Monday, 23 March 2020

A Selection Of Supernatural Seas

Lotus Sea
The surface of the sea here is covered in floating water lilies, a vast plane of glittering white flowers. As the Primrose sails through it, it leaves a trail of open water that slowly closes as the lotuses drift back.
Eating the lotuses is a mild euphoric. The high gives the eater +1 to every roll they make (damage, saves, etc). At the end of this, they can eat another lotus to keep the high going, or suffer the comedown. The comedown lasts as long as the high did, during which time they suffer -1 to every roll. For fresh lotuses straight from the water, the high lasts for an hour; otherwise, the high lasts a turn. A lotus loses power entirely a week after it’s taken from the water.
Within the lotus sea, there are a handful of black lotuses, which have far greater potency.  The high from a black lotus lasts for a full day (or an hour if it’s not fresh), and gives a +5 bonus (the comedown likewise inflicts a -5 penalty). If a second black lotus is eaten to prevent the comedown beginning, the eater must make a Save vs Paralysis. If they fail, they fall into a coma lasting as many days as the result on the d20 that failed the save, during which time they are plagued by nightmares and visions of hell. If the save is passed, however, the eater is forever changed. Consult table XX (slipping beyond the bounds of mortality) for how.
There is a 1-in-20 chance of finding a black lotus just by sailing through the lotus sea, or 1-in-10 if deliberately looking.

This whole sea is caught in a huge circular current that spirals inwards, pulling ships inexorably to its centre. At the centre is a huge whirlpool, mountain sized, that swallows ships whole. Surrounding the maelstrom, like the accretion disk around a black hole, is the debris of countless wrecked ships smashed to bits by the maelstrom’s power.
When the maelstrom’s surrounding sea is first entered, whoever’s at the helm must make a Strength roll to avoid being pulled further in; if this is passed the ship can continue as normal, but if failed the primrose is drawn towards the Maelstrom.
If this happens, every hour, whoever is at the helm must make a Strength check to resist the maelstrom’s pull. If they wish to allow the ship to be drawn towards the maelstrom’s centre, they can roll as many extra d20s for the check as they wish, and take the worst result.
Explain the dice mechanisms being used to the players, and the potential risks and rewards, and let them make their own decision on how close to the maelstrom they wish to be pulled.
If the check is failed, note the actual result on the dice (taking the worst dice if multiple were rolled) and add it to a running total for how far into the maelstrom the Primrose has been drawn. If this running total reaches 40, the Primrose is pulled into the maw of the maelstrom and utterly destroyed.
If the dice roll is passed, note down the result on the dice and add it to a running total for how much progress the Primrose has made in escaping the maelstrom. If this total is higher than the running total for the maelstrom’s pull, the Primrose escapes the maelstrom and is able to continue sailing normally.
Regardless of if the roll was passed or failed, look up the result of the dice roll on page XX (treasure) for what can be dredged out of the water. If multiple dice were rolled, look up all of them.
The maelstrom exerts a much lower pull on small vessels (such as life-rafts, rowing boats, etc), which might be deduced from the way the flotsam isn’t being pulled into the maelstrom’s heart. If piloting a small vessel like this, roll the relevant Strength check on a d12. Start a new running total for the new vessel if they abandon ship and board an escape raft etc. In the worst case scenario, if the crew leap into the water and try to swim to safety, then roll using a d8.

The sea here is composed of ink, not water. Almost opaque, staining everything that touches it, slightly sticky. Even the air feels grubby.
Pitch black fish, adapted to the environment, lurk in the pitch black ocean.

Precambrian Nursery
When the world was young, there was an explosion of life, infinitely varied, wildly experimental. Strange creatures not seen since emerged, flourished, and died out.
This age did not last. Without the ambient force of  possibility and vigour to sustain its wildest excesses, life fell into a few, well-worn patterns, that survive to the present day.
In this area of sea, however, that never happened. The atmosphere of vibrant potential hangs over the sea, which seethes with strange life.
All healing is doubly effective here. Fishing yields twice as much here, but roll a d20 for what the fishing yields.
(1) Armour-plated fish. Perfectly normal and edible.
(2) Spined toxic sea-slugs. Rather than food, each slug can be used to produce one dose of poison (d20 damage on a failed save). Best not to eat them.
(3) Huge undulating flatworms. Edible, but mildly poisonous. On a day that the flatworms are eaten, -1 to all dice rolls from stomach cramps.
(4) Twitching, squirting sea-sponges. Vaguely suggestive looking. Totally inedible.
(5) Oyster-like luminescent shellfish. As well as meat, can be harvested for pearls worth 100 gold per meal gained.
(6) Hermit crabs parasitizing living bivalves. Perfectly edible.
(7) Thumb-sized tardigrades. Edible.
(8) Incomprehensible masses of thrashing tentacles. Perfectly edible. Also produce ink from pores in their skin.
(9) Giant copepods. Edible, crunchy.
(10) Gigantic aquatic beetles. Meaty and delicious.
(11) Strange half-lobster-half-lizard creatures. Exquisite taste. Double XP on the day they’re eaten.
(12) Huge sessile tubeworms. Instead of food, half of the fishing yield is their chitinous shells, which can be used as timber.
(13) Boneless eels. Edible. Tasty.
(14) Long sea-centipedes. Have a toxic bite. Half of the fishing yield is instead poison (fall comatose on a failed save).
(15) Rubbery half-prawn-half-serpent creatures. Perfectly edible, if a little weird.
(16) Jellyfish with exoskeletons. Edible, but not very tasty.
(17) Tiny bioluminescent mouthless fish. Hallucinogenic. Roll for Omens & Portents (p XX) if eaten; everybody gets the same omen.
(18) A blob of indistinct twitching flesh. Edible, if a little bland.
(19) Exploding one-eyed ringworms. Chemically volatile. Half of the fishing yield is highly explosive, and counts as a batch of cannon ammunition.
(20) A mass of heaving, wiggling pink flesh with no discernible anatomy. Edible and delicious.

Zombie Sea
The water is dark and murky. It stinks of rot and death. Bloated things drift about, tossed by sluggish waves, gently writhing.
Merely touching the water results in sickness, death and then reanimation. Even very slight contact - a fingertip, a few droplets of spray. On contact, make a Save vs Poison. If passed, the victim is ill for an hour or so, but recovers. On a fail, note the number on the d20; after that many hours of sickness, the victim dies, and their corpse stands back up as a zombie.
Needless to say, fishing here is a terrible idea.
Each day or night spent here, there’s a 1-in-6 chance the dead floating in the water notice the ship, and 3d6 of them attack. Their stats (and those of anybody zombified) are as follows:
ò 2HD. 10 HP.
ò AC as Chain.
ò 2 Clumsy Unarmed Attacks (+0, d4 damage and save to avoid zombie sickness, as detailed above).
ò Saves as Fighter 2.
ò Vulnerable to turning, holy water and other stuff undead are vulnerable to.
ò Immune to poison, pain, cold, drowning and other stuff undead are immune to.

Jellyfish Pilgrims
Jellyfish have a simple nervous system. Not enough to be intelligent like a crab or a fish, but enough to detect changes to their surroundings, and respond to them. And, perhaps surprisingly, just sophisticated enough for faith.
Imagine the faith of small children, without sophistication, reason, or doubt. Just exuberant and sincere. This is how jellyfish worship.
This sea is, for some reason, holy to the jellyfish. They drift here, floating on imperceptible currents, and gather in huge blooms. The water is dense with them, so a ship must push them aside as it sails. From the water’s surface comes a constant, sonorous Gregorian drone, the sound of millions of jellyfish at prayer. Beneath the jellyfish’s habit-like mantles, trail several-meter long filamentous tentacles.
The water here is holy (and so can be used for things like throwing on devils, etc), but loses its potency a week after being removed from the sea. Each vial’s worth of holy water uses up one ‘slot’ for cargo in the Primrose.
Fishing here does not yield food (the jellyfish are pretty inedible) but instead the jellyfish’s toxins can be extracted from their nematocysts for use. The poison does d20 extra damage if a Save vs Poison is failed, and furthermore is effective against supernatural beings such as devils and undead that would normally be immune to poison - against unholy beings, the poison damage is doubled. Like the holy water taken from here, each dose uses up a cargo slot, and loses potency after 7 days.

Whale Cemetery
Whales come here to die. Like elephant-graveyards on land, their remains are scattered about, and a morbid air permeates the place. Every few hundred yards, another bloated whale carcass, floating as it decays.
The place is serenely haunted. Odd lights flicker over the whale-corpses at night, the sound of distant whale-song echoes from the deep. Odd little coincidences occur to travellers here - a whalebone corset might break, or images of whales rearrange themselves when nobody is looking.
If the players think to look, 1-in-6 cumulative chance each day (IE, 1-in-6 on the first day, 2-in-6 on the second) that a corpse is found that is fresh enough to have harvestable ambergris, worth 2,000 gold as treasure.
If a whale carcass is interfered with (for ambergris, or other reasons), the haunting goes from serene to wrathful. Poltergeist activity flares up on the ship, spoiling supplies and disturbing sailors. 10% of the ship’s provisions, timber, and cannon ammunition is lost to poltergeist activity, and roll for The Crew Grow Restless (p XX) for how they respond to the haunting. The haunting follows the ship once it has left the Whale Cemetery, only ending once they return and attempt to make amends to the whale whose spirit they’ve angered (a funeral, offering, service etc).
Once the haunting has begun, there is a 1-in-6 cumulative chance that the Primrose is attacked by the whale ghost seeking to exact vengeance for the desecration of its corpse. Its stats are:
ò  20 HD, 60 HP
ò AC as Unarmoured
ò Attacks with Ghostly Bite (+5, 2d20 damage, ignores non-magical defences).
ò Saves as MU 20.
ò Totally immune to non-magical physical attacks.
ò 1/2 damage from physical magical attacks (IE magic swords, fireballs etc)
ò Undead, and vulnerable to everything the undead are vulnerable to.
ò Intangible. Can attack through walls, float, swim through ships, etc.
ò As well as biting, can use Banshee Whalesong. All hearing it either take d8 damage or are permanently deafened (player chooses which)
ò Can poltergeist instead of biting, creating various spooky effects.

The water is sweet. As if infused with dissolved sugar rather than salt. Vaguely floral scented. The taste is rather like liquid parma violets.
Drinking the nectar prevents the need for food; the dissolved sugars provide all the nutrients the body needs. Furthermore, drinking nectar allows the drinker to perceive people’s souls as luminous auras that hang around their bodies. By gauging the appearance of this aura, the viewer can judge the state of the subject’s soul; any damage to it, how tainted it is by sin, any pacts that have a claim on it, and so forth. This ability to view souls lasts the rest of the day after nectar is drunk.
Each day that nectar is drunk, there is a 1-in-6 chance that the body becomes physiologically reliant on it; if this happens, the drinker can only gain nourishment from drinking nectar; their body fails to process other food, in the same way that a carnivorous animal cannot digest leaves.
A day’s worth of Nectar uses a cargo slot, and loses its potency after one week.



  1. Brilliant and evocative as always .... hmmm I think I will have these as places you can find when you get lost in the borderlands of Arcadia/Fairyland/otherland, or places for fetch quests/geas when they have caugth the eye of ”bergadrotten” (the fairy ruler).

  2. How are you handling fishing?

    1. spend a day in a location fishing (rather than travelling to another location, exploring the place, repairing your ship, etc), and roll for how much fish you catch.

  3. I love to see the stuff you are making for 'Into the Utter West', I always liked the concept a lot!

  4. These are so good I had to crawl out of the weird blog lurker lair I live in and actually comment. Incredibly creative and inspiring! Had me thinking of whole campaigns for each idea!

  5. Surely harvesting the jellyfish pilgrims is a sin...