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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Maritime month: The lookout hails the deck

Swiped from dozens of sources or made up, a long list of things that happen at sea. Assuming there is already a weather table, a random sea-monster encounter table, etc. 



Ship Ahoy!

  1. Paranoid merchants carrying valuable cargo.
  2. Desperate survivors of shipwreck clinging to wreckage.
  3. Two ships locked in battle. Roll twice: 1 – pirate, 2 – naval, 3 – merchant, 4 – sea monster, 5 – enemy nation or monsters, 6 – roll again twice.
  4. Merchant ship desperately low on needed supplies. Not above cutting throats to avoid starvation.
  5. Drifting merchant vessel ravaged by monster still lurking aboard.
  6. Naval vessel hurrying (or fleeing) somewhere urgently.
  7. Bizarre vessel from non-human culture. 1-2: peaceable, 3-4: hostile, 5-6: curious.
  8. Ship run aground on treacherous reef. D6+1 survivors call for aid.
  9. Whaler types hunting area for colossal sea monster full of valuable meat and oil. 1-5: It's not around. 6: it is.
  10. Ostensibly neutral merchant ship acting as spy for pirates. Ask a few too many questions.
  11. Opportunistic, cowardly pirates. Big on surprise attacks and waiting for a ship to be wounded. Will follow for d4+1 days.
  12. Bold, aggressive pirates.
  13. Temple ship full of pilgrims carrying out bizarre rites to 1-2: Dagon, 3-4: Nodens, 5: Indigenous deity, 6: Horrible monster known to inhabit this region of sea.
  14. Suspiciously clean merchant ship conceals VIP disguised as humble commercial traveller.
  15. Quarantined ship affected by mysterious illness.
  16. Naval vessel hunting pirates; ruled by quota and nearing deadline.
  17. Apparent castaways in lifeboat, secretly ship's officers seeking to hunt down and destroy mutineers who abandoned them.
  18. A vast hulk drifts on the waves, the remnant of some unknowable long-ago conflict.
  19. A ship full of old knights pursuing a quest they no longer even remember.
  20. This ship has no crew, but it moves seemingly by itself. What controls it?


Thar She Blows!

  1. The beautiful singing of sirens lures sailors, possibly including the characters, toward deadly rocks.
  2. A fog-shrouded island is actually the back of a massive sea creature. It is harmless, but the swarm of predators pursuing it aren't.
  3. Dangerous but highly valuable sea creatures are sighted.
  4. Flying monster spotted at high altitude returning to nest with kill.
  5. Hunting pod of sahuagin (or whatever) begin to tail the ship. Will follow for d3 days.
  6. Two sea monsters are locked in battle, like a giant squid fighting a sperm whale.
  7. A ghost ship full of spectral mariners passes by, scaring the hell out of the crew.
  8. A harmless but huge creature threatens the vessel with its enthusiastic friendliness.
  9. A school of stinging jellyfish leap across the ship's path, becoming tangled in the rigging.
  10. A single massive shark or other predator tails the ship with single-minded intensity.


Mutinous Dogs!

  1. A recently-hired crew member turns out to be a creature such as a doppelganger or hag in disguise and preys on the other crew members.
  2. A fire breaks out as inexperienced sailors knock over a candle during a drunken card game.
  3. The sailors perceive a nearby sea creature as an omen of good luck.
  4. Superstitious sailors mistakenly identify a perfectly harmless phenomenon as an omen of doom.
  5. Hungry sailors fishing catch dangerous or sentient sea creature.
  6. A vital supply turns out to be defective, tainted or missing. D4: 1 – food, 2 – water, 3 – ammo, 4 – other.
  7. A resentful sailor begins to plot a mutiny, bringing d4 x 10% of the crew with her. Adjust as necessary if the captain is a son of a bitch.
  8. A gambling craze on the lower decks sees the crew members hurting for money.
  9. A lovestruck sailor has smuggled a new spouse or sweetheart on board.
  10. An officer or crew member starts to develop a crackpot theory and steer the ship accordingly.

Land Ho!

  1. The upper levels of a tower protrude above the waves, the water lapping gently below its windows. The tower seems to stretch down and down into the deep. Cold lights burn within.
  2. A fog-shrouded island is home to a mysterious old man; some say he can tell the future.
  3. A pirate market has sprung up on a small island; these short-lived bazaars sell anything and everything, but guard your purse carefully.
  4. A shore raid is taking place; cannibal longships are drawn up on the beach as their crews attack a small fishing village.
  5. A light gleams on the rocky shore – a trap set by wreckers for unwary vessels.
  6. The sound of axes and saws comes across the water as a party of engineers build a fort to defend an island from an upcoming assault.
  7. Another ship's crew uses this uncharted island as a source of fresh water and vegetables. They have left pitfalls and traps to protect their precious investments.
  8. Weird Brigadoon island appears only when the moon is in certain phases; its dungeons are heaped with treasure, but if the crew emerges at the wrong time they may find themselves in quite another place.
  9. A floating village consists of ships of all ages and cultures lashed together. Its inhabitants have food and supplies to sell, but it's not like all of those vessels were donated.
  10. A volcano belches fire and smoke, sending the ocean for miles around into an uproar.

What the--?!


  1. An unnatural effect stills the wind. The effect is centred on: 1- island, 2 – becalmed vessel, 3 – unlucky crewman, 4 – mischievous sea creature.
  2. Eerie lights shine around the ship's figurehead; it comes to life (see my upcoming bit on figureheads).
  3. A sudden calm and a clear sky lead to a mirror-like sea. But when the wind returns, the ship's reflection sails off in another direction. (If Eyvind is on board he has no reflection).
  4. The water becomes cloudy and filled with silt, as if something were burrowing up from the sea floor. But when it clears, there's nothing. Nothing visible, anyway.
  5. The sea sparkles a strange colour. Nothing happens at first, but gradually memories start to slip away. Fish caught in the area may contain missing memories of other sailors.
  6. Floating wreckage drifts by. When examined, it seems to have come from the ship the characters are sailing on.
  7. A wind blows that brings strange music with it. If the sailors follow the instructions of the song, the wind keeps carrying them with unnatural speed. But if they deviate, the breeze becomes a storm.
  8. Dead sea creatures rise to the surface of the water; there appears to be nothing actually wrong with them, but they're dead all the same. Wherever the ship goes, it literally leaves death in its wake. What's clinging to the underside of the hull?
  9. Bilge goblins.
  10. A massive whirlpool drags passing ships to their doom. Within the gullet of the waterspout, survivors have built a crude civilisation, relying on what they can steal from other doomed ships to prosper. But what lies at the bottom of the pool? Or is there a way out concealed in the craggy cliff that juts from the spout's side?   

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