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Night of the Shark (2e)
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Night of the Shark (2e)

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"When the storm comes in with its teeth, teeth, teeth..."

Black clouds build on the horizon with supernatural swiftness as the light of day drains away like a guttering candle. As the wind screams and sea spray blinds the eyes, the masts splinter and the deck heels over, a plaything of the storm. A nightmare shark hunts the murky ocean for all that succumb to the hammer of the winds. Can anyone survive the Tempest of the Deep Mother?

Night of the Shark is the second part of an adventure trilogy featuring the evil sahuagin, deadly sea devils in pursuit of an ancient relic known only as The Stone Which Abides. This adventure can be played independently, or it can be linked together as part of the adventure series that began with Evil Tide and concludes with Sea of Blood.

Product History

"Night of the Shark" (1997), by Bruce R. Cordell, is the second Monstrous Arcana adventure for The Sea Devils (1997). It was published in October 1997.

Origins: Continuing the Arcana. The Monstrous Arcana books (1996-1998) were an annual series, each year consisting of a monstrous sourcebook and three connected adventures. For 1997, the sourcebook was The Sea Devils (1997), focused on the sahuagin. "Night of the Shark" (1997) followed "Evil Tide" (1997) as the second adventure in the series.

Adventure Tropes: Necessary Failure. Like many adventure of the AD&D 2e era (1989-2000), this one kicks off with a required failure. The adventurers must lose both an artifact they've collected and their ship so that the scenario may continue.

After that event, the adventure becomes more open, like its predecessor: there's a ghost ship crawl followed by a smaller cavern crawl. The sea cavern is a rather unique map with the directions being up, down, north, and south. It's still two-dimensional, but the dimensions are vertical, rather than horizontal.

A Favorite Scene. Bruce Cordell's favorite scene in the whole adventure arc can be found in "Night of the Shark". It's room 29, the surgery, aboard the ghost ship. Cordell notes, "The picture accompanying the text tells the story of how disaster was spawned in the form of the apodalypse".

Genre Tropes: Lovecraftian Horror. That scene is part of the Lovecraftian horror of "Night of the Shark", something that would be revealed further by that "apodalypse". The idea of Lovecraftian D&D adventures was something that Cordell introduced in The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996) with the Far Realm.

Exploring Neverness. It's the treasure map on page 26 that links "Night of the Shark" (and the whole sahuagin arc) to a larger world. The map references the "Lost Realm of Olefin", which was previously mentioned in Cordell's The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996) as "the largest city of an Elder empire located in what is now a sunken island chain"; it's also the home of the "Elder Elves", who were alluded to in "Evil Tide".

Though the map puts the sahuagin trilogy and The Gates of Firestorm Peak in the same world, it would take one of Cordell's later works to reveal that they both fit into the once-mentioned world of Neverness.

Monsters of Note. "Night of the Shark" features the appearance of the apodalypse, a "squamous" monstrosity. It was created with the help of a tome, the Nekton Fragments. This further reveals the Lovecraftian influences of "Night of the Shark", as the apodalypse could easily be a shoggoth and the Nekton Fragments could be the Pnakotic Manuscripts (or the Celaeno Fragments).

As for the sahuagin who are the core of this adventure series: they're used quite lightly in "Night of the Shark", appearing briefly while the characters spend most of the adventure instead fighting wights, ghouls, and zombies.

There's also an ixitxachitl in this adventure — an interesting undersea race because they have the same real-world origins as the sahuagin. These evil manta rays were similarly created by Steve Marsh, who said they were "inspired by Aztecs, a name from the back of a Mormon pamphlet (Christ in the Americas) and a [Fafhrd] and Grey Mouser story."

About the Creators. Cordell started working at TSR in 1995 and would stay with Wizards of the Coast until 2013. His major previous work was The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996). His successful work on the sahuagin adventures would lead to him being picked to write The Illithiad (1998) and the three companion adventures.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons — a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

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October 11th, 2003
This is the middle part of a trilogy, where I had the print versions of parts 1 and 3. Unfortunately it is also the weakest part of the trilogy, being a sea voyage and run-around that really doesn't add to the plot. Nice ghost ship, but otherwise for [...]
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File Last Updated:
June 17, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on June 20, 2017.