20 Things to Find on a Beach

Whether the adventurers are escaping the wreck of their sinking ship or lying in wait for smugglers to bring ashore their illicit goods, they often end up on wave-lashed beaches.

By Maciej Zagorski (The Forge Studios)

By Maciej Zagorski (The Forge Studios)


Thus, to breath life and verisimilitude into proceedings, find below a list of 20 things the PCs could find washed up on such a beach. Such findings can be nothing more than a distraction or they could prove the catalyst for a new adventure!

  1. Thick clumps of seaweed cover a tangle of driftwood deposited at the high tide mark.
  2. The broken body of a large crab the size of a rat bobs in the shallows. Its shell has been ripped off and one of its claws is missing.
  3. The rotten corpse of a dolphin bobs in the water just off shore. Several seagulls perch on the corpse and peck and tear at its flesh.
  4. A ship’s battered and broken figurehead lies just above the high tide line. The burnt—now rotten wood—depicts a mailed female warrior. Part of her outstretched arm is missing.
  5. A leather flask floats in a rock pool. The flask has been sealed with wax, and inside inquisitive PCs discover the map for a small island depicting a raised headland, a stylised hut and a wrecked ship. The island has a distinctive shape and a DC 20 Knowledge (geography) check reveals its name and rough location. Alternatively, a sage or other learned individual versed in geography can identify the island for a small fee.
  6. A broken oar, missing half its paddle is wedged into a crack between two large rocks. Something possessing considerably strength obviously shattered the oar.
  7. One leg bone from a human-sized creature lies tangled up among a mass of seaweed and driftwood.
  8. A rotting seagull carcass—one wing missing—lies broken in a cleft between two rocks. Insects swarm over the corpse.
  9. The remains of a wooden crate floats in the water a score of feet offshore. If any character retrieves it, they discover the crate is empty. Perceptive characters (DC 20 Perception) spot partial toothmarks in the wood below the water line. Judging by the tooth mark whatever attacked the crate was obviously quite large.
  10. Someone has dug a deep hole—perhaps as deep as a man is tall—in the beach above the high tide line. Water has seeped into the hole, obscuring the bottom.
  11. Several holes have been dug in the beach seemingly at random spots. At the bottom of one, a spade—its handle snapped in half—lies discarded by its owner.
  12. The prow of a rowboats sicks out of the sand halfway down the beach. Digging for 20 minutes in the wet sand reveals the rest of the remains. A small sack containing some spoiled food, and a still good flask of brandy is wedged under one of the boat’s partially collapsed seats (DC 20 Perception spots).
  13. Pieces of flotsam and jetsom fill the rock pools on this beach.
  14. A swarm of crabs crawl amongst a swath of seaweed covering much of the beach.
  15. A barrel bobs in the water just off shore. It holds a couple of pints of wine, but is otherwise empty.
  16. The rotting corpse of a long snake-like creature lies sprawled at the high tide mark. A rotten stench hangs about the corpse, and it is obvious scavengers have dined extensively upon its flesh.
  17. A rowboat has been pulled far up on the beach. It contains a set of oars and a backpack holding a day’s rations, a flask of vinegarish wine and some fishing equipment. Of the owner, there is no sign.
  18. A rudimentary cairn overlooks the beach. Moss grows over the stones and a smattering of wild flowers cover the surrounding area.
  19. Several large boulders dominate one part of the beach. On the largest—which is fully 20 ft. high—someone has built a small bonfire. It is not yet lit.
  20. A body bobs in the surf. Investigations reveal it to be of a human male who has been in the water for some time. Although the body is decomposing and has been worried by scavengers a large knife wound (DC 15 Perception spots) is evident in his back.

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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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