More Waterborne Encounters & Events
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #311
In this sequel to Issue #307, here is another batch of ideas, seeds, and hooks to use for ocean, lake, river, and coastal encounters. Thanks again to the creative folks of the GMMastery Yahoo! Group for your contributions.
- One of the crew members kills an albatross, and an epicpoem ensues – Iron Maiden – Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
- Vigil gets severe sunstroke
- Crewman catches an unusually large fish
- Other ship sporting same flag spotted in distance
- Natives waving from an island thought uninhabited
- Captain invites PCs for lunch in his cabin
- Fishing boat spotted with sleeping fisherman
- Fish jumps to gobble flies
- Frog croaks loudly
- Someone bathing
- Something causes large ripples on the water
- Several dead fish float by
- Fisher seen fishing with dynamite (or fireballs)
- Three words: Loch Ness Monster
- Abandoned fishing rod floats by
- Unexpected, unexplained absence of flies
- One of the crew is shirtless, revealing an odd tattoo
- Rainstorm in the distance (looks like a grey curtain onthe horizon)
- Wild animals seen grazing on opposite banks
- Kingfisher plucks a fish from water
- Otters at play
- Salmon swimming against current
- A huge chunk of red clay falls in upstream turning the water blood red
- Herd of large animals fords across river
- Crocodile spotted lurking
- Log drivers take their haul downriver
- Beavers/animal building a dam
- Group of enemy warriors gather on the bank
- Flying Dutchman
- Dragon flies by
- Dragon catches fish
- Land animal on driftwood far from land
- Penguins (some are tropical)
- Distant volcano has littered the sea with floating pumice rocks (gravel to desktop computer in size)
- Glass fishing float
- Coconut floating
- Guano deposits on bank
- Flashing light on the horizon
- Ship flags are ripped off in the wind
- Crew notices subtle changes to the ship. The till is smaller, the doors larger, ladder rungs spaced farther apart, ropes thicker
- A swarm of bugs lands on the ship
- Minor leak requires bailing
- Harbour pilot boards the ship to guide it into port
- Something interesting plummets over a waterfall
- Children run along the river shore waving at the crew
- Fishing nets pull in unknown fish, creature, or item
- Person tossing refuse overboard is swarmed by gulls
- Someone’s peg-leg breaks
- Irritable parrot plucks out sailor’s eye, lending humour to the cliche
- Rainbows after rain showers
- A group of aquatic humanoids want to trade
- Green flash of light at sunset
- Waterspout passes nearby
- Worm infestation of ship’s beams
- Shooting star or meteorite strike
- The grog barrels all spring leaks, but drinking water remains; who’s to blame?
- Cargo crates turn black (mildew); owners despair
- Mast boom knocks someone overboard
- Vermin abandon ship and drown
- Ambergris floats on the water
- Becalmed: no wind
- Castaway’s signal fire spotted
- A submarine volcano boils a section of water, venting noxious fumes
- A pod of dolphins and a great white shark are locked in mortal combat
- El Nino; weird weather conditions occur, causing the people on the ship to act stranger
- A huge, roiling mass of thousands of tentacles – they are actually poisonous snakes mating
- An earthquake occurs and the river starts flowing backwards for several hours
- Orcas attack other whales
- Sick Whale thrashing on the surface
- Whale bumps ship repeatedly (trying to get attention or eating marine growth on the hull)
- Blood in the water (recent mass feed)
- Sail sighted and vanishes; repeat
- Sounds of battle drift over a calm sea
- Near barren floating island
- Bell heard to ring repeatedly (sign of ship distress)
- Breakers sighted in open sea
- Phosphorescent water around ship – Milky Sea
- Feeling of general unease passes among the crew
- Feeling of happiness passes through the crew
- Partly filled barrel drifts by (rum, water, holds a baby)
- Jetsam floats by a bit at a time (trunks, barrels, crates, etc.; the kind of stuff a ship in distress would jettison but will float)
- General flotsam floats by (planking, spars, barrels); signs of a ship that sank)
- A boat with one person in it
- A sudden calm in the middle of brisk weather
- A boiling of the sea within sight of the ship (underwater detonation)
- Persistent thumping heard in ship for 1d4 hours; cause never found?
- Crewman goes missing for 1d4 days; reappears like he never left and has no memory of the time he was gone
- Apparition of a sailor lost on a previous voyage
- Dead sea monster, sharks tear it apart
- A makeshift raft or a ship’s escape boat with or without survivors
- Coffin floating on the water
- An uncharted island
- A fog bank
- A navy
- An experimental submarine
- A beacon on the shore disappears and/or a new one appears
- Very low tide grounds the ship
- Very high tide complicates the loading/landing of goods in a port and passage under low bridges
- Ice winter threatening to catch (and crush?) the ship in ice
- Tall cliffs with bird nests
- A burned or otherwise ruined bridge across a river
- Distant lightning storm at night
- An unknown vessel shadows the party’s craft, shearing off if challenged
- Bad supplies discovered in the ship’s stores, making a landfall necessary
- Something horrible floats to the surface
- Overboard sailor saved by sea creatures
- Supplies dwindle and rationing becomes strict
- Strange sailor superstition triggered
- Dangerous sea monster attempts to communicate
- Compasses behave strangely, cloudy sky, navigation hopeless
- A rain of mice, beetles, toads, serpents, or fish
- Visions in the clouds that only some of the crew can see
- The captain makes a questionable decision
- The entire ship is swallowed during the night by an immense beast
- Stars black out
- Someone falls from the crow’s nest
- Someone crushed by a yardarm
- Passenger acts up, seemingly without cause
- Someone has committed a crime on board and everyone is a suspect
- Friendly scrum turns deadly
- A hatch seals shut and won’t open 123. Iceberg spotted; source of water and/or foes?
A Brief Word From Johnn
Eberron Campaign Ends
I recently ended my young Eberron campaign due to lack oftime. Roleplaying Tips Weekly, writing on GM Mastery: Holiday Essentials, and a Temple of Elemental Evil campaign squeezed out the bi-weekly campaign, unfortunately. Now folks I game with have started using the “Johnn” expression, as in, “Don’t Johnn my campaign,” or “Don’t Johnn next game session.” LOL. I suppose that means to shake your fist at the sky and swear by the gods that the good die young. Or something. I take it to mean -500 EXP next session when used. 😉
Forgotten Realms Campaign Begins
While I don’t have time to GM two campaigns, I do have time to GM one and play in one. A friend at work and former player in my Eberron campaign offered to fill the void and I jumped at the chance. Now, I am a crusty old guy with acerbic temperament and a sharp tongue. My character is too. 😛
I have learned some people are geared toward GMing, and some toward playing. I’m definitely the former, as I find playing difficult sometimes. I guess I’m used to being busy and active all the time, having control, running several NPCs and critters, managing encounters and plot threads, and so on. As a player, I must learn to take my turn, be supportive, and be patient. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, I’ll be busy studying this:
Don’t Johnn your campaigns!
Tips From Roleplaying Tips Game Masters
Have a roleplaying tip you’d like to share? E-mail it to [email protected] – thanks!
From LimeCat a.k.a. Dustin Allen
I’ve written to you before, noting a lack of White Wolf information, but I wanted to write this time to inform you about a new podcast I am running on a weekly basis.
The Podcast of Darkness is the address and it’s called the World Wide Web of Darkness
Our focus is on White Wolf games, specifically at the moment Vampire: The Requiem. We’ll be participating in games over the air at some point and continuing the process of fleshing out the White Wolf materials.
Bottle Rocket Shafts
From David B. Goode
I wanted to share a useful tool for battle mapping: bottle rocket shafts (the non-exploding portion of a bottle rocket).
They’re cheap, sturdy, thin, about 10 inches long, and can be bent into semi-circles or other shapes. They make great markers for walls or roadsides, and can also be used in place of dowels for many of the Airborne Mini Tips.
Of course, the downside is that you can generally only purchase them a few times a year, and the bottle rockets becomes somewhat unstable without them….
But I Read The Monster Manual!
From Leslie Holm
My players have read the monster manuals–all versions and all expansions–at least as many times as I’ve read Lord of The Rings. And they know them better! So, when I say “You see something that looks like a giant brain with a vicious beak and 10 dangling tentacles,” I hear, “Eisel, would my character know that’s a Grell?” Even if I say no, that player still has the knowledge, and consciously or subconsciously, uses it to battle the creature.
My world now has an ancient tower that once housed a brilliant wizard whose main hobby was creating and altering creatures. There was a horrible battle hundreds of years ago, and he was defeated and cursed into an undead creature, unable to leave the room he’s in. All of the creatures he was working on were trapped as well. Now the traps are failing and the creatures are being revived.
That Grell the players ran into just happens to be a sentient being now, whose only aim in life is to have its tentacles scratched. On the other hand, the house cat wandering around purring has poisonous needles embedded under its fur and would be almost fatal to anyone petting it.
For this portion of the adventure, at least, no player knows what to expect from any creature. And it’s my hope that even when they leave the tower, they will bring some of their lack of surety with them.
Homemade Telescoping Mini Stands
From Andy Cowell
You forgot telescoping antennae!
RPG Cliches Resource
Cool web site of RPG cliches:
Use A Timer To Create Random Failures
In the real world, little things occasionally go wrong, and I find it hard to recreate this bit of realism within my games. People trip, ropes break, and a million other little things can throw an interesting wrench into plans at any time.
In RPGs though, it’s easy to forget to include these things. Everything in the world is always running too perfectly, and it isn’t as interesting as having little failures once in a while. While dice are fair, they usually indicate bigger events than something like a car ignition failing.
A fun way to include this in games is with a random computer timer. At random intervals a few times throughout the session, it plays a tone, and the very last thing someone did fails in some small way. If characters were speaking, the last three seconds or so are redone with a mistake. If they were running, they just lost a shoe. If they were shooting, their gun just jammed.
A random buzzer could have other uses as well. Any ideas on how to implement one?
From Nathan Lamothe
I’ve noticed your listing of image sources for whatever.
Have you found www.irtc.org yet? All of it is interesting, and some of it would be useful for gaming atmosphere.
Another site is Kenn Brown’s work at Mondolithic studios. Much of it is more cyberpunk than fantasy, but still very cool. You’ll likely recognize some of it from magazine covers like Sciam and Wired.
Love the newsletter.