Personally, I have a thing for high-magic campaigns :). In the campaign where this came from, it was used by Blackthar as an NPC, and only occasionally. He did not, for good reason, trust it very much. Go to Comment
The PC's ship happen upon a ramshackle vessel barely keeping above the waves. On board are a ridiculous number of refugees in very bad condition. There are too many on board to easily take on the PC's own ship. It is obvious that the next bit of bad weather will spell the end for the passengers. The PCs are now given the dilemma of what to do? If they pull overside, then the refugees will attempt, en masse, to board the PC's better ship, possibly overloading it, or upsetting their own vessel, causing many weakened persons to fall into the water. If the PCs ignore the vessel, then it could be a problem for characters such as priests & paladins who need to uphold good. To add to the problem, make the refugees a relatively unpopular, but not evil, people.
This encounter can be scaled appropriately - but it needs to happen on the high seas, so that the simple option of landing the ship is not available. Go to Comment
The PC's lookout sees smoke on the horison. If the PC's ship moves closer to investigate, they will see that it is medium-sized longship and that it is piled with burning brush. It appears to be a funeral ship - the body has alredy been consumed by flame, but there does appear to be some grave goods remaining.
If the PC's decide to try and salvage something, they have a few issues:
1. Ship is on fire :)
2. Moral issues - this is graverobbing.
3. If they are seen by another ship of the same group, they will be attacked without mercy. Go to Comment
The PC's are treated to a rare performance by mother nature - a Waterspout appears some distance away from the PC's vessel. Generally these are not as dangerous as land-based tornadoes, but then again, this may not be a natural waterspout... Go to Comment
A strange fog descends upon the ship, limiting visibility to just a few feet. Within the fog is an array of evil spirits who will then enter the ship and cause one or more misfortunes:
Effects of the Killing Fog...
1. A crew member or other NPC is possessed and become psychotic.
2. A crew member or other NPC disappears into the fog. Someone might hear a body fall into the water, but the encompassing fog makes rescue unlikely.
3. A shipboard animal - perhaps a pet, war dog, or other beast, undergoes a grotesque transformation, becoming demonic in visage and attacking.
4. A crewman or NPC is found dead, their skin a dreadfully pale white. Unless properly disposed of with funeral rites, they will come back to haunt the ship. Searching of the ship turns up nothing.
5. Incorporeal undead board the ship - perhaps as minor as poltergeists, or as deadly as wraiths.
6. All sources of fire are snuffed and refuse to light for many hours after the fog dissipates.