Isle of Dread

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The Isle of Dread is an island in the Densac Gulf, south of the Flanaess.


The Isle of Dread was settled by Olman humans more than 1,300 years ago. They cleared the jungle, planted crops, and built a fortified city, known as Thanaclan, on top of a large central plateau. This city-state became one of the wealthiest provinces of the Olman Empire, in large part due to the recovery of treasure in the waters off the coast. In addition, their isolated location kept them from becoming embroiled in the civil wars that afflicted the Olman further north, helping to maintain this prosperity.

Unfortunately, a kopru plot destroyed Thanaclan through the power of a giant black pearl imbued with the influence of Demogorgon, the demonic god of the kopru. The city was swallowed by a boiling lake and the island was overwhelmed with prehistoric creatures, while the remaining Olman descended into savagery.

Much later, the demigod Zagyg abducted inhabitants of the Isle of Dread to form the population of his Isle of the Ape.

The isle was charted around 30 years ago by Rory Barbarosa, an explorer funded by the Seekers.

Geography and climate

The Isle of Dread is located in the Densac Gulf, a tropical region bordered by the Azure Sea to the north, the Pearl Sea to the south, the Amedio Jungle to the west and Hepmonaland to the east. This large expanse of ocean contains several island chains, one of which contains the Isle of Dread itself.

The Olman of the Isle of Dread and nearby islands total more than 2000 inhabitants, organized into seven settlements. Their villages include Kirikura, Dawa, Usi, Mora, Panitube, Burowao, and Tanaroa.


The native humans in the Isle of Dread are still Olman. Other races include kopru and other aquatic races, demonic beings, and dinosaurs.

The Olman of the Isle of Dread are divided into various clans based on animal totems: the Ape, Tiger, Boar, and Sea Turtle. The villages are governed by female chiefs, while the clans are led by males. A local Zombie Master or Mistress also exists in each village as an advisor to the chief. The job of the Zombie Master is to animate corpses to be used as laborers or warriors.

Creative history

The Isle of Dread is based on an island of the same name in the adventure module The Isle of Dread. Carrying the module code X1, The Isle of Dread was originally published in 1981. Written by David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay, it is among the most widely circulated of all Dungeons & Dragons adventures due to its inclusion as part of the D&D Expert Set.

The Isle of Dread, like the Expert Rulebook it was usually purchased with, is meant to introduce players and dungeon masters, who had up to that point only been familiar with dungeon crawl-style adventures, to wilderness exploration. As such, the adventure has only a very simple plot, even by then-current standards. The characters somehow find a fragment from a ship's log, describing a mysterious island on which many treasures can be found, and set out to explore it.

Typically, the characters will first make landfall near the more or less friendly village of Tanaroa, which is reminiscent of the village depicted in King Kong, and after possibly dealing with some troublesome factions in the village, set out from there to explore the interior of the island. In the course of their explorations, they may find a number of other villages of intelligent creatures (though mostly not of familiar species like humans and elves), numerous hostile monsters and the treasures they guard, and a band of pirates. Many prehistoric creatures, including dinosaurs, are prominently featured, especially in the original printing of the adventure. Near the center of the island is a hidden temple inhabited by monstrous, mind-bending creatures known as kopru; the characters may stumble across it or learn that it is a source of problems for the other inhabitants of the isle, and the climax of the adventure typically consists of the characters exploring this temple, battling its inhabitants and uncovering its secrets.


  • Cook, David and Tom Moldvay. The Isle of Dread. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1981.
  • Holian, Gary. "Exploring the Isle of Dread." Dungeon #114. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.

External links

  • The Isle of Dread on Wikipedia: [1]