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Written By:

Ed Fortune


Dungeons & Dragons is a game designed to exercise the imagination but, for many, producing whole new and interesting stories and worlds can be a bit of a tall task. Most gaming groups rely on source material and pre-written adventures, and the best of these tend to create memories that last a lifetime.

Ghosts of Saltmarsh brings together a collection of nautical adventures from D&D’s long history – stories that gamers have been re-telling for years but have been long out of print. It’s also updated the rules to the fifth (and most current) edition of the game. It would have been easy for Wizards of the Coast to simply convert these adventures and move on but, instead, they’ve taken a far braver and more interesting route by looking at some great products and figuring out how they could improve upon them. Fortunately for us all, they did an outstanding job.

For a start, we get setting information on Saltmarsh itself. In addition to the usual layout and maps, we get detail on the Kingdom of Keoland, the various factions and secret groups, as well as Procan, the local sea god. They’ve kept the location as the world of Greyhawk, but it provides guidance for those looking to relocate it to other D&D settings.

The adventures themselves work as a sort of greatest hits of seaside fantasy stories. There’s a creepy seaside town story, a haunted house adventure, a conspiracy of aquatic horrors and a tale that’s literally called “Salvage Operation”. We have seven scenarios here in total; the original Saltmarsh trilogy, and four others that pad out the story. It’s dripping with kraken, fish men and drowned zombies, and each section is presented in a way that makes it very accessible. Each adventure is worth the time.

This is a book that’s perfect for busy DM’s looking to run salty stories with little preparation. It’s also so well put together that games creators with more time on their hands will find it easy to plunder the book for their own ideas. It’s not only a book of adventures but also a toolkit and setting resource, which makes this pretty much a bargain. The interior art is also very, very nice, filled with atmospheric pictures. The maps and plans are very clear and easy to use, and there is also a retro-style cover available that’s totally gorgeous.

All in all, Ghosts of Saltmarsh is a very professional gaming resource – one that can be tailored to your gaming group, be they pirates or landlubbers, pure fantasy fans or horror geeks. Highly recommended.

Ed Fortune

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