32 Marooners, Castaways or Survivors in the Water
It's time to return to the sea. This week, the blog will feature nautical topics and today's post is all about NPC's that your players might find adrift on the waves. When sailing, one of the cries from the lookout above (as well as #19 on the Random Encounters at Sea table 5E DMG p. 118) is "Survivors in the water!" If your players are anything like mine, then when they hear this cry they become IMMEDIATELY SUSPICIOUS about what the DM is trying to DO to them, unless they KNOW someone new is joining the group. This suspicion and paranoia adds to the game, in my opinion, especially when the DM has prepared notes for what seems to be a random encounter. Even so, most of the encounters below are benign. They are just what they seemed to be, someone in need of rescue. A few though might be hazard to your PC's health, if you choose to play them that way. As always, I encourage you to create your own castaways list -- a list which would be less random and much more suited to your own campaign than this one. That having been said, here's today's list: 32 Marooners, Castaways or Survivors in the Water. Happy Gaming!
Three young human males, maybe 13 or 14, are found on an uncharted sandbar. They claim that their sailboat sank in a recent storm and that they just want to get home to a nearby island. In reality, they are clerics of Bhaal, the god of murder, and they want to sacrifice as many sailors as they can to Bhaal in the next 24 hours beginning at midnight.
Two old gnome turnip farmers, a man and his wife, are found floating. They say they saved all of their lives for a fantastic cruise, only to have it cut short by pirates. The couple say that they have been floating in the debris of the Rose Princess for 3 days now, but they believe the pirates may still be around.
One sodden, but well-dressed, gem merchant is found clutching a broken spar in the path of your ship. She is tall and brawny, as well as sharp of wit. She says she went to sleep during a storm and woke up fighting to stay alive. That was 5 days ago and now she is barely alive.
One muscular elf is found alone on a small, uncharted island with a single palm. He claims to be the ship's carpenter aboard the elven trade ship, Liandyr. He says that he fell off the side of the ship during a storm when he had to go relieve himself. That was a week past now.
One half-elf is found floating on a makeshift raft. He claims that his fishing boat was destroyed by a sea monster 4 days ago and that he is the sole-survivor of a crew of 10. He believes the monster still lurks nearby.
Two human children, a boy 10 years old and his 8 year old sister, are found barely alive in a ship's launch with 5 adult corpses. They claim that they were travelling with their mother to go to the new world when a blue dragon attacked their ship, the Titan's Breath. It was damaged and eventually sank. That was 10 days ago and they haven't seen the dragon since.
One half-elf sailor is found barely alive on a small reef. When she comes to, she claims to have been knocked overboard from the Rainbow Trader in a "friendly scuffle" with her bosun about 3 days ago. She's lying. She's a wanted pirate named Vennrys Sifayza who's been marooned by her own crew.
One half-elf male is found floating alone in a small boat. He is nearly dead and will take some time to recover naturally. When he comes to, he will relate the sad tale of the Seahawk and how she was sunk only three days ago by a giant whale. He was the ship's cook and is sole-survivor of the attack.
Two dwarven clerics of differing faiths are found, each clinging to a separate piece of wreckage. The only thing these two can agree upon is that their ship was attacked and sank. One thinks they were attacked by devils, while the other is sure it was efreet. One says the attack happened 3 days ago and the other swears it was 4.
One human monk is found clinging to some wreckage from a large ship. He says he booked passage upon a rotting hulk named Le Diamant for the City of Sums, but that the ship ran across a reef and broke up 5 nights ago during a squall. He is uncertain if anyone else survived, but is hopeful because it was a large ship. He wants to search for other survivors.
Two elven farmers are found clinging to the remains of a trade ship that is still burning in the water. They both tell the same sad tale of the spiteful burning and sinking of the Mercury Trader by pirate Gray Beard, Dalton Sands, less than a day ago. He forced the elves to watch as he killed their animals and burned their crops, because he could. He sailed away laughing.
Two humans, one a common sailor and the other a navigator, are found on a small island with 2 palm trees and no name. They both claim to have washed ashore on this spit of an island after their ship, the Trident, was destroyed by a great sea beast. They say that this happened 19 days ago, but they should have starved to death if that is true. They claim a fairy has been leaving them food and drink every morning. The PC's can find no evidence of a fairy.
Two half-elven sorcerers are found floating on a raft constructed of ship wreckage and bamboo. They claim to have been marooned on a small island for 2 weeks before building this raft and trying the sea after they ran out of food. Their ship was named the Banshee.
Two tiefling children who cannot speak are the ONLY people on a small sloop named the Courier. The sloop was discovered drifting with the current by your lookout. The children are chained below decks with other rich cargoes of silk, ivory, and pearls, all worth about 20,000 gp. The children are afraid of everyone.
One human cleric is found swimming alone. He claims that he must have passage to wherever the PC's are going because he is a messenger of the gods. He tried to avoid serving them, he explains, but ended up cast into the sea and swallowed by a huge fish. He says he lived in the belly of the fish for 8 days until it spat him up, right in your path. Rejoice! For YOU are the blessed ones! The ones that will deliver the messenger of the gods to the people! BTW, an aboleth has driven him mad.
One halfling rogue in a small leather boat is encountered. Despite the fact that she is in a TINY craft, Brewyn Parr does not need help or rescuing. She is determined to be the first halfling to circumnavigate and map the globe. She calls her small leather craft, the Intrepid. She will be happy to trade stories, knowledge, and lore with the PC's.
One small gnome tinker inside one huge barrel surfaces directly in front of your ship. The barrel is really an Under Water Boat (or uwb, as the gnome will helpfully explain) that he is testing. He's quite sorry for the intrusion upon your travels and really wouldn't have bothered you at all, except that he noticed a 30' long lamprey-like creature attached to your ship and thought that you should probably know before it ate through your hull.
One drenched dwarf clinging to a few feet of burnt wooden decking, floating in a vast debris field of dead bodies and burnt timber, is the only survivor of what seems to have been an explosive battle that clearly destroyed a large dwarven ship. The dwarf is barely alive and will require 3 days worth of rest or magical healing to be able to recount his tale.
Two dragonborn paladins, one the knight of a holy order and the other his squire, are the only survivors of a battle against an old brass dragon who has been dominated by a sea witch. The elder paladin wishes to commandeer your vessel to continue his quest to slay the witch and free the dragon from her spell.
Three human whalers are found on a small uncharted island with 6 palm trees and a lot of ship wreckage driven here by the tides. They say they are the survivors of the wreck of the Concordia Whaler and that they have been on this island for 2 years. They say there used to be ten of them, but there are only three graves on the island.
Some of you may recognize the survivor from item #10 above. His name is Jerome De Toit and he's from The Pirate GM's Ships to Plunder, a supplement detailing 10 different ships including captains, crews, cargoes, passengers, and much more. For those of you who already know and love this title (thanks always for your support), you will be happy to know that The Pirate GM's More Ships to Plunder will be released later this year. Hmm, I wonder if any of the poor lost souls on the table above will be in it?