A compelling illustration inspires adventure

An earworm is a tune or song you just can’t get out of your head. Sometimes an illustration or painting can be like that.

For me, one such image was Brynn Metheney’s illustration of the Deep Scion from Volo’s Guide to Monsters.  The magical monster — a sort of aquatic changeling, though more Lovecraftian than fey in its origins — really resonated with me.

The creature occupies a similar thematic place in Dungeons and Dragons lore as the fishlike kuo-toa — humanoids captured from the shore that were taken into the depths and transformed by some unfathomable power into a piscine horror.  

But the Deep Scion, with its array of tentacles, its maw resembling a northern pike and fins extending from muscular forearms and calves, is an altogether modern take on the concept of a humanoid fish.

As soon as I saw it, I have to say — no pun intended — that I was hooked.

Once I read the creature’s descriptive text and examined its shapechanging powers, I knew I had to use it in an upcoming adventure.

But what kind of adventure?

KrakencoverThe answer didn’t come right away. It wasn’t until after I read Waterdeep Dragon Heist did a sequence of likely encounters come to mind. It would be a post-heist adventure, an expanded form of one of the faction missions detailed in Chapter 2. I intended to use the Deep Scions as minions of a Kraken Society priest who was trying to gain a foothold in Waterdeep’s underbelly.

Pairing the Deep Scions with the Kraken priest — an NPC whose illustration is by the aptly surnamed Chris Seaman — formed the heart of the my DM’s Guild adventure, Call of Kraken.  It also provided an opportunity to use another old favorite monster, the sahuagin, in an urban setting.

The adventure has some things that I really enjoy. It has a roleplay opportunity as the PCs encounter the strange occupants of the old trading house. It’s got exploration of challenging terrain as the underwater channels leading in from the harbor need investigating. And it’s got combat, the aforementioned sahuagin and Kraken priest, not to mention a shark or two.

Even after the adventure’s development and release, the image of the Deep Scion remains fixed in my mind. It’s my hope that player characters who go through the adventure are similarly affected.



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I'm a professional print journalist and gaming hobbyist who loves reading and watching science fiction and fantasy, especially the TV show "Xena: Warrior Princess." I cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers, and like college volleyball and basketball. I am master of my own kettle grill.

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