The Ghost Ship
After a ship washes ashore and runs aground without a single person aboard, you set out in search of the lost crew. Can you find them?
Two weeks ago, a ship drifted into the harbor, headed straight towards the beach next to the docks, and ran aground at full speed.
Inspecting the ship, the harbormaster found food still on plates and cabins filled with the crew’s possessions, but not a single person aboard.
He did find one clue, though: a map in the captain’s cabin that points to a remote island in the Ocean of Lost Sailors.
That island is now just ahead of you on the horizon. Behind you, a raging storm is closing in. Peering over the side of your boat, you see fins poking out of the water, opportunistic sharks anticipating a fresh meal.
With a loud crack, a bolt of lightning strikes that mast of your ship, splintering it into a thousand pieces and lighting the sail on fire…
- Describe the ship you’re on. Is it your own, or did you take the Ghost Ship?
- There’s an unexpected stowaway onboard. Who (or what)?
- One of you is connected to a crew member on the Ghost Ship. Who, and how?
- What does the map indicate might be hidden on the island? What monsters and treasure are rumored to be there?
The Lost Isle could be a tropical island (with palm trees) or a more temperate one (with pines, oaks, and maples). It’s large enough that it would take an hour or two to explore the whole thing.
- Shipwreck Cove. The main cove of the island, it’s protected by rocks or a reef. The masts of several ships can be seen sticking up out of the water. A rocky outcropping protrudes along the edge of the water, and appears to have a cave or some tunnels. It’s too high too reach from the water.
- Quicksand Beach. A beach with unmarked quicksand pits. Adventurers will find animal bones, and evidence that someone lives or has lived there.
- The Grasslands. Tall island grasses, twice the height of a human, cover this section of the island. The area is bordered by the open ocean on one side, and a forest on the other. Mysterious creatures live inside, hidden in the grass.
- The Forgotten Forest. Any trails leading into the forest narrow quickly, and eventually disappear all together. There are lots of strange noises. Tall trees blot out the sun.
- Mount Wanahakaloogi. A mountain or volcano at the center of the island, it’s the tallest visible landmark.
- The Big Lake. Sits at the base of Mount Wanahakaloogi. The bottom is not visible from the surface. It’s unclear how deep it is or what lives within its depths.
- The Tunnels. These natural tunnels appear to be formed by water erosion or old lava flows. The’re home to exotic creatures, and a weird, bioluminescent algae or mushrooms that create a beautiful blue/green light. They’re winding and asymmetrical. Some tunnels loop back on each other, while others are dead ends. At least one has a slide-like drop that brings players dozens of feet lower into the tunnel system.
- The island is home to a reclusive druid who cares for the creatures of the island.
- A giant crab, the size of a house, protects the island from intruders. While resting, he looks like a giant boulder. He’s friends with the druid.
- The druid has created a small army of sentient plants at various places along the island. They provide an early warning system against intruders.
- Because of how often ships wreck on the island, the druid has amassed a horde of gold, jewels, and rare artifacts. He has no interest or use in material wealth, and often uses gold coins as skipping stones. A massive collection of them can be found at the bottom of the Big Lake.
Monsters & Traps
- Awoken Plants. Carnivorous plants, treefolk, vine snakes, and coconut or pinecone monsters are among the various sentient plants that guard the island and will attack intruders who get too close to the center of the island.
- Giant Crab. The size of a house, the giant crab looks like a big rock while at rest. It’s very aggressive towards everyone but the druid.
- Quick Sand. The beach on the opposite side of the island is littered with unmarked quicksand pits that will quickly swallow adventurers who aren’t cautious about where they step.
- Giant Lizards or Giant Rats. The Grasslands are home to giant lizards or rats, each one the size of a horse. The attack in swarms, and are very dangerous.
- Slime or Ooze. The Tunnels contain sentient oozes and slimes. They move slowly, but can swallow a human whole. Their residue is acidic.
- Trolls. At least one troll lives in the Tunnels, hoarding treasure discarded by the Druid.
- Cave-Ins & Hidden Drops. The Tunnels are a wildly dangerous place, with frequent cave-ins, and hidden drops that lead deeper into the tunnel system.
- Lava Pools. Mount Wanahakaloogi is actually a semi-dormant volcano, with many active lava pools within.
- Gear starts disappearing from people’s packs.
- An eerie quiet comes over the island.
- A hurricane lashes the island.
- If the party spends too long in the Tunnels, Mount Wanahakaloogi may become active and start to erupt… especially if they snoop around in the wrong places.
Game Master Tips
- One fun element you can use to add more mystery to this adventure is a recurring symbol that shows up at every new stop. It may show up on the cover of the captain’s log on the ship, then again on a tent at the camp grounds, then carved into the walls of the caves.
- When I run this adventure, I like to have the storm crash the ship onto the Lost Isle, destroying it. In the tunnels, players find an old wooden submarine that they use to escape the island with the sailors (if they find and rescue them).