Dungeon World: The Shunned Isle


Even in a world full of crypts, catacombs, dungeons, and all other types of subterranean environments there’s plenty of danger above ground.

Take for instance the generally peaceful lands east of the city of Stonebrook. Normally tranquil and serene, the coast east of the city has been the favorite target of a large band of pirates recently. Sailing from one of the craggy islands that comprise The Sunken Kingdom, these raiders have been sacking the villages that line the coast and the lower Stony River for several months. Since few are brave enough to sail into the haunted islands off the eastern shore, the pirates’ depredations have until now been generally regarded as an inconvenience.

That changed a fortnight ago, however, when the pirates made an unprecedented foray up the Stony River and attacked the city’s riverside port. Among the loot and prisoners they sailed away with was Alina, the daughter of the mayor of Stonebrook. Just arriving from travels up the river, her ship was in the wrong port at the wrong time.

The mayor was beside himself, but he knew that the pirates’ usual method was to ransom prisoners back to their families. So he waited for a ransom demand… and waited… and waited. No demand came, nor were the pirates seen again.

Finally, a week later, he sent a ship bearing emissaries to search for the pirates’ base and negotiate with them for his daughter’s release. For several days there was no word from the ship – until two days ago, when one of the ship’s boats was found caught in the tides south of the mouth of Stony River. Inside were the captain and several of his crew – bearing grievous wounds and all dead but for one sailor.

Delirious and near death, the seaman told those who found him that they’d found one of the pirates’ ships and given chase. They easily overtook it and captured the skeleton crew they found aboard her.

The crewmen told them that the pirates said they had been using one of the islands – known locally as “The Shunned Island” – as their base of operations. But after the last raid they were attacked by unseen enemies in the darkness as they unloaded their booty and prisoners. The ship and her skeleton crew were – to the best of their knowledge – the only survivors.

The dying seaman said that they then went to the island but were attacked en route by creatures that climbed out of the sea and overran their decks as they attempted to make port. (The creatures were sahuagin.) In the battle, he and several other crewmen managed to lower one of the boats and bore their mortally wounded captain away as their fellows fell to their assailants.

As the seaman coughed out his last breaths he left a grave warning:

“Beware the devils that rise from the sea!”

Desperate to save his daughter from the clutches of whatever foe now holds her, the mayor of Stonebrook has issued a summons for adventurers who are willing to brave the dangers of The Shunned Isle.

The Shunned Isle

(For a map of this dungeon, click here – and the players’ version of the map can be found here.)

This adventure is primarily a “wilderness” adventure. There are no significant indoor locations involved, so the only map necessary is that of the Isle itself. The DM should feel free, of course, to add such locales to the adventure as he or she sees fit.

The terrain of the Isle is generally rough and difficult to move through. Aside from the three beaches noted on the DM’s map, the shoreline of the Isle is comprised of cliffs twenty to thirty feet high. The island looks like it is part of a larger land mass that has had much of its material ripped away, leaving jagged, exposed rock faces. (Which, in fact, it is, being a portion of what was once an inland part of The Sunken Kingdom.)

Ships may approach to within no more than one hex of any cliff face. Any closer and the ship will founder on the rocks. Boats attempting to move alongside a cliff face have a 15% chance per turn of forced by the waves into the rocks and shattered. (A character falling into the water near the shore must make a Save vs. Dragon Breath each turn or suffer 2d4 damage from drowning, exposure, and being battered against the rocks. Characters in armor heavier than leather suffer a ‐4 penalty to their saving throws while wearing the armor.) The cliffs are wet and constantly buffeted by harsh winds – a character climbing the jagged walls must make a Save vs. Paralysis each turn or slip and fall into the churning waves below (For normal falling damage, plus damage for being in the water as noted above. A character using a rope to climb the cliff gets a +5 bonus to the saving throw made to avoid a fall.)

Inland, the Isle is composed of rocky, uneven ground covered with thick brush and the occasional stand of densely packed short trees and/or low hillock. The going is so difficult that all characters should have their normal outdoor movement rates halved. In combat, any time a character rolls a natural 1 he or she immediately suffers 1d4 points of damage, as well as a ¼ current movement penalty from a sprained ankle for 1d3 days.

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Island Key

Rumbling Bay

As characters approach this side of the island, the waves crashing on the rocky crags that jut from the seabed here cause an incessant rumbling sound, as if a the area were being subjected to a violent thunderstorm. This bay is deadly to seafarers and any attempt to put into port here has a 70% chance of ending with the ship or boat being dashed upon the rocks. (All aboard suffer 2d6 damage immediately, and are in danger of drowning as outlined above.)

Carrion Cove

The waters of this cove are deathly calm. Upon approach, the party will be assaulted by an overwhelming smell of sulfur and rot. The water and beach here are littered with the remains of a wide variety of living creatures. The cove hex itself is not deep enough to allow a ship to enter, but a boat may do so easily. However, any character entering the hex and the shoreline hex to its east must make a Save vs. Poison or be overwhelmed by the stench, suffer 4d4 damage, and pass out. A character that makes a successful save suffers 2d4 points of damage, a ‐3 penalty to‐hit, to AC, and to further saving throws, and may only move at half speed. The effects of the fumes last for 2d6 hours or until neutralize poison is cast on the character.

Brigands’ Landing

This is the safest place to make port on the island. A ship may move freely into the hex, and the pirates have built a dock so there is no need to use boats to reach the island. There is a small ship here – the pirates’ second ship – secured to one side of the dock. It has been burned, and is little more than a gutted hulk.

The Sinking Tower

At the center of the island are the ruins of a large stone tower. Half‐swallowed when The Sunken Kingdom was sundered, the site is now nothing more than a 20’‐high pile of rubble and crumbling slate roof. However, a character may attempt to climb the remains of the tower. At the peak of the roof, one can see the entire island – including the wyvern’s nest and “the pit” (see below).

The Sisters

Two small, unremarkable islands rise gently from the waves to the southeast of the Isle. They are enshrouded in palm trees and deep brush.


There are only six fixed encounters in this adventure. However, the Isle is rife with danger, so along with normal wandering monster checks, the DM should roll for a random encounter every time the party moves into a new hex – starting within five sea hexes of the island. (Don’t roll to see if an encounter happens – this is automatic. Just roll on the appropriate encounter table.)

1 – Pirates’ Camp

All that remains of the pirates’ camp is little more than several piles of canvas and wood. There is no sign of the pirates, nor are there any bodies. Various tools, cooking utensils, etc., litter the site – none of any value. It has been raided, but the attackers left nothing – not even footprints.

2 – The Pit

A 30’‐wide shaft descends into darkness atop a low hill at the center of this hex. The edges are cleared away up to 15′ from the edge of the pit and the rocky earth within that area is stained with blood. The sound of water lapping against rock can be heard faintly below. This is where the pirates’ attackers brought their victims – including the mayor’s daughter – and sacrificed them to their “god” that dwells at the bottom of the shaft some 90′ below.

A character attempting a descent into the smooth‐sided shaft has the same chance of succeeding as if climbing the cliffs that surround the island. However, lurking in a shallow cave to the northwest of the bone‐littered bottom of the shaft is the “God of the Pit,” a black pudding that has gotten itself trapped here. It waits for food to descend from above – characters climbing down are as good as sacrifices, as far as its concerned. (The creature has no treasure.)

In the darkest hour just before dawn, 10‐20 “sea devils” gather here with whatever living creatures they could find during the night and spend an hour making sacrifices to their god. They then proceed to Brigands’ Landing and return to the sea.

3 – Wyvern’s Nest

A decrepit old wyvern makes its nest among a pile of rocks overlooking the sea here. If it hasn’t been dealt with previously (as the result of a random encounter) it will be found here. Its treasure (normal wyvern treasure) can be found amidst the sticks, reeds, and bone fragments that make up its nest.

4 – Lights from Below

A character in this hex at night, or standing on the cliffs above (the three hexes to the southeast), will see strange lights below the water. They look like the aurora borealis, but submerged. What’s under there? Treasure? A lost city awaiting discovery? A character will have to make a successful Save vs. Spells to avoid trying to find out. Failure means the character dives into the water and descends into the inky abyss – and to his or her death. (There is indeed a community below: it belongs to the “sea devils,” and they use an illusion (the lights) to charm victims into coming to – ahem – “visit” them.)

5 – The Madman

A lone hermit – who calls himself “King” and refers to this small island as “my island” – lives here in a shack made of sticks and palm fronds. He doesn’t have any idea how long he’s been here. He survives on a diet of fish and birds, and is quite content to live here. He knows about the activities of the “sea devils” and their shrine on the next island (but not the pit). He also knows to camouflage his home and to stay hidden at night so they don’t come for him.

6 – The Shrine

An oddly shaped stone rises 12′ from the scrub brush in this hex. Its dark gray surface is completely covered with what appears to be High Eggian script (but it defies translation by even the greatest scholar). The “sea devils” worship at this “shrine” every night before embarking on their nightly hunt for sacrifices to their “God of the Pit.” Immediately after nightfall, 20‐40 of the creatures rise from the waves and congregate here. They spend half an hour in silent prayer then begin their hunt.


Random Encounters

At Sea
Roll 1d20:

1. Shark, great white (1‐4; may attack a boat)
2. Harpies (2‐12; lair on a nearby island)
3. Roc, small (1; lairs on a nearby island)
4. Pirates (3 galleys, 10‐20 pirates each)
5. Giant octopus (1)
6. Severe weather: wind (‐2 to‐hit and saves; lasts 1d12 hours; re‐roll if already in effect)
7. “Sea devils” (1‐20; at night only; prefer to capture victims for sacrifice)
8. Sea hydra (1)
9. Giant gar (1‐6)
10. Dolphins (2‐20)
11. Mermen (1‐20; know of and are enemies of the “sea devils”)
12. Giant squid (1)
13. Dragon, young red (1; lairs on a nearby island)
14. Severe weather: rain (‐2 to‐hit and saves, ½ movement, no non‐magical fires; lasts 1d12 hours;
re‐roll if already in effect)
15. Strangle weed (3‐12)
16. Pirates (1 warship, 30‐50 pirates)
17. Severe weather: giant wave (15% chance of sinking a ship; 65% chance of sinking a boat)
18. Hippocampus (2‐8)
19. Giant Portuguese man‐of‐war (1‐10)
20. Dragon turtle (1; just passing by unless the party harasses it)

Inland, Near the Shore (the hex includes shoreline)
Roll 1d20:

1. Harpies (2‐12; lair on a nearby island)
2. Sea hags (1‐4; in a shack they call “home”)
3. Giant wasp (1‐20)
4. Roc, small (1; lairs on a nearby island)
5. Nymphs (1‐4; lair in a nearby cave)
6. Pirates (1‐10; “refugees” from pirate camp)
7. Severe weather: wind (‐2 to‐hit and saves; lasts 1d12 hours; re‐roll if already in effect)
8. Ghouls (2‐16)
9. “Sea devils” (1‐20; at night only; prefer to capture victims for sacrifice)
10. Dragon, young red (1; lairs on a nearby island)
11. Violet fungi (1‐4)
12. Severe weather: rain (‐2 to‐hit and saves, ½ movement, no non‐magical fires; lasts 1d12 hours;
re‐roll if already in effect)
13. Ghast (1‐6)
14. Lacedon (2‐16)
15. Giant toads (1‐4)
16. Giant crabs (2‐12)
17. Will‐o‐wisp (1; at night only; will try to lure victims off cliff)
18. Zombies (3‐24)
19. Ghost (1)
20. Wyvern (1; see “Wyvern’s Nest” above)

Roll 1d20:

1. Harpies (2‐12; lair on a nearby island)
2. Giant rats (5‐50)
3. Axe beak (1‐6)
4. Giant scorpions (1‐4)
5. Skeletons (3‐30)
6. Giant wasp (1‐20)
7. Wights (2‐16)
8. “Sea devils” (1‐20; at night only; prefer to capture victims for sacrifice)
9. Giant toads (1‐4)
10. Zombies (3‐24)
11. Giant ants (1‐100)
12. Severe weather: wind (‐2 to‐hit and saves; lasts 1d12 hours; re‐roll if already in effect)
13. Ghost (1)
14. Violet fungi (1‐4)
15. Ghouls (2‐16)
16. Pirates (10‐20; “refugees” from pirate camp)
17. Giant black widow spiders (1‐3)
18. Ghast (1‐6)
19. Severe weather: rain (‐2 to‐hit and saves, ½ movement, no non‐magical fires; lasts 1d12 hours;
re‐roll if already in effect)
20. Wyvern (1; see “Wyvern’s Nest” above)

The map of the dungeon can be found here (with the Players’ map found here), and this dungeon can be downloaded in .PDF form here.

Chris Brackett is a web monkey by trade, but in real life he’s a veteran gamer and author of several tabletop miniatures games. He spends far too much of his time working on his RPG‐focused game blog, A Rust Monster Ate My Sword.

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