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Tabletop Game / Savage Tide

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This painting is the first time you see Vanthus's face. The second time is when he locks you in a dungeon full of zombie pirates.

"The first savage tide has already touched the mortal world. Unleashed from the cruel heart of a shadow pearl, the tide swept over an ancient civilization, transforming the citizens into feral, cannibalistic fiends. The hateful architects of the savage tide watched, taking pride in the ruin they had wrought. Now, after a thousand years, the savage tide is about to return. Yet this time, the doom will not be limited to one hapless city. This time, all of civilization waits unknowing on the shore, blissfully ignorant of what the tide is about to bring in..."

Warning! Unmarked spoilers follow! If you are playing in Savage Tide, you have been warned!

Savage Tide is an Adventure Path released for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition during Paizo Publishing's run of Dungeon Magazine, and was both intentionally a Grand Finale for Paizo's run of Dungeon... and unintentionally, an informal finale and sendoff for D&D 3.5 itself, being one of the very last 3.5 adventures published under the WotC umbrella. The adventure begins when the adventurers are hired by a noblewoman of the port city of Sasserine, Lavinia Vanderboren, to track down her missing brother, Vanthus. Over the course of twelve adventures that follow, the Player Characters go from adventures in Sasserine to exploring the infamous Isle of Dread to braving the terrors of the Abyss itself in order to stop a plot by one of D&D's greatest villains to cast the entire world into savagery.

Savage Tide nominally takes place in the Greyhawk setting, though far to the south of the Free City of Greyhawk. It is the third in the Dungeon adventure path series, after Shackled City and Age Of Worms; the three adventure paths are in the same continuity, and Savage Tide assumes that the previous two campaigns have occurred. (This conceit would later carry forward to Pathfinder's Adventure Paths.)

The adventure path is notable, as per above, for being the final adventure path released in Dungeon prior to its cancellation and relaunch as an online-only title for D&D Fourth Edition. The Grand Finale, "Prince of Demons," was the final adventure published in the printed era of Dungeon Magazine, and so served not only as a finale to the campaign, but to the magazine as well.

Savage Tide provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Lavinia Vanderboren, Amella Vankalie, numerous villainous examples.
  • Always Save the Girl: Oh, Lavinia.
  • Apocalypse How: If the players are unable to stop Demogorgon's plot, most living beings within the range of the shadow pearl's savage tide become insane, collapsing most of civilization in the setting's Material Plane. Ironically, since the true purpose of this devastation is so that one of Demogorgon's head can absorb the other in a ritual, the resulting power-boost he obtains in case he isn't stopped likely causes more destruction in the entire multiverse than the savage tide itself.
  • Arch-Enemy: Vanthus Vanderboren. The players start the campaign searching for him, and when they find him, he locks them in a dungeon full of pirate zombies and leaves them to die. Over the course of the campaign, they track him down, discover his links to the savage tide, and eventually kill him on the Isle of Dread. Then Demogorgon brings him back as a Death Knight and they have to track him to the Abyss.
  • The Archmage: Iggwilv. She even has the Archmage class.
  • Back from the Dead: Vanthus.
  • Big Bad: Demogorgon.
  • Black Magician Girl: Iggwilv.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: It's implied (and was outright stated by James Jacobs) that Vanthus lusts after his sister Lavinia. She, thankfully, is completely repulsed by him.
    • "She's a GOOD girl!"
  • City of Adventure: Sasserine, a sister city to the previous one even. Sasserine is partially a city of canals and a major trading hub however.
  • Common Crossover: Due to the use of Isle of Dread, the AP is very popular to be placed in Mystara, where it is originally located (placement of it in Greyhawk stems mostly from confusion with Gary Gygax's own, very similar, Isle of the Ape).
  • Continuity Nod: Many references are made to the two previous adventure paths, Shackled City and Age of Worms - most notably, the second adventure involves the PCs making their way through a festival celebrating the anniversary of the defeat of Kyuss one year previous (and implying that the now-epic-level heroes of Shackled City, from Sasserine's sister city of Cauldron, had defended Sasserine from the undead hordes while the latter adventure's climax was going on elsewhere).
    • A few familiar NPC faces show up as well - a St. Cuthbert cleric ally from Cauldron is now high priest of Sasserine's corresponding church; the fallen angel Saureya from Shackled City has since become an inmate of Demogorgon's prison (and has fallen even further, though he can potentially give the PCs the opportunity to save him to the extent possible); and the eladrin spy Celeste, who played a role in both previous adventure paths, shows up again toward the end to aid the PCs.
  • Cool Boat: The Sea Wyvern, which the players acquire after the second adventure. It stays with them until near the very end of the campaign.
  • Creepy Camel Spider: Called 'Rhagodessa's here, they show up in the climax of the first adventure and sporadically after that with increasing deadly forms. As is standard for such monsters. Like real wind scorpians they don't have any venom glands but their bite is deadly enough.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lavinia the parties matroness, twice.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Stuffed to the gills with them towards the end. The players may even end up working with some of them, like Orcus, in order to take down Demogorgon.
  • Dressed Like a Dominatrix: S'Sharra, who's actually an assassin.
  • Enemy Mine: In the penultimate adventure, "Enemies of My Enemy," the players recruit the eladrin paragon Gwynharwyf, the Demon Prince of Undeath Orcus, the sorceress Iggwilv, and possibly Demogorgon's lover, the succubus queen Malcanthet.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Surprisingly enough, apparently Demogorgon, at least to whatever extent a demon is capable of genuine love — if the PCs ally with his lover Malcanthet, her revealing her treachery at the onset of the final battle has the effect of demoralizing him enough to slightly weaken him. He's even described as almost slumping in rejection before flying into a rage.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Again, the Isle of Dread Later, the Abyss.
  • Evil Versus Evil / Enemy Civil War: A recurring theme in the entire adventure is how most antagonists the players face consistently fight or betray one another, and in the process only end up hurting themselves.
    • This is ultimately revealed to be what drives the campaign and its Big Bad, Demogorgon. It is revealed that his two heads actually have different minds, and that he is thus his own worst enemy, with both heads constantly fighting each other for dominance. The savage tide is the product of a plot of one of them to absorb the other, and defy this trope, giving himself an immense boost in power.
    • This is ultimately what undoes Demogorgon, as well. By managing to get many of his enemies working together against him (see Enemy Mine), he is left weakened enough that the players have a more reasonable chance of killing him.
  • The Evil Prince: Vanthus. He murders his parents in hopes of inheriting their fortune... Only to discover they left it all to Lavinia.
  • Fanservice: Malcanthet, Shami-Amourae, Lavinia, Harliss Javell, Iggwilv, Tyralandi, S'Sharra... yeah, there's a lot of this. Especially Malcanthet. She's not called the Queen of Succubi for nothing. In order to meet with her and secure her aid in the penultimate section of the adventure path, you're required to walk through her palace naked (past several orgies) into her throne room, which is one massive orgy that she oversees from her throne.
  • Final Boss Preview: Sorta. In "City of Broken Idols," the final boss is an aspect of Demogorgon, who is the final boss of the campaign.
  • Ghost Pirate: As noted, the first time the players meet Vanthus he traps them in a dungeon full of zombie pirates. This sets the tone for the rest of the adventure.
    • Later, Vanthus himself returns as an undead death knight.
  • A God Am I: A possible fate for a PC - if Demogorgon is killed, his title, "Prince of Demons," becomes up for grabs, along with his territory in the Abyss.
  • Grand Finale: "Prince of Demons", as noted above.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Tavey Nesk, the cabin boy on the Sea Wyvern for the voyage to the Isle of Dread, quickly starts idolizing one of the PCs.
  • Hungry Jungle: The Isle of Dread, particularly in Chapter 4, "Here Be Monsters."
  • Jumped at the Call: It doesn't take much prodding for Lavinia Vanderboren to start learning to swashbuckle.
  • Kaiju: The Isle of Dread is inhabited with dinosaurs and other horrible things but stand out examples are seven, really nine, beasts whose legend has spread throughout the land. They include Baaragrauth, Burbalarg, Cerattakatha, Chakaranka, Emraag, Temauhti-Tecuani, Xireuksor. These are just ones everyone knows about. Oonga would also count if he hadn't been moved to a different island back in 2nd edition D&D, and there's and immense Deinosuchus that lives unknown in the City of Broken Idols. This is in a plateau on the island which is well out of the reach of the civilized world.
  • Lost World: The Isle of Dread was this when it first appeared and its shown in it's full glory here.
  • Mayincatec: The Olman Tribes on the Isle of Dread. In their distant past, they even built massive Mesoamerican-esque ziggurats and had a far-reaching empire... Until the first of the shadow pearls went off and destroyed their empire in one night. Now there are only seven small tribes left, huddled at the edge of the Isle of Dread.
  • Pirate Girl: Harliss Javel.
  • Position of Literal Power: Shows up in the form of the Prince of Demons title, further as slayers of the Prince of Demons the characters gain perks like immunity to binding oaths they would have made before hand. It works both ways though being a Prince means you'll be open to the taint left by previous personages while being an oathbreaker has it's own issues.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Pathfinder adventure paths Serpent's Skull and Skull and Shackles can be seen as successors to different aspects of Savage Tide.
  • Updated Re-release: The middle arc of the Adventure Path is basically a 3rd Edition update of the classic module Isle of Dread with more plot.
  • The War Sequence: Two. In "Tides of Dread," the PCs fight off an invasion of their adopted home village by a pirate fleet. In "Prince of Demons," the PCs lead an army of hundreds of thousands in an invasion of Gaping Maw, Demogorgon's home layer of the Abyss.
  • Wham Episode: There's a few. In "The Bullywug Gambit," the players see the effects of the savage tide for the first time. In "Tides of Dread," they fight off a pirate invasion and finally get to confront Vanthus. In "City of Broken Idols," they destroy the source of the shadow pearls - by fighting an aspect of Demogorgon!
  • Wretched Hive: Scuttlecove, the pirate town the players visit late in the campaign is awash with every type of vice imaginable and several new ones.