“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
I hate to tell you, readers, but we’re adrift on the Strangest Sea. While waiting for the thing with feathers to show up, I’ve put together an encounter guide for the Strangest Sea’s wonders and perils.
This d20 chart is not for regular nautical travel. It is for the seas beyond the sea, where reality begins to dissolve. It is intended for high level play. The Strangest Sea might be a distant ocean, or it might actually be in the Astral Plane or the Plane of Water.
Standard nautical encounters, with, like, normal sharks, might be possible on the Strangest Sea, but few such encounters are detailed here.
1. Huge Exotic monster. Roll d8 for type: 1. Water dragons. (White dragon stats but made of water, like water weirds) 2. Kraken (or cthulhoid tentacle beast with same stats). 3. Submarine. 4. Wading or canoeing Brobdingnagian (use Empyrean stats). 5. Sea tunneler (purple worm stats, leaves glass-walled tunnels in the sea, can swallow one-masted ships) 6. falling star (lands like a fireball, then fights like a balor) 7. living whirlpool 8. The Elder Shark (presaged by the sea turning to blood. Tarrasque stats but submerges after one round of attacks)
2. Storm. Roll d8 for type: 1. lightning. 2. fire. 3. cold. 4. acid. 5. poison. 6. exotic storm like polymorph rain or teleport whirlpool. 7-8. conventional storm. Visible coming from a random direction so you can steer to avoid it. Energy storms are like normal storms but the ship and everyone on deck takes d10 elemental damage per hour. Exotic storms have weird bespoke effects up to the DM.
3. Ichor sea. Patch of poisonous water d20x10 miles wide. At the center is something monstrous and bleeding.
4. The Floating Land. A continent whose position cannot be mapped. Possibly it’s the Isle of Dread.
5. Sinister island. Ruled by a single badass monster (roc, cyclops, dragon, sphinx, etc) Roll d8. 1-4: normal island. 5: on turtle’s back. 6: Levitating. 7: Iceberg. 8: Coral.
6. Pirates! 50% chance of treasure map. Roll d8 for type: 1-2: common humanoid race. 3: githyanki. 4: Sahaguin. 5: Undead. 6: Eagle warriors (stats of harpies, look like Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon). 7: Marids in musketeer hats. 8: Flip monster manual to random page.
7. Doomed city of Ys. Floating metropolis that is prophesied to sink when traitors open the water gates. The water equivalent of the City of Brass.
8. Sea of Mountainous Waves. Waves 20 miles across and 5 miles high. Smooth sailing up to the peak, followed by a terrifying whitewater plunge. Settlements surf in the crests of the waves, monsters wait in the troughs.
9. Mirror fog. Inside the fog, sea creatures fly and ghost ships sail upside down under the water, like reflections. 1 in 6 chance of accidentally sailing into the Realm of Death.
10. creature migration. These can be seen at a distance and might just be window dressing if the players stay away. Roll d12 for type: 1: pod of whales. 2: convoy of ships. 3: Herd of foam-footed horses or pegasi. 4: School of giant sky jellyfish. 5: Merfolk. 6: Cloud Giants on flying horses. 7: Balloon and airship fleet. 8: Huge glowing bubbles. 9: water elementals. 10: Herd of dragon turtles. 11-12: The thing with feathers. Following it will lead you to your destination, or to safety
11. Strange current. Zone of: (roll d8 for type). 1: Weightlessness: big floating water droplets hover over the sea, only metal has weight. 2: Forgetfulness. 3: Flammable objects burn harmlessly 4: Sinking (into emerald airy water) 5: Strong current that determines your course, roll again on this table for its destination 6: Sky: The sun and moon are abnormally close. 7: Boiling. 8: Exotic: Come up with something weird off the top of your head.
12. Maze. Roll d8 for type: 1: sargasso. 2: wind and currents. 3: coral. 4: shoals. 5: walls of fire. 6: cliffs. 7: watery caves under a mountain island. 8: floating strips of water roads like a freeway. In the center of the maze is a: (roll again on this table)
13. Golden sea. Archipelago in calm golden waters. Islands are filled with ruins, treasures, and dangers from a bygone age. Roll d10 for inhabitants: 1: stone age folk. 2: nightmare horrors. 3: unfamiliar humanlike race. 4: yuan-ti. 5: ghouls. 6: angels. 7: shedu. 8: couatl. 9: monks. 10: animated objects.
14. Strange-colored water. Water is drinkable and confers the benefits of a specific potion.
15. Rainbow. Ships can sail up it to a cloud giant dominion.
16. End of the world. At the end of the world may be: (roll d6) 1: a wall. 2: waterfall into space. 3: further travel possible into astral or another plane. 4: the solid blue bowl of the sky. 5: a blank realm where you can create new pieces of the world with your thoughts. 6: the strangest land
17. Increasing danger. A sea of increasingly extreme conditions, with a thematic and dangerous location at the center. Roll d6 for type: 1: cold. 2: heat. 3: storm. 4: beauty. 5: wreckage. 6: night.
18. The crystal sea. The water is so clear you can see the ocean floor and all the monsters and mer-cities below, and they can see you.
19. Terrain. The water changes into some other form of terrain but you can still sail over it. Encounters are by terrain type. Roll d6 for type: 1: desert. 2: lava. 3: stars. 4: inhabited land. 5: vast graveyard. 6: tower or cyclone that reaches to the sky.
20. Treasure! 75% chance of a guardian. Roll d6 for treasure type. 1: Island of gem-fruit trees. 2: golden ship. 3: pirate treasure. 4: giant pearl clams. 5: roc nest. 6: angel armory.