• Mark S. Cookman

20 Bits of Flotsam and Jetsam


In keeping with the theme that I started last week, today's post is also nautical in nature. This time around we will be looking at objects found floating in the water. Floating debris (as it is defined in the Random Encounters at Sea table on p. 118 of the 5e DMG) actually comes in two types - flotsam and jetsam. Flotsam is the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on or washed up by the sea. Jetsam is unwanted material or goods that have been thrown overboard from a ship, especially material that has been discarded to lighten the vessel. So basically both are just floating junk, but we shouldn't be too hasty to judge. Remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

As always, I encourage you to modify these entries and/or make your own table of waterborne junk that would be more appropriate to your campaign. In fact, this time I insist that you do some of the work. Below you will find a couple of entries that end with . . . You are the ONLY one who knows what those contain. All of the entries below are basic and generic. Quite frankly, they are boring. But if you think about it, why should picking trash out of the sea be interesting? Perhaps they are just time wasters for the PC's or perhaps they are a sneaky way for the DM to give the party information. It's all up to you, of course. You hold all of the power. Without further ado, here are 20 Bits of Flotsam and Jetsam. Happy Gaming!

  1. Three hand-carved wooden statues about 4 feet tall decorated with ivory and hammered gold. They are worth about 100 gp each.

  2. Ten broken window frames, some still contain glass. They are worth nothing.

  3. Five different sails. All have been used, but are in salvageable shape.

  4. Three drowned horses. They might be useful for meat or glue, but you'll have to fight the sharks off.

  5. From a large field of floating debris, the crew manages to salvage 140' of decent rope.

  6. Six fancy dresses of velvet and satin, each one in a different gem tone color, float along the surface. Trash from a mermaid's closet, perhaps?

  7. A 30' long and 6' wide section of ship decking is found floating like an abandoned raft. There are six hash marks carved into the planking.

  8. The broken remains of what must be two tribal sea canoes.

  9. The crew rejoices upon finding 2 hogshead barrels full of rum floating in the sea. It's a gift from the gods.

  10. Floating amidst the junk is a shattered mast connected to a broken pin rack with 9 belaying pins still attached to it. A brass plaque on the mast reads The Speedy Seal.

  11. Among the floating debris is a sea chest containing . . .

  12. Four burnt and tattered sails, which are more rags than sails, are the only usable spoils to be pulled from this wreckage.

  13. Five bundles of various types of marketable skins float along the surface of the water. It seems a shame for them go to waste.

  14. Three barrel-shaped rope bumpers are all that remains from the wreck of an old trader.

  15. Three bundles of lumber (250 - 8' long boards to a bundle) bob along in the water waiting to be pulled aboard a ship. It will have to dry out, but it could still be sold at port.

  16. Ten shattered crates, filled with a variety of fine goods ruined by the salt water, float amongst other wreckage from a storm.

  17. A duffle bag containing . . . is found floating with a bunch of other garbage.

  18. Several small sections of broken decking and few shattered spars mark the sinking of an unnamed vessel. There is nothing of value to be recovered.

  19. A large tapestry woven with silver and gold thread floats along with a number of wooden spars and sections of rope rigging. The tapestry is worth perhaps 1500 gp when dry.

  20. Seven small barrels filled with soaking wet gunpowder indicate that a well-armed vessel went down in this area recently.

#5e #gmadvice #dmadvice #dnd #rpg #pirate #pirates

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