Cliffhangers!
Sharkbait!
By Ramon Arjona
Complete Cliffhanger (154k PDF)
Episode 4: Fish Food
Episode 3: Under the Sea
Episode 2: The Expedition
Episode 1: The Missing Statue
Cliffhangers Archive
The Approaching Swarm
Kingdom of the Blind
Into the Forsaken Temple's Crypt
The Trouble in Town
Sharkbait!
The Light of Despair
Training Grounds
Lorin's Chasm
Bridge Work
Nest of Corruption
Hindsight
A Giant Ransom
Black Water
The Horror of Lannock Hill
Over the Edge
Equinox
The Proper Count
The Tower of Lore
The Candlemaker's Fire
The Hallowed Hills
The Village of Camiram
Unearthing the Past
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Cliffhangers Adventures

Sharkbait!
Episode Two: The Expedition
By Ramon Arjona

Sharkbait! is a short adventure for four 5th-level characters. The adventure takes place initially in the coastal town of Mochdrev, then moves into a system of underwater caverns adopted as a temporary base by a group of sahuagin. Dungeon Masters can adjust this adventure for more powerful PCs by giving levels of cleric and ranger to the sahuagin who oppose the PCs, or by increasing the number of sahuagin. The DM could also increase the size and number of the sharks that accompany the sahuagin and assist them in their attempt to eliminate the PCs. To be particularly vicious, the DM could use dire sharks or weresharks (Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn, page 92) instead of the relatively innocuous natural forms presented below.

Adventure Background

The PCs came to the village of Mochdrev to find the village leader dead in his temple and the temple's statue stolen. A local by the name of Cyric has offered to take the group to the system of caves where he thinks the stolen statue is. Now the PCs are on their way to the caves.

Above the Cave (EL 4)

The PCs can walk part of the way to the "waters of Sekolah" but need to take a boat the rest of the way. Lurotha/Cyric prefers to take a boat the whole way. He guides the PCs to an area of ocean where the shore is covered in black sand. There is a rock outcropping half a mile out to shore that resembles a shark-fin breaking through the water's surface. Lurotha tells the PCs that this marks the location of a large system of underwater caves where the evil ones have likely taken the village statue. He pretends to be nervous and tries to persuade the characters to turn back from their mission. In reality, he is just waiting for his "pets" to arrive as planned.

As the PCs enter this area, read the following text:

A large black rock juts out of the surf, vaguely suggesting the fin of a tremendous shark that lurks beneath the waves.

"Below us," says Lurotha, "are the caves of Sekolah, where the demon shark lurks with her thousands of blood-thirsty children. If you are determined in this, then I will lend you my trident, but I would hate to see us waste our lives in such a foolish plan."

Lurotha goes on to describe the entrance of the cave system to the PCs, telling them that it is about 200 yards beneath the surface. He wants to ensure that the PCs can find the entrance on their own. He explains that the water is full of silt, and it can be easy for land-dwellers to lose their way in the poor visibility. He recommends that the PCs stay close to him and to each other.

If the PCs make a successful Spot check (DC 25), they notice the sharks approaching. Otherwise, the first they know of the sharks is when one of them rams the boat. Lurotha grabs his trident, exclaiming that these are "the children of Sekolah" who have come to exact vengeance. He feigns panic, standing up suddenly and lifting his trident over his head as if to throw it. The boat begins to rock dangerously. Allow the PCs to try to steady it in any way they see fit. Spellcasters must make a successful Concentration check (DC 10 plus the spell level) to cast a spell while the boat is unstable. All characters who are standing should also make Balance checks (DC 10) or fall out of the boat.

On the next round, the sharks both ram the side of the boat. Lurotha, at the same time, "loses his balance" and pitches over the side. The boat also capsizes if, in the DM's judgement, the PCs have not taken appropriate steps to prevent this. If the boat capsizes, everybody goes into the water.

The PCs see one shark evidently locked in a death struggle with Lurotha. The last they see of him are his legs flailing above the surface, then a cloud of blood in the water.

If the PCs are with Lurotha in the water, the second shark attacks them until it has lost half its hit points, then retreats.

Lurotha is, of course, unharmed. These sharks are ones that he has trained specifically for such tasks. They can make a convincing show of pulling Lurotha beneath the waves, while remaining calm when exposed to the blood leaking from a superficial wound Lurotha makes in his hand. (That is what the PCs see on the water's surface.)

Lurotha's purpose here is two-fold. First, he does not want to be present when the other sahuagin close in for the kill. Should any of the PCs survive, between his little act and a clever story about surviving the fight, Lurotha preserves his cover. Second, he is toying with his prey. He wants them to be as afraid as possible when they finally face the other sahuagin in the caverns below.

Shark, Large (2): hp 38 each; see Monster Manual page 201.

Development: At this point, the characters are faced with a decision: continue, despite Cyric's apparent demise, or return to Mochdrev. If they go back to the village in defeat, it is only a matter of time before the inhabitants all pack up and leave. Lurotha watches the results of his handiwork from a distance until he is sure of the result, then reports back to Urtholah before moving on to spread lies and fear among another community of land-dwellers. If the characters push forward, they have to face the ambush set for them by the sahuagin in the underwater caves below.

Cliffhanger

Do the characters dare to proceed into the depths of the ocean? Or are they convinced of the demon shark's hold on this place? Will they redeem the spirit of Mochdrev, or do they allow the sahuagin to claim these fishing grounds as their own?

 





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