et Out Of The Dungeon & Onto The Beach

Summer is a great time to get outside, soak up some sun, and feel that ocean breeze. Or it would be, if most of the world wasn’t stuck indoors. Fortunately for Dungeons & Dragons players, a beach getaway is simply a matter of imagination. Let’s look at some ways DMs can bring the beach to the table. 

A Dwarf, A Halfing, And A Dragonborn Walk Onto A Beach…

Stop us if you’ve heard this one. Although you probably haven’t, because average D&D adventures take parties through forests, dark caverns, and stop at the tavern on the way. The beach is a nice change of pace because it offers a twist on familiar enemies and challenges. Assuming the campaign doesn’t take place in some Ice Age homebrew world, every setting should have a beach within travel distance. Getting there is just a matter of giving the party incentive. 

The easiest way is to make it the next job. The local lord’s heir has been kidnapped by pirates, and he hires the party for a rescue. The search culminates in an urgent beach battle. The pirates have the poor child on a rowboat, hastily paddling to the safety of their ship. The party still has time to pluck the heir off the rowboat, but they’ll need to contend with an army of pirates, cannonfire, and the sea itself. 

If the DM is looking for more relaxed beach vibes, they can just turn the next village into a fishing village. This shift leads to fun flavor. The tavern playlist is all sea shanties, every dish has fish, and the blacksmith specializes in tridents and spears. Magic items found here could take on odd properties like always smelling of sea salt or making a dolphin sound when used. 

For more instant action, have a shipwreck. Nothing starts an adventure off with a bang like the party suddenly being thrown into a new location. 

Sand Gets Everywhere

Consider what surprises a prepared enemy could leave for beach-going adventurers. Those pirates from the kidnapping encounter would probably have explosive barrels on hand. Maybe they rig up a crude tripwire, causing buried barrels to explode when triggered. Or perhaps seemingly-innocent piles of kelp hide pitfalls. Traps like these can work anytime an intelligent enemy has time to dig into their environment. Another take on this encounter is that the party must storm a beach to gain foothold on a sahuagin-infested island.

On the flip side, the party could need to defend the beach from a more unnatural threat. The local seaside town might be having problems with villagers disappearing. The party’s tracking and investigations lead them to the beach, where creatures emerge from the sea to abduct more innocents. Beating these creatures back would mean fighting nature itself, as the sea is rarely cooperative. At best the area where the water strikes the beach could make for difficult terrain. At worst, the DM could call for a Dexterity save every other turn. Those who fail find themselves knocked prone by the tide. The party may elect to set their own sandy traps instead of deal with that.

As to what this mysterious aquatic foe is? Could be sea hags, a dragon turtle, or deep scion with pet ropers. Something even more sinister could be commanding them, but we’ll leave the details of that up to you capable DMs. Just remember to have fun! Life’s a beach, after all.

(Photo Credit: Ghosts of Saltmarsh)

Jul 24, 2020
Encounter Ideas