Sea of Dread: More Sea Adventures for D&D

Ghosts of Saltmarsh brings seafaring adventure to D&D 5E. While it updates ten adventures, there are many more settings and adventures to explore via ship and beneath the waves. Here are additional settings and adventures for maritime D&D adventures.


Basic D&D and Dungeon Crawl Classics explore fantasy seafaring and the Sea of Dread is well detailed above the waves and below. An entire campaign could be connected by nautical adventures. Player characters might be tourists drawn by the charms of the Kingdom of Ierendi or merchant explorers of the Minrothad Guilds. The Minrothad Guilds provide rules for merchant PCs as well as details on acquiring a ship and crew and engaging in cargo trading. A GM willing to do more work could even run an undersea setting using the Creature Crucible: The Sea People. Taken together, these three books cover over twenty islands as well as detailing the undersea kingdoms beneath the waves. Minrothad introduces a merchant class and The Sea People adds sea elves, tritons, and mermen as PCs. The Sunken Kingdom of Ru from DCC The Sea Queen Escapes could easily be added to this large setting.

Rules for waterborne adventures and ships are found in Expert D&D and expanded on in Ierendi, the Minrothad Guilds, and the War Rafts of Kron. The Expert rules are also concisely covered in B/X Essentials Core Rules with ships covered in B/X Essentials Classes and Equipment. These rules could be adapted to work for DCC RPG as well.

Armed with these rules, a GM can launch a nautical campaign for the first ten levels of play (or about five for DCC RPG). Several maritime adventures are set in the Sea of Dread or could be transplanted there.

DCC Tower of the Black Pearl
lets player characters get their feet wet with a 1st level adventure exploring an undersea tower drained of water for a few brief hours. A GM could provide a treasure map that would lead to the 2nd level DCC Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom a mini-hex crawl. More sea adventure follows in the 3rd level DCC The Sea Queen Escapes. D&D characters might need to be a few levels higher to tackle these adventures, so adding in additional quests or mixing these adventures with exploring the Isle of Dread is a good idea.

Following or concurrently with these adventures, seafaring PCs could explore the Isle of Dread, set sail against the War Rafts of Kron, and end up racing against the Drums on Fire Mountain. These adventures include island hex crawling, innovative dungeon exploration, and further exploration of the Sea of Dread. In addition to a variety of locations to explore, the adventures introduce new monsters, many of an aquatic nature.

The Sea People contains ten short adventures as well. Each includes a variety of interesting locations, NPCs, and monsters like weresharks, ghoul fish, squids, and a kraken. These adventures range from the low level undead filled Ruins of the Taymora to the mid-level Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The latter adventure even includes a water elemental propelled and fire elemental heated underwater boat with the appearance of a giant underwater fish complete with a labeled diagram of the controls for the boat.

Armed with these settings, rules, and adventures a GM can run an entire campaign from 1st level to 10th level using Basic D&D or DCC RPG. D&D 5E GMs could supplement material in Ghosts of Saltmarsh with locations, monsters, and adventure ideas. Taken as a whole, the Sea of Dread is a unique setting detailing island life above the water and underwater civilizations beneath the waves.

This article was contributed by Charles Dunwoody as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Charles is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
 
Charles Dunwoody

Comments

Vildara

Villager
We just started playing a great island game, Dark of Hot Springs Island. The players all wanted to run it old school so I backed another project coming out that has been awesome called Old School Essentials. It has really changed how everyone plays the game and been really interesting. In addition we just went ahead and set the whole thing in Msytara in the Sea of Dread. It's fantastic being able to share my expansive knowledge about Rockhome Dwarves, the Minrothad Guilds and all. :)
 

RobJN

Explorer
You might also check out issues 3 and 4 of Threshold Magazine at the Vaults of Pandius ("Sea of Dread" and "Return to Dread"), which expand on the Gazetteers, Creature Crucible, and adventures mentioned above.
 
We just started playing a great island game, Dark of Hot Springs Island. The players all wanted to run it old school so I backed another project coming out that has been awesome called Old School Essentials. It has really changed how everyone plays the game and been really interesting. In addition we just went ahead and set the whole thing in Msytara in the Sea of Dread. It's fantastic being able to share my expansive knowledge about Rockhome Dwarves, the Minrothad Guilds and all. :)
That sounds like a great campaign.
 
You might also check out issues 3 and 4 of Threshold Magazine at the Vaults of Pandius ("Sea of Dread" and "Return to Dread"), which expand on the Gazetteers, Creature Crucible, and adventures mentioned above.
Another great idea. If you run D&D 3.5/Pathfinder there is also Issue No. 114 of Dungeon with an update of the Isle of Dread and a big poster map. Maybe I should do a part two and look into all these other options.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
A few X series modules could be combined for a maritime adventure.

There's also Quagmire, it's not a great adventure though.

X8 Drums on Fire Mountain is fun though.
 
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Hussar

Legend
To be fair, if we're mining Dungeon Magazine, there is the Savage Tide AP which, up to about the last three or four adventures anyway, is a nautical themed goldmine for both the Isle of Dread and Greyhawk as well.

Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan is another one as well.
 

The Glen

Adventurer
Mystara did nautical adventures and settings possibly more than anybody else. You also had the viking inspired Northern Reaches with their longboats to the north. Alphatia had magical sunmarines patrolling their waters. Ierendi had a naval combat system that broke down the naval strengths of all the nations. Even the Five Shires was feared for its large pirate fleet of bloodthirsty hin raiders.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, when you think about it, probably the best known, or at least most commonly known, overview (heh) of Mystara was the pages of Voyages of the Princess Ark in Dragon magazine. Never minding the Hollow World stuff that came later. Yeah, they really did drive home the whole exploration thing.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
The desert master series was also a hexcrawl iirc. It has not aged well though as the whole 80's/Iran thing.

War Rafts if Kron has some interesting encounters for 5E.

Played through a few if these adventures not to long ago with clones. We were going to settle the Isle of Dread. Got the idea from The Savage Tide.
 
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