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d100 Sea Cave Finds

d100 Sea Cave Finds

A d100 list of found objects, unexpected sights, and strange encounters for your players to come across while exploring caves carved by the ocean’s fury.

Shallow caves can hold mysterious depths.

The constant lashing of ocean waves slowly erodes shores and cliff faces. Normally this would simply shrink the coast, but when there is a weaker zone in the rock, the waves carve fissures. The fissures deepen and widen over time as the combined force of crashing waves, broken rock particles, and compressed air gouge irregular, shallow caverns in the stone. While many caves are found at sea level, some relict caves can be found far above the water-level, serving as markers of ancient coastlines.

Sea caves, while shallower than other cave types, hold just as many secrets for your party to explore. They might find themselves hunting a monster in their coastal lair, following a pirate map to hidden treasure, or even stumbling upon a tumultuous underground ocean. The chaotic force of the sea lingers in the very stones, and antediluvian creatures might remain among fossils, perhaps not as inactive as one would hope…

When using this list, feel free to choose any options you particularly like. You can also 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 cluster of dark blue fish eggs.
2. A hermit crab wearing a rusted metal helmet.
3. A silver circlet that smells of salt. When worn, characters can speak Aquan, but cannot understand it.
4. A raised pool of water. It tastes of mint and keeps the breath fresh for 24 hours. It does smell delicious to some monsters…
5. [Encounter] A group of steam mephits are having a community meeting to decide the fate of all other mephits. They cannot abide intruders who don’t understand the natural primacy of steam.
6. A large, fossilized skeleton set into the ceiling.
7. A stalactite column sprouts a mouth and whispers “Beware” before becoming dormant again.
8. For a brief moment, the sound of the lapping waves stops. If the cave is relict, the sound of waves can be heard instead.
9. A small vial of orange liquid. It smells like clay.
10. An altar of bones and seaweed. If a character touches it, the water level begins to rise in the cave. It continues to rise until an offering is provided at the altar.
11. An old string instrument. It looks brand new, but it cannot be. Right?
12. A fissure in the wall that resembles a fanged maw. A crimson ruby glitters in its depths.
13. A sodden campsite. It looks recently made. A pile of clothing, enough for three people, is neatly folded nearby.
14. A pit hidden by water. It is not dangerously deep but leaves a character soaked from the waist up. Small characters might not be that lucky. The water has a strange smell.
15. An elderly woman has a tidy hut set up in the cave. She claims to be over a thousand years old. The crone has a number of coastal druid powers and potions. If treated poorly, she curses a character to reek of sour fish for a month before vanishing in a puff of salty mist.
16. An abandoned rowboat. A satchel onboard holds candlewax and a seal bearing an unknown symbol.
17. An eel with an arrow through its jaw and a collar reading “Sparkles” in Aquan. The eel is still alive. It is the pet eel of a powerful vestraadi.
18. A pale tree with blue-green leaves dripping brine.
19. Blue dragon scales are scattered about.
20. [Encounter] The specter of a pirate captain believes the party is after his hidden treasure. Unfortunately, he was a rather unsuccessful pirate in life and his treasure consists of a few gold pieces and a portrait of himself.
21. A limestone statuette about the size of a thumb. It is shaped like a badger.
22. A train of slugs moving in a perfect circle. At the center is the crumpled corpse of a scorpion.
23. A rope hangs from the ceiling. Creatures nearby have an unnaturally strong urge to pull on it. Nothing happens if they do.
24. Vines grown into the cave through a hole in the cave ceiling. They retract slowly through the hole if touched while making hissing sounds.
25. A smooth, crystalline orb floats five feet above the cave floor. Characters who look into it can see reflections of their past, not as they were, but as they could have been. The crystal transforms into water if touched.
26. Kelp and seaweed cover the ground. It clings to characters’ feet as they step in it, weighing them down. The kelp is sticky but can be washed off with alcohol.
27. The sound of a bell rings throughout the cave for a moment. It is painfully loud.
28. The remains of a spelunker. He has a pack filled with rations, torches, and a toy rabbit. (3 units of stock)
29. Eight crystals are set into the cave wall. They are set in the shape of a rare constellation. This constellation happens tomorrow.
30. [Encounter] A torchlight can be seen bobbing up ahead. It is really a will-o’-wisp floating just beyond a hidden pit filled with sharp and surprisingly solid stalagmites.
31. A swarm of gnats hovers over a small pool of water. They immediately land on any character who steps in the pool, completely covering them, but not biting. Their buzzing almost sound like whispered words.
32. A bag of glowing mushrooms. When splashed with salt, they generate darkness instead.
33. A tiny lizard with wings. It almost looks like a very, very stunted dragon.
34. Merfolk remains grasping a silver necklace shaped like a sundered tentacle in one bony hand.
35. [Encounter] Bones and tattered rags litter the floor. While the characters are distracted by them, the grick hiding on the ceiling attacks.
36. Bright purple, carnivorous mushrooms grow from the stone. Rat and lizard bones can be seen amidst the caps. The fungi are part of a massive, intelligent rhizome. It is vengeful and might retaliate with Shroomitis.
37. A thick vapor fills the cave. It smells of sweat.
38. A crack in the cave wall. If any character looks into it, they see an eye looking back. Breaking through the wall reveals an empty anterior cavern.
39. An ornate hourglass. The sands run out with a “click” just as the party notices it.
40. A large pillar of pure salt occupies the center of a cave. Any creature that touches it turns to salt. Pouring fresh water on the creature returns it to normal. A solid salt statue of a cave bear is licking the pillar.
41. A humanoid finger. It always points towards the nearest body of salt water.
42. A character’s nose begins running. Profusely. At a rate of half a gallon per minute. It stops after five minutes.
43. Three wooden posts stand in a triangle. Any character standing between them becomes invisible to any creatures standing outside of the triangle.
44. The sound of a muffled argument fills the cave. It is impossible to make out any words, but boy do they sound angry.
45. [Encounter] The party has unfortunately stumbled upon an ancient, sacred cavern. The society that used to worship here has bound water weirds to protect it (DM can determine how many).
46. The rancid corpse of a massive ocean creature blocks the way deeper into the cave. Clearing it will be a very messy business.
47. A pirate’s canteen, filled with aged rum. Its spices conjure images of tropical islands. Literally.
48. The party’s shadows disappear. They reappear after a minute, causing characters to feel an unnatural chill down their spine.
49. A pile of rotting fruits. A rat shaped pendant sits atop it. Its whiskers twitch once every minute.
50. An area of the cavern is covered in green-yellow lichen. Eating the lichen grants a character the benefits of a short rest, but leaves a moldy, unflattering taste on their tongue.
51. A shield bearing a symbol of two fish, circling.
52. A corpse staked to the cave wall by pitons in its arms and legs.
53. An adventurer’s bag. Inside are a couple of citrus fruits, an empty glass bottle, and a green ribbon.
54. A beat-up crate. Inside is a massive knot of living and rather angry snakes with their tails tied together.
55. [Encounter] A young bronze dragon appears as a seal, watching the party. If they appear just, or at least good, the dragon invites them to sit and discuss the ethics of peasant revolutions for as long as they can stand.
56. A sapphire set in the mouth of a snake skull.
57. Stalactites begin to grow unnaturally fast, closing the way ahead in a matter of seconds.
58. A monkey with gills. It is wary of the party and flees into the sea if threatened.
59. One of the party members hears their name whispered through the cave. They are unable to identify the source.
60. [Encounter] A cyclops! It is particularly slow-witted, even by cyclops’ standards. If the party is smart, they might not even have to fight it.
61. A silver coin with the emblem of a ship.
62. The corpse of a seal. It appears to have been gnawed on by a much larger animal.
63. A broken sword with a handprint burned into the pommel. The handprint has 7 fingers.
64. A cackle echoes through the cave but is cut off violently.
65. Tremors shake the cavern. The party has to watch out for falling debris, sudden pitfalls, and larger ocean swells until the quake subsides (DM decides duration).
66. A seagull nest. The mother protects its hatchlings.
67. A shattered glass bottle.
68. A green, glowing orb floats toward the party. Once it is within thirty feet, it explodes in a ball of light and vanishes. Any characters looking at it are blinded for the next minute.
69. Purple algae on the cave floor arranged in arrow shapes, showing the path deeper into the cave. Stepping on the algae makes it emit sound disturbingly close to a little girl giggling.
70. [Encounter] A much larger stalactite than others in the cave. It is a camouflaged roper, waiting to pick off the weakest looking party member.
71. What appears to be a gold ore vein in the cavern wall. It is really pyrite but mining it might unearth other riches.
72. An awakened bat addresses the party, proclaiming that it has been waiting for worthy opponents. It is still just a bat, though.
73. A clear glass vial. A navy-blue liquid bubbles inside. Drinking the liquid fills a character with dread.
74. A sodden journal. The ink has run on every page. The only words still legible read “I’ve found it! This will solve everything! After so long, I finally know where…”
75. [Encounter] The party finds a group of pirates about to execute an ugly woman wearing chains. She is really a sea hag who had been causing problems for the pirates. She turns on the party if freed by them.
76. A tree sprouting from the stone floor, struggling to survive.
77. One member of the party begins hallucinating for the next ten minutes. They see their own face in every rock formation, usually twisted in various forms of agony.
78. Small pebbles begin moving. They turn out to be a uniquely rock-like species of crab.
79. The skeleton of a shark. Strangely, this shark appears to have humanoid legs.
80. A cluster of odd, bright orange flowers grows along the walls. Eating a petal heals a character similar to a potion of healing. The character also exudes a strong, citrus smell for an hour. The effect cannot be repeated until a full hour has passed. There are 13 orange flowers. Picking all has dire consequences.
81. A dusty, weathered pirate captain’s hat. It comes with matching eye patch.
82. An altar bearing the image of an old, forgotten god. There are so many tentacles… just so many.
83. A member of the party experiences severe déjà-vu.
84. A corpse holding a bouquet of flowers. The flowers are fresh, but the corpse is not.
85. An old, red-bearded dwarf is cooking seafood at a campsite. He invites the party for a meal. He has a number of tales from his sea-faring days but has since retired.
86. An evil-looking ancient tome written in Aquan. It is a merfolk cookbook.
87. Bubbles float up from a crack in the floor. If any pop, they emit a terrified shriek.
88. The walls look slimy. They feel slimy too. They also taste slimy, just in case that needs to be known.
89. A rusty timepiece. It is stuck at 4:18.
90. [Encounter] The cave is home for a pair of hippogriffs and their newborn. The parents fight to the death if they feel their child is threatened.
91. A map of a cave system. It quickly becomes clear that it is not the map of this cave system.
92. A mountain goat that watches the party from afar. It blinks with two sets of eyelids.
93. The remnants of a mining expedition. Nothing of value remains other than some shoddy shovels and torn tents.
94. An empty barrel that smells faintly of chalk.
95. A portion of the cave wall is made up of pure, unblemished metal. When a character looks into it, they see themselves with a different eye color. Touching the mirror knocks a character unconscious for a half hour. When they wake, their eye color will have changed to match. Their counterpart in the mirror has their old eye color now.
96. A satchel filled with fresh bananas, fish bones, and maple leaves.
97. Hissing comes from a small hole in the wall. Inside is the skull of a moray.
98. A pair of gloves are stuck to the wall. It takes a large amount of effort to remove them.
99. A dented, silver goblet. In contrast to its humble looks, it can hold two gallons of liquid.
100. [Encounter] Now they have done it. The party has unfortunately made too much noise and awoken the mighty master of the coast slumbering in the cavern.

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Creator of the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide Returns… on Kickstarter!

The Triumphant Return of Douglas Niles

Douglas NilesDouglas Niles, a legendary name for those who hail from the days of AD&D and TSR. A man whose legacy spans from the very first Forgotten Realms novels to the creation of the Dragonlance world, Doug is a New York Times Best-Seller and his work has been read and utilized by countless roleplayers. Doug is also well known for creating the groundbreaking Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide (TSR, 1986) with legends Gary Gygax and David C. Sutherland III, a book which detailed exploration of the subterranean world, a realm which was previously only hinted at and briefly explored in a few select modules. The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide finally gave DMs the ability to craft their own adventures and full campaigns in the Underdark.

Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Now, 35 years after the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide was published by TSR, Douglas Niles returns, alongside Thilo Graf (Endzeitgeist) and Stephen Yeardley, to bring you the Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking.

The Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking is designed for use with D&D 5e but has enough information about the strange and alien underground world to be of use for anyone looking for a good survival guide to enhance their adventures into the depths of the earth.

In the section below is the inside scoop, the back of book text, from the Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking, for your esteemed edification. The Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking Kickstarter goes live on March 3rd, 2021 and you don’t want to miss being a part of this legendary occasion to pay homage to one of the greats with an exciting “sequel” to the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide, lavishly crafted for both D&D players & DMs.


Survivalist's Guide to Spelunking

Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking for D&D 5e
Kickstarter launches March 3rd, 2021!

The Definitive Guide to Underworld Survival!

Douglas Niles with Dungeoneer's Survival GuideThe legendary dwarven delver Dugmore Dumple is back from retirement! Following on from his seminal guide for dungeoneers, Dugmore now takes you through crystalline caverns, fungal jungles and the maze-like passages of his home beneath the surface, even skirting the upper regions of Hel itself.

Survival in the Underworld is no mean feat, but this massive tome contains all you need to exist and endure, nay, prosper in and profit from the lightless realms below. Dugmore’s sage advice, carefully balanced by seasoned traveler and guide Fin Starling, provides all the tools you require to enhance your experience while exploring the fabled caverns and tunnels below the surface.

Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking contains an array of modular tools and rules to customize your game, including:

  • Survivalist's Guide to SpelunkingA comprehensive taxonomy of cave types
  • Expanded climbing tools and rules
  • Advice for designing, mapping, and running 3D-environments
  • Modular rules for momentum and chases
  • Rules for mining minerals and exotic ores
  • Streamlined rules for tracking supplies
  • Foraging and hunting rules
  • Detailed segmented spellcasting and combat maneuvers
  • Rules to make tactical combat puzzles
  • Highly modular hazard generators
  • Comprehensive notes on light and darkness
  • A breath-engine for exploration of flooded caverns or spore-choked jungles
  • Rules for hypothermia, hyperthermia, and more exotic afflictions like Shroomitis
  • The lethal hazards of elemental border regions
  • A glimpse at the Lightless Abyss and the upper regions of Hel

Plus, all the tables and tools you need to run an underground exploration game.

Register to be notified when this Kickstarter launches.

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Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook

The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide for AD&D

Forgotten Realms: Underdark for 3.5e

and now, Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook for D&D 4e.


If this book is any indication of the evolution of tabletop RPGs, then I want my 1st edition AD&D books back.  Yes, I know that is harsh, but instead of playing to the strengths and possibilities of a book with this name, the book immediately falls into the 4th edition pitfall of game crunch.  Instead of flavor, knowledge, and survival techniques we get new classes, races, and abilities.  Instead of gypsum, stalagmites, and underground rivers we get Trapsmith, Treasure Hunter, and Hurl-Snatcher.  Granted, there is a section on traveling in the Underdark, and there is a lot of detail, but it does nothing to actually educate me about what real travel is like underground.

When I GM, I want my players to become so involved in the game that they forget it’s a game.  I want to see their faces wrenched into twisted, contorted expressions of horror, see their skin turn pale at the description of a strange creature of the underworld spilling out of a cave up ahead, see the glimmer of inspiration of they explore a new group of caves and engage the local flora and fauna to learn all that they can.  This book just doesn’t do that.  It’s funny really, just when I think WotC gets it, they put out something like this.  They also have the audacity to attempt to appeal to old school gamers (such as myself) by referencing ancient popular dungeon and cave crawls of yesteryear.  Yes, I admit, it was pretty cool to see Castle Ravenloft, White Plume Mountain, and the Temple of Elemental Evil pictures and described in a more intimate and personal way than before, and I’m not trying to dissuade Wizards from doing this in the future.  I just found it a bit contrived to do so in a book which pays little (if any) homage to the products from which this book was supposedly inspired.

If I were to create a new version of the classic “Underdark Survival” book I would start with the maps and illustrations of the places you are to explore.  Take out the colorful action sequences, take out the new classes and races, and put the flavor and mystery of the underworld back in!  When we wrote the RISE OF THE DROW trilogy at we didn’t reference this book, nor any of the other newer incarnations.  We read actual books about spelunking and life found in caves all over the world, then we used the AD&D Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide for further study on how travel in the Underdark affects adventurers carrying large amounts of gear and heavy weapons, and wearing constraining and heavy armor.  These points are quite valid and very important to consider.  Spelunking in plate mail is surely impossible unless it has some kind of enchantment to make it light as a feather, and even then, it still would constrain you when climbing.

Bottom line?  I give this book 1 out of 5 stars.  That solitary star comes from a few of the beautiful LOCATION illustrations which could be used for development of original locations by a creative and inspired GM (specifically the illustration on page 49 by Noah Bradley).  Also, there are rules detailing travel in the Underdark, just not as in depth as I would like to have seen.  Ultimately I would recommend to those running 4th edition that they locate and [amazon_link id=”0880382724″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]purchase the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide[/amazon_link] and use it for reference when running games underground.  Even though the game terms are not compatible, it is still a very valuable product, which is what truly sets apart the best from the rest, the test of time.