A d100 list of found objects, unexpected sights, and strange encounters for your players to come across while following along the beaches, coves, and cliffsides of coastal regions.
Dangers and wonders abound along the water’s edge.
Combining the best of sea and land; coastal regions are simultaneously a familiar and alien terrain. Beaches and bluffs aren’t as difficult to navigate as other landscapes, but your party may become lost in other ways while confronting the oddities on shore.
The coast isn’t one of the more popular or frequented regions in most campaigns, which makes finding unique encounters for it difficult. This list is your new tool to liven the area up for adventurers! It provides a number of creative and confounding items, sights, and monsters to flesh out your coastal journeys.
Look through the list and pick any that catch your eye or let fate decide and roll a d100. Every fifth option in the list is more consequential than the rest, so roll a d20 and multiply by 5 if you want to ensure a truly unique encounter for your party.
1. A water-logged journal in a clump of seaweed. The pages are no longer readable due to water damage.
2. A cluster of stones resembling a face.
3. Shipwreck of a small dinghy.
4. A dying fish stranded too far up the shore.
5. A stoppered bottle with a treasure map inside. The landmarks on it look exactly like some they saw a mile back (DM can decide what treasure they find).
6. Ships battling far out to sea. One slowly sinks beneath the waves as the party watches.
7. An undead seagull devouring its kin. It won’t attack the party and can be easily killed, but no sign of its creator can be found.
8. A sand castle filled with little sand people inside.
9. A half-full bottle of rum. At least, it looks like rum.
10. [Encounter] A sea hag smashing seashells on the sea shore.
11. The foundations of an ancient lighthouse from some long forgotten civilization.
12. Dolphins hunting fish shoals by chasing them into the shallows.
13. Young sea birds leaping into the water from high cliffs.
14. A trap door on a rock surface. There is nothing under the trap door, it’s just the trapdoor by itself. Opening it only reveals the surface of the rock.
15. A fish skull with glowing green eyes that sings an obnoxiously catchy song then becomes inanimate. The characters have it stuck in their head for a full day after hearing it, giving disadvantage on wisdom saving throws for the duration.
16. A painting of someone at that location, but a hole has been torn in the canvas where their face would be.
17. The party finds a fishing village that appears to be abandoned. All of the ships are still at the dock with a recent haul, dinner is cooling on tables in the empty homes, and the fireplaces are still lit. It almost seems like the whole town vanished in the middle of their day.
18. A stack of rocks balanced on top of each other from smallest to largest. They can be knocked over, but reassemble themselves after a minute.
19. An empty bucket covered in moss and barnacles.
20. [Encounter] A massive rock covered in odd patterns blocks the way. Soon the party realizes it’s not a rock, but a massive, irritated, and hungry hermit crab.
21. A skull half-buried under the sand. It has an oddly smooth stone clutched between its teeth.
22. A chipped hand mirror. If they aren’t careful, a character might cut their hand on the broken pieces lying nearby.
23. A white dress floating in the water. It has acquired a greenish tinge from its time in the sea.
24. The sand conceals a decently deep hole. The only real threat is embarassment and sand in uncomfortable places.
25. A spectral figure wearing sailor/pirate garb is wandering around the area. They emit a sick gargling as if they were choking on sea water. It is impossible to discern what they want.
26. A chunk of crystallized sand formed by lightning; either natural or summoned.
27. The tattered remnants of a ship’s flag. It’s difficult to tell what symbol used to be on it, but it was some national emblem.
28. A lone tree half submerged in the waves. A nest in its highest branches is being ransacked by a sea snake.
29. A flask with an enchanted map inside it. It always points towards the nearest beehive.
30. [Encounter] A group of four sea-dwelling humanoid creatures have come ashore. They aim to spread worship of their Elder God to the surface dwellers, either by conversion or sacrifice.
31. A natural cave has been carved into the cliffs. Inside is a sodden campfire and a number of crabs scuttling about.
32. The party notices what looks like an island off the coast. Then it shifts and undulates before finally sinking into the sea.
33. A rotting merrow corpse has washed ashore. A massive bite has been taken out of its side.
34. A flock of seagulls follows the party, pestering them until they throw some food. They pester them for another hour after they are given food.
35. A shaggy dog approaches the party and barks at them to follow. If they follow, they are led to a pair of corpses; a humanoid skeleton and a canine one. They look around to find the dog has vanished. On the dog’s corpse is a shimmering, black collar. If worn by a familiar when it dies, it will return as a specter. The specter cannot engage in combat, but will follow its master until the collar is removed from the corpse.
36. A washed up satchel with a broken strap. Inside is a broken compass and a conch that when held to an ear makes no sound at all.
37. A small tide pool with a number of newly hatched tadpoles.
38. A stoppered bottle that looks to have something wriggling around inside it. If opened, a wary octopus can be seen coiled inside.
39. A coral crown sits on top of a stone. If worn, the character grows harmless coral on their face and arms. Taking the crown off returns them to their normal appearance.
40. The party comes across a lone child skipping stones into the sea. She challenges each character to a stone skipping contest, promising a fantastic prize if they can beat her. If beaten she will pout, but gives the winner a bracelet constructed out of kelp and seashells. The wearer gains a swimming speed equal to their walking speed, the ability to breath underwater, and can speak Aquan. The girl then transforms into a seal and disappears into the sea.
41. A sign post points towards a town called Seaholme, saying it is 30 miles away. The sign points towards the water.
42. A solitary pier juts out into the water. At the very end there is a small pouch filled with sand and a wooden turtle totem.
43. A burrow formed entirely of crystalized sand. It is currently empty, but various bones and crustacean carapaces are scattered about inside.
44. A number of crab cages with fresh catch inside.
45. A sailing nomad community is making preparations to begin their watery wanderings again, but they have a number of coastal and ocean themed oddities their willing to trade. They have minor potions, seafood, woven kelp clothing, chitin weapons and tools, and minor gemstones. A druid among them also has the ability provide favorable weather during the rest of the party’s journey for a price.
46. An altar to some unknown god is carved out of a rock lashed by the waves. A recently killed fish seems to have been left as a sacrifice.
47. A group of fins travels parallel with the party for an hour before turning away (DM decides what is attached to the fins).
48. A cloth sack of potatoes, leeks, and other assorted vegetables. They are slightly water-logged, but still edible.
49. A bloated corpse washed up on the beach. It has no items other than a faded charcoal portrait of an elf woman.
50. [Encounter] Four harpies perch on stones near a cliff the party stands upon. The cliff is 50 feet tall and the harpies try to charm the party off of it to their watery graves.
51. A treasure chest has been dug out of the ground and looted. The party can follow tracks leading away from the dig site to find a recently made corpse. There are no valuables near the body, not even so much as a copper.
52. An old, worn boot with a hole in the sole. Its pair is nowhere to be seen.
53. A statue of a woman made out of sand. The features are incredibly lifelike, almost unsettlingly so. Its face is twisted in a look of terror and despair. Physically interacting with the statue in any way causes it to crumble to pieces.
54. The party finds a pouch tucked behind a rock. It holds a sown doll with a rotting fish head stitched onto it and dying purple flowers. An appropriate knowledge check recalls that these are instruments for cursing someone in the local culture.
55. Some humanoids are bathing and smoking around a cluster of tidepools. Smoking from their pipes induces hallucinogenic visions and sounds for a character for the next three hours. This experience can be cathartic or terrifying (DM’s choice).
56. A campfire and camping gear is set up under a wrecked sailboat. Four people can fit comfortably inside the shelter. The structure won’t hold up for an extended period, but it will serve for a temporary campsite.
57. The hilt of a sword or cutlass. The blade is long lost, but there are some jewels that would sell for a small amount set into the hilt.
58. A gathering of seals sunbathes on the rocks and beach. Their barking drowns every other sound within 100 feet of them.
59. The party comes across a halfing corpse. It looks to be about a week old. Its hands are bound and it wears nothing but dirty rags.
60. [Encounter] A wild-haired man shouts down to the party from a lighthouse about being trapped by a monster inside. In reality, the lighthouse is cursed and he is attempting to escape. It traps the last person who attempts to leave and the only way to escape is to have someone else enter then leave before them. Even if the lighthouse is destroyed the curse remains in effect within the original borders.
61. A number of turtle nests hatch nearby and the babies rush towards the water as seabirds swoop down on them.
62. A wooden sign reads “Beware the Wumper’Tah!” As far as any character is concerned, there’s no such thing as a Wumper’Tah.
63. A group of stones are conspicuously arranged into the shape of a trident.
64. A hollow voice can be heard saying “Beware”. Tracking to its source leads to a stone with a hole. The wind passing through the hole is making the sound.
65. [Encounter] A storm giant sits wistfully on a cliffside. Their previous lair was invaded by a kraken and they’re beginning to give up hope of finding a new one. If the party provides an appropriate location or a satisfactory charisma skill check, they can cheer up the giant and be given a magic ring (DM’s choice).
66. A glass vial is half buried in the sand. Inside of it is sand, but from a different beach.
67. A one-room cabin sits alone on a bluff overlooking a cove. Inside there is only a burned out fireplace, a wooden chair, and a tattered red cloak.
68. A gold necklace with a missing gemstone.
69. A large sea turtle has been flipped upside down on the beach.
70. [Encounter] The carcass of a killer whale has washed up on shore here. As the players get a closer look however, two giant octopi emerge from the corpse and attack the perceived threat to their meal.
71. A pair of crabs battling for dominance atop a rocky spire.
72. A seagull follows the party for a while from a distance, ignoring any food or rocks thrown its way.
73. A crystal orb with a glowing mist inside.
74. A totem made of driftwood, seaweed, and shells bears a horrifying visage.
75. A small glass bottle rests between some rocks. Any liquid placed inside turns into wine.
76. A pair of huge, humanoid tracks lead into the sea.
77. The wreckage of a ship. Most of the corpses have been very badly burned, but there are no burn marks on the wreck itself.
78. A glass eyeball that gazes intently at one party member no matter where they are.
79. A key slotted into an unnatural keyhole in a rock. Inserting, removing, or turning it seems to have no effect.
80. [Encounter] Six cultists of a kraken have begun construction on their hideout here. None of them are skilled at construction, but they’ll gladly halt work on their shoddy fort to secure more sacrifices.
81. A book titled “Captain Regmar and the Leviathan” by Captain Regmar. It tells the tale of Regmar fighting a Leviathan. It’s awfully and vainly written.
82. A number of plants in a stoppered bottle of soil, surviving in a closed ecosystem. It’s easy to tell that all of them are poisonous in some manner with an appropriate check.
83. A silver amulet bearing a religious symbol. The deity it represents is one of wealth or luck.
84. A gust of wind carrying the smell of blood and salt.
85. A rainbow colored seashell sits nearby. It whispers a story of glory, daring, and swashbuckling for thirty minutes if held to a character’s ear. Anyone who listens to the full story gains a use of inspiration. The shell can be used in this way once per day.
86. A sailor’s blouse is pinned under a rock. It will fly away if the rock is removed. If caught, it can be worn, giving the constant appearance of being caught in a strong wind.
87. A journal with a list of gnomish swears and their meanings in common.
88. A boomerang that never comes back.
89. A seabird swoops down attempting to steal a character’s headgear.
90. [Encounter] The party notices a golden figurine of a boat lying on the ground. It is enchanted. Anyone who touches it is teleported 100 feet off shore onto a ship with fifteen pirates armed with rapiers and crossbows.
91. A crate stamped with a company emblem that is filled with oranges and lemons.
92. A cluster of moss on a rock that seems to spell out a party member’s name.
93. A pair of humanoid footprints appear in the sand following the party. They stop following if insulted, but no other action affects them.
94. A rocky beach full of perfect skipping rocks. If a character skips any, they are skipped back at the shore after six seconds.
95. [Encounter] A sand elemental rises from the beach and a water elemetal rises from the sea to attack. They can be destroyed, but another rises to take their places. The only solution is to leave the area or say “nothing like a day at the beach” at which they both vanish and no more appear.
96. A kobold skull that won’t stop laughing.
97. A worn lute. It can be played perfectly, even by creatures who aren’t proficient with them. Any creature that is proficient adds +5 to charisma skill checks made using it.
98. A journal describing a wave. It never seems to end.
99. A rusty trident decorated with shells and rags. A note stuck on one prong reads “Return me to the sea”.
100. A humanoid sits on the shore, writing in a journal. They act kindly towards the party. If asked what they are writing, they will present their journal. The journal details everything the party has done up until this exact point, including their thoughts and feelings. The humanoid disappears with the journal after revealing this.