Isle of Dread?

jedion357's picture
May 24, 2014 - 3:42am
The Isle of Dread module. I've heard it referred to as the Dreaded Isle of Dread in the context that it was a crappy module. I actually DM and played it and as i remember it we had fun, about as much as we had with most D&D modules back in the early '80s. I suspect I would run it different today.

Its pre- Hickman Revolution so its not so much story driven and yet the is a lot of material there to run a good story.

There is a whole 70's King Kong vibe going on with this and to my mind thats worth exploring. Not that the PCs shouls be shameless promoters who bring Kong back to civilization but the scenes where the natives cower behind walls and offer human sacrifices to appease the monsters and the PCs turning up so that they can go in place of someone from the village.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

dmoffett's picture
May 24, 2014 - 8:07am
Used it As much as 6 years ago and it went well. We would have finnished except that my older brother was an obnoxious drunk. I am an old grognard who still plays a hodgepodge of 1st ED, 2nd ED and BECMI. They were so compatible to each other.
The bombing starts in five minutes.

OnceFarOff's picture
May 24, 2014 - 10:55am
When I wrap up my SF campaign with my kids this year, I'm going to be running a BEMCI/ACKS version of this game. I love it.

rattraveller's picture
May 24, 2014 - 11:49am
I always liked the module for what it attempted to do. You had your typical Tolkien characters but now they were no longer in a Middle Earth looking place. You had different situations and enemies and a huge sandbox to play in.

Wondering how hard it would be to convert it to D&D Next.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
May 25, 2014 - 7:36am
I think Lossend at the time of discovery would be a good location for doing a SF version of Isle of Dread.

Losso Dragons and the Wypong primitives inhabiting the ruins things to build with.

PCs are the scout crew/explorers.

The new colonies of Minotaur and Clarrion are not as well suited for growing human crops and there is a desperate need for establishing an ag colony so their mission is to identify a good location and make sure that human crops will grow without problems (there should be at least one ecological problem for them to sort out before human crops can be introduced. a bug or something that will need to be controlled.

then toss in complications from wypong and dragons. It would still need somehting for greater stakes to be at play though.

EDIT: The start of Isle of Dread is a discovered ships log which leads to the island's discovery. Perhaps one of the colony ships of the expedition that brought humans to the Frontier actually crashed here. thus part of the adventure is locationg the crash site and ascertaing the fate of its crew and colonists.

For the pirate angle if IoD there was a group of disgruntled folks from Minotaur who absconded with a shuttle and have been picking over the remains of the colony ship that crashed.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
May 25, 2014 - 11:59am
Thinking about the elements of IoD:

Colony Ship Mystara (homage to the IoD's origins) crashlands on Lossend (named for Navigator Losso- Losso's End) Original crew and colonist compliment is 10,000.

Some bad seeds from Minotaur make off with a small ship and end up at Lossend- these are play the role of pirates but they are not classic pirates in that they have not been raiding shipping like pirates at this point in time but they are thugs. They end up controlling the advanced materials of the colony ship- weapons and vehicles.

There is an element in the Lossend ecology that acts as a toxin in humans. It affects the speech centers of the brain and as it builds up it leads to slurring of speech, as more and more builds up in the body profound slurring of speech is the result. Humans eating native Lossend plants and animals experience this fast, if they eat human crops it takes longer but still has a cumulative effect.

This speach toxin is the environmental issue that has to be overcome before Lossend becomes a major Ag colony. It has serverly impacted the colonist surviving from CS Mystara such that their speech is beyond recognition. On top of that these colonist have been knocked back to the stone age  pretty much and are living like primitives.

The "pirate" group has located drop containers that held key supplies for the colony and set themselves up as kings. Living off the material intended to keep 10,000 colonist alive. They are not suffering form the speech toxin partly from living off colony suplies but also from resorting to canniblism on other humans.

The mysterious mind control group at the center of the island in IoD is perhaps a fusion of some humans taken under alien influence and that alien influence. a klikk that is abducting and using mind controll on the humans, or something tetrarch-ish, or "Alien X" (meaning its alien and we simply dont explain what it is or name it but leave it a mystery).

Because of the raids by the pirates and the alien abduction the 700 colonist have fortified a pinnisula and are attempting to survive.

there is a crazy mad hermit living in the wilds of Lossend- Navigator Losso. His speech is badly slurred but he's a scientist and investigator and has been cataloging information on the planet all this time.

the ships log that leads the PCs to IoD is from a jurry rigged craft that was part of the CS Mystara's compliment of small ships
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
June 20, 2014 - 7:30pm
I remember that we had this one BITD, but I don't remember playing it.

More recently, Dungeon magazine ran "Savage Tide" as an Adventure Path (6 modules, covering levels 1-19) for 3.5e. It started in the corrupt tropical port of Sasserine, then moved to the Isle of Dread for 2-3 of the modules, then off to some demonic plane. I played in it up to a few years ago, that group dropped it by mutual agreement once we'd saved the settlement from the pirates, and ignored the trip to the demon-thing. (There wasn't enough sailing and pirate-y things for my taste, and too much marching across the island for my character's taste. He was a bit of a wuss, to be honest.)

I had wondered about doing pieces of Savage Tide (the parts around Sasserine) and the preceding Shackled City AP, using Star Frontiers aliens and planets. Mind-controlling demons ==> Sathar, and off you go.

The direct link to Dread is at the end of the first module, the PCs are supposed to rescue the daughter of some of the explorers of the island, she forms an expedition that becomes parts 3-4.

jedion357's picture
June 20, 2014 - 8:19pm
@ Puttrack: I Wasn't aware of Savage Tide but like some of the ideas in it (just read the meager information on it in wikipedia)

Another possibility instead of sathar would be tetrarch or clikk involvement

"corrupt tropical port" could this be anything else besides Dark World station?

I just picked up a milk crate and a banana case for a song at a yard sale that were full of Dragon magazines (some still in their shipping wrappers such that they were never read) I dont think any of them were Dungeon magazines but I'm going to take a second look for the 12 issues of Dungeon that brought out this adventrue arc.

Possible adventure name: Savage Planet?

From your comments I take it that any story line along these lines should be a KHs campaign.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
June 20, 2014 - 8:41pm
Yes, I was thinking of how to do elements of both storylines in Frontier space.

The modules were pretty late in Dungeon, north of #120, I think.

Warning: I was displeased with the AP, but that was because I really like sailing ship things, and the build-up to the whole campaign was "PIRATES!" but what we got was, "a little bit of smugglers, a shipwreck you cannot avoid, and an awful lot of slogging across a jungle island." Hardly anything took place on board a ship, and a bunch of stuff seemed nonsensical to me (at least, as revealed by our DM). Thus, my thoughts towards rewriting it. I also mused about doing it in a real-world-ish Caribbean setting (still, demons = aliens) in either a 1930s or semi-modern setting. More like the X-files or Indiana Jones.

jedion357's picture
June 20, 2014 - 9:21pm
@ Putraack: I like all those ideas
RE the craziness of the savage tide adventrue- it was twelve instalments and somethign like 11 different writers- that was bound to impact it.

Following link is to the PDF of Dungeon 139 which had deck plans for a merchant vessel, write up on the port and the openning adventrue

Synopsis "No Honor" to SF: Noble woman's father has died and she needs to set the estate in order which requires obtaining a key to the family vault that is on her father's ship. This leads a smuggler's cove lair of the brother of said Noble woman and a plot to seize controll of the Port's merchant shipping.

Converting to SF: Woman hires PCs to get her dead father's ship which is in a slip at Dark World station- that in and of itself sounds like a tough adventure, bribes and such to Dark World officials to get access, confirming the ship is flyable and potential gangsters looking to muscle in, back slip fees and "why dont you just do this little favor for us...." (is this post or pre Dramune Run? is the Malthar present? He really should be as having "Jabba the Hutt" around is probably good for the setting.)

naturally this leads to a smuggler's asteroid- perhaps the woman's half brother has gone smuggler/pirate and has a plot to do bad stuff to either negatively impact either the shipping of Inner Reach or Outer Reach.

Small details: Even though the Savage Tide adventrue started with the obligatory "noble woman in need" the SF version could be a Noble Woman from Clarion and we should turn the cliche on its head- that she's not young and beautiful

climax could be a KHs shoot em up between the dead father's ship and a smuggler/priveteer
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
June 20, 2014 - 9:52pm
Bullywug Gambit is the second instalment of Savage Tide in Dungeon #140

clues at the smuggler hold lead to secret pirate hold and possible hiding place of the brother. Pirate hold is in disarray with mad pirates practicing canniblism and their cargo of dangerous creatures having escaped their cages. One pirate has not gone mad and has dispatched her first mate to get the brother but this first mate is on her way back to port with a draft of frogmen mercenaries assuming that the brother has returned to his family estate and they are about to kill the sister- the PCs must save their employer.

Converting to SF
from a secret smuggler hold to a secret pirate hold is a little repetative
but pirates going crazy mad and escaped creatures from their ship's holds is good- sort of has a Reaver's vibe.

I like the race to save the PC employer climax. especially the challenge of navigating a city during a festival with a time pressure of being in time to save the employer.

Note this adventrue has the capture of a ship, the Sea Wyvern in it
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
June 20, 2014 - 10:30pm
"The Sea Wyvern's Wake" Dungeon #141

Reads like a Star Trek episode and ends with an unavoidable crash

Its getting cliche that each instalment of this adventrue path must go to a secret location and in this case its an obscure colony started by the husband of the PCs employer. Location of colony is none other than the Isle of Dread. Mission is to resupply the colony but it goes array in a Saragasso sea where numerous other ships have become mired - PCs must fight a plant monster to move forward. Having done so they are hit with a storm and the damaged ship reaches the Isle of Dread and wrecks.

I like the idea of the PCs being part of an expedition to resupply a fledgling colony.
The Dinosaur planet from SFman is a good candidate for this.

I love the idea of the Saragasso sea and derelict ships. a few TNG star trek episodes come to mind. This possibly works best as an ancient artifact of alien race X (tetrarch or clikk or other) and PCs must negotiate with the crew of one of the other ships to effect escape (self destruct of a ship to blow the artifact station) which could lead to one or more of the stranded ship crew's attemtping a boarding action to use the PCs ship for said self destruction option, could be interesting if one ship was sathar.

the mandatory crash thing sucks and is cliche but no reason the PC's ship and others could be severely damaged in the escape of the artifact and thus have the enforced "you're going to be stuck here awhile" , a pirate ship crew that the PCs sort of worked with to end the threat of the artifact could also be stranded and are perfectly willing to raid the PCs ship for parts if they can find it.

This is probably the place where the adventrue path turns in the direction that lead Putraack's group to decided to abandon it.

Going into a resupply and saving of a colony storyline moves from the pirate storyline. However setting up pirates as threat to the existance of the colony could change that. I know this adventure path takes a turn into other planes of existance with demons (sathar). The savage tide unleashed by the brother lead to madness of the pirates in part 2 so maybe the brother is actually a sathar agent. Threat to the fledgling colony is pirates are considering it for a new hold but a bigger threat is on the horizon in the form of the sathar such that the PCs will need the pirates to fight the worms (naturally the pirates are a problematic ally)
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
June 20, 2014 - 11:38pm
RE Savage Tide Rethink

I like the idea of the PCs being hired to retrieve a ship from a slip at Dark World station as the campaign kick off.

the brother is an exec at Synthetics Corporation (EVP of R&D) and a sathar agent. A biological warfare agent has been developed by the sathar that affects the species of the Frontier much like the Pax of Serenity/Firefly turns people into Reavers - because lets face it Reavers are more fun than people dying horribly of the plague. There is a plan to use smugglers and pirates to spread the "savage tide" as well as to use the science outpost on Dinosaur Planet as a test bed.

PCs have many obstacles getting the ship underway and since it was the Father's ship and the son had access the formula for the savage tide is locked away in the computer. enter a synthetics corp priveteer that out gunns the PCs ship. PCs are ordered to fly to smuggler's hold asteroid, dock and open the hatch. Smugglers are pawns of the brother and he will have to dispose of the priveteer crew lest they talk. But most of all he needs to recover the formula.

Perhaps its not the formula for savage tide bio-agent but the anidote? of course the PCs wont know this but it could be synthesized and used to protect against the savage tide.

Part 2 at the Pirate hold is an accidental release of the bio-agent and some quickdeaths or other dangerous creatures but using quickdeaths puts the PCs on notice that there will be sathar in this adventure somewhere. Perhaps the quickdeath are present because the savage tide requires a syrum developed from the brain of a quickdeath to manufacture and thus the quickdeath are being bred and raised illegally by Frontier citizens (shhh dont tell Star Law). since this activity is so illegal the brother is using smugglers and pirates to do it. Alternately with the success of the PCs in part 1 the wheels are coming off the plot and the release of savage tide at the pirate hold is about simply containment and eliminating witnesses. The brother is now on his way to kill his sister after capturing her and forcing the PCs to surrender to him (which will be a bad idea for everyone).

Note the actions of the brother will give the PCs a lever to leverage some cooperation with pirates latter- he's liquidated other pirates so why should the present pirates not turn on him?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
June 21, 2014 - 7:08pm
Yep, Sathar virus == Reavers, that's something I agree with. Your synthesis sounds like a good one. Using pirates (or their fences) to spread the bug is a good one, as it can provide some armed protection to the spy ring.

Note that in parts 1 & 2, there is another adventurer group that works for the patron NPC and her family. I like friendly rivals/allies in games & stories, so go ahead an include them, by all means.

The brother's smuggling ring's business included moving exotic animals from Dinosaur Planet, so that's something to work with. If they are coming from Darkworld Station, chukka smuggling might be used as either part of the virus spreading, or just another part of the business. Intelligent small jungle primates do feature in a later adventure on the Isle of Dread.

You guessed it, part 3 is one part the story broke down for me, at least. I would rant more, but that's not necessary here.

jedion357's picture
June 22, 2014 - 3:51am
I think the right feel for characterizing a new colony on the Dinosuar planet from the SFman is that

A: a science outpost was established by an appropriate organization back in the Frontier

B: a vrusk conglomerate has footed the bill for some basic infrastructure: basic shuttle port and refueling, prefab ware house in exchange for a concession to explore and investigate possibilities for economic developement. the set up is just basic- enough to handle a shuttle and a few copters and air transports.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!