Excerpts 08/05/2005

By Richard Baker, Joseph D. Carriker,
Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes

Grab your water gear and get ready to make a splash in your D&D campaign with Stormwrack. The third in a series of beautifully illustrated supplements focusing on play in specific environmental climes, Stormwrack contains rules on play in watery environments. Not only are rules for sea campaigns offered, but rules for including water environments in land-based D&D campaigns and dungeon adventures are also covered. The excerpts below include information about the book itself, the darfellan race, the legendary captain prestige class, and the dreaded Sable Drake and her crew.

Introduction and Chapter One Opening

Soveliss knelt in the gray mud of the cavern floor and frowned. The tracks were unmistakable: four pairs of broad, segmented feet, each step deeper at the toes than at the heel, followed by the broad wallow of the tail.

"Chuul," he said softly. His eye fell on a small splatter of blood, a place where the monster's steps hesitated for a moment before continuing. Likely the creature had paused at this spot to shift the villager from one claw to the other.

Ahead of him a great black lake stretched off into the darkness, cold and still as death itself. Water dripped somewhere in the unseen reaches of the cave, a single drop every ten heartbeats. The chuul's tracks continued into the icy water.

"The lake?" rumbled Tordek. The dwarf stood with his feet planted wide, eyeing the water with distaste.

"Yes," said Soveliss. The elf straightened and brushed the mud from his hands. "It went in, but it did not come out. I think it knows that we followed it here."

"Damn," said Tordek. He looked at the lake again and shook his head. "I hate the water."

Terrible sea demons guard great treasures in the vaults of drowned cities. Sahuagin warbands terrorize the towns and villages of the coast. Malevolent wizards lurk on distant islands, leaving the wretched spawn of their experiments to prey on any who pass near. Bold explorers roam the seas in search of new lands and marvels never before seen by human eyes, while cruel pirates plunder their way across the watery divides. Deadly aberrations lurk in the ebon seas of the underground realm, and swift, lightless rivers cascade down through dungeon chasms into unimaginable depths below.

Stormwrack examines the perils and wonders of maelstrom adventures -- that is, adventuring on or in the water, from ocean-spanning voyages to quests across the seas of the Outer Planes. A Dungeons & Dragons® game can embrace anything from exploring the dark depths of an underground lake or rafting down a jungle river to magical journeys into the lightless deeps of the ocean. Stormwrack is not just a book about sailing ships and seafaring campaigns but also about the hazards and challenges of all sorts of watery environments.


Stormwrack is intended for use in any Dungeons & Dragons® game. You will need the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual to make use of the material in this book. A number of creatures from Monster Manual II and Fiend Folio are included on the encounter tables in the appendix. In addition, you might find it useful to have the Epic Level Handbook and the Expanded Psionics Handbook, since this book contains a small amount of material designed for use with the systems introduced in those rulebooks.

The topics covered in this book include:

Chapter 1: Into the Maelstrom. This chapter contains an extended discussion of aquatic terrain and the perils of water environments, as well as information on weather, navigation, and naval combat.

Chapter 2: Races of the Seas. Two new aquatic PC races, the aventi and the darfellan, make their debut in this chapter, which also provides details about aquatic elves as a player character race. It also describes the hadozee, a seagoing race that excels at the art of sailing. In addition, it discusses water-oriented cultures of standard races, such as seacliff dwarves, wavecrest gnomes, and shoal halflings.

Chapter 3: Classes and Prestige Classes. This chapter describes how the various standard classes operate in an aquatic environment, both above and below the waves. In addition, it introduces seven new prestige classes associated with aquatic environments, including the knight of the pearl, the scarlet corsair, and the sea witch.

Chapter 4: Skills and Feats. This chapter offers aquatic applications for many skills and gives twenty-four new feats that improve characters' performance in and around the water. It also describes the roles played by various members of a ship's crew and its officers.

Chapter 5: Ships and Equipment. More than twenty different types of ships, from the caravel and the longship to the elf wingship and the magic-powered theurgeme, are detailed here. The chapter also describes shipboard weapons such as the great bombard, and personal gear such as the harpoon, cutlass, and sextant.

Chapter 6: Spells and Magic Items. This chapter details more than forty new spells that enable characters to do everything from swim more quickly to summon a fiendish kraken, in addition to a few new water-related epic spells and psionic powers. It also includes new magic items suitable to aquatic campaigns, such as living figureheads and the dreaded bag of teeth.

Chapter 7: Monsters. This chapter presents more than three dozen new monsters that can be encountered in aquatic environments, from piranha swarms and aquatic dinosaurs to the legendary scyllan.

Chapter 8: Adventure Locales. This chapter outlines four aquatic adventure locales. "The Sable Drake" (EL 5) pits PCs against a band of goblin pirates with a wily leader. "Shatterhull Isle" (EL 6) describes an adventure site that has lured many a ship to its doom. "The Lost Temple of Sekolah" (EL 9) tells of pious sahuagin intent on reclaiming an unhallowed shrine. Finally, "The Tamorean Vast" (EL 12) sets PCs the task of solving the mystery of why ships keep disappearing in a particular stretch of open sea.

Appendix: Encounter Tables. This appendix provides a set of EL-based encounter tables for all your aquatic encounter requirements: marine (seas and oceans), freshwater (lakes and rivers), and dungeon (upperdark, middledark, and lowerdark).

Chapter One: Into the Maelstrom

Even while I gazed, this current acquired a monstrous velocity. Each moment added to its speed -- to its headlong impetuosity. In five minutes the whole sea, as far as Vurrgh, was lashed into ungovernable fury; but it was between Moskoe and the coast that the main uproar held its sway. Here the vast bed of the waters, seamed and scarred into a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into phrensied convulsion -- heaving, boiling, hissing -- gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water never elsewhere assumes except in precipitous descents."

-- Edgar Allan Poe, "A Descent into the Maelstrom"

In centuries gone by, people regarded the waters of the world with fear, awe, wonder, and terror. The deeps were places no human being had plumbed, inhabited by strange and frightening creatures. The far shores of the world were terra incognito, unexplored lands where all kinds of unlikely creatures and mysterious perils might lurk.

Water has always posed a powerful lure to adventurers of all kinds. It is a frightening and forbidding barrier to the dungeon explorer, offering the promise of a horribly cold and lightless death. In the water, even the most skillful and daring of heroes is peculiarly vulnerable: slow, weak, and blind when compared to her normal capabilities. Water is a road to mystery, wonders, and monsters for the seafarer, a realm of chaos and disorder in which impossible things happen and the gods repay the hubris of humankind with terrible dooms and curses. Finally, water hides a parallel dimension only a few feet below its surface, where untold treasures and marvels (and sometimes horrors) await those who overcome the barrier between these two worlds.

The maelstrom serves as something of an allegory for the power and peril of water. At times it is calm and safe, a familiar road easily crossed -- but at other times it is a dark and lethal vortex, a force so powerful that no courage, skill, or magic can hope to quell its blind hunger or escape its insidious grasp. Even the bravest of heroes hesitates before risking its wrath.

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