DMs Guild Review – Saltmarsh Encounters

A collection of 60 nautically-themed encounters for ship-bound (or ship-adjacent) adventures.

A review copy of “Saltmarsh Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: M. T. Black, with Ashley Warren, James Haeck, James Introcaso, and Rich Lescouflair

Ghosts of Saltmarsh gave us an excellent reason to dive into a nautically-themed adventure. But every adventure, no matter how detailed, is going to need some encounters to fill those long sea voyages. “Saltmarsh Encounters” provides 60 Tier 1 (levels 1 – 4) encounters that fit perfectly within a sea-worthy campaign.

Though I don’t think “Saltmarsh Encounters” uses any original art (besides the cover), it does feature a professional layout with font, colors, and structure lifted straight from officially published D&D material. My only quibble is I wish the encounters were organized by their location: Town, Coastal, or Aquatic.

I was a bit disappointed to find that only a third of the encounters were designed for ships at sea. On the other hand, expanding to include beaches and towns allows for a wider variety of encounters. Some of my favorites include a baby owlbear (who could resist?), a fountain of water with a nearby bloated corpse (don’t drink too much!), and a group of stranded merfolk in a lagoon who soon run afoul of bandits, perytons, giant toads, or swarms of ravens.

Nearly every encounter includes a d4 table for changing the enemies, situations, motivations, or rewards. It’s a brilliant and welcome addition that lets each encounter go a bit further. It wouldn’t even be that difficult to use the same encounter multiple times, using different results. For example, the Street Performers encounter could include two nobles have a lover’s quarrel, a mage performing tricks while their partner spy lifts wallets, or a pair of gladiators looking for challengers, all of which could lead to fun role-playing opportunities.

dms guild review

I also enjoyed the encounters that fully embraced the wacky or strange. An elf on a ship made of hair, offering to buy hair from a PC. A strange encrypted box washing up on shore, containing a laser pistol with 10 shots. A treasure ark carried by a skeletal army under the sea. Those are far more interesting than the typical giant shark attacks, pirates, or ghost ship encounters that I usually see (and can also be found here).

As a bonus the encounter book also includes an appendix of magic items. These magic items are specifically balanced for lower level PCs, and centered around a nautical theme, such as an anklet that lets the user walk on water, Chitinous Armor that provides water breathing, and a bellows to create the effects of Gust of Wind.

Pros:

  • 60 themed encounters themed for Saltmarsh, divided by town, coastal and aquatic locations.
  • Most encounters feature d4 tables to further customize enemies, situations, or motivations.
  • 7 new low-level magic items.

Cons:

  • Only 1/3 of the encounters are designed for ship travel, and they tend to be the weaker encounters.

The Verdict: “Saltmarsh Encounters” features a solid and highly customizable collection of low-level, nautically-themed events and challenges.

A review copy of “Saltmarsh Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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