20 Sea Encounters
With the Seas of Vodari Campaign Setting arriving soon, and the just announced Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventures module releasing on May 21st, there’s no better time to be a pirate lover, or want to start a seafaring campaign with some friends.
You already left from the pirate port town after having dealt with a great number of encounters from this post. Now let’s start sailing and pray to not become the prey of a Kraken’s folly.
Roll a d20:
1. Giant shark attack
1d4+1 Variant Giant Sharks appear from the water. One of them is heavily scarred and has several burn marks. It looks as if that shark was leading all the others.
Variant Giant Shark
Large monstrosity, unaligned
AC 14 (natural armor)
Hit points 9d10
Speed 10ft., swim 40ft.
|17 (+4)||12 (+1)||15 (+2)||5 (-3)||16 (+3)||6 (-2)|
Challenge 4 (1100 XP)
Amphibious The Giant Shark can breathe air and water.
Blood Frenzy. The shark has advantage on melee attack rolls against any creature that doesn’t have all its hit points.
Fish out of the water. While in the water, a giant shark can make jumps up to 15ft. in height in the air after moving at least 10ft. If it lands 5ft or less away from another creature, it can make a free Chomp attack.
Chomp. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10 +4) piercing damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it has to make a DC14 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics)check, or become grappled. The target can repeat the check as an action in order to break free.
Flesh ripping. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature grappled by the Giant Shark. Hit: The target takes 22 (4d10 + 4) piercing damage.
2. Ghostly Pirate ship
A ghost pirate ship travels through the seas, traveling perpendicularly to the players. Those aboard the ghost ship completely ignore all other things in the sea, being able to sail through everything. If the players decide to get too close, some from the ghost crew will board the players’ boat.
There are 1d6+1 ghosts in the ghost ship, one of them being the captain. The captain is a brawny female water genasi named Cassie, with a scar on her right eye, a black dress, and the stereotypical pirate hat.
A sea hag cursed Cassie, the ship and her crew for all eternity, making them want to look for a cure, or a way to finally die. They’ve been sailing the seas for 259 years, and some sea chanties tell of her vessel, ‘The Fall of Seas’.
3. Coral reef
The boat’s keel (its lower part) impacts with a coral reef. Unless someone goes see underwater to fully indicate a safe trajectory the boat is prone to keep crashing against more corals. It doesn’t do much damage to it but can become dangerous if the ship starts impacting several times.
If someone is to dive underwater, a small sea elves’ community can be seen living inside the coral reef, whose corals are as big as houses. Roll 1d12 to determine the number of elves in there. Use the merfolk stat block for them if necessary.
4. Kraken’s Emissary
A man comes out from the water to the boat the players are in, being helped by water (using the Control water spell). Its face and body are covered in seaweed, sea stars and some sponges. Unknown yet to the players, he is a Kraken Priest.
He comes in the name of Aakeratupla, the master beneath the seas (a Kraken, though he will never reveal what it is). It will ask for the players’ most precious items (be it magical or not). Else, it’s master will arrive in 1d10 days to reclaim them himself.
If combat ensues, the kraken priest will try to escape. If items of low value are the only thing given to him, he will still get them, but inform the players that it is not enough, returning 1d10 days later with its master.
The Kraken doesn’t care about the players and only wants their most precious items. The Kraken’s emissary has no recollection of what it once was and shall only obey his master.
5. Boat being destroyed by Kraken in the distance
In the distance, a galleon carrying the Waterdeep flag can be seen with a giant tentacle coiling around it, slowly pulling it under the waves. Some people appear to be jumping from it into the water and grabbing whatever is left from the boat that can float.
The gargantuan creature is a Kraken, and the players can decide to try to help the survivors or flee.
6. Storm in the distance
Some gray clouds start showing in the horizon, covering all the sky from the direction the players are going to. A lightning bolt falls to the sea, with the thunder resonating sometime after.
If the players decide to travel through the storm I recommend starting a skill challenge ala 4th edition. If you need some information on how a skill challenge works, I recommend watching this video by Matt Colville
7. Harpy negotiation
A harpy stealthily shows up behind whoever is directing the boat. It will sing with the intention of only affecting the one behind the helm. If affected by the song, that person is ordered to crash the boat against a near rock coming out from the sea. By the time someone notices something is wrong (or if that person makes the saving throw), 2d4 harpies come down from the skies with a negotiation. If the captain of the ship is to give a number of crew members equal to the number of harpies, they will take those people and leave everyone else (boat included) alone.
8. Pirate ship incoming
A ship starts showing up on the horizon, going directly to the players’ position. Slowly, a black flag with a skull in it starts getting raised, and cannons (or ballistae) start being prepared on one of their sides.
This encounter was created with the intention of having the players want to flee, or start combat. If naval combat ensues, I highly recommend using the rules provided by Tribality in here.
The pirate ship has a crew of 2d6 swashbucklers, and a captain (uses the swashbuckler stat block with the Leadership action that hobgoblin captains have). The captain is a Tabaxi named ‘Whiskers’.
A Kenku and a female human kid cling from a wooden plank floating in the sea. They have no recollection of how they ended up like that, but can at least recall their names: the girl is called Sophie, while she says the Kenku is called Boomer.
The Kenku from time to time may repeat the following phrase: (with a manly gravely voice) “Get out of my boat you monster!”. Moreover, it also makes explosion noises and when it shouts it sounds as several shouts all together.
I will leave it to you as a DM if you want the girl to have been the monster the Kenku was talking about (maybe a shapeshifter or succubus), or if it there was another reason for them to have ended up like that.
10. Sahuagin invasion
2d8 sahuagin show up, wanting to kill and drop to the seas all creatures they see, in order to eat them. The sahuagins will focus their attacks on elves at first, due to their lifelong rivalry. One of them carries a golden crown on its head, as well as a Tentacle rod. This will be found really weird by elf characters because drows are the creatures known for crafting that sort of weapon.
11. Great Whale
From the depths below, a dissonant loud noise is heard. A gargantuan white whale shows itself curiously, wanting to see who is on the surface.
This isn’t intended to be a combat scenario as the whale is just playing and goofing around. However, if you like, you can make the whale jump, creating great waves, or let the players ride it for a while.
Not everything in the seas is trying to kill you, and this works as a great stress relief for the player characters.
12. Meteor shower
A shooting star crosses the sky. A few seconds later another one shows up. A minute passes and the whole sky starts being covered by a meteor shower. The particles have different colors and sizes, creating some kind of aurora borealis or rainbow with its huge color palette. Is it an omen of something that is to come or just beautiful scenery?
13. Pirates fighting another galleon
A cannon (or ballistae) is heard in the distance, followed by many others. Some distance ahead, a pirate ship is battling a Waterdevian one. The waterdevian ship is from a noble family, with Captain Lukeford at command. The pirate one has Captain Jadeeye (because he replaced his left eye after losing sight from it with a jade) taking the wheel.
Let the players decide if they want to help one of them, destroy both, attack the survivors, or leave them alone.
14. Deserted treasure island
A tropical deserted little island stands out in the middle of the sea. It has several palm trees, a little lake and a bunch of rocks surrounding it. At simple glance, it looks like some sort of oasis.
Crabs, seagulls, and tortoises are some of the wildlife that can be found there.
Unknown to the players (unless they bought one of the maps from an encounter found in this post), a treasure chest lies beneath the sand, under a great rock. If they spend more than 3 hours researching the island and with a successful DC17 Intelligence (Investigation) check, a PC can realize one of the rocks is located in a weird place apart from the rest.
The chest has an arcane lock in it that can be opened with a successful DC19 Dexterity (Thieves Tools) check, or by solving the riddle carved in its wood. The riddle says:
“Thou who knows not how to open this wooden lid
might want to tryeth again after a wondrous drink.”
The trigger to open the chest is emptying any alcoholic beverage in it. Inside it, a Telescope of Etherealness can be found, as well as some gold and magic items you can add by rolling in the DMG’s random treasure table.
The Telescope of etherealness lets you see the ethereal plane through it, as well as invisible creatures.
15. Underwater temple
Those who can see the water and have a passive perception of 16 or higher notice a clay structure underwater. If not noticed on time, the boat’s keel will crash against it, taking some damage.
The structure is a temple of great height in the form of an obelisk, with its base reposing a great distance away from the surface. Its entryway is at the bottom of the seas, where light does not touch.
This is a perfect place to have a quick dungeon.
16. Merrow attack
2d4 +2 merrows appear from below the seas. One of them carries a blue orb and nothing else, which makes it capable of casting Control water at will twice per long rest. That merrow will try to drop as many crew members (and players) from the boat as it can. This is because these sea creatures have the high ground while fighting in the water.
17. Great Swirl
A great swirl can be seen in the distance. Whoever has the highest position in the boat shall make a DC15 Wisdom (Perception) check, or fall prey to the spiraling current. If someone passes the check, they might have enough time to evade it.
If they get trapped by the swirl, the boat will start spiraling around it. This is an excellent moment for a skill challenge. If you don’t know what a skill challenge is, you can find an explanation right here, explained by Matt Colville
Are they to fail, a huge amount of damage is dealt to the ship, as it is dragged underwater in the center of the swirl.
18. Storm Giant ritual
Some chants and ceremonial singings can be heard, as 1d4 Storm Giants rise from beneath the seas. They are making weird hand gestures while moving their bodies and looking entranced at the skies. A player can make a DC17 Intelligence (Arcana) check in order to find out they are casting Control Weather.
The storm giants are trying to prevent a great storm that is about to appear, in order to protect those who sail the near waters. If they lose concentration they won’t start combat but submerge again leaving the players to their inevitable doom. If this happens, use Encounter 6 to make them face the storm.
19. Bored Bronze Dragon
A bored ancient bronze dragon rises from beneath the waves. His/Her name is Vurvayssun, and has come for some fun and talk, as he/she is extremely bored from not talking to anyone in the past 8 days. When it comes in contact with the boat, it will shapeshift to a hairy dwarven figure. Its hair is the same color as its scales were in its dragon form. There’s nothing that would reveal it is a male or female creature.
It just wants to talk (and boy does it talk!) and can help the players find the way they are going to for 1d4 days before leaving.
20. Great Tree in the Middle of the Sea
A great tree of around 20ft radius stands in the middle of the sea. Its leaves are of intense green color; and has several red berry-like fruits. These fruits have the same properties as the berries created from the Wildberry spell but curse whoever eats one. It causes the ingester to never be able to sleep again, granting him/her a point of Exhaustion per night spent awake. The curse can be removed with the Greater Restoration or Remove Curse spell, as well as with Wish.
If you find this too harsh for your players, make them have the Encounter 19 after some days. Vurvayssun can know of a way to remove the curse by eating some specific seaweeds he can be persuaded to collect.
If you liked this
Do you have a Mafia-like organization ruling the seas and want to know of ways to roleplay/make their presence feel dangerous to the player characters? You may find this post handy if that is the case!