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The Caribbean Playtest

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    Nik Vinter

After finishing everything I had to do in my life and leaving me some free time I decided to visit some of my friends that live a couple of hours away. At the time I had just released my own dungeon so I told myself "eh, why not" and tried to introduce all of them to D&D B/X. There were 4 of them, with completely zero experience. It has been a blast. This recap will be both a play report as well as a wall of considerations about new players.

They enthusiastically accepted the proposal and created some characters: a fighter, a cleric, a thief and a halfling. Everyone briefly described themselves and, after overcoming the initial embarassment phase, started playing. They arrived in town, explored it a bit, met the Mayor and Eralda and signed some contracts. Then they decided to take a boat and go around the isle. I wasn't expecting that but I decided to throw at them some random caves on the northern coast (and bought some time telling them that the tides were too high at the moment). After that they went to sleep and on the next day they reached the colony.


I'm not going to describe everything, it would be too tedious, but their first encounter was with some blue zombies. Artemis (the cleric) forgot they had turn undead and died. Lesson learned. The others survived and explored a bit more: they found the amphitheater, the distillery and the diary. It was really fun seeing them invested in the story of the colony, trying to understand it fully.

After some back and forth they met Rufus and proceeded to test the powers of the theater, too bad that they tested them on the halfling that died in one hit. I don't remember the exact details but after some back and forth they had a random encounter with some Dead Carillons. They ran away and closed themselved in Area 13 and, with tense music and little to no time, the group decided to hide themselves inside of the tombs. Four successefull rolls and they were inside, trying not to breath, as the carillon music passed by.

They found the Girdle of Strength, explored some more, and after that they decided it was time to visit the caves in the northern part of the island. I didn't have anything prepared so I homebrewed a pirate ship with a giant statue in it and a crocodile guarding everything. Well, the crocodile almost TPKed the whole group. Only Zephira survived, by climbing the mast of the sheep and shooting arrows at the (almost dead) beast.


The group found the statue, saw it was too big, and decided to go to Victoria to buy some magic spells. I used this opportunity to introduce Port Nyanzaru (since I didn't have Victoria ready), throw at them some things to do (like the dinosaur racing) and, while I was at it, I also gave them the opportunity to go explore Chult. We were playing for 4 days straight at this point and we had little time left, but I decided "why not". Luckily they didn't go there.

There were lots of memorable moments during the whole dungeon, so I'm happy as to how it turned out. The players were really great: it was fun seeing how they progressed from "eh i'll touch this" to "ok let me use my 10ft pole for everything" without me explicitly telling them to do so. It was a silent tutorial that worked perfectly. Also since the entire group was new to D&D and didn't know about "skills" their whole play-style revolved around the creative use of abilities and items. I was really satisfied with that.

To wrap up the whole dungeon I had to remove some of the rooms in the south-western area, but it still turned out ok. They met Leor (not Atriel since I had to improvise the name), talked with him for a bit and then a fight ensued. Everyone was tense, the dice were rolling, the mists were spawining. Luckily they managed to beat him and put an end to his misery. They found the Tea and the recipe for it, but we didn't have time to roleplay the ending of the campaign. I also left some threads open, just in case we'll come back to it (for example the black door of room 37).

Overall I'm really satisfied with my product, and it needed only a couple of minor adjustments (the treasure was pretty low and the magic items probably too overpowered). My players really liked it though, and I really hope we can play again one day.