Who doesn’t love a pirate adventure? Who doesn’t enjoy a pirate adventure with a twist? If you like having experiences on remote islands with seedy and suspicious characters with some exotic Asian flair, Shore of Dreams by Florian Emmerich & JVC Parry is one you should definitely check out. The adventure starts with the party finding their way to a small remote island village of Yokotoro and making their way to a tavern called Shore of Dreams (the adventure’s namesake). Over the course of the adventure, the party will learn of a sinister plot concocted by the tavern’s owner, a triton exile named Pisca, who seeks to exploit travelers visiting her bar. These captured adventurers are put to work excavating an ancient temple that once belonged to the Cult of the Crushing Wave in the hopes of securing a powerful magical item.
Here’s a breakdown of my review process with published adventures:
– Layout & Organization
– Story/Narrative content
– Themes (if any) and use of them
Disclaimer: A digital copy of Shore of Dreams was provided by the author for review purposes.
Shores of Dreams is aesthetically beautiful
One of the prominent personal qualities I attribute in my reviews stems from the organization, an unorganized written adventure becomes a chaotic mess for not only myself for any prospective Dungeon Master (DM). Shores of Dreams is organized similarly to what you would find in larger publications from Wizards of the Coast. The text is clean, the advice to Dungeon Masters are placed in a prominent location that does not boggle down the reader. The adventure itself is broken down into three narrative pieces, with one of them being more of a contingent alternative path. Ultimately, the players will make their way to an abandoned temple, but the conclusion for this story branches out into different story paths that can become their own story arcs within a broader campaign.
The sections are labeled and separated well, there is no disparity moving from one point of the story into the other. The writers take the care and time to write page numbers (something, not all adventure writers do) to help the DM reference or move the narrative. Out of the many DMsGuild publications, Shore of Dreams is definitely one of the better laid out adventure modules you will find. It looks and feels professional in every sense of the word, it has most assuredly earned its Gold Bestseller accolade status while additionally remaining within the Top 25 Most Popular Titles of the DMsGuild. The overall quality is refreshing and definitely puts many other previous publications to a higher standard. For prospective game writers and publishers, if you want a standard for your quality, this adventure should be one of them. For prospective DMs hoping to run this adventure, it is easy to read, yet provides a variety of different avenues of introduction and conclusion; you will want to run this short adventure several times.
The Best Performance is the Best Deception
I won’t spoil much of the narrative, but I will say that the opening sequences in the tavern happen to be a great area of the adventure for players to roleplay and become immersed in the story. The village’s deception fits that motif of small community leading adventurers to an ill-fate. The ruse of the dinner and show at the Shore of Dreams tavern, which is an excellent point for the DM to throw bits of misdirection from the overall plot. Some events will keep the party distracted until the main curtain show is unveiled. This ruse eventually may lead to the party being captured, but if they manage to avoid that event, the narrative does not lose pace and provides alternative events to help get the party moving toward their prescribed destination: the Temple of the Storm.
At the sunken temple, the party will learn more about Pisca’s objective and the possible treasure deep inside the abandoned cavern. This temple holds an altar for one of the Elemental Evils, which makes this adventure a great tie-in during gameplay of Princes of the Apocalypse but the location is also on its way to Chult which fits well with Tomb of Annihilation as well. At the start of the adventure, there are even suggestions for DMs to integrate this story into different regions or suggested areas even.
I will have to say my favorite highlight while in the temple will have to the trap that’s located in the Vault, it’s an exhilarating and intense challenge. The storm elements and creatures that spawn from it will certainly give players a run for their money, even for 5th to 7th level characters. My personal favorite bits come to the possible conclusions of this somewhat short adventure whether the groups succeed in stopping Pisca or not, but I love the alternate ending wherein Pisca becomes a more significant threat down the road, especially if you’re in the middle of the Princes of the Apocalypse storyline. The adventure wraps up well, closing all the narrative threads that started while possibly adding more depending on how it’s run or the player’s choices. There is a nice give and take between DM prep and the flexibility of player agency.
The Crown of Black Pearls is quite thematic and certainly worth its weight for its rarity. Definitely an excellent prize for a group of adventures either at the end of this story or even down the road at mid-tier levels up to 10th-level I would wager.
It’s All about the theme!
The Crown of Black Pearls is a befitting centerpiece for this adventure, it fits well with either Princes of the Apocalypse or Tomb of Annihilation and be indeed a troublesome magical artifact down the road should the Cult of the Crushing Wave discover a party member in possession of a renown item. Pisca has an interesting backstory that thankfully gets explored somewhat across different points in the narrative, giving the players insight into her motivations and objectives. The additional supporting characters such as the tiefling Temerity have their own life and breath within the story that doesn’t leave any of them one-noted or flat. The exotic Asian influence fits within the region and setting of the Mistcliff of Chult but can easily be adjusted to any other environment that has a set of unexplored (or even well known) island chains. The legend of Captain Jadescale, unfortunately, turns out false in this plot thread, but I would love to see it return in a different off-shoot. I mean, it that story can be built on itself, the Quest of Jadescale’s Treasure! There’s plenty of inspirational ideas to utilize from the plot hooks provided to construct a larger arc within your campaign or be its own campaign outright.
The artwork is evocative and immerses the reader into the village of Yokotoro and the Temple of the Storm. It’s that bit of exotic flair that calls to the non-traditional fantasy setting especially in the unique cultural ecosystem of an area such as Chult in the Forgotten Realms.
It only costs $2.95 USD, you get 22 pages of an amazingly well-written adventure along with printable paper miniatures provided by our lovely friend TrashMobMinis (which you can read a review on them here). This adventure is what I could call the Gold Standard in writing quality, layout design, and artistic aesthetics. Further investigation of the credits reveals some DMsGuild alumni names and figures who have done well in success creating and writing 3rd party content on the DMsGuild, including Benoit de Bernady and Matt Sanders to name a few. Definitely worth the effort and work to create it, and I cannot wait to see future products from Poison Potion Press Future! Any aspiring publishers should take note of this adventure to improve their craft, and for everyone else who merely wants to enjoy this adventure, you won’t be disappointed. I want to implement this in one of my own campaigns either soon (with modifications) or in a future one.
You can get your own copy of Shore of Dreams here: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/232354/Shore-of-Dreams
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