A D&D 5e Mini-Campaign
The Lagoon is a luxurious floating resort comprised of a flotilla of large, interconnected golden barges. A lavish, gold-plated hotel or an ivory-surfaced arena is set upon most of these mile-wide ‘islands’ and the resort has a widespread reputation for offering unforgettable holidays.
Part of the golden archipelago’s mystique seems to lie in the apparent lack of a fixed touring schedule. The Lagoon typically appears offshore from a major coastal city without much warning. Emissaries then contact the local authorities and before long fliers are being handed out in the wealthier parts of the city.
The resort offers restaurants, arenas and gambling dens catering for the rich. They also run a competition called Hostages on another group of artificial islands, which the party of adventurers may be able to join after meeting the Lagoon’s undead owner. Teams compete against savage opponents and each other for a grand prize of 1,000,000 gold pieces.
A group of 3-7 players of 9-13th level works well providing the party is operating as a party, which might include some characters buffing others before arena combats or trying to help out from the sidelines during a pit fight. Nevertheless, they will need to pick-up on most of the opportunities to gain items and advancement to stand much chance of winning in the Hostages competition.
The Lagoon presents a sandbox environment for players moving towards the upper levels of D&D 5e. It is an adventure offering many routes for player characters (PCs), while at the same time giving the Dungeon Master (DM) plenty to keep track of. The text presents an overview of the setting for exploring the resort at first, followed by sections presenting fuller details on each area for running encounters.
The adventure can be run straight out of the box, but like other lengthier 5e scenarios there are plenty of opportunities, (and entertainment), in customising the adventure for a particular group of players. Spending some time on preparation will bring familiarity with the content and make high level play run more smoothly. Beyond that new players will need some encounters toned down, while running the scenario with experienced players using highly optimised characters might call for customising their opponents’ spell choices or upgrading a few NPCs.
If you already have a D&D campaign that’s up and running the Lagoon can simply float in and out of your world as a passing fancy that draws attention before moving on. Alternatively, your own NPCs and recurring arch-enemies could begin popping-up at the Lagoon.
Parties of PCs can survive both the Lagoon and the Hostages competition - but probably not if they resort to brute force at every turn. PCs who use reconnaissance, look for opportunities to carry bonuses into the Hostages competition and choose their battles are those most likely to reach the final stages.
The basic plot involves visiting the Lagoon, exploring the resort and making a few connections to gain access to the Hostages competition. The Lagoon’s undead owner, the lich Adrammalech, is not entirely honest about what is involved in the Hostages competition, but PCs have numerous opportunities to pull out and leave with what they’ve already gained should they choose to do so.
Beyond making an impression in the arenas, during pit fights and/ or at the casino, it is largely up to the DM to consider which options to roll-out to the players’ PCs as they explore. There is plenty to keep a party occupied while moving towards the Hostages competition but, for those who like greater depth of plot, much can also be made of life on and around the Lagoon. Various factions co-operate across the resort, but there are underlying tensions which could easily be followed-up. PCs may also be minded to seek opportunities to lay the ground for turning the Lagoon into one of their bases. Equally, the PCs could become caught-up in some sort of external threat to the Lagoon when they first arrive or after participation in the Hostages competition.
The Forbidden Realms
Neverwinter, Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate are all large port cities along the Sword Coast where connecting an onshore campaign to a visit from the Lagoon can open up a wealth of background materials and scenarios, including the background content on the Sword Coast in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. A variety of smaller ports and archipelagos could serve as smaller scale connects to the Forgotten Realms. Alternatively, placing the Lagoon to prey upon the ports of the Sea of Fallen Stars offers a shift across to a different section of the continent.
You will need access to the core fifth edition D&D rulebooks to play, i.e. the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual.
Creatures from Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Mordenkainen’s Tomb of Foes have stat blocks in Appendix A. NPCs from Volo’s Guide to Monsters have stat blocks in Appendix C.
Monsters and NPC descriptions drawn from the official D&D books are indicated in the text by bold type. Magic items are detailed in the Dungeon Master's Guide and, like spells, indicated within the text by italics.