Since early October I have been working hard on a Dungeons and Dragons adventure for my eight-year-old brother, who didn’t know how to play but really wants to learn. Since we can’t play with other people currently, it has to be just him and me, different from the typical party of three to five. There are lots of free adventures online, as well as a couple that I have, but not really any one-player ones. So, I kind of ended up having to write one myself (which was, of course, not at all a disappointment). I finished writing the first part in late November and we just finished it… now I have to get working on the next part.
The adventure itself is probably not going to be published or shared beyond with people I know, and I’ve never been a Dungeon Master before (the person that leads the game and tells the players the result of the things they do) let alone written an adventure, so I am sure I got a lot of things wrong but I understand it, so it doesn’t really matter.
Instead of copying and pasting the entire thing here, I wanted to share a summary about it — mostly story rather than rules. You needn’t know the rules to D&D to be able to understand it. I haven’t finished writing it yet, but I know how the plot will go. So, I guess it’s a little like a short story. Presenting… Beyond the Sea!
Six word version:
Legend in a group of islands.
Set in a world named The Eternal Ocean (which I have a full map of as well as other adventures in the works for, but the big picture isn’t important right now), the player discovers a group of islands connected by a village on boardwalks in the middle. Called the Shattered Islands, they resemble, well, a shattered circular island. They explore one island at a time, coming back to the Center (the village) regularly, finding pieces of the legendary Shattered Medallion and trying to become a Master or True Explorer. Who knows what might happen when all ten medallion pieces are put together…
These are the Shattered Islands, a group of islands way, way out in a vast ocean. Only extremely rarely do people come or go. Made up of five islands very close to each other, when one looks at a map of them it appears that they have been dropped and shattered — the edge of one is the same as the edge facing it, as if they could click together. They look like wedges of a circle, with all the points facing inward and almost meeting.
There are several theories about the Shattered Islands. Legend has it that it was once a land ruled by the mighty gods Kazaro, Ellia, Varos, Loutin, and Nyna. But they got into a fight about the island and each had different plans. So they compromised. They all got together in the center and combined their powers to send a crack of incredible force running along the island, splitting it into five. Each god claimed a piece and made it their own. Therefore, each island is named after a god or goddess. (You can tell because one or more things on that island are named after it — e.g., the island of Kazaro has Kazaro Hills and Kazaro River).
Other theories suggest that a massive earthquake split the land. Or, because evidence suggests there were once skinny, towering mountains in some of the cracks, and lightning is more likely to strike high points, perhaps lightning eventually eroded the land and separated it. But this is very unlikely. When looked at from the ocean, each island looks completely normal and unsuspicious, like its own island. Maybe it was a crazy coincidence? No one has figured it out for sure yet.
Also according to legend, somewhere on each of the five islands there are two pieces of a medallion the same shape as the island. Not even the Master Explorers (more on that later) have found them, so nobody knows what will happen if each medallion were put together.
A background/hook for the player already comes with the story, because it’s pretty hard to tie an entirely unrelated background the player has already made with going to an unknown group of island miles from any other land (however, they can come up with their own hometown name). Here is the hook, which is to be read aloud to the player before starting the first session.
(Character’s name), you were living your normal life in Windset (or character’s hometown) when you received word that your whole immediate family was ill with a rare deadly disease that could only be cured with expensive medicines that they could not afford. As if things couldn’t get worse, Windset was failing lately, and more and more people were going hungry. It looked like it might be the end.
To clear your mind for just a few hours, you went to the ocean for a boat ride. You didn’t bring a compass or anything for navigation because it was going to be a short ride. You pushed off the beach and suddenly were pulled away from the shore by a riptide. But you were still close to land, so you decided to go a little farther.
It was quiet and peaceful, and you lost track of time. As night fell, you headed into a violent storm, which left you clinging to your boat for dear life. Your head smashed into the boat and you blacked out.
Thankfully, you actually woke up and didn’t drown. You had fallen into the storage compartment inside the boat, and the food there was safe. But as you looked around, you could not see any land and had no idea where you were.
Without any other options, you sailed in a random direction and hoped for the best. You alternated between eating rations and fish. Just as you were about to give up hope, you spotted an island! Excited, you headed straight toward it. Soon, you reached it but realized that there were gaps in it — it was not one island after all — it was five!
They appeared to be connected in the middle, so you went there. As you drew closer, you saw people walking around on a large boardwalk with railings around it that spiraled upward very high, and somebody saw you. “Hey!” they called out. “There’s someone here!”
Twenty people excitedly gathered, reached down, and helped pull you up. You lay on the floor for a moment from exhaustion and then slowly stood up. As soon as you did so, a man pulled your arm up in the air and said, “This one sailed all the way here alone! I bet [he/she] will be the next Master Explorer!”
Everybody cheered, and some wished you good luck, but you were extremely confused.
“Um… where am I?” you asked when the noise had settled down.
They kindly explained that you had come to the Shattered Islands, and this was the Center, the town in the middle of all five isles.
You told them politely that you would love to stay but needed to get back home. You turned back to your boat and gasped, more and more people realizing what had happened. A tall man was already a ways out to sea — it had been easy to sneak by in the commotion — and he shouted, “Finally! I am free! So long, everybody!”
A woman sighed and said, “That’s Arly for you. Sorry, I guess you’ll be staying here awhile whether you like it or not.”
Since they hadn’t gotten a newcomer in years, there was no inn, but a kind human couple named Draak and Elageon let you stay at their house. It was getting late, so you went home with them, had dinner, and went to sleep.
During dinner, you had a simple conversation about where you were from and what brought you to the Shattered Islands. You asked what a “Master Explorer” was, and they explained that the five bridges that each go out to an island are guarded. You must pass a test to determine whether you are ready to explore there. Most people aren’t. But three people have ventured to all five of the islands at some point in their lives. They are called Master Explorers.
One of them is named Alyrana, and she is also the mayor of sorts in the Center. Additionally, she runs a store called Alyrana’s Adventures. If you want to know what’s going on, they recommend you go there.
Now, the next day, you are feeling refreshed and well-fed. Draak has just given you 10 gold pieces as a kind gift before leaving to work at the general store the two of them own, and Elageon has taken you to the bottom of the town so you can start exploring from the entrance. He slips a piece of paper in your hand that says:
4th shop past the General Store
Next to the two magic shops
You say goodbye and he jogs up to meet Draak.
The people of the Shattered Islands eventually built bridges that lead to the Center, a town floating in the ocean held in place by the five bridges.
The Center’s base is not actually that big, but a boardwalk spirals upward and the city is very tall. Seeing as an entirely man-made town was being built, many of the humanoids on the Shattered Islands settled there. They have been doing this for about a hundred years. Therefore, not many of the people venture to the islands anymore. Other wild dangers have slowly taken over the islands during the last hundred years, and people started going out there and never coming back. Unsure of what to do, the leaders of the Center closed the bridges, forbidding anyone from coming in or out.
Of course, the townspeople did not like this, so instead guards were appointed at each bridge. Anyone who wants to leave must first pass a test deeming them worthy.
Not many people live in the Center. It is unknown exactly how many live on their own in the Islands, but probably not more than a few thousand, so the Shattered Islands is a very sparsely-populated place. Since it is such a small group, the townspeople have a very tight bond. Everybody knows each other and helps each other whenever they can.
Each island is a little harder than the last. In order from easiest to hardest (and also clockwise starting from northwest), the islands are Kazaro, Ellia, Varos, Loutin, and finally Nyna. At the start of the adventure, the only island the player can pass the test to go to is Kazaro.
Based on Shattered Islands lore, there are Master Explorers and True Explorers. Master Explorers, of whom there are three in the Center, are people who are strong enough to and have explored all five islands. However, nobody has ever obtained all ten pieces of the Shattered Medallion, thus becoming a True Explorer.
When a Master or True Explorer comes back from the fifth island, they are treated with immense respect and given any available home in the Center at no price for life. They may leave and come back at any time and will always be welcomed. The guards do not test them if they want to go to an island. As is probably evident by now, this is the goal of the adventure: become a True Explorer and put together all ten pieces of the Shattered Medallion.
So far, my brother, who plays a human fighter named Draco Blackscale (using a character sheet from the Starter Set), and his elf bard friend Apollo (played by me while I also Dungeon Master), has obtained both pieces from the first island, Kazaro. I haven’t written any further than that, but he keeps begging me to write the next island so that he can keep adventuring.
I do know what will happen when all the pieces of the Shattered Medallion are put together, and some hints have been dropped. But I won’t say it here yet.
Just in case I ever decide to sell it or a version of it, I won’t put the whole thing here, but here are the first few pages.
Well, that is Beyond the Sea! I hope you were interested enough to make it to the end of the long version, all the way down here.