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"Mystaraizing" the Savage Tide: There is No Honor

by David Keyser

This being the first adventure for the Savage Tide campaign (Dungeon Magazine #139), and being completely set in Sasserine, there isn't much need for conversion or adaptation for Mystara that hasn't been covered before.

Campaign Log: Sasserine/Sea of Dread
Savage Tide Adventure Path - Mystara Conversion Notes
Savage Tide on Mystara Part I: "There is No Honor"

But this is as good a place as any to make some suggestions for character generation. The Sasserine timeline I expanded upon makes most of the character races in the 3.5 D&D Players Handbook native to the city.

First generation citizens of Sasserine would be those humans and gnomes that first colonized the land, along with some Hinterlanders that may have made homes in the city over those first few centuries. The second generation would be Minorthad immigrants, with Minroth humans, water elves, halflings and dwarves now settling in the city for the first time. The years under Thyatis rule would leave some Thyatians behind, and lastly some Heldanners with the Heldannic Knights establishing an embassy in the city after helping the citizens from Sasserine control. The Heldannic Knights replace the Scarlet Brotherhood in my campaign.

One change I recommend for gnomish characters is to use the Wavecrest gnome build from the Stormwrack book rather than the default gnome build from the PHB. If you have that supplement available it will make gnomish characters of a more nautical bent and more suitable for both Sasserine and the Savage Tide AP. Instead of their racial bonus applying to locathah and sahuagin(or goblins and kobolds in the PHB for regular gnomes) have it apply to kopru and a second aquatic race of your choice. Devilfish would be one possibility, shark-kin another.

For half-orcs, they come from the city-state of Garganin with its sizable humanoid population. So while rare in Sasserine, trade between the cities does mean half-orcs are known along the Davania coast and some reside in each city-state.

As for half-elves, I myself remain a Mystaran purist and did not allow half-elves as a playable race. They do exist on the Savage Coast but not in Alfheim, Minrothad or Sasserine. However, there is no reason not to use the 3.5 PHB Half-Elf build should a player want to use it. A player could play an elf and simply use the half-elf racial traits instead of the elf racial traits, perhaps explaining it by being a Minroth wood elf or Alfheim elf. Or you could give a human the half-elf build, possibly dropping the spell immunity and save bonus and low-light vision and picking up the extra feat for humans in exchange.

Although I didn't use them, two other possibilities would be lupins and diaboli. A clan of lupins could easily migrate to the city at any time during its history and settle there. And if you run the Savage Tide campaign after 1010AC, then you have the precedent of diaboli reaching Mystara and requesting permission to settle on Brun. So another group could easily arrive in Davania and make the same request of Sasserine. 3.5 D&D rules for both of these races can be found in the Dragon Compendium as well as the original Dragon Magazine issues.

I gave my players the option of picking those races at the start of the campaign, but nobody wanted them. That led to the joke that the ST campaign began in a bar with a lupin and diaboli drinking and commiserating with each other about how nobody wanted them.

One common complaint about Paizo adventures is that a lot of background material is not accessible to the players as they go through the adventure. NPCs get colorful histories that the DM reads and enjoys, but in play they get cut down in three rounds of combat against PCs with barely enough time to throw out a brief insult or rejoinder.

At the end of this adventure, the PCs are invited to a banquet by the ruling oligarchy in Sasserine, the Dawn Council. This is a good time to get some of this villain background information into their hands. Having prevented a thieves guild from taking over port authority in Sasserine, an official decides the PCs could help bring to justice some other criminals that have so far eluded Sasserine. They get presented with a collection of dossiers with the suggestion that there are still bounties to be paid should any of the individuals within be found.

Below are brief write-ups of a few NPCs that appear in subsequent Savage Tide adventures which would be known in Sasserine, plus a couple of extra characters.

The Castellan - No real name known, and a ten year old vague description provided. This Thyatian was the commander of the occupation for the last 12 years of Thyatian rule in Sasserine, and is wanted for crimes and atrocities committed primarily during the last 5 years of his rule. He escaped when Sasserine was liberated, and has managed to avoid the notice of Sasserine's spies since then. He is likely hiding in Ravenscarp or has returned to the Thyatian homeland far to the north.

(Note: This character is an extra who is not part of the Savage Tide AP but was added purely for flavor to emphasize recent Sasserine history. It makes sense that a few Thyatians would be wanted criminals in Sasserine after the city drove the Thyatians out.)

Kalvessano Spumeheim - This half-orc native from the city-state of Garganin has been seen in Sasserine. Apparently he killed three people in a brawl at a portside gambling hall in Garganin and was jailed. He escaped and is still on the run. He is not yet wanted for any crimes in Sasserine, but they have posted Garganin's bounty for him.

(Note: This character actually appeared in Savage Tidings(Issue #350), a series of articles in Dragon Magazine which supported the Savage Tide AP. There he is an example of a replacement character for a player, but his story was good enough to add him in as an NPC in the campaign. He could become an ally, cohort or hireling, or could just be captured and turned over to the authorities for the bounty.)

Kigante - No sketch or description for this man. His name has come up in a few contraband cases as well as bribes to certain guards at Sasserine's sea fort. It is believed he is a local contact for the Crimson Pirates. It is likely he serves the Crimson Fleet as a local spy and smuggler.

(Note: This poor bastard doesn't even live long enough to meet the PC's, they only get to find his remains in the Bullywug Gambit in Dungeon Magazine #140. At least now they can know a little more about him.)

Larcos Dengrin - [When the dossiers are presented, a second official begins to question why this man is included, the first official argues that while the case is old, there is some evidence Larcos may have returned.] Apparently Larcos, or someone who looks like him, has been recently spotted in Sasserine. Looking at his file you see that his crimes were indeed long ago, he is wanted for murder and illegal duels that occurred 70 years ago. He is a human not an elf or dwarf which means he is quite old and it isn't clear if the new sighting is actually him. It might also be a son or simply a passing resemblance. You note that Larcos was a respected paladin in his day before his fall from grace. He apparently got involved with some unsavory people as well as a retributive gang war which broke out in the streets of Sasserine.

(Note: This character appears in the only adventure Sasserine that was NOT part of the Savage Tide AP. This adventure and Larcos are found in Dungeon Magazine #149, I plan at some point to expand on that adventure in a separate thread, as it is compatible with Savage Tide and makes a good expansion for the campaign should you be so inclined.)

Slipknot Peet - This guy's story reads like a pirate novel. He was a pirate that raided Sasserine and other coastal ports until he was captured years ago and brought to the city square in Sasserine to be hanged. As he stood on the block with the noose around his neck he defiantly spat at and cursed the assembled crowd. When he dropped through the floor an incredibly well-placed arrow shot severed the hanging rope. In the ensuing confusion Peet escaped with only one other crimson masked individual seen helping him.

Slipknot Peet has been seen only once since then, serving with the Crimson Pirates and referred to by his current moniker. A Sasserine citizen who was captured and later returned for ransom reported that he still wears the tattered hangman's noose around his neck, and further adorns his body with coils of knotted rope wrapped around his arms and torso in a tangled display.

(Note: This pirate will clash with the PCs in the adventure Tides of Dread in Dungeon Magazine #143 when they reach the colony Farshore.)