5E Enhancing "Ghosts of Saltmarsh"

jayoungr

Adventurer
Since Ghosts of Saltmarsh is potentially a campaign of its own, it's time for the traditional "Enhancing" wiki thread! [ETA: No longer a wiki thread, sadly.]

This post contains shortcuts to particular posts* that offer suggestions and answer questions raised by the adventure.

Table of Contents/Index of posts

Introduction
Ch 1. Saltmarsh
Ch 2. The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
Ch 3. Danger at Dunwater
Ch 4. Salvage Operation
Ch 5. Isle of the Abbey
Ch 6. The Final Enemy
Ch 7. Tammeraut's Fate
Ch 8. The Styes
App A: Of Ships and the Sea
App B: Magic Items
App C: Monsters & NPCS


*These posts typically start discussions so don't forget to read relevant following posts!

Other threads related to Ghosts of Saltmarsh


DMs Guild related Products

Guild Adept Content

  • Saltmarsh Encounters

    Bring your campaign to life with this companion supplement for Ghosts of Saltmarsh! Saltmarsh Encounters presents 60 short encounters for the town, coast, and sea. Over 150 variations are included, making the encounters highly replayable and allowing you to customise them to fit YOUR game. The supplement is great for Ghosts of Saltmarsh or any coastal or high seas campaign!
 
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Galendril

Explorer
When 5e came out I kit bashed Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh with Cult of the Reptile God. We had a lot of fun with that!
 

jayoungr

Adventurer
When 5e came out I kit bashed Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh with Cult of the Reptile God. We had a lot of fun with that!
Sounds awesome! Can you give us some details on how you mashed them together? Also, how did you do the conversions for "Cult of the Reptile God"?
 

Galendril

Explorer
It wasn’t a lot of work to do conversions. Pretty much all the creatures in N1 are in the 5e MM now.

I made my own map of a new town called Ravenport since i had no map for Saltmarsh (also, my players would recognize the name Saltmarsh immediately). I used all the locations in N1 and assigned various townspeople to the council.

I added a Benjin Wolfe as a prominent shopkeeper who was secretly working with the smugglers.

The priest of the temple went super crazy after his conversion and murdered his own daughter and threw her into the ocean. She returns as a zombie and becomes a plot hook to the N1 investigation.

It was really fun to play around with elements from both. And have different plots advance simultaneously.
 

GlassJaw

Adventurer
I haven't run Ghosts of Saltmarsh but I've done some brainstorming on a possible campaign.

While I like "Sinister Secret", I don't really like "Danger" or "Final Enemy". The entire Danger module can basically be a single role-playing encounter, and The Final Enemy is a huge dungeon stocked with enemies that the players are supposed to avoid entirely. Stealth-based missions don't play very well in D&D, at least ones at this scale.

So while I like the lizardfolk-sahuagin conflict storyline, I would circumvent those two modules almost entirely. I really like incorporating Cult of the Reptile God though! Lots of potential for intrigue and rooting out the cult.

The big idea I have was using Saltmarsh as a homebase for expeditions to the Isle of Dread. I would also use The Shadow Over Innsmouth for inspiration. There is a cult in Saltmarsh that wants to retrieve an artifact from the Isle of Dread. The module Torrents of Dread from Dungeon #114 would also be really good to incorporate.
 
I'm currently running The Styles, and there are a few things I have found:

* My players wanted to know a lot more details about the string of murders than was provided in the module, and I had to wing it. It would have been useful to have dates, MO, location of bodies, identities of all known victims, etc. I would recomend having it all tabulated before hand if you suspect players might be into police procedurals.

* There are a few issues with the suspended ship map. On the map, the crane does not look strong enough to support a ship full of water. The illustration tries to address that with a very robust looking structure, which doesn't align with the map. Also, the ship in the picture is a mirror image of the ship on the map. The area under the crane is shown with windows on the illustration, but this area is not represented on the map. The space inside Mr Dory's cabin is not large enough for him to use Cloudkill as described in the tactics section.

* Mr Dory's stat block seems a bit arbitrary. I might be inclined to remake him as a Great Old One warlock if I run this again, especially if I wanted to adjust the difficulty up or down.

* Fights with skum can drag a bit - there are several of them, and they have quite high hp for mooks. Although the party didn't have optimised DPS.
 

Dark_T_Zeratul

Explorer
Does anyone have any advice for scaling this up? My players are level 8 right now but I feel like this'd be a great thing to slot into their current campaign.
 
Does anyone have any advice for scaling this up? My players are level 8 right now but I feel like this'd be a great thing to slot into their current campaign.
The adventures are mostly stand-alone, so I would simply pick it up at chapter 7 (Tammeraut's Fate).

Sinister Secret (Ch1) and Danger at Dunswater (Ch 2) pretty much require the party to be low level because of the nature of the threat, and The Final Enemy (Ch 6) loses most of it's significance without those earlier instalments, although a level 8 party of murder hobos might enjoy taking on a sahaugan army without the scripted backup.

The Isle of Abbey (Ch 5) could have the number and difficulty of it's encounters inflated.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Does anyone have any advice for scaling this up? My players are level 8 right now but I feel like this'd be a great thing to slot into their current campaign.
I've used Sinister Secret over the years with a variety of parties, including one that was much more powerful than expected. I just scaled things up with broad strokes. Sanbalet became a powerful illusionist with a pile of spells and magic items. He had apprentices, too, with magical capabilities. The smugglers were more elite and numerous. The alchemist was a high-level undead encounter. There was some sort of sea serpent or octopus guarding the smuggler's launch and its parents were defending the ship. It was good fun.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Any advice on how to handle the Lizardfolk aboard the Sea Ghost in The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh? We have a Draconic-speaking Sorcerer in the party, and I don't want to spoil the next part of the adventure by having the Lizardfolk explain their intentions to the party, which seems all the more likely considering they're non-hostile and don't join in the fighting.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
A mistake I just noticed: The compass in the insert to map 3.1 (Danger at Dunwater, p. 71) incorrectly points toward the left side of the page, when it should point up, just like the larger map (north = up, basically.) In other words, C corresponds to Area 22, D to Area 1, and E to area 49.
 
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Any advice on how to handle the Lizardfolk aboard the Sea Ghost in The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh? We have a Draconic-speaking Sorcerer in the party, and I don't want to spoil the next part of the adventure by having the Lizardfolk explain their intentions to the party, which seems all the more likely considering they're non-hostile and don't join in the fighting.
Just make them angry and ill disposed towards humans. One of them might be particularly hot-headed and attack just before it's compatriot explains. Or maybe their elders haven't told them what the weapons are for.

If you have a lizardfolk or similar species (e.g. dragonborn, tortle) in the party, or they are Starfleet, then Danger at Dunwater is likely to just be a negotiation anyway.

One way to make Dunwater more challenging is have the party accompanied by a representative of the town who is secretly a sahaugan spy physically altered to appear human (they do that).
 
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Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Any advice on how to handle the Lizardfolk aboard the Sea Ghost in The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh? We have a Draconic-speaking Sorcerer in the party, and I don't want to spoil the next part of the adventure by having the Lizardfolk explain their intentions to the party, which seems all the more likely considering they're non-hostile and don't join in the fighting.
When I ran the adventure, the lizardfolks fled by jumping into the water from their cabin, once they realized that a full-scale attack was going on.

I also made tre pseudodragon a prisoner if the smugglers. For me it didn't make much sense that it would bond with someone who had slayed its former master.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Any advice on how to handle the Lizardfolk aboard the Sea Ghost in The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh?
Good question. I was puzzling over this too, in my current game, because we have a dragonborn PC. I was imagining that from the Lizardfolk perspective, humans may be a potential enemy even more terrifying than the sahuagin. They may be loath to let the humans know that they are threatened from another direction because this makes them vulnerable to human depredations. ("It would be just like those savage mammals to strike us from behind!") These couriers may be under strict orders to keep silent about the true nature of the threat.

Just make them angry and ill disposed towards humans. One of them might be particularly hot-headed and attack just before it's compatriot explains. Or maybe their elders haven't told them what the weapons are for.
I like this too. They may mistake the PCs for rival smugglers or some other faction.

One way to make Dunwater more challenging is have the party accompanied by a representative of the town who is secretly a sahaugan spy physically altered to appear human (they do that).
This could be a lot of fun.

When I ran the adventure, the lizardfolks fled by jumping into the water from their cabin, once they realized that a full-scale attack was going on.
I would also have them jump ship fairly early to prevent too much conversation. Just enough to create confusion and misunderstandings.

I also made the pseudodragon a prisoner if the smugglers. For me it didn't make much sense that it would bond with someone who had slayed its former master.
This bothered me too, though I could see it working in a certain system of martial honor that might make sense for draconic/reptilian cultures. This would make for an interesting personality for the pseudodragon: loyal as long as its master is courageous and victorious in battle.
 

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