Wednesday, January 28, 2015

U2 Danger at Dunwater: The Alliteration Continues

Perhaps because U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh turned out to be a TPK, my gang never played its sequel Danger at Dunwater.  Which is to say, I have no firsthand knowledge of how this bad boy plays out.  However, that will not keep me from spoiling the crap out of this thing, so move along if you'd rather avoid that sort of confab.

U2 Danger @ Dunwater picks up where U1 left off, riffing on the presence of lizardmen on the smuggler's ship.  It turns out that the lizardmen [Aside: are lizardmen actually amphibians?] were striking a deal with the smugglers to buy bulk armaments at a discount.  The Saltmartians--concerned that the mud-wallowing lizard-freaks are planning an invasion of their despicable burg--hire/coerce the PCs into running off and dealing with the problem for them. 

Reviews of U2 (the D&D module, not the high altitude spy plane) praise this module for "not being what it appears," which is too bad, because what it appears to be is a lizard-themed dungeon crawl, and who doesn't like hackin' up lizardmen?  But it turns out that you're supposed to be helping the lizardmen, not flaying them alive.  As written though, the party probably isn't gonna figure that out until it's way too late. 

Essentially, this module is supposed to put the PCs in a moral quandary when they find out that the the heavily armed lizardmen they've been slaughtering all evening are not planning on harvesting the gizzards of the good citizens of Saltmarsh.  Yet the only indication that something unusual is up with these slithery goons is the presence of some Mermaids and other assorted aquatic types sipping tea and snarfing seaweed crumpets in their lizardy den. 

Now, if you enter through the front door you'll find this out right away.  But the front door involves swimming, so you're probably not going to opt for that one, preferring one of the land-bound entries.  Which means that by the time you get to Neptune's tea party,  you've already made a stylish belt--with matching boots and luggage--out of the wives, children, and siblings of the lizardude chief and his elite guardsmen. 

Fortunately, the Lizardians aren't too sentimental: they'll forgive and forget as long as the party goes off on a wild crocodile hunt on their behalf. Though, since the PCs are working as independent contractors for the Village of NaClmarsh, they would be entirely within their rights to point out to the Lizardmen that this is not within the scope of their agreement and will first require negotiating for additional services with the town council.  

But what if a group of PCs actually did take the time to figure out what the Lizardudes were up to instead of collecting their spleens first and asking questions later?  Would this module hold up if it was confronted with such thoughtful PCs?  Consider this scenario: 
Party [approaching the front gate of the Lizardarian Lair]: "All right you slimy, fork-tongued bastards, we know you've been stockpiling weapons for a raid on the village of Saltmarsh.  You'd better cut that crap out right now or you're gonna' be in big trouble."

Lizardudes: "Get lost ya' dandruff-ridden landlubbers, we've got a sahuagin invasion to deal with."

Party: "Say who again?"

Lizardudes: "Sahuagins.  Evil, scaly bastards?  Page 84 of the Monster Manual?  Anyway, they've been harassing us for months, moving in on our turf.  We're here negotiating with the Locathah and merdudes to team up against those creeps."
[As confirmation, Merdude chief and Locathah chief pop their heads out, smile, and wave]
Party [taken aback]: "Oh! So you're not hoarding weapons in order to raid Saltmarsh?"

Lizardudes:  "Raid Saltmarsh? Why would we do that?"

Party: "You're certain?  No assaulting the village?  No rending townspeople limb from limb?"

Lizardudes [somewhat miffed]: "Absolutely not."

Party [crestfallen]: "Very well. Sorry for bothering you."
[Party dejectedly turns to leave.  The Lizardudes, their annoyance turned to pity, confer with Merdude and Locathah. After some whispered debate, they turn back to the party.]
Lizardudes:  "Say, you guys wouldn't want to help us, would you?"

And so, unless the Master of Dungeons has U3 The Final Countdown on hand and prepped for play, your big Friday night gaming session is over before the pizza's even arrived. 


ClawCarver said...

Hmmm... Yes, I remember this one. We hacked our way through dozens of lizard-folk until finally the truth was revealed. Whoops. The penitential big croc encounter almost finished us.

Oh, and hats off for "Say who again?" Very good.

Darrell said...

Discount price weapons?! There is ridiculous markup on them, thanks to the fact that the lizardmen have no feel for market prices. (I have dealt with that in foreign countries. I have no idea if I am being ripped off.)

We recently played U1 and quasi-U2. The party captured and interrogated the lizardmen on the ship, so they knew the situation before reaching the lizardhome. It was a simple matter of negotiation. The lead fighter (inquisitor) is training the lizardmen to be more effective. There is an awesome picture of a lizardchump who doesn't know how to hold a morningstar; that really set the mood.

Patrick Halter said...

I always love being fashionably late to the party.

I remember being run through this module in my old GURPS game. (Our GM had a talent for adopting these old modules both to the system and to our game. In our version, we were there because we thought the Lizardmen were allies of a regionally-local dragon we needed to take out. But that's a digression.)

Our solution went something like, "These lizardmen are stockpiling weapons, which is a threat to the nearby town. Let's go kill them."

Then, once we were halfway through killing them and learned of the fishman invasion, our reaction was, "Oh. Well, you're still stockpiling weapons, which you could use against us at some point. Sure, you say you have a reason other than us, but once the fishmen are beaten off and you have all these weapons, the village looks an attractive target. So you've got to die."

Then we went back and re-negotiated terms with the village to kill off the fishmen, too, since they were planning to invade.

aka screw moral quandaries: they're not human so they don't count.

Timrod said...

Yeah, I think asking the DM to lay a guilt trip on his players for slaughtering lizrdmen is a tall order. Also, I can show up at parties pretty late too.