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Gen Con 2014 report: Shadows Over the Moonsea

Michael Tresca

Shadows Over the Moonsea


After the debacle that was a total party kill in Secrets of Sokol Keep, I was committed to playing my dwarf cleric Tobias as an aggressive type. Fortunately, this go round I had a set of four experienced players and another player on his own like myself who was eager to work together. We had two clerics, two fighters, a rogue, and a wizard. But like the other scenario this one seemed unbalanced -- in this case, a little too easy.

We decided to play 4th level characters, having used the Starter Set to level them up. I had a version of Tobias at 4th level and didn't realize we could even do this -- the other four players were 4th, and the other single player was 2nd. So we were definitely at the upper range (a very strong party, according to the scenario). Didn't matter, we plowed through the opposition.

It all started with a gibbering maniac shepherded by a death cleric. Tobias took pity on him and healed his wounds. After getting some vague references to what our party surmised was either ghosts or pirates, we proceeded to spend the entire adventure voting for one or the other. "GHOSTS!" or "PIRATES!" was shouted frequently.

Weirdly, Shadows Over the Moonsea features both and neither. It has not one but two factional schisms that makes it nigh impossible to determine exactly what's going on. Our heroes followed the clues to an island village that was filled with dirty villagers. There they met Elisande, a 12-year-old girl who had no discernible skills, and proceeded to guess (in addition to the ghosts/pirates debate) what class she would join as her eventual goal of becoming an adventurer. One player guessed warlock -- he had no idea how right he was.

Our friendly fighter negotiated expertly with the old crones who helped run the village, the one-armed violent smith, and Tobias paid off the boatman. That led them to Verik another madman who turned out to not be what he seemed. Our wizard picked up on the lies and that led to the big reveal of a forthcoming pirate raid (score one for pirates!). The party prepared the village defenses as best they could and then waited.

Over the rise came glowing kobold skeletons (GHOSTS!). The party made short work of them, followed by the villagers tossing powerful spells they shouldn't have access to -- which led to the raiding party to signal a full-blown retreat back to their ship. Pursuing them led to an open conflict between two different ships, one with infernal pirates and the other with kobolds in skeleton costumes. If that sounds confusing, it was.

This was one of the scenarios where it didn't matter who was on what side. The party practically slaughtered everybody who moved, but allowing first pirate captain, Ixis, to surrender. There are backstories to the pirate conflict and the villagers, but none of that came up in our investigation and thus wasn't particularly relevant.

Overall the scenario went better but that was largely because of a prepared DM, experienced players, and monsters with AC 12 (pirates and kobolds), average hit points of 11 at most, and one attack per round.

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