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5E Savage Tide Adventure Path

humble minion

Adventurer
Thoughts on truncating this adventure and just basing out of Sasserine?

Go to the isle, maybe help Farshore but change the plot?

Shift the focus to Farshore or Sasserine?
You could do it. It'd need some rewriting though. Regardless of the solution you chose, the main issues would be around the Tides of Dread adventure. It's kind of a colony-bulding effort, bit of a quasi-hexcrawl, and culminates with an invasion of Farshore - a bunch of pirates, some demons, Vanthus etc. It's fairly small scale, the PCs can coordinate the defense and be the big heroes. If the attack is instead on Sasserine, then it by necessity becomes a much, much larger-scale thing, major wizards will get involved, all of Sasserine will be up in arms etc. Even to mount an assault on that scale, Vanthus would need to basically mobilise all of Scuttlecove, and the campaign isn't remotely ready for THAT yet. The PCs are (from memory) not even 10th level at this stage - you'd need to make sure the focus remains on them. Why hasn't anyone done any hexcrawling, or hunted the Great Beasts, or sought out Zotzilaha, before they got here? And justify a reason why the PCs are the ones who have to troop into the underdark after the aboleths, or head to the City of Broken Idols. If they're the Big Damn Heroes of Farshore it makes sense that everyone turns to them, if they're just another set of adventurers in much-larger-Sasserine,then maybe less so.

Option 1 could be to replace Farshore with Sasserine as the city on the Isle Of Dread. Start the campaign in media res, with the PCs and Lavinia on a ship heading towards the Isle of Dread. You'd need to replace the first couple of land-bound adventures, and in the process find alternative ways to introduce the Vanderborens, the concept of the savage tide, etc etc. Other problem with this approach is the same as the campaign as written - after Tides of Dread the PCs won't actually spend much time in their home port of Sasserine, other than downtime. There's two adventures in the inland of the Isle, then one in Scuttlecove, then the rest of the campaign is mostly extraplanar.

Option 2 makes Sasserine the centre of the whole thing, and the City Of Broken Idols is actually just a bit inland of Sasserine itself, in which case the Sea Wyvern's Wake never happens, and Here There Be Monsters never happens (or perhaps Sea Wyvern's wake a trip out to ... somewhere ... to pursue Vanthus after Bullywug Gambit, and then the ship gets wrecked and Here There Be Monsters is the PCs trying to return to Sasserine). Again, you run into the whole issue of 'this jungle is stuffed full of demons etc and there's a whole big city over there and WHY HAS NOBODY DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT BEFORE NOW??'

Or perhaps Farshore is a relatively small but secret Vanderboren commercial venture (perhaps a gem mine, or maybe cultivating rare herbs or something) just a week or so by ship down the coast from Sasserine, which would make travel between the two much easier. Which means at least the PCs can meaningfully defend it against Vanthus in Tides of Dread without all of Sasserine mobilising, but could still pop back to Sasserine without too much difficulty afterwards.

If you're looking to truncate, the most obvious point is after City Of Broken Idols. The Aspect of Demogorgon there is the big bad of the whole thing, no need to go to the abyss, end of story. Alternatively, you could also stop after Tides of Dread - Vanthus's attack on Farshore is defeated, the PCs beat him down against the dual timebombs of his Shadow Pearl and the vrocks performing a Dance of Ruin. The loose plot thread there is of course where the Shadow Pearls come from in the first place, but as a final mini-dungeon crawl give Vanthus a giant demonic flagship encrusted with monstrously deformed fiendish oysters and that'll pretty much do the job...
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
You could do it. It'd need some rewriting though. Regardless of the solution you chose, the main issues would be around the Tides of Dread adventure. It's kind of a colony-bulding effort, bit of a quasi-hexcrawl, and culminates with an invasion of Farshore - a bunch of pirates, some demons, Vanthus etc. It's fairly small scale, the PCs can coordinate the defense and be the big heroes. If the attack is instead on Sasserine, then it by necessity becomes a much, much larger-scale thing, major wizards will get involved, all of Sasserine will be up in arms etc. Even to mount an assault on that scale, Vanthus would need to basically mobilise all of Scuttlecove, and the campaign isn't remotely ready for THAT yet. The PCs are (from memory) not even 10th level at this stage - you'd need to make sure the focus remains on them. Why hasn't anyone done any hexcrawling, or hunted the Great Beasts, or sought out Zotzilaha, before they got here? And justify a reason why the PCs are the ones who have to troop into the underdark after the aboleths, or head to the City of Broken Idols. If they're the Big Damn Heroes of Farshore it makes sense that everyone turns to them, if they're just another set of adventurers in much-larger-Sasserine,then maybe less so.

Option 1 could be to replace Farshore with Sasserine as the city on the Isle Of Dread. Start the campaign in media res, with the PCs and Lavinia on a ship heading towards the Isle of Dread. You'd need to replace the first couple of land-bound adventures, and in the process find alternative ways to introduce the Vanderborens, the concept of the savage tide, etc etc. Other problem with this approach is the same as the campaign as written - after Tides of Dread the PCs won't actually spend much time in their home port of Sasserine, other than downtime. There's two adventures in the inland of the Isle, then one in Scuttlecove, then the rest of the campaign is mostly extraplanar.

Option 2 makes Sasserine the centre of the whole thing, and the City Of Broken Idols is actually just a bit inland of Sasserine itself, in which case the Sea Wyvern's Wake never happens, and Here There Be Monsters never happens (or perhaps Sea Wyvern's wake a trip out to ... somewhere ... to pursue Vanthus after Bullywug Gambit, and then the ship gets wrecked and Here There Be Monsters is the PCs trying to return to Sasserine). Again, you run into the whole issue of 'this jungle is stuffed full of demons etc and there's a whole big city over there and WHY HAS NOBODY DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT BEFORE NOW??'

Or perhaps Farshore is a relatively small but secret Vanderboren commercial venture (perhaps a gem mine, or maybe cultivating rare herbs or something) just a week or so by ship down the coast from Sasserine, which would make travel between the two much easier. Which means at least the PCs can meaningfully defend it against Vanthus in Tides of Dread without all of Sasserine mobilising, but could still pop back to Sasserine without too much difficulty afterwards.

If you're looking to truncate, the most obvious point is after City Of Broken Idols. The Aspect of Demogorgon there is the big bad of the whole thing, no need to go to the abyss, end of story. Alternatively, you could also stop after Tides of Dread - Vanthus's attack on Farshore is defeated, the PCs beat him down against the dual timebombs of his Shadow Pearl and the vrocks performing a Dance of Ruin. The loose plot thread there is of course where the Shadow Pearls come from in the first place, but as a final mini-dungeon crawl give Vanthus a giant demonic flagship encrusted with monstrously deformed fiendish oysters and that'll pretty much do the job...
Well the plot is changed and Canthus is the new BBEG.

Sasserine becomes more prominent and the PCs return there unless they want to do domain building.
 

For the DM's who did convert and play this what did they think?
Interesting timing on the thread resurrection! Background: I converted and ran Savage Tide in 5E a few years ago and am currently running it (moved to another state, new group).

If you're serious about running it, you need to visit the Savage Tide, Dungeon Magazine, subforum at the Paizo.com website (they published the Dungeon Magazine campaigns). TONS of DM and developer responses on those, a treasure trove. I can't iterate this enough: you owe it to yourself to check them out. It turned the campaign from good to awesome. Some of my old input is probably on there, and I've got all my notes and conversions through Farpoint. If you need notes, I can send you what I've got.

You also need to know that IF players don't loathe Vanthus and come to care for Lavinia, Savage Tide won't work. Players won't care. The forum will help quite a bit. Also, it's not a pirate campaign or really a sea-faring campaign. Yes, you spend 3 months on a boat, but there's only 1 time ship-to-ship combat comes into play (it's not the focus, see below).

1st Go:

Ran the adventures largely as-is, but again really boosted up Vanthus and Lavinia's stories. Boosted NPC content. Sasserine is a fantastic setting, and you'll need a reason players will be willing to leave it. For me, I use in all my campaigns "background links to the campaign" that players can pick through and add to their character story (e.g. you're obsessed with the Isle of Dread and have collected lore from people claiming they were actually there, handouts from Dragon magazine). Others had strong links to Lavinia, such as having gone to school with her. I then ran a roleplay prequel (wherein players roleplayed how they did Lavinia's family a solid, justifying why she later called on them).

Otherwise, early on savage creatures are NASTY. It's very easy to die at levels 1-2.

In Module 3, there's nearly 30 NPCs to track. I made a visual with pictures for each. If someone died (and some will), we could mark them off. Each NPC has a short backstory, and on the long ship ride (it's 3 months, and most of that time, nothing is happening, just like a real sea voyage), it's crucial social stuff is going on. Your campaign can slog down, and you can't be "spicing it up" with a fight on the seas every other day. You'll also want to change the ship wreck. Players hate the idea the DM scripted it so that no matter what they do, it's going to happen. For us, it affected who survived. The social part is important so the PCs will be inspired to protect those NPCs on the Isle.

On the Isle, it's not set up for hexploration. At Farpoint, the PCs pre-battle prep should have a heavy impact on how the battle goes.

My players wiped at level 11 deep below the ground in a heroic sacrifice to stop black pearl manufacture. We ended there, feeling pretty good. It's a LONG campaign. If you play to level 20, that will likely take 2-3 years. Players were ready for something new.

Things I learned: Getting to level 20 just isn't realistic for most groups, and at the higher levels, this one turns into a lot of fights, albeit interesting ones, and less role play. You need to have a stop point in mind, or consider chopping down everything past Farpoint (9th level and on), and shrinking it to level 12-15.

Things I'm doing differently now: I inserted Ruin of Tamoachan from Yawning Portal instead of the abbreviated version. No changes needed other than a plot item, just an adjustment in leveling (I use milestone, they started at 5th and exited at 6th level). It gives a lot of loot. I'm also ending it at saving Farpoint. I've considered perhaps after shutting down pearl manufacture, but it's my first go with this group and there's a fatigue factor trying to hit level 20 with your first major campaign.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Interesting timing on the thread resurrection! Background: I converted and ran Savage Tide in 5E a few years ago and am currently running it (moved to another state, new group).

If you're serious about running it, you need to visit the Savage Tide, Dungeon Magazine, subforum at the Paizo.com website (they published the Dungeon Magazine campaigns). TONS of DM and developer responses on those, a treasure trove. I can't iterate this enough: you owe it to yourself to check them out. It turned the campaign from good to awesome. Some of my old input is probably on there, and I've got all my notes and conversions through Farpoint. If you need notes, I can send you what I've got.

You also need to know that IF players don't loathe Vanthus and come to care for Lavinia, Savage Tide won't work. Players won't care. The forum will help quite a bit. Also, it's not a pirate campaign or really a sea-faring campaign. Yes, you spend 3 months on a boat, but there's only 1 time ship-to-ship combat comes into play (it's not the focus, see below).

1st Go:

Ran the adventures largely as-is, but again really boosted up Vanthus and Lavinia's stories. Boosted NPC content. Sasserine is a fantastic setting, and you'll need a reason players will be willing to leave it. For me, I use in all my campaigns "background links to the campaign" that players can pick through and add to their character story (e.g. you're obsessed with the Isle of Dread and have collected lore from people claiming they were actually there, handouts from Dragon magazine). Others had strong links to Lavinia, such as having gone to school with her. I then ran a roleplay prequel (wherein players roleplayed how they did Lavinia's family a solid, justifying why she later called on them).

Otherwise, early on savage creatures are NASTY. It's very easy to die at levels 1-2.

In Module 3, there's nearly 30 NPCs to track. I made a visual with pictures for each. If someone died (and some will), we could mark them off. Each NPC has a short backstory, and on the long ship ride (it's 3 months, and most of that time, nothing is happening, just like a real sea voyage), it's crucial social stuff is going on. Your campaign can slog down, and you can't be "spicing it up" with a fight on the seas every other day. You'll also want to change the ship wreck. Players hate the idea the DM scripted it so that no matter what they do, it's going to happen. For us, it affected who survived. The social part is important so the PCs will be inspired to protect those NPCs on the Isle.

On the Isle, it's not set up for hexploration. At Farpoint, the PCs pre-battle prep should have a heavy impact on how the battle goes.

My players wiped at level 11 deep below the ground in a heroic sacrifice to stop black pearl manufacture. We ended there, feeling pretty good. It's a LONG campaign. If you play to level 20, that will likely take 2-3 years. Players were ready for something new.

Things I learned: Getting to level 20 just isn't realistic for most groups, and at the higher levels, this one turns into a lot of fights, albeit interesting ones, and less role play. You need to have a stop point in mind, or consider chopping down everything past Farpoint (9th level and on), and shrinking it to level 12-15.

Things I'm doing differently now: I inserted Ruin of Tamoachan from Yawning Portal instead of the abbreviated version. No changes needed other than a plot item, just an adjustment in leveling (I use milestone, they started at 5th and exited at 6th level). It gives a lot of loot. I'm also ending it at saving Farpoint. I've considered perhaps after shutting down pearl manufacture, but it's my first go with this group and there's a fatigue factor trying to hit level 20 with your first major campaign.
This is why I'm thinking of changing the plot and making Vanthus the big bad.
 

This is why I'm thinking of changing the plot and making Vanthus the big bad.
It's doable if Vanthus keeps coming back. One of the things that makes him totally despicable is he keeps getting free passes by using people: his parents, Lavinia, Brissa, the Lotus Dragons, and so on. I took a ton of ideas from a poster named Vermilleo as he detailed his campaign. It's brilliant. While I didn't use everything, his ideas fleshed out my Vanthus, and he had great ideas (his group never finished the campaign) of keeping Vanthus as a recurring, escalating villain (even though the ultimate BBEG is "you know who" demon lord). By coming back for being despicable, he keeps getting free passes. Combine this with some creepiness towards Lavinia and can guarantee players will hate this guy and take great satisfaction if they ever catch up to him.
 

humble minion

Adventurer
I took a ton of ideas from a poster named Vermilleo as he detailed his campaign. It's brilliant. While I didn't use everything, his ideas fleshed out my Vanthus, and he had great ideas (his group never finished the campaign) of keeping Vanthus as a recurring, escalating villain
That's a great campaign summary, and there was a lot of parallels with how i ran things, actually. 100% endorse that you really have to rub in how repulsive Vanthus is. Lavinia really needs to be portrayed as competent, otherwise the PCs can end up feeling like they're rescuing her a bit too much. I was hoping to set up a romance between her and the PC half-orc scout, but the players weren't really into that sort of thing unfortunately. The crew and colonists on the Sea Wyvern's Wake really need personalities and relationships of their own, the PCs are going to exert a lot of effort keeping these people alive, they need to know them. Personally I focused on Avner, playing him as your perfectly stereotypical useless entitled nobleman. Jeez the PCs hated him. And his servant Quenge was one of the more memorable NPCs i had - he was a hunchback who spoke in a cringing 'Igor-the-mad-scientist's-henchman' voice and dropped occasional references to how horribly Avner treated him ("No master, Quenge is so sorry, master, please master - I don't want to go back into the box..."). Beef up Rowyn when she stows away on the ship, or she's just too weak. I can't remember exactly what I did mechanically (or how she got this way), but my Rowyn was this semi-cursed quasi-real abyssal thing that slipped in and out of reality and dreams the whole voyage. Also, my Xiureksior also made it onto the Farshore council, and for the same reasons as Vermillio posted. Oh, and the trap/puzzle thing at the end of Here There Be Monsters, in the bar-lgura's dungeon, is one of the most bizarre and incomprehensible things I've seen in a published module and I'd thoroughly recommend ignoring it.
 

solomanii

Explorer
Great stuff, yes raid the Paizo forums for more info. For those who converted it do you have your conversion online?

Reading through the adventures now, it would seem like you could just jump to "Here Be Monsters"?
 

humble minion

Adventurer
Main problem with skipping the stuff before HTBM is that the PCs need to care about Lavinia and really hate Vanthus. All this groundwork is done in the first couple of adventures. You;d need to find an alternative way to establish those relationships. Lavinia could of course get shipwrecked with everyone else in HTBM and they could get to know her then, but Vanthus is more of an issue.

Also, you do need to introduce the shadow pearls at some point.
 

solomanii

Explorer
But do they? Is either of them relevant after the Isle of Dread? (have not read beyond this so maybe they are very important).

Edit: Or Lavina could be a PC?
 

humble minion

Adventurer
Lavinia is central to Tides of Dread of course, and Vanthus kidnapping Lavinia is the trigger/motivation for Serpents of Scuttlecove and Into the Maw in the campaign as written. You could come up with an alternative though, if you were determined to write her out of the story.

But in my case, she was basically the recurring NPC who the PCs related to the best and had known the longest. She might not be entirely necessary on a mechanical level, but on the level of roleplaying and NPC interaction, if she's not there then someone else will need to replace her.
 

solomanii

Explorer
Things I learned: Getting to level 20 just isn't realistic for most groups, and at the higher levels, this one turns into a lot of fights, albeit interesting ones, and less role play. You need to have a stop point in mind, or consider chopping down everything past Farpoint (9th level and on), and shrinking it to level 12-15.
This is interesting. My party insists I go from 1 to 20 and like to spend time at level 20 so all my 5e and 3e campaigns have gone from 1 to 20+. I am still a few months away from starting this campaign - assuming my PCs pick it - but since we would go from 1 to 20 will update this thread as we go. Great info here.

My wife plays in my games - thinking out loud - I am sure she would be happy to "collude" with me to play Lavina. Would you think this would work?
 

humble minion

Adventurer
This is interesting. My party insists I go from 1 to 20 and like to spend time at level 20 so all my 5e and 3e campaigns have gone from 1 to 20+. I am still a few months away from starting this campaign - assuming my PCs pick it - but since we would go from 1 to 20 will update this thread as we go. Great info here.

My wife plays in my games - thinking out loud - I am sure she would be happy to "collude" with me to play Lavina. Would you think this would work?
This campaign thoroughly can go to level 20, but how it plays depends on your group's style. If played purely as written, the 2nd and 3rd last modules look pretty short and choppy - travel to planar location X, try to enlist the help of hugely pwoerful being Y via bargain or whatever, get in a token combat, leave and move on. If your players are the types to go off the adventure as written here (and they might be - the as-written adventures assume PCs who will be willing to make deals with horribly evil beings like Orcus, and the like, and i don't think that can be relied on for all groups) then basically they drive the plot as they traipse around the multiverse looking for allies against Demogorgon and you hang on by your fingernails and improvise.

Re Lavinia - have a read through the modules before you decide. She's assumed to be off-screen a lot, acting as a patron/adventure hook in Sasserine and a leader of Farshore afterwards, but there's not really a reason she HAS to be in the background. Except as above, her kidnapping is the trigger for Serpents of Scuttlecove and Into the Maw, after the Isle of Dread, but you could potentially come up with something else there. And Lavinia is the one who actually decides to go to the Isle of Dread in the first place, and hires the PCs to go along, you'd need to make sure this happened.

Also, as written (and Paiso confirmed this on their forums at the time) Vanthus is intended to be motivated by an incestuous desire for his sister. The modules themselves aren't entirely explicit about this, but it's certainly hinted at multiple times as clearly as they could get away with. If you decide to go with this angle and have Lavinia as a PC, then your wife would need to be onboard, and would need to know the backstory to it.
 


My wife plays in my games - thinking out loud - I am sure she would be happy to "collude" with me to play Lavinia. Would you think this would work?
Some groups did, but I wouldn't. Lavinia needs to grow (up) as a person, not in levels, and be a complex mix. Otherwise, players won't care about her and won't be motivated. This makes your job challenging. My Lavinia is influenced by how the party handles things.

  • Early on, she is a mix of motivated (to save her family), naïve (to what evils people are capable of), vulnerable (trying to hide how bad things are for her home), and unwavering (she will do what it takes). She loves her brother based off memories of him, not what he actually is, and it should be frustrating, yet rewarding, for the party to bring her around as they dig deeper into what he's done.
  • After the Bullywug Gambit, she's seen what weapons and force can do. My Lavinia grabbed a sword and insisted on coming with the party to reclaim her house, even having just been cut badly during a hostage scene. She no longer wants to be vulnerable like that, but she's also not meant to be a swashbuckler. She's not built for it. Still, she begins to become cold. She's willing to see her brother dead. This may trouble some players, to see the change after the home attack, and it should. They're a big influence on whether she keeps that open heart to forgiving people despite their evil, or whether she becomes the type that will make people walk the plank and has no problem ordering death.
  • Random, but because Lavinia is in the face of danger, you'll want some good explanations if she dies (e.g. does she have an "insurance policy" to be restored).
Later, you'll want to amend the story to get away from "Lavinia gets kidnapped" and instead make it her choice, possibly motivated by something the PCs have done.

Long story short, this really can't be done too well with a PC, and Lavinia comes and goes in the PCs lives, making her a poor adventurer. She's got a colony to think about, the lives of dozens if not hundreds depending on her.

...Vanthus is intended to be motivated by an incestuous desire for his sister. The modules themselves aren't entirely explicit about this, but it's certainly hinted at multiple times as clearly as they could get away with. If you decide to go with this angle and have Lavinia as a PC, then your wife would need to be onboard, and would need to know the backstory to it.
Definitely. Vermillio's campaign made this a bit more forward by letting PCs later recover Vanthus's personal diaries in which the DM fleshed out the story with imaginary letters to Lavinia detailing his descent into dark acts. While not sexual in nature, they're more than creepy about how his feelings. It goes a long way to explain why (when you run Vanthus in a prequel for example, or when the PCs meet him later) he takes such a severe offense about their closeness to her, and why he disparages his own sister as some sort of "whore whoring for mercenaries." It helps make him an additional layer of vile.
 



humble minion

Adventurer
Where would you locate Sasserine in Eberron?
I'm no Eberron expert, but it isn't a great fit in Khorvaire as written - Sasserine has a bit of the rascally-frontier-outpost feel about it and Khorvaire is mostly pretty settled land. Perhaps you could use somewhere like Stormreach?
 

Remathilis

Legend
Where would you locate Sasserine in Eberron?
I put it on a Southern island in the Lhazzaar principalities. It's under the control of no prince at this time, and was one of the few free ports during the war. The Dragonmarked Houses have only put a toehold here in recent years.

I put Tamoachan in Q'barra (per Yawning Portal) and made the Isle of Dread an island of the northeast coast of Xen'drik. Scuttlecove will be back in Lhazzaar. The Olmans were a group of humans from Sarlona that worshipped fiends and we're exiled long before the Quori came. (I had another name for them, but I kept forgetting it and just used Olman for it, no relation to the Oerth ones).
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I put it on a Southern island in the Lhazzaar principalities. It's under the control of no prince at this time, and was one of the few free ports during the war. The Dragonmarked Houses have only put a toehold here in recent years.

I put Tamoachan in Q'barra (per Yawning Portal) and made the Isle of Dread an island of the northeast coast of Xen'drik. Scuttlecove will be back in Lhazzaar. The Olmans were a group of humans from Sarlona that worshipped fiends and we're exiled long before the Quori came. (I had another name for them, but I kept forgetting it and just used Olman for it, no relation to the Oerth ones).
Cheers thinking of using Eberron and running Savage Tide or ToA next.

Or I might Midgard it up.

My change would probably focus more on Sasserine.

When Paizo was on fire the first third or half of the APs were great then they kinda fell apart later.
 

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