GM’s Note: This is a published adventure (although not for D&D) and contains spoilers.
As the party approaches Sands the metaphysical manifestations get more common. Spectral fish swimming through the air, undead sailors and pirates, and weather disturbances. Arriving in Sands the party inquires with people in the town what is happening. They find that there have been monsters swimming in the surrounding waters – which is unusual here. They also meet Barran and his crew. They are foreign sailors that do not seem distressed by the metaphysical events. In fact, they are anticipating something. Barran tells the players that a huge sea serpent known to the worshippers of Nursshok (god of Oceanic Monsters) as the Mother of Monsters is coming to Sands. He calls the beast the Midwife.
The players visit the local shrine to the ocean gods, which is actually underwater in a slower moving area of the delta streams. They learn that there are separate factions of the worshippers of Nursshok. One group is friendly to the Midwife and the other is friendly to Barran.
The players meet Corrick Metheral, the Marshall of Sands, he is looking for brave warriors to deal with some of monsters that are arriving since his own military is being overwhelmed by the numbers. Of more concern is the spectral form of a giant serpent that is surrounding the entire town. This manifestation is different than ones previous in two ways. Firstly, it is not acting threatening (which is not difficult to deal with), and secondly, it is persistent. The other phantasms have been relatively short lived, existing for only minutes, but this one does not fade. It can be easily walked through though and the party travels to a nearby rocky shore to deal with some sea lions that have taken up residence there. The return trip to Sands is notable for the fact that the great serpent, although intangible, feels more solid on the way back through.
Back in Sands Barran reveals a secret to the players – the serpent surrounding the city is the Midwife and he is the reason it is here. He intends to fight it. It intends to fight him also. He has been watching the adventurers and wants them to help him, for which he is willing to pay. He needs fighters to fend off the Midwife’s followers while he fights it. Since, the serpent will be in the water it must be fought from a boat. Normally, his sailors would help him, but much of their time will be spent maneuvering the vessel. The sailors have been building a special boat since they arrived in Sands.
Two days after its initial appearance the serpent is completely solid. It makes an effective wall around the town as it seems unperturbed by attacks against it. Barran assures the party that he is a match for the Midwife regardless of the seeming futility of attacks against it.
Barran, his crew, and the players board the boat and make their way toward the serpent. As they approach the head of the serpent it turns to face them. It is impossibly huge. At this point, the crew gets out torches and light them although it is mid-morning. Barran tells the party that the only way to kill it is from the inside. Shortly thereafter, the serpent obligingly swallows the boat whole.
After surviving the torrent of water that leads to the beasts stomach, the party finds it is as though they were in a cavern. The water only fills about half of the stomach the remainder is air. They don’t have much time to ponder this as they are quickly set upon by Gnolls, who are also in a boat. The combat is not difficult although they are outnumbered. After the battle is over, Barran explains that the Midwife has multiple stomachs. Five, to be exact. The first four are training grounds, the fifth is where it digests its food. The Midwife swallows creatures and they live within its stomachs. By surviving combats with the other residents a creature becomes more powerful. The defeated follow the current back to real stomach and are consumed. When a creature gets powerful enough it gets regurgitated back into the world and to its freedom.
Something waits for them in each stomach. As they progress, they hear a thumping noise that gets louder in each stomach. Barran tells them that this is the Midwifes heart and it is their goal.
In the second it is monstrous sea lions.
In the third it is sahuagin.
In the forth it is two fully grown sea serpents!
The serpents are large and cause great damage to the boat. The heart beat is so loud in this stomach that it is deafening. The wall of the stomach moves with each beat. The sailors paddle hard to get to the side near the heart while the party holds off the serpents. Though the party manages to kill one serpent, the other remains unharmed. The hull of the boat is leaking and water slowly streams into the boat. Barran slashes open the interior wall of the stomach revealing the heart. He thrusts a torch into the exposed heart tissue. The Midwife convulses throwing everyone from the boat, except Barran who clings to the stomach wall.
As the Midwife dies it regurgitates all of its stomachs. The players soon find themselves back in the daylight floating (and probably sinking) in a mix of seawater and stomach acid. Though the boat is destroyed the flotsam provides enough buoyancy to get them to shore. The sailors, being excellent swimmers, help as they can. The only one missing is Barran himself. The leader of Barran’s crew tell the party that Nursshok told Barran that if he defeated the Midwife a portal would open to him to allowing him to plane travel (although summoning a creature to the prime material plane is easy, traveling from it is actually difficult). He also tells the party that both Barran and the Midwife worshipped Nursshok, and that the god was watching the conflict. Both had much to gain and lose in the combat.
Marshall Metheral holds a celebration for the party and the sailors. The food served is, of course, giant serpent (fixed in various ways). Corrick even has a plaque made to commemorate the event. The paranoia of the party makes itself evident when Twylla and Nicas misspell their names on purpose when being added to the plaque’s roster.
For surviving the combats inside the Midwife the players have earned the following extraordinary abilities:
Gunter: +4 Swim skill, hold breath for 3xCon in rounds before making Constitution checks, +5 skill in Knowledges and Wilderness Lore on matters pertaining to the oceans.
Nicas: hold breath for 3xCon in rounds before making Constitution checks, permanent +1 Con, Rage like a Barbarian of the same level.
Twylla: +4 Swim skill, hold breath for 3xCon in rounds before making Constitution checks, Rage like a Barbarian of the same level.
Hiza: 4 to save, category reduced by one. Panicked→Frightened→Shaken→unaffected. Fear effects are still cumulative.)
Dorin: Permanent 8 to save, category reduced by one. Panicked→Frightened→Shaken→unaffected. Fear effects are still cumulative.)