D&D: Danger At Dunwater – Module Retrospective
Danger at Dunwater is the second in a three part adventure, and it’s one of the best D&D modules you’ve never played.
Ghosts of Saltmarsh is coming out in a few short weeks and we’re taking a look back at the original modules you’ll find inside. Today we’re going through Danger at Dunwater, which hides so many gems in an underrated little module. The second part of the Saltmarsh series, this module will see a group of characters head out in search of a band of lizardmen who seem to be threatening the town of Saltmarsh.
But, much like its predecessor, the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, there’s much more going on than meets the eye. We’re going to tread into spoiler territory, and though this module is older than I am, an updated version is about to come out, so if you want the freshest experience so consider yourself warned.
As we said, there’s more going on here than meets the eye–which is what makes this whole series great. It’s a simple formula: players investigate a thing, discover new information, make a new decision, but it is executed so well. In this case, the adventurers are investigating a band of Lizardfolk who have been negotiating secret smuggling deals to amass arms and armor. At least they are if the adventurers discovered what was happening in the first adventure. The Saltmarsh Town Council might not even be aware of the lizardmen if the adventurers blundered about.
But eventually the adventurers run across the lizard stronghold and, depending on their approach might learn of a secret alliance of aquatic races to fight off an army of Sahuagin who have taken the Lizardfolx home. Canny adventurers might even represent Saltmarsh and forge a tenuous alliance between lizard people and humanity. If they have previously slain amy lizardmen in their adventuring, then you and your group get to learn what a weregild is. But it’s a very interesting look at one way to build an alliance in your games, especially between creatures that have previously been hostile.
And that’s just one part of this adventure. Danger at Dunwater is packed with cool opportunities like this. There’s a chance for the heroes to feel heroic, for their actions and decisions to drive the adventure. And that’s what makes this module such a great intro for players and DMs. There’s a lot of little lessons like this packed in.
For instance, the Lizardman stronghold is packed full of character and rich detail. From the chamber of the lizard minister, which is full of books on politics, negotiation, and the like, to the banquet hall and hatchery–you get a definite sense of the personality of this clan of lizardfolk.
Or how about a rolling fight with 25 Bullywugs that’s just good clean fun.
Or there’s the encounter with the Sahuagin, where one of the sea-devils offers an alliance with the PCs in order to fight the lizardmen. Which they might accept, and there are consequences for it both positive and negative–but that’s what makes this series so great. It’s a toolbox for putting together your story, and sure there might be some rails involved, but you get to decide where they’re pointing. And that kind of adventure is definitely worth checking out.