This is a short adventure I wrote for the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons open table game I ran for a while at the local game event every other Sunday. I call it Kazaribet’s Box. I stole the map from a Google image search for “pirate cove” — my apologies to the original cartographer. Monsters are all taken from the Monster Manual or Adversaries & Allies.

The Eldritch Isles are plainly inspired by / stolen from Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique world, almost directly with some names changed slightly so that the players can’t Google them easily. This adventure picks up from previous actions some players had taken, so NPCs may need to be changed / modified for your home campaign. For example, Magister Euroven should be someone the players’ characters have interacted with before and trust for jobs. Zsath’rah should be a rival of the characters or the introduction of a new rival.


The party is hired by Magister Euroven of Izuz to transport a large, rectangular, obsidian box to the city of Zul-Kha-Nair on the island of Qaat (Isle of the Necromancers). Then, the party is to deliver it to an associate of Euroven’s named Amnon. The party sets sail on the Sea Wraith, captained by Black Belle, toward the Isle of the Necromancers, but are waylaid by Saltfang, an orcish pirate ship captained by an orc chief named Magrot, who was hired to steal the box before it can reach Zul-Kha-Nair.  

If the party deters the orc boarding party, Magrot will flee to the pirate’s hideout and try to figure out what to do next. Amnon requests that the party find the orcs’ hideout and determine who hired them to steal the box. Then, bring the orcs back for punishment – alive or dead (Amnon has ways to torture souls).

If the orcs manage to steal the sarcophagus, and the party survives the encounter, they have two options:

  1. Continue on toward Zul-Kha-Nair. Amnon will not be pleased and command the party to find the pirate hideout and recover the sarcophagus before it can be taken away. The party will be on a time crunch before Saltfang sails off toward Nycropolis to deliver the sarcophagus to the ghoul-king known as Nurghal.
  2. Try to chase Saltfang. Black Belle will not be keen to chase the orcs. She was paid to deliver the party to Qaat and that’s what she intends to do. If the party can convince to her to give chase, Saltfang will outrun the Sea Wraith, but not before the party witnesses Saltfang slip into a sea cove where the pirates’ hideout.

If the party are all incapacitated in the battle, the party will wash up on small, outlying islands with reefs off the coast of Qaat and must find their way to safety navigating the hazards of the Isle of the Necromancers. From where they wash ashore, they can spot a towering statue – the Colossus of Uruk – but no other landmarks.

Farak’s Instruction

Farak (A&A: Warlord) escorts the party to the wharf, gives them a more detailed instruction, and introduces them to Black Belle, the Sea Wraith’s captain. He will answer some of the questions the party may have as well.

  • JOURNEY: You are to take the box to Zul-Kha-Nair. Black Belle has been paid to sail to Qaat and return and your passage is secured both ways. The sea journey should take but a day of sailing.
  • BOX: The contents of the box are none of your concern. Under no circumstances open the box. If the box has been tampered with, your payment may be in question.
  • DELIVERY: Zul-Kha-Nair is a port city. The magister’s associate will be expecting you and should have an entourage awaiting your arrival in port.
  • PAYMENT: In addition to Magister Euroven’s favor, Amnon has agreed pay you once the box is delivered to his estate in the amount of 2,000 gold coins to be divided among your party. An exceptional fee for such a simple task.
  • AMNON: Amnon is the high priest of an order of necromancers called The Cult of Thasmudyan. He is very powerful. Do not insult him. And, definitely do not attempt to betray him.
  • ISLE OF THE NECROMANCERS: I have only been to Zul-Kha-Nair and back. I will leave the rest of the island and most of that place to nightmares. The living can move about easily enough thanks to the Necromancer Overlords and their interest in trade. But, that doesn’t mean the place is inviting or safe. The place is designed for the undead. While you do your business, we stay at the Banshee’s Whale, a place where the living gather in relative safety. While you’re there, watch your back and don’t go where you’re not invited.

Black Belle & Crew

Black Belle is a seasoned ship captain (A&A: Swashbuckler) with experience traveling the high seas across the Black River to Qaat. She is calculated, cunning, and commands the utmost loyalty from the crew of the Sea Wraith. Her first mate is Benford aka “Big Ben”, a strong-armed man (A&A: Warrior) with crude tattoos covering his body and face. Her crew is a dozen tough sailors (A&A: Sailor).

  • JOURNEY: The sea journey will take less than a day if the winds are with us, and they normally are. We’ll cross the seas toward the Black River and navigate those harsh waters. When we cross, do not look overboard into the waters. There are spirits that dwell there and foolish sailors have been consumed by their wailing and thrown themselves overboard.  
  • BOX: I don’t know what’s in the box, nor do I care. I have been told not to open it and I suggest you don’t either.
  • TROUBLE: The sea is a dangerous place; pirates, sea monsters, and worse. If the ship goes down, the box goes down with it. You wouldn’t want that to happen, now, would you? Otherwise, stay out of the way of my crew and we should be fine.
  • ISLE OF THE NECROMANCERS: I have only been to Zul-Kha-Nair and back. I will leave the rest of the island and most of that place to nightmares. The living can move about easily enough thanks to the Necromancer Overlords and their interest in trade. But, that doesn’t mean the place is inviting or safe. The place is designed for the undead. While you do your business, we stay at the Banshee’s Whale, a place where the living gather in relative safety. While you’re there, watch your back and don’t go where you’re not invited.

The Box

The box is actually an obsidian sarcophagus that contains the vampire princess, Kazaribet, paralyzed by a bejewelled stake. The sarcophagus has several advanced locking mechanisms that require a combination to open (though a high DC open locks check could open it). Magister Euroven acquired the princess and has brokered a deal to sell to Amnon, who lives on the Isle of the Necromancers (Qaat) in the city of Zul-Kha-Nair. If for some reason the party opens the box, they have a few options:

  • They could leave her be.
  • They could try to slay her.
  • They could try to awaken her.

She is easily killed in her paralyzed state. Merely engulfing her in the sun will do the job. However, this means the party has just burned some serious bridges along with Kazaribet. If they awaken her, she will attempt to negotiate her release. She may even negotiate a deal with the party to get vengeance on Amnon by feigning ignorance until they arrive and unleashing her awakened. Kazaribet doesn’t know why Amnon wants her, but she certainly doesn’t like being kidnapped. If necessary, she’ll try to charm Black Belle and whoever leads the party. As a last resort, she’ll murder everyone.

If the pirates get Kazaribet’s box, they will most certainly open it and likely one of them will try and steal the bejewelled stake. This presents a fun opportunity to add some horror and a lurking vampire at the pirate’s hideout (discussed below).

The Pirates

The ghoul-king known as Nurghal has commissioned a group of orcish pirates to attack the Sea Wraith, recover the sarcophagus, and bring it back to Nycropolis, where he rules as the high priest of Morddoth. The pirates’ ship is called Saltfang and captained by an orc named Magrot (orc war chief).

The Saltfang distracts the Sea Wraith with a frontal assault while Magrot’s first mate, Sargak (an orog), along with his best warriors (half a dozen max HP orcs) climb aboard the Sea Wraith and find the box. The orcs do not intend to carry the box back to Saltfang. Instead, their goal is to merely reach the sarcophagus and activate a teleportation sigil (gifted by Nurghal) to send the box to their ship. Once the boarding party has sent the box back, they will dive into the waters and swim to shore where a smaller boat awaits them. Then, they will row to the hideout.

Magrot will immediately sail Saltfang away in an attempt to flee after the box has been delivered. They will return to the hideout and await the return of the boarding party for 24 hours before they leave for Nycropolis.

Nurghal has also planted a doppelganger spy among the orcs to ensure their loyalty. The doppelganger (MM 82), Sieben, goes by Kharg in orc form, but she will shapeshift and assume any form necessary to survive. If the party raids the hideout or boards Saltfang, Sieben will assume the form of a captive and get the party to rescue her and look for opportunities to escape.

Qaat, Isle of the Necromancers

The island is long and slender, roughly 100 mi in length and 30 mi at its widest point. The southern half of Qaat is shadowed in darkness and twilight for the majority of the day due to an eldritch, planar connection to the Shadowfell, a twisted shadow version of the material world. It is said that there was a great battle between two wizards that created the rift to the Shadowfell and in the aftermath, the Order of Tasuun established their first libraries, which eventually became Zul-Kha-Nair.

The northern half of the island is covered in a dense jungle cut in half by a towering mountain range. Ancient ruins of a lost civilization lie in the heart of the jungle, vine-choked and demon-haunted. Though it is said ancient treasures and magic can be found by those daring and capable enough to survive the dangers of the jungle.


The seaport of Zul-Kha-Nair is a quiet, creepy place of shadow and death. The city was built atop a bog known as the Mere of the Dead. A great battle took place here and the many corpses can still be found in the muck below. Because of this, structures in the city are like smaller islands that are connected by bridges and the roadways are stagnant water navigated by skeletal boatmen. Most of the city inhabitants are undead (zombies, skeletons, wights, etc.) though there are humanoid visitors and the necromancers who rule here.

The following items unique to the isle may be purchased here:

  • Brittlebone (+exploding skeletons; 30gp)
  • Embalming Fire (+flammable zombies; 20gp)
  • Ether Oil (hit incorporeal 2 rds; 50gp)
  • Liquid Night (survive in daylight 1 hr; 150gp)
  • Gloomcandle (magical darkness; 200gp)
  • Ectoplasmic Ichor (turns item incorporeal; 500gp)
  • Dreambliss (blissful sleep effect; 2d6 x 100gp)
  • Mindshadow (hallucinations; 3d6 x 100gp)

All of these items are easily found for the listed price.

Amnon’s Estate

Amnon’s home is crafted from some sort of reflective black stone built atop a pile of humanoid skulls.

Amnon (A&A: Necromancer) is a grand wizard of The Order of Tasuun. He is brown-skinned, black haired, and darkly complected. Amnon wears a green and gold headdress set with a yellow jewel and is often wearing expensive, silken robes embroidered with mystical symbols. He is very cordial, pleasant, and friendly despite his penchant for the undeath.

Upon delivery of the box, Amnon will invite the party to watch as he opens the box (if it hasn’t been opened already) for confirmation of delivery. If Kazaribet is within, he will grin devilishly and thank the party profusely. He invites them to dinner where he is attended by undead servants.

Dinner with Amnon

As the party enters the great banquet hall at Amnon’s Estate for dinner, they realize there are other guests, including the wizard nemesis, Zsath’rah, who claimed the Illuminator from beneath the ruined plinths before some of the party could (in fact, he carries it with him). In addition, a pale, blonde-haired, noble-looking woman in royal garb named Myriem attends. She is, in fact, the apprentice of Amnon (as well as his betrayer to Nurghal — she informed him of Amnon’s plan to purchase Kazaribet).

As the party enters, Amnon nods to have them seated and continues his discussion with Zsath’rah, who is now nervous as he recognizes one of the party members who was previously encountered.

Zsath’rah, let us finish the discussion of the Ruins of Tannoch later. The sword you have will most definitely permit you to activate the lenses.

Zsath’rah is not pleased this information was given. He gives an angry glare toward the character in the party he recognizes.

Then, Amnon gets down to business. He wants the party to find the orc hideout and figure out who exactly was behind hiring the orcs and how they knew the Sea Wraith would be transporting the box in the first place. He offers to double their reward if the uncover this knowledge. Plus, it’s pirate’s lair? Surely they have more treasures.

Shortly after Amnon gets the party’s answer, he is pulled away from dinner as a guest whispers something into his ear. He excuses himself. The party can finish eating or talk with the other guests.

The Salt Cove

The pirates lair in a nearby cove with sea caves. The orcs have built a large chain net that acts as a blockade against ships and creatures entering through the waters at the main sea cave entrance. Visitors are required to enter at the beach entrance.

KEY to the Salt Cove

  1. Defensive Ballista: The ballista (AC 15; 50 HP; +6; 120/480; 3d10 piercing) are used to defend against larger ships attempting to enter the cove. There are usually 3 orcs (MM 246) that man the exterior ballista and 2 orcs that man the interior ballista. One fires, one reloads, and one supervises.
  2. Lookout Posts: Each lookout has 2 orcs on duty at all times. The lookouts are high above the ground level (20’, 30’ and 50’ respectively).
  3. Beach Entrance: The beach entrance is blocked by a wooden portcullis that is operated by winches in both lookouts above. Magrot prefers visitors enter through this entrance.
  4. Guard Room: Four orcs are always stationed at the front guard room to question and search visitors (the other guard room is empty). There is also a horn here that can be blown in order to alert the rest of the hideout to intruders. Usually, one orc stays back near the table near the horn while the other three perform searches. Trap: Near the horn is a taut rope that can be sliced to activate a snaring trap (DC 15 spots the sand-covered net; DC 11 spots the taut rope if near the horn; DC 15 Dex to disable the snare) that collects up anyone in the area and lifts them 15’ in the air. A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. The net has AC 10 and 20 hit points. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the net (AC 10) destroys a 5-foot-square section of it, freeing any creature trapped in that section. The orcs will use this to prevent anyone from reaching the horn area. Treasure: There are 152 cp, 78 sp, and 15 gp on the table, being used to gamble with. There’s also seven ivory dice (5gp each). The horn is made from a large prehistoric animal (30gp).
  5. Prison Cells: The cells are empty except for a sahuagin, who has a small pool of water to submerge in. She happens to be a sahuagin priestess (MM 264) being held for ransom. If the party rescues her, she will repay them in the future (and can command the reef sharks in area 14 if she is freed). She will return to Yoharneth-Lahai, the seat of the sahuagin kingdom and tell of the party’s favor. But, she hopes to return and recover the Book of Dagon. The party may also attempt to ransom her; another adventure for another day. Treasure: One of the cells has a skeletal form in a orange-colored jelly (MM 243). A fragment of a wand is embedded in the jelly. If held and activated, the fragment allows you to comprehend and speak any language until the next long rest.
  6. Sleeping Quarters: During the day, most of the orcs not on duty will be here sleeping. There will be roughly a 12+1d12 here at any one time. During night, there will be half that, as the orcs become more active during the night. There are dozens of footlockers here, but most of them contain mundane equipment. The orcs will usually spend most of their take on carousing in port and be broke after. Treasure: There isn’t much, but a thorough search of the area will reveal 1d100 cp, 1d20 sp, and 1d6 gp in loose coin. Plus, on a successful DC 15 Investigation check, a Potion of Healing can be found tucked in a nook high in the back wall.
  7. Gathering Hall: During the day, the gathering hall will be empty or have a handful of orcs here (1d4-2). During the night, and especially after a successful raid, the orcs will be in full revelry here. They will drink, fight, play games, and be generally rowdy. Occasionally, Magrot or Sargak will give a speech or assign duties, respectively.
  8. Kitchen Nook: A bugbear (MM 33) named Lurg and his two kobold (MM 195) sous-chefs Jing and Juck cook large pots of seafood stew, brew ale, and generally tend to the feeding of the crew of Saltfang. The nook has two fires roaring at all times, cook’s utensils, brewer’s supplies, barrels of fermented fish, pickled sahuagin heads, and spices – mostly salt. Lurg makes special meals that he personally delivers to Magrot. Often they will share a bottle of orcish whiskey together and discuss things. Sargak is jealous of this relationship. Lurg has a bed here and the kobolds sleep beneath it. Treasure: Hidden in a barrel of salt, Lurg keeps his personal stash of treasure. He has five jars of rare caviar (10gp each), a small collection of expensive herbs and spices (50gp), and a chainmail pouch filled with 200gp.
  9. Magrot’s Quarters: Two orcs are always on guard here and attend to Magrot, the captain of Saltfang. Magrot (orc war chief; MM246; has Spear +1, Mariner’s Armor) will be here most of the time, resting or plotting his next journey. His chamber is well-furnished with a plush bed, a desk, and trunk. The bed has two half-orc concubines – Ghorka and Kharnis – chained to it. The desk has a map of the regional seas, marked with merchant routes and other points of interest. There is a treasure map and a letter from Nurghal with a promise of 5,000gp to recover Kazaribet’s Box from the Sea Wraith. Treasure (trunk): 2200 cp, 800 sp, 100 gp, Carnelian (50 gp), Chalcedony (50 gp), Citrine (50 gp), Jasper (50 gp), Moonstone (50 gp), Quartz (50 gp), Star rose quartz (50 gp), Spell Scroll (Jump), Spell Scroll (Levitate), Potion of Climbing, Potion of Healing
  10. Boat Landing: These sandy landings have large stelae with strange symbols carved into them that the orcs use the tie off boats. They don’t know what the writings mean. Several giant crabs will come ashore on occasion (1/d6) but they are not aggressive unless approached or attacked from afar. The stelae are the first indication this cave was used for something else prior to the orcs inhabiting the cave as a hideout. A DC 15 Religion check will reveal that these stelae are holy monuments likely built by sahuagin in reverence to the sea god, Dagon. And, furthermore, they mark the location of a shrine or temple to Dagon — there must be one somewhere in this cove complex. 
  11. Natural Dock: This rocky dock has several empty crates and carts used to transport cargo throughout the hideout. The dock is usually empty unless the Saltfang has just arrived and the crew is unloading cargo.
  12. Pirate Ship (Saltfang): When the ship is docked, it will usually be empty except for 3 roving orcs who patrol the deck to make sure no one comes aboard when they shouldn’t.
  13. Crossing: Two long, wide planks are against the wall here. They are clearly used to cross the pool of water here. The orcs use them to cross with cargo to the storage area.
  14. Tide Pool & Captured Sharks: This pool is contains 4 reef sharks (MM 336) that are released if intruders are discovered falling into or swimming in the main cavern’s waters. The sharks are hungry and will descend upon the swimmers quickly. The lever to release the sharks is actually at the interior ballista point (see area 1). And, there’s a tunnel that goes from this pool to the pool in area 13, where the sharks will swim to and fro. Woe to anyone who falls into the waters.
  15. Underwater Tunnel: These tunnels can only be discovered if a creature is moving in the waters. The first tunnel is undiscovered by the orcs thus far and leads to the secret save (21). The second is used to channel the reef sharks into the main cavern and is covered by a portcullis that is operated via a lever in the interior ballista area.
  16. Cargo Storage: Stacks of crates; bolts of cloth; barrels of ale, wine, and whiskey; weapons, armor, and equipment. A secret door is hidden behind one stack of crates that opens to the secret temple. Treasure: Outside of the mundane stuff listed above (of which there is a lot that can be transported), there are a few notable valuables. Two bolts of fine cloth threaded with electrum (100gp each); four casks of fine brandy (200gp each); a case of rare books (500gp); a dozen ornamental jars of rare spices (50gp each); a large, heavy, copper statue of a god (600gp); a crate of porcelain-wares (150gp); and a create of ivory figurines (300gp).  
  17. Secret Sahuagin Temple: Very narrow, steep stairs lead to this secret chamber. On the far side of the pool of water is an altar to Dagon. There are narrow pillars that rise up out of the water toward the altar. The second one is trapped and will crumble if stepped upon (DC 17 Acrobatics or Athletics to leap to another pillar before falling in). Going into the water will disturb a chuul (MM 40) and Seaweed Blight (MM 32). A scaled book (The Book of Dagon; grants abilities but may cause madness if read by a non-sahuagin) rests atop the altar. If the book is disturbed, the party hears a rumbling behind them and the falling of rocks. Then, the room begins to fill with water. If the chuul is still alive, it will attack anyone who becomes submerged in the water. Treasure: The altar is covered in trinkets and baubles of gold, silver, gems, etc. All told worth 1,032gp. One of the trinkets is a blue-silver Ring of Protection +1.
  18. Unfinished Boat: It appears Magrot is using his crew to build a second ship. He intends to give command to Sargak to expand his piracy operation. During night hours, a crew of 8 orcs work under the tutelage of the shipwright, Omak (see: Shipwright’s quarters). During the day, this area is usually quiet.
  19. Workshop Area: During night hours, Omak will be working here to measure and cut timber, and generally oversee the construction of the new ship. The area is littered with wood-shavings, stacks of timber, and tools. Omak keeps an axe near him at all times.
  20. Shipwright’s Quarters: During the day, Omak, an ogrillon (MM 238), will be found sleeping here. Omak can’t swim and is terrified of the sea, so he prefers to stay on land. He does have skill as a shipwright though. His furnishings are meager, but well-maintained and orderly. He usually has food delivered to him (Lurg will send one of the kobolds to bring it). Omak doesn’t have much treasure, but does keep his wages in a locked box hidden in a secret compartment in his tool chest. Treasure: 158gp; Omak found a ring while the Saltfang was out at sea and he was exploring some of the caverns. It is strangely made of coral and pearl and has strange markings on (sahuagin language; matches stelas). The ring is magical, but Omak doesn’t know that. The Seaborne Ring: It must be attuned. It has 3 charges. While wearing it, you can use an action to expend 1 charge and polymorph yourself into the form of a sea creature. The first form each day is a hunter shark, the second a giant seahorse, and the third an octopus. The ring regains any expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the ring’s last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the ring transforms into a small bird and flies away.
  21. Secret Cave: This cave is unknown to the orcs. Though, others have been here as the ground here is littered with bones and scraps of leather, bits of metal. Something shimmers near a large stalactite in the center of the cave. A roper (261) lurks here along with several piercers (MM 252) clinging to the ceiling 25’ up. The roper will wait until the first few characters move into the cave before attacking to allow them to get close enough for the piercers to strike. A crevice in the ceiling can be scaled and crawled through and opens up above area 20, the Shipwright’s Quarters. Treasure: the skeletal remains of an adventurer with a Ring of Swimming. 
  22. Weighted Rope Bridge: This rope bridge can be lowered or raised. A few boards have been weakened and marked by Omak to repair with an ‘X’. He’ll get around to it when the new ship is finished.

Individual Pirate Treasures

Here’s a list of items an orc pirate might have on them. Roll 1d20 and if an item with a metal type comes up, scratch it off for future rolls. 

  1. 1d10 bronze brothel token (1sp each)
  2. Rabbit’s foot
  3. Silver buckled belt
  4. Eel-skin gloves
  5. Random gemstone with a hole in the center
  6. A silver inlaid flask
  7. Drinking horn
  8. Silver tankard
  9. Painted sundial
  10. A cockatrice feather fan
  11. Antitoxin
  12. Sahuagin electrum holy symbol of Dagon
  13. Perfume
  14. Poison
  15. Bosun’s whistle (ivory)
  16. Golden merchant’s scales
  17. Platinum filigreed navigator’s tools
  18. Spyglass with etched copper rings
  19. Random trinket
  20. Random cypher

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