Search for the Sage

A one-shot D&D adventure for 3-7 Player Characters (PCs) of around 2nd level. This is written for the Dungeon Master (DM) and contains all that you will need to run the adventure, although a good knowledge of the D&D 5th-edition rules definitely will help. The basic rules are available for free at

Original: Written by Payton Swick © 2017 Creative Commons Attribution:


A town sinks slowly into the sea and only the power of an ancient sage can save it. But can the sage be found in time? There's only one way to find out.

A famous town, Tzimarel, floats mysteriously on the water of a bay surrounded by tall mountains. The town is known for a magical coral that grows beneath its wooden streets. The coral is harvested, worked, and traded for all the needs of the citizens.

Recently the coral has begun to die and the town has begun to sink. The monks who maintain the village can not stop the decay. They hire the PCs to find the legendary sage who once enchanted the coral that supports the town. The sage is said to live on a cloud-wreathed island in the center of the Hundred-league sea.

Scene 1: at the docks

To get to the island, the PCs will need a ship, but the monks have very little money to offer. There are three ships currently docked at the town, and it's up to the PCs to find a way to charter or otherwise acquire passage on one.

This will likely require Charisma skill challenges, but there are other options. Allow the players to come up with ways to beg, steal, borrow, or barter a ship. Remember the guideline of setting DCs: easy: DC 10, challenging: DC 15, hard: DC 20.

Available ships

  • The Sun Chaser, a heavy three-masted barque under the ex-pirate Rika Tenfingers. She is greedy and never backs down from a challenge. She fears losing. The Sun Chaser is 100 ft. long, has two guns, and a crew of 20 sailors. (AC 19; Speed 15 ft.)
  • Forest's Honor, a thin two-masted schooner under the High Elf Lucien Feldor. Lucien is haughty and loves prestige. He fears being ridiculed. The Honor is a fast 120 ft. long ship with a crew of 10. (AC 13; Speed 30 ft.)
  • The Seahorse, a small single-masted cog under the heavyset Dwarf Karl Dugger. Dugger has a hearty laugh, loves food and fears illness. The Seahorse is an average 50 ft. long ship with a crew of 10. (AC 16; Speed 20 ft.)

Scene 2: aboard ship

The monks who hired the PCs gave them an ancient map which supposedly leads to the island of the sage. As they sail along the course laid out by the map, the captain realizes that it will take them directly into The Deeps, a mysterious stretch of water where sailors see strange sights.

As they approach The Deeps, the water becomes significantly darker. As night falls, a strong wind kicks up and within minutes there is a full-on storm. Suddenly a huge wave will hit the ship, causing the captain and five sailors to be knocked unconscious. Ten of the ropes that hold the sails will be knocked loose, and the wheel will be spinning out-of-control. The ship's speed becomes 0 and then it begins to be pulled into a whirlpool 50 ft. away.

This will work like an encounter, with the weather as a creature. See the next page for the stats of the storm and its available actions.


All the conscious sailors on the ship are busy trying to keep the sails up. Five sailors are injured and unconscious. PCs can use their actions to try to heal the injured sailors (any magical healing or a DC 15 Wisdom - Medicine check will work). Healed sailors can use their actions to help with unsecured ropes and the wheel (have all healed sailors act on the same initiative order).

See the next page for the stats of a Sailor and their actions.


The ship has 10 unsecured ropes. PCs and sailors can use their actions to attempt to tie the ropes properly to cleats on the rails (Dexterity - Slight of Hand DC 15). Players can instead try to secure a sail by climbing the mast (Strength - Athletics DC 15). There may be other clever ways to secure ropes. Each secured rope restores 1/10th of the ship's speed (round up).


The ship's wheel is spinning wildly. PCs and sailors can use their actions to try to hold it steady (Strength - Athletics DC 12). There may be other clever ways to secure the wheel. Each round the wheel is successfully held, the ship moves its current speed (based on the number of secure ropes) away from the whirlpool.


If any creature falls off the ship, they must make a DC 10 Strength - Athletics check to swim back to the ship and another DC 12 Strength - Athletics check to climb back aboard (if they have a rope, the DC is reduced to 5).

Storm in the Deeps

  • Initiative +4


Push ship. +6 vs. ship AC. Hit: ship moves 2d6 + 5 ft. toward the whirlpool.

Legendary actions:

The storm can take 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The storm regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Lightning explosion, 10 ft. radius: DC 12 Dexterity save, 2d6 lightning damage on a failed save or half damage on a successful save.

Wave, 20 ft. radius: DC 12 Str save; targets are pushed 15 ft. and knocked prone on a failed save.

Freezing wind, 100 ft. radius: DC 12 Con save or take 2d6 cold damage.


  • Armor Class 12
  • Hit Points 10
  • Speed 30 ft.

11 (+1) 13 (+2) 10 (+0) 10 (+0) 10 (+0) 8 (-1)

Initiative +2


Secure rope: +2 Dexterity check vs. DC 15. Success: one rope is secured. Increase ship's speed by 1/10th.

Hold wheel: +1 Strength check vs. DC 12. Success: ship moves its speed away from the whirlpool.


If the ship falls into the whirlpool, it is destroyed and the PCs will wash up on the shore of the hidden island in the morning with full hit points but one point of exhaustion (disadvantage on all skill checks).

If instead the ship moves further than 110 ft. from the whirlpool, they will sail into the eye of the storm through a wall of mist where the island lies.

Scene 3: exploring the island

The sage's island is under a blue sky, but much of it is covered in a heavy mist, making it hard to navigate and impossible to see very far. It is a jungle island, surrounded by a rocky beach.

Every so often the PCs will encounter a floating bubble of dark water which hovers just off the ground. The water appears normal in every way except that it floats in space.

In order to navigate the island, the PCs will need make several skill checks, some of them more than once. Use any of the following or similar checks, but after about four checks (success or failure) they will find the sage's grove.

  • To move skillfully through dense undergrowth (Perception DC 12, Survival DC 10, or Str DC 12 save or take 1d6 bludgeoning damage).
  • Avoid falling into a volcanic steam vent (Perception DC 12, Survival DC 10, or Dex DC 12 save or take 1d6 fire damage).
  • Avoid a natural pit of brambles (Perception or Survival DC 10 or take 1d6 piercing damage).
  • Avoid a venomous frog or snake (Dex DC 12 save or take 1d6 poison damage).

Scene 4: the sage's grove

The grove of the sage lies in the center of the island, where all the mist is strangely absent. The grove is a large clearing where a 30 ft. diameter shallow bubbling pool of water glows in the sunlight. Seemingly growing out of the pool are great arches of white coral that wind their way around the clearing in thin, graceful lines. Supported in the center of the arches is a low coral pillar, atop which sits a brown-robed person, facing away from the PCs. Atop one of the arches behind the pillar floats a large bubble of dark water.

When the PCs reveal themselves, the person atop the pillar is at first totally silent, but soon laughs evilly at their requests. They stand, and declare, "soon all the towns of the East will drown, for see what forces I now possess!".

At that point, a pulse of blue energy will fly from the water bubble in the back to the robed person. The person will reveal itself to be a fish-headed djinn surrounded with a glowing barrier of energy. It will immediately summon three steam mephits and three water elementals to attack.

When the djinn draws power for its magic, the PCs will also notice a moan of pain coming from the water bubble in the back (this is where the real sage is trapped).

Touching the boiling water of the pool will require a DC 13 Constitution save to avoid taking 1d8 fire damage.

Water Djinn

Medium elemental

  • Armor Class 17
  • Hit Points 60
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft., swim 60 ft.

18 (+4) 12 (+1) 14 (+2) 17 (+3) 10 (+0) 15 (+2)

Energy shield: while active, the djinn is immune to all damage. If the water bubble where the sage is trapped takes any damage, the djinn's shield disappears.


Slam: melee attack, +5 to hit. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

Water jet: range 60 ft., all targets in a line. Targets make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, a target takes 6 (2d6) bludgeoning damage, is pushed 30 ft. and knocked prone.

Restore shield: As a bonus action on its turn, if the energy shield has been disabled, the Djinn can attempt to restore it. Roll a d20; the shield is restored on a roll of 10 or higher.


The bubble

To defeat the djinn they will need to disable its shield by striking the bubble where the sage is trapped. Reaching the bubble on foot requires a DC 10 Dexterity or Strengthx check to climb the coral, but being adjacent to the bubble grants advantage on any melee attack against it.

The bubble has an AC of 10.

Minor water elemental

Large elemental

  • Armor Class 14
  • Hit Points 20
  • Speed 30 ft.

18 (+4) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 5 (-3) 10 (+0) 8 (-1)

  • Vulnerable fire
  • Immune poison


Slam: melee attack, +4 to hit. Hit: 8 (2d6 + 2) bludgeoning damage.

Steam Mephit

Small elemental

  • Armor Class 10
  • Hit Points 21
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft.

19 (+5) 9 (+0) 5 (-2) 5 (-2) 13 (+2) 1 (-4)

  • Immune fire, poison


Claw: melee attack, +2 to hit. Hit: 3 (1d6) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.

Steam breath (recharge 6): Each creature in a 15 ft. cone must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, taking 4 (1d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Scene 5: the real sage

Once the djinn is destroyed, the bubble prison will collapse and any summoned creatures will be banished. The freed sage appears to be an old woman in brown robes with metallic silver braids. She will thank the PCs for stopping "that evil creature". She will then transform into a silver dragon and cast a spell on the coral in the grove. This will cause all of the coral to light up with magical energy, and the sage will tell the PCs that the town is now safe.

She will explain that she had been caught unaware by that djinn and it was draining her power to create an army of elementals for its own use.

As a reward, the dragon will give them each a small piece of coral which glows with a blue light. The coral may be fashioned into weapons or magic items.

The dragon will even fly them back to Tzimarel if they request it, where they will be showered with praise for their heroics.

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