20 Ways to Work Boats into Your Game
First things first, happy 2017 to everyone. I'm sorry that it has been so long between posts, but a couple of bouts of bad health, plus the stress of the holidays, pretty much put me out of action for the last quarter of 2016. I'm hoping 2017 will be a better year and to that end, here's a new list.
Today's list is a collection of sneaky ways that DM's can use to introduce a nautical section to their game, even when the game is set far from any coastline. A couple of the items on today's list give the players no choice as to their circumstances, I don't recommend "railroading" your players into a scenario unless you know they will just roll with it (and then only do this rarely). Rather than forcing them into a circumstance, I suggest that you provide options to your players and allow them to "choose their own fate", so to speak. That having been said, it is important that your PC's choices always have meaning. Don't force your players to do what you want; listen to what they want and give it to them with a little twist. Without further ado, here are 20 Ways to Work Boats into Your Game. Until next time, happy gaming!
The area of land the PC's are travelling through was once part of an ancient coastline, but now there is no water anywhere near. A wrecked ship, inhabited by ghosts, lies on its side on top of a nearby mesa
A popular bard in the area will know the answer to the arcane question that your group has, but she has been kidnapped by a band of pirates.
The River Lethe has recently intruded upon this plane, causing numerous problems. Multiple temples are sending parties to investigate.
Your PC's require a special spell component or arcane knowledge from a sorceress who lives on a magical houseboat anchored somewhere in the swamp.
Some dwarven teenagers know of a shortcut under the mountains. The PC's will have to navigate a large underground lake to get to their destination, but it will be a surprise when they arrive.
An old hourglass contains a ghost that can only speak to children. The ghost knows where there is a buried pirate treasure, but the children will need the help of real adventurers if they hope to succeed. An evil sorcerer also knows about the ghost and the treasure, but she is still searching for the hourglass.
A sinkhole opens up in the middle of the night around the village well. The sinkhole reveals a large underground lake that begs to be explored.
An estate sale for a old dwarven tinker includes a submersible boat, as well as detailed notes and maps describing a fantastic underwater kingdom.
More information can be had from a retired fisherman who knows how to get there. Unfortunately, he's currently a prisoner on Consequence Island.
There are numerous ways into the lair, but the least watched one is the river due to the rapids and the wildlife. Coming in from that way might give you surprise against your enemies inside the lair.
You can get there in just two hours if you sail across the black lake. Captain Grumby, his mate Gilligan, and his ship, La Pececilla de Agua Dulce, stand ready to help you.
You need a permit to access a certain area. The constable who can grant you the permit likes a certain rare fish meal. Going fishing and preparing the meal for him will save the party a week or more of waiting.
A land-based travelling carnival has a mermaid exhibit. The mermaid is well-cared for and happy about her life as a carney, but would like someone to return a few pieces of jewelry to her young sister still living in the undersea kingdom. The mermaid assures you that you will be rewarded for returning the items.
A local barfly claims to be a retired privateer captain with numerous tales and secrets. He is a Cliff Clavin-like character and it is up to the DM whether he is actually telling the truth or is just full of it, as everyone believes.
A group of fairies spike the PC's drinks. When the party wakes up from a long rest, they find themselves split between two rowboats. Shrunk to the size of sugar ants, they must have a long race around the lake (actually a small puddle) to entertain the fairies.
A travelling gnome trader tells of an underground river system that connects a number of the dwarf clans. He knows how to navigate the rivers, but he is looking to hire muscle to protect his flatboat from monsters and pirates.
The Tower of the Ice Lord sits atop a high peak. The fastest (and safest) way to that peak is to cross the nearly frozen mountain lake somehow.
A cursed magic item is a ship in a bottle. When someone looks at the ship they risk being gated to a pirate ship in another prime material plane.
A half-elven ranger offers a way into the dungeon by rowing upriver and entering a set of caves that connect to a second set of caves, which connect under the dungeon.
A barrister (or herald) arrives with news that you are the beneficiary of a last will and testament. You have inherited a cargo ship with goods.