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Isle of the Kraken

Once every few years, a tiny island mysteriously rises from the depths of the sea for just a few hours. A power artifact is rumored hidden there.

The Situation

Once every few years, a tiny island mysteriously rises from the depths of the sea for just a few hours. It never appears in the same place twice. Sometimes, it disappears before anyone’s even taken notice.

In the center of the island is a stone monolith, a small tower with a carving of a kraken at the top. It’s rumored that Artemis Zilch, the powerful merfolk sorcer who lived several centuries ago, hid his legendary Conch of Calling somewhere on the island.

Many an explorer has ventured to the island searching for it. None have returned.

Tonight, the island has surfaced again. You’re in a rowboat, headed in the direction it was allegedly seen. Water laps at the low sides of the boat.

Suddenly, you catch sight of it. In the distance, you see the monolith, the carving of the kraken lit brightly by the full moon above. How long has the island been at the surface? How much longer until it disappears again?

You row harder towards the island…


  • How did you learn that the island had resurfaced?
  • Why are you interested in exploring it and/or retrieving the legendary Conch of Calling?
  • What have you heard the Conch of Calling does? No one has seen it in centuries.
  • What do you know of Artemis Zilch, the sorcerer?
  • What dangers lurk on the island?
  • [In Game] Why are there carvings of krakens everywhere?


The Shore. As you approach the shore, you notice another ship is already moored to a tree. Attached to the mast is a black flag, with a skull-and-crossbones, gently flapping in the breeze.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Sleeping Pirates. Several pirates who are supposed to be keeping watching sleeping against the trees. If awoken, they’ll attack. If the party doesn’t notice them, they’ll wake up.
The Monolith. Standing about 25’ tall, the monolith is the most prominent feature on the tiny island.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Locked Door. There’s a locked door at the base of the monolith, with another carving of a kraken on it. The carving begins pulsing a sea-foam green as you get closer to it. If the party gets past the door, they’ll find a rope ladder leading into tunnels beneath the island.
    • Pirates. If it takes more than 2-3 tries to open the door, or if they linger too long, and the pirates are still asleep, they’ll wake up and attack.
The Hall of Illusions. Descending the rope ladder into the monolith, you find yourself inside a hallway of ornate, carved stone. Lit candles hang from sconces on both sides of the hallway. The walls are adorned with paintings depicting various scenes.
  • Secrets
    • One of the paintings, a descending stairway with a crab standing at the top of it, is actually an illusory doorway that can be entered. The stairs lead further into the island. If they stare at it long enough, the crab moves.
  • Traps & Monsters
    • Darkness. After a short time, candles will begin snuffing themselves out, throwing the hallway into increasing darkness.
    • Flood. Shortly after that, players will feel water trickling past their feet, rising up to their ankles, then their calves, and so on.
Stairway Down. As you step into the painting, you feel a magical aura sweep over you. Before you is a descending spiral staircase. Though an occasional torch provides some faint light, you can’t see the bottom.
  • Traps & Monsters
    • Bats. A swarm of bats attack the players as they begin their descent. They attack in groups, and have a sharp bite.
    • Stair Slide. About halfway down, the stairs drop flat, creating a slide. If the players might get hurt if they land badly.
Shark Fin Lake. Stepping through an large archway, you enter a massive underground cavern. Before you is a huge subterranean lake. A small rowboat with no oars is tied off on a rock. Torches affixed to the walls cast a purple light high above you. On the other side of the lake is a small stone ledge and giant iron gate in the shape of a kraken.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Phantom Boat. If players step into the boat, it will magically begin moving across the lake towards the gate.
    • Sharks. Hungry, strong, and aggressive. Their fins approach and then circle the boat.
    • Piranha. The players won’t notice them unless they end up in the water, at which point they swarm and become frenzied.
  • Events
    • About halfway across, the boat will begin to sink. It fully submerges about a three-quarters of the way to the gate.
    • If the sharks and piranha attack, they will suddenly stop halfway through and abruptly flee the area, almost as if there’s something in the water that they’re afraid of.
The Tentacle Gate. The iron gate before you is massive. About 15’ up, the top of the gate is decorated with the head of a kraken. One of it’s eyes is a purple gem. The other is an empty spot where one used to be. Iron tentacles twist and weave to form the arms of the gate.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Locked Gate. A pile of ordinary looking rocks lies in a pile against one wall. Buried among them is a purple gem like the one in the kraken’s eye. Putting it back in place will open the gate.
    • Sinking Ledge. After a short amount of time, ledge they’re on begins collapsing into the water.
    • Lava. The water around them begins bubbling. Lava begins rising up out of the water around them.
    • Split the Party. The gate will slam shut behind them after they’ve all entered. Alternatively, you can split the party on either side of the gate.
  • Events
    • Once they make it through, at least one player will feel something tug at their leg. Turning around, they’ll find nothing.
The Cavern of the Kraken. Before you is another cavern, about half the size of the previous one, but still quite large, another big lake in the middle. The walls are dotted with tunnel openings.

High above you, a series of rope bridges connect one opening to the next. Before you, a lone rope bridge leads to one of the tunnels. On a ledge high up on the far side of the cavern, you see it: the Conch of Calling, resting on a pedestal shaped like a kraken. The kraken’s eyes pulse green. There’s a tunnel entrance behind it.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Pirates. The party sees a pirate disappearing into one of the tunnels above. They’re a few steps ahead of you!
    • Rope Bridge. The rope bridge is wobbly. The water below is filled with sharks and piranhas.
The Tunnels. The tunnels are winding and maze-like. Magical candles illuminate the tunnels in a dim green light. Some of the paths are dead-ends. Others bring you back out to the cavern, to one of the high-up rope bridges spanning the lake.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Pit Trap. It’s about 15’ deep and filled with spiders, who will attack them.
    • Crab Nest. A swarm of crabs attacks the party. They’re small, but their claws hurt!
    • Pirates. A group of pirates, also lost in the tunnels, hears them coming and sets up an ambush. You can completely surprise the party, or have them roll to detect it.
The Conch of Calling. Stepping out of yet another tunnel, you see it before you: the Conch of Calling. A rope bridge leads from the platform to another tunnel on the opposite wall. The pulsing eyes of the kraken statue grow brighter as you approach.
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Cavern Collapse. As soon as the players remove the Conch from its pedestal, the ground shakes, holes burst from the walls of the cavern, and water begins shooting out of them.
    • Falling Ledge. The ledge underneath the players begins to crumble and collapse. The kraken statue falls into the water, and sharks instinctively attack it.
    • Pirates. Pirates emerge from the same tunnel the players came out of, the captain with them this time. If the players don’t immediately flee, one of them will try to crab the conch from them.
    • Cave-In. The roof and walls begin caving in more severely. The entire underground complex seems to be caving in on itself.
    • Rope Bridge. If the players rush across the rope bridge, it collapses while they’re halfway across (either on its own, or because the pirates cut the rope).
The Escape Tunnel. Rushing into the tunnel, you see further evidence that the entire complex is failing. Water is pooling and swirling around your feet, and appears to be rising. The soft green glow of the torches on the walls is growing dimmer. Bit of tunnel wall have caved in or sprung leaks. Can you make it out in time?
  • Monsters & Traps
    • Pirates. After several wrong turns, the players can hear the pirates shouting in hot pursuit. The whole tunnel system is shaking, and it’s growing more intense. The water is now up to their ankles and still rising. A group of crabs washes by their feet. A bat swoops by their heads as it flies in the direction they’re running.
    • Wall of Water. Suddenly, they hear a scream. On a successful roll, they’ll see the wall of water. On a failed roll, it catches them by surprise. Chest high and moving fast, the torrent slams into them and pins them and the pirates to a wall where the tunnel splits in two directions. A few crabs crawl over them. A piranha clings fast to one of the pirates fingers.
    • Darkness. Once free, players are carried with the torrent down the tunnel, which plunges them into darkness as all of the torches snuff out.


  • The island is actually an ancient, massive sea turtle who submerges deep into the ocean for several years before surfacing for air.
  • An enchanted kraken lives inside the island, placed there by Artemis Zilch to guard the Conch of Calling. Many of the other creatures fear it, and it will secretly follow the players throughout the adventure.

Game Master Tips

  • The island is actually a giant, ancient sea turtle who periodically surfaces to rest and breath before descending back into the depths for several years. Do not reveal this to your players until near the end of the game.
  • Reveal subtle hints that something may be following them or nearby without revealing too much or telling them its the kraken. It’s good if they think it’s pirates.
  • Players can choose to form a frenemy relationship with the pirates, relying on each other for help until it’s no longer convenient to do so.