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Adventure Hook 018 – The Shipwreck

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ADVENTURE HOOK 018 – The Shipwreck


Shipwreck at sea, off the coast of a small island


The party has been hired to retrieve an artifact from the site of a shallow shipwreck off the coast of a small, uninhabited island.


The artifact is actually the keystone piece of a portal to the Shadowfell (or maybe into the Elemental Chaos), and several groups are looking for it.  To make matters worse, it seems that the key has been activated and the portal is live (a fact the PCs won’t know until they get to the site or, at the very least, close to the site).  To make matters even worse, since the shipwreck, sharks have been circling the site, waiting for more prey – the open portal has tainted them in some way and they are much more vicious than the average shark.


The players need to

1) Get background information on the artifact

2) Obtain passage to the site of the shipwreck

3) Explore the shipwreck to find the artifact (and possibly explore the island too).

4) Discover that the portal is open and close it

Things to explore:

1) Perhaps the party has to go through the portal to find a way to close it.  This could lead to the party having to traverse several strange new areas, or it could lead them to a group of covetous sailors that stole the artifact and activated it believing they would find greater treasure beyond the portal.  Were they right or wrong?

2) There are lots of opportunities for skill challenges here.  Perhaps the party is racing against another team of adventurers, trying to get to the artifact first in order to ensure that they get the large reward.  Perhaps they want to get there first because the other team is made up of well-known evil-doers who will ensure the portal stays open and all sorts of bad things will happen to the world.

3) Perhaps the portal doesn’t go to the Shadowfell (or Elemental Chaos) at all.  Perhaps it just leads to a hidden group of underground caves that have been inhabited by an ancient, and intelligent, race of sea creatures.  When the party makes contact, they learn that the open portal was mentioned in their prophecies and it signals the time for them to come back into the world.  They want to claim their rightful place in the world (by which they mean the whole sea/ocean system is theirs).

4) Perhaps the encounter is shorter than all of the above and it is relatively simple to close the portal once they get there, but there is a herd of sharks guarding the site.  This could be a combat encounter or a skill challenge (or both, depending on the outcome of the skill challenge).

5) Perhaps the fact that the key was activated has something to do with the island.  Maybe it isn’t uninhabited at all.  Perhaps it is inhabited by a strange tribal group that retrieved the artifact from the shipwreck, cannibalized the people aboard the ship, and then somehow performed the ritual to activate the portal.


This hook is versatile enough for you to do so many different things.  You could start a campaign arc in the Shadowfell or Elemental Chaos with it.  It is also light enough to be just a side-quest.  You could also start a sea campaign with it (using #3 above).  Take it, use it, do what you want with it… let me know how it turns out.

That’s the end of Adventure Hook 018!

I hope you are enjoying this series – post a comment and let me know what you think of them!  Are they helpful?  Is there something you wish I would address?  If you have an adventure hook you would like me to flesh out and post here, or you have fleshed it out yourself and want it posted, send an email to:

DMSamuel AT IronNeuronEnterprises DOT com

By the way, my blog will be moving web-hosting services in the next month (as soon as I get a chance to verify everything works the way I want).  I will retain the wordpress shell, so not much will change about the blog portion, but the bookmark you use may need to be updated.  I’ll keep you posted!

Follow me on twitter: @DMSamuel

Until next time, I wish you good gaming!

~DM Samuel


DM Samuel is the Editor-in-Chief here at RPG Musings as well as the podcast editor for The Tome Show. He is also a host of the gaming podcast Play on Target. He plays all manner of role-playing games and boardgames and continues to learn new games all the time (and new things about old games, too). Sam lives in Upstate New York with his wife and their game collection. You can follow him on twitter @DMSamuel.

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