Aidron.

Something that stands out as puzzling here is how the dragons enter and exit the library? It can’t be true that Sparkrender rotates the statues to get in and out, but no other way in is described beyond breaking through the rubble. And later Aidron is supposed to “fly” out of the library once released. Ignoring Sparkrender for the moment one could see that Aidron could use his repulsion breath to blow the rubble out, but then something would have to be stopping him from doing that already. So he could be muzzled. I think I would give Sparkrender some device that lets him teleport in and out of the library so the security of it is not compromised. And he intends to use that device to teleport a chained Aidron to the ritual site with the help of the Kobolds.

As for Sparkrender, I would have him flee at 26 HP not 10, that’s way too close for his comfort and mine.

Sparkrender’s Ritual

The ritual seems cool, but without Aidron I’m not sure how it can actually happen? Perhaps Mek & Minn would become the sacrifices in his stead? Ooh perhaps Myla has snuck in after the PCs in an attempt to free her brothers and now the whole lot of them are to be used as sacrifices in the ritual? Oh and the three chains are being used on each of them instead! Nice.

So unless the PCs defeat Sparkrender before the ritual there are at least a couple of options for it to continue.

As for the other Kobolds staying out of the fight, I would say that the ritual has put them all in a trancelike state and they seem oblivious to any battle around them, unless they are attacked at which point the trance lifts off the one attacked and it joins the battle.

The big piece of missing information is of course how long the PCs have to before the ritual completes and Sparkrender is victorious. It’s obviously a matter of rounds so how many rounds is right? 5 seems good as that is 1 round for each dragon spirit to have an effect (and I would say that each effect fires once and so when all have fired Sparkrender has absorbed the power he needs to become the Avatar. Ridiculous that the designers didn‘t include that info!)

Ending the adventure

If the PCs succeed in defeating Sparkrender, the ending is as described. If the PCs fail, Sparkrender immediately heads towards Dragons Rest to take care of Runara and her treacherous Kobolds. When the PCs return to the Dragon’s Rest they find the sanctuary destroyed and Runara’s burnt corpse at the foot of the statue of Bahamut.
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Well this has been a helpful process for me to get a handle on this adventure and I hope some others find it useful. :)
 

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