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GM's Resources

The Death King's Forlorn Isle at a Glance

The Death King's Forlorn Isle at a Glance

by Guest Designer

October 03, 2019


GM's Resources

The Death King's Forlorn Isle at a Glance

by Guest Designer

October 03, 2019


The Death King's Forlorn Isle at a Glance

A keening gale tears across the Bitter Sea, parting the clouds above to unveil a turgid crimson moon. Ominous rumbling resounds from the churning waters below. The surface of the sea boils and bubbles like a witch’s cauldron—its waves foaming and swelling like a suppurating sore until a mass of jagged black rock erupts from the lightless depths. The Forlorn Isle has risen. Legend claims the small island holds the tomb of an ancient king whose crimes were so heinous his name was stricken from history. After his death, the weight of his evil deeds caused the isle to sink into the Bitter Sea.

But once every year, when the Blood Moon casts its baleful gaze upon the world, the cold brine rejects its cursed burden and the Forlorn Isle rises again, eagerly awaiting fresh victims. Despite the impressive tally of adventurers lost to the basalt bowels of the so-called Death King’s ruined keep, many brave souls have sailed there over the years, drawn like moths to a flame by legends of lost ancient treasure. When dawn breaks, the bleak island sinks into the deep once more, entombing alive those who would steal its sinister secrets.

Helvettiin and the Forlorn Isle

A bleak, crag-jagged islet in the Bitter Sea, the Forlorn Isle surfaces approximately one mile east of Coldwater every year on the night of the Blood Moon. But one structure stands upon the Forlorn Isle—the Death King’s mighty citadel of Helvettiin which was reduced to rubble centuries ago. Beneath these dismal ruins lie the dungeons of the fortress, accessible only via heavy bronze doors set into the rock on the isle’s west flank.

A rugged mass of black stone, pock marked by barnacles and swathed in reeking seaweed is all that now remains of the isle. Crabs, clams and other shellfish brought up from the bottom of the sea provide a feast for countless seagulls whose screeching fills the fog-shrouded sky with their shrill, haunting cacophony which mariners say are the screams of all those souls lost on and near the isle. 

Measuring but a half-mile across, the Forlorn Isle takes little time to explore.

  1. The Bitter Sea: Jagged rocks lurk just beneath the surface of the dark, choppy waters. A shallow-keeled boat is the best option to reach the isle. Even then, skill checks should be made to navigate the treacherous waters and avoid being shipwrecked. 
  2. Black Silt beach: Pitted yellow bones and rusted weapons— the remains of those who besieged Helvettiin ten centuries ago—jut from the jet-black slurry covering the ground like so many charnel toadstools. If you are using “Optional Event: Rival Party” footsteps lead through the foul slurry to area 6.
  3. Crags: Impaled upon the countless sharp spires of rock are the wrecks of several small and medium-sized boats. The cliffs on the isle’s west side are 50 ft. high and slick with algae. 
  4. Grove of Sacrifice: Thick, reeking seaweed hangs from this dismal copse of dead, blackened trees like slimy spider webs. Nailed to the trunks and hidden beneath layers of algae and barnacles are the barnacle-encrusted skeletons of over a dozen victims; their weathered skulls gazing out unseeingly across the churning sea.
  5. Citadel Ruins: Rising 30 ft. above the surrounding rubble like a glistening black needle, a single crumbling tower wall forms the sole remnant of the Death King’s dark citadel. On stormy nights, the tip is wreathed in a nimbus of blue-green fire; a phenomenon known as “Serat’s Torch”; mariners consider it  a warning from the sea goddess herself.
  6. Dungeon Entrance: This foreboding cavern hewn into the cliffside hides the only known entrance to Helvettiin’s dreary dungeons.

Want More?

Want to add the Forlorn Isle to your campaign? Dungeon Backdrop: The Death King's Forlorn Isle by Bart Wynants is available in 5e, Pathfinder 1, Pathfinder 2 and System Neutral/OSR editions.

About Dungeon Backdrops

You are a GM, but you are busy. You want to write your own modules, but you just don’t have the time. And you don’t want to use commercial modules. You want to make your campaign your own. That’s where the Dungeon Backdrop line comes in! Each Dungeon Backdrop presents a fully fleshed out and lovingly detailed self-contained dungeon ready for you to use as you see fit. Stock the dungeon with your own monsters (and—perhaps—their treasure), decide their back story and you are good to go.

Every Dungeon Backdrop is carefully designed to be easily inserted into almost any fantasy campaign and is compatible with virtually any fantasy roleplaying game. Dungeon Backdrops: we describe the dungeon, you add the monsters (and the treasure).

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