Episode Four: Fish Food
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.
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. The PCs have already faced two sharks on the water as they neared the caves, and then they had to swim to enter the cave system. The PCs move toward the final battle with the sahuagin. By now, they might realize that they face more than mere sharks in these caverns. The only question is will they live to return to Mochdrev and tell of their adventure? Remind them about the devil sharks Cyric described, and emphasize the lack of visibility in the underwater caves.
Area 40 (EL 5)
As the characters enter Area 40, read the following boxed text:
The silt here is still dense, but not as much as elsewhere in the caves. It seems to thin out the higher up you swim.
If characters continue to swim upward, they eventually break through to the water's surface. Read the following once they do:
Fresh air! Light reflects off the rough cave ceiling high above. To the west, it seems as if there might even be dry ground on which to stand.
Unless the PCs make a successful Spot check opposed by the sahuagin's Hide (DC 28), they are surprised by the sahuagin. They attack from below, preferring to strike once all the characters have surfaced but before any of them reach the shore.
To ensure that the PCs are enticed to attempt to move toward the shore, the sahuagin placed the missing statue in plain sight, just beyond the water line.
Sahuagin (3): hp 11 each; see Monster Manual page 157.
Tactics: The sahuagin chose this chamber for their ambush because they believed the land-dwellers would behave predictably and focus on getting out of the water instead of on combat. The sahuagin cooperate, attempting to prevent the PCs from reaching dry land while also trying to maximize their flanking bonus and the number of attacks of opportunity a fleeing PC will face. The sahuagin frenzy as soon as possible, counting on their advantage in the water to offset the AC penalty.
Should any of the PCs escape to shore, the sahuagin continue to focus on those in the water. Once all of the PCs in the water are dead, the sahuagin turn their attention to any remaining PCs onshore.
Treasure: The PCs can gain more than the statue if they search the area (DC 20). They find three gems stashed away near the waterline against a wall.
Development: Once the sahuagin are dealt with, the PCs may turn their attention to the statue. The statue is made of dark wood and weighs approximately 300 lbs. It is solid and not terribly buoyant. Carrying it through the water is a difficult proposition that is best left up to the DM to deal with and may be based on the maximum amount of frustration his or her players can handle.
A successful Spot check (DC 15) reveals that a very gentle breeze is coming from the tunnel to the west (Area 38). If characters follow the tunnel to the end, they emerge through a small hole onshore, about a half mile away from Mochdrev. The walls of the tunnel are covered with the same strange writing and webbed handprints: prayers to Sekolah for a successful hunt.
If the characters attempt to exit the way they came, they have to face two new sharks in Area 43, identical to the ones they fought before. They also have to face the same sharks that carried Cyric away once they emerge from the cave system. If they return to the spot where the boat ought to be, they find that it is gone, and they must swim the half-mile to shore unless other alternatives are available. No more sharks attack them at this point, but play up the possibility that some will. Have the PCs roll random Spot checks, say that a shark fin has appeared above the water nearby, and the like. (Any sharks that do appear at this point leave the PCs unmolested, but don't let the PCs be assured of this.)
A successful Climb check (DC 20) is required to scale these slippery walls. If one or more of the PCs does this, they find a statue of a great white shark carved from ivory, with mother-of-pearl eyes. This is a statue of Sekolah and is worth 600 gp. The walls are covered with writing identical to that found in Area 42.
The Cliffhanger Ends
If the characters return to Mochdrev triumphant with the statue, the townsfolk rejoice. Owein restores the statue to its proper place. The people of Mochdrev have been given back their strength and will continue to struggle against the incursion of the sharks into their waters. Owein rewards the PCs with 2,000 sp from the temple treasury, because it is what Thuthir would have wanted him to do. If the characters return badly hurt or with their numbers reduced, but at least with the statue, the townsfolk are quiet but grateful. If the characters return without the statue, the townspeople are distraught. Owein tries to rally them, but many begin to make plans to depart Mochdrev forever.
In any of the cases above, the PCs discover that Cyric is still alive and has reached Mochdrev ahead of them. If any of the PCs say something along the lines of, "We thought you were dead," he responds by saying that he thought the same of them. He says that after his fight with the shark, the boat remained but they were gone. He had no choice but to take the boat, return to Mochdrev, and report their loss. Now that they have returned, he pretends to be overcome with joy and relief.
He does not, however, give up trying to convince the townspeople that the demon shark is coming for them and that they should all leave. They are much less receptive to his message if the PCs returned triumphant. After several days, he realizes that he's been dealt a major setback. He disappears from Mochdrev, returning to the ocean where he will devise a new plan.
If the PCs returned with the statue and with some tangible proof of the sahuagin's presence, such as their heads, wrapped up in a bag, the people of Mochdrev realize that they have been dealing with a kind of aquatic humanoid, not with some supernatural demon. Talk of flight rapidly turns to talk of war against the sahuagin. Meanwhile, Cyric realizes that this battle is lost and slips quietly away.
Next, the PCs may try to track down the location of the sahuagin village. There are no clues in the cave system, as Lurotha made certain to choose a location sufficiently well removed from his home, but the PCs may devise other means of finding the sahuagin's settlement. For instance, they might look for patterns in the shark activity or attempt to enlist the help of sympathetic beings such as tritons or merfolk.
No matter what the outcome, however, the PCs have certainly not heard the last of Lurotha. The PCs have meddled in the malenti's plans. They've made an enemy of a vicious creature with a long memory, who will strike at them in secret from the depths of the sea when they least expect -- because now, it's personal.