• Mark S. Cookman

20 Sounds You Might Hear Just Before the Shipwreck

This is the third and last post in the series on shipwrecks. If you like this, then you should check out 20 Sailing Hazards that Could Wreck the Ship and 20 Treasures to Find in a Shipwreck. A shipwreck can occur for many different reasons, but the one characteristic that many shipwrecks have in common is a lack of visibility. When you can't see, sailing a ship becomes quite dangerous. There are numerous items that a good captain and crew keep watch for. Some include a change in the color of the water (usually indicating a shallow area or coral head), activity of local marine life (you don't want to sail into the middle of a pod of whales), and, of course, other vessels. When visibility is good, the lookout can see for miles around and the vessel is usually safe. However, when visibility is bad, like at night, in a storm, or in a deep fog, the lookout might not be able to see at all and that could quickly spell disaster for a ship. Many captains would not sail in these adverse conditions, but sometimes one has no choice. Because sound plays tricks across the water and the salt air dulls one's sense of smell, the lookouts have a most difficult job in adverse conditions. Often, the ship will have only a moment's warning before tragedy strikes. This is the idea behind today's list.

As always, this is far from a complete list and I'm sure that you can come up with many, much better ideas that fit better with your campaign world. It is simply my hope that you find this list amusing and that it perhaps gives you a flash of creative insight to create something magical for your players to enjoy. Enough chatter, let us go on to the list. Here's 20 Sounds You Might Hear Just Before the Shipwreck for your enjoyment. Until next time, fair winds, following seas, and happy gaming!

1. A stream of foul blasphemy from somewhere off the port bow.

2. The sounds of frantic hammering by numerous hands off the port side.

3. A gargantuan sneeze from some great beast dead astern.

4. A rhythmic sea shanty being sung enthusiastically by numerous voices. It seems to come from all around you.

5. Creaking wood and the fluttering of loose canvas off the starboard side.

6. A great slapping splash immediately off the starboard bow.

7. A surprising loud blast of horns and the sudden thunder of drums directly ahead.

8. You are surrounded by the sound of breaking glass. It's impossible to determine the direction.

9. A sudden bright flash and an explosion not more than 10 feet from the port bow.

10. The clanking sound of heavy chains moving on a winch off the port side and a little astern.

11. The screeching of a poorly tuned violin playing some infernally maddening tune. It seems to come from everywhere. Save vs. Wis or dance.

12. An exclamation of triumph and the order to run out the guns comes from dead astern, but nothing seems to be there.

13. Ripping canvas and crashing spars comes from above and a moment later splashes off the port side. 2 beats later you hear the roar of the broadside to starboard.

14. The tolling of a great bell, like a cathedral bell, dead ahead.

15. Demonic sounding giggles and snickers seem to come from all around the boat.

16. Absolute silence covers the boat like a blanket. No one can hear any orders; panic begins to take hold.

17. A booming, unnaturally loud voice demands to know where you came from and how you got here. It seems to come from above the ship.

18. The sounds of several frightened horses whinnying and stomping on a wooden deck just off the port side.

19. A loud buzzing sound, like a swarm of angry hornets, comes from above and behind the ship.

20. The cry of a vast bird of prey comes from in front of the vessel, but low near the water.

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