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Interesting things to find on an island?

   
Interesting things to find on an island?

I am running my players through an exploration/island adventure now. They are tasked with various missions from different groups of people.

Any ideas for interesting items/locations/creatures they might come across? They are currently level 5.

They receive missions every other week from factions back home. They can choose to accept them or not, this is an unexplored and unclaimed land, and as such many people are interested in it. Any ideas for missions? Both long-term/short term?

Right now these are their missions:

Establish a Thorpe
Quest Giver: Church of Abadar
Time allowed: 4 weeks

Scout the Island
Quest Giver: Church of Abadar
Time allowed: 52 weeks

Tame and train an exotic winged beast
Quest Giver: Rich patron
Time allowed: Infinite

Investigate ancient ruins, clear out a pirate colony.

An exact replica of the ship that brought them there, up a mountain.

cannibals, shipwrecks, lost temples/cities, civilizations that break preconceptions (i.e. drow living on the surface), strange races (phanaton anyone?)

strange green, walking rectangles that hiss and explode like a fireball when you get too close.

Polar bears, smoke monsters, a dungeon with a puzzle that needs to be solved every 108 minutes.

In all seriousness, there could be any number of tribes of humanoids living there. Maybe there are two tribes who are in the middle of a war with each other, and they both try to get the PCs to attack the other tribe, possibly by inventing outlandish stories about how evil they are (i.e. baby-eating, demon-worshipping, etc.). The players have to figure out which side they want to be on, if any.

There could also be a monster who is way, way too powerful for them, like a dragon, who finds them interesting and may give his own quests if they're willing—some of which conflict with the goals of the NPC quest-givers. Will the PCs be able to stay enough in the dragon's good graces to avoid being crisped while still fulfilling their other goals?

Missions:

Find someone who earlier went to explore the island and never returned. (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” Or, for a less cheery version, “Heart of Darkness.”)

There are legends of a lost city that holds things of tremendous value on an island somewhere in the X ocean. Someone obsessed with these legends believes that it’s this island. Is it? Can the PCs find the lost city, or is it just a crazy person’s fantasy? (“El Dorado.”)

Add a bit of specificity to mission 2. Expeditions to explore completely unknown territory often have specific things they’re trying to find, usually routes.

I’d suggest that, as the players start to “scout the island,” it becomes obvious that a river is an important route from the harbor that they’re using as their landing place into the interior. They are offered the job of exploring the river as far as its source, establishing contacts with the indigenous peoples that live along it, learning all the details of its advantages and disadvantages as a route (e.g. there are cataracts that you’ll have to go around here, this section is controlled by a tribe that will expect tribute to allow you to pass through its territory, etc.)

These missions should interact. One of the main things that explorers gathered was information that local peoples gave them, that guided where they headed next. (Sometimes untrustworthy information...)

So, going up the river., at some point, they find the confluence with one of the river’s tributaries, and it looks like this tributary is just as important a route as the river that they’ve been following. The people living at the confluence of the two rivers tell the characters that if they keep going, they’ll come to mountains where (according to what those people have heard), there is a people who ride winged beasts that sound like the kind of thing that the rich man wants.

On the other hand, several years ago, a stranger who was dressed like the PCs spent the winter with the locals, and then headed up the tributary, pursuing rumors of a lost city. So which way do the PCs go?

One thing that affects this is competition. The PCs shouldn’t feel as if everything will just wait for them to get around to it. There are rival explorers, probably in many cases working for rival powers, who want to explore the island just as much as the PCs do. So someone else may find the lost city if the PCs don’t.

A lot depends on who starts where. There are presumably different known harbors (if not, “find other harbors” is a mission!) controlled by different entities? The rival groups may be picking different points to start exploring from, allowing for you to meet them, or encounter their effects, unexpectedly in the interior.

At some point, the PC’s encounter an indigenous people and discover that their rivals have already established relations with them - and that this is exclusive. The indigenous people has agreed not to deal with the PCs or allow them to pass through its territory, forcing them either to come up with some brilliant diplomacy to persuade the indigenous people to switch partners, use violence in realistic but morally unpleasant colonialist ways to force their way through, or try to find an alternative route (presumably through forbidding territory).

Finally, the island isn’t a stable entity that remains the same after the PC’s “discover” things. This is obviously true politically - there will be a particular set of relationships between and within the indigenous peoples and the arrival of the PCs (and other colonial rivals) will have the potential to destabilize those. But it may also be true geographically. I’ve been reading a little about the history of the Mississippi Delta in the colonial period, and OK, it’s an extreme case, but we do in general tend to forget how radically rivers can shift their courses as a result of floods, because nowadays they’ve been controlled by engineering works. That secure campsite where you thought you could establish a trading post - completely gone the next time you go back.

The PCs meet a group of strange and hideous humanoids or giants who appear aggressive but are actually peaceful.

They meet a wizard who is obsessed with making the island beautiful for his daughter who he doesn't let out until he's done - but he's being manipulated by three demons in the form of cats.

The island is attacked by vicious dog-soldiers who bring with them a powerful magical device capable of creating supernatural fear.

They discover a village of blind people, who believe that the PCs are suffering from a delusion they call "sight" and resolve to cure them of it.

The PCs bear witness to a village of locals enforcing the brutal and tyrannical rules of the "Master" who rules them - but when they storm the Master's tower they find a long-dead corpse, and the villagers are forced to confront what they did in his name.

A hermit invites the PCs to join him in his subterranean abode, but decides he doesn't want them to leave. Secretly a powerful sorcerer, he animates magical snake paintings to attack them, whose venom causes a mad infatuation with the idea of staying.

Whilst sailing between islands, the PCs are accosted by the Old Man of the Sea and must defeat him in a battle of wits.

The PCs investigate a xenophobic village of natives who worship a Living Idol.

The PCs find a horde of treasure - but it's cursed such that anyone who takes a piece is turned into an unhappy dragon.

The PCs find a horde of treasure - but it belongs to the Nibelungen, who tell them that anyone who steals it will die a violent death.

A large cave on a hill is home to a one-eyed giant who desires to capture and eat the PCs.

A blind hermit is tormented by harpies who tempt him with a magical banquet of delicious food but refuse to let him eat any.

The PCs come into conflict with a group of Sirenes, who are angry at the "civilised" being encroaching upon their homes.

The PCs discover the splendid home of a mysterious wizard, served by creatures so ugly he cast a powerful spell to make them all invisible.







 

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