12 Things to Find in a Rowboat

With alarming regularity (at least in my campaign), PCs find themselves in rowboats. Whether they are battling smugglers, cast adrift on the ocean waves after their ship sunk or rowing to a benighted island they often commandeer, capture, steal or buy a rowboat.

By Noel Patton

By Noel Patton


Not all rowboats are empty, however. Use the table below, to add minor points of interest to the rowboats in your campaign:

  1. Three black hooded cloaks are stuffed under one of the rowboat’s benches. They are all slightly wet, and smell of salt.
  2. A thick sack shoved into the rowboat’s stern holds a small leather bag filled with hard tack, three water flasks and a small half empty flask of brandy.
  3. The two shards of a broken oar lie at the bottom of the boat.
  4. A wooden bucket with a rope handle lies on its side at the bottom of the boat. Nearby lies a couple of simple fishing rods and a pouch containing a half-dozen colourful lures.
  5. A large piece of canvas is draped over the boat’s stern to create a sheltered, but cramped, cabin of sorts. Within, lies a single damp bedroll along with a change of clothes.
  6. A small cupboard at the stern holds a battered lantern, three flasks of oil and a tinderbox wrapped in oilskin. A mildewed blanket fills the bottom shelf.
  7. A 20 ft. length of rope is coiled around one of the rowboat’s benches. The rope smells of tar and is damp.
  8. This rowboat must have a small leak somewhere. An inch or so of seawater fills the bottom of the boat and a wooden bucket—perhaps used for bailing—lies nearby.
  9. Four empty wine flasks lie scattered about the boat. A fifth flask yet holds the dregs of some truly terrible wine.
  10. A fishing net lies neatly piled at one end of the boat and is tied to the bow with a long length of line. Next to the net stands a cut-down barrel half filled with seawater.
  11. This rowboat has a short mast that can be raised or lowered. A large emblem of a soaring seagull decorates the sail’s yellowing canvas.
  12. A dozen or so heavy planks fill the bottom of this rowboat, making it ride low in the water.

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20Front_#4_220This article appears in  20 Things #4: Smuggler’s Lair, which is available now. It will also appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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