Saltmarsh Sails Into StoresMay 21, 2019
Let’s face it, this past week has been replete with Dungeons and Dragons news; the new storyline, a new book, multiple streams, a mini-convention, a new Dungeons and Dragons Adventurer’s League epic, new minis, and more.
With all of the splash (if you’ll excuse the pun) of this past weekend, it’s almost easy to forget that, as of today, Ghosts of Saltmarsh is available in stores.
Ghosts of Saltmarsh is the latest Dungeons and Dragons adventure book, and much like Tales from the Yawning Portal, includes many classic adventures from the history of the game, except in this case, the adventures are grouped thematically, with each bearing a maritime flavour.
Some of the adventures included in the book are The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, Danger at Dunwater, The Final Enemy, and others.
The book begins with a very detailed overview of Saltmarsh itself: the history, the political realities, a dramatis personae, and an in-depth look at the factions the characters in a Saltmarsh campaign are likely to interact with.
Players also get access to a detailed map of the town and a list of notable locations therein, as well as a larger area map, and a modest gazateer that describes the geographic features and places that may appear in the adventures that follow.
The book even includes Saltmarsh specific backgrounds so players can customize their characters more effectively for a seafaring campaign.
Much like Tales from the Yawning Portal, the adventures contained within Ghosts of Saltmarsh can be run (with a bit of connective tissue supplied by the DM) as a continuous campaign suitable for salty pirates and scurvy knaves, or the adventures can be pulled out selectively and dropped into a campaign to provide a nautical change of pace.
Ghosts of Saltmarsh is an excellent adaptation. The updated modules are well-balanced, and while some are more challenging than others, it looks like players of all skill-levels can enjoy the content.
They’ve streamlined where necessary, but not enough to strip the soul out of adventures. Many of these will still resonate with those who played the originals, for sure.
Should you buy it?
As always, it depends.
The book is beautiful. The production value of Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons books is only getting better and better; the art, the maps, and everything inside is enough to launch the imagination of 1000 ships.
If you’re exclusively a player, and have no intention of DMing, the book will be of limited value to you. The backgrounds are fairly cool, and they’ve been tweaked enough that they’re definitely worth reviewing, particularly if your campaign is of a nautical bent…but this isn’t likely enough of a reason for you to purchase the book, as most of the content is adventure or lore-based.
Now, if you’re a completionist (like me) and need to have EVERYTHING Dungeons and Dragons you won’t be disappointed with Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Not only is the book beautiful, but it’s one that lends itself PARTICULARLY well to a one-shot game. Why? Because of the nautical theme; it’s unique. A nautical adventure is one your players may never have played before, so if you’re struggling for ideas on a gap adventure, Ghosts of Saltmarsh is a really good option.
And if you’re a DM? You can’t go wrong with Ghosts of Saltmarsh. The adventures are cool, the theme is unique, it provides grist for your lore-mill, and will offer a compelling experience for your players, regardless of their skill level.
The book definitely shines as a resource for DMs who want to steal a nautical adventure for their campaign, but not necessarily run a nautical campaign.
It has everything a DM needs to develop the nautical narrative, to build Saltmarsh as a location, or even as a base of operations, and allows a nice bridge to the adventures contained within.
It’s a nice pickup, much like Tales of the Yawning Portal, particularly for DMs who prefer to develop their own content, but occasionally steal good stuff from published materials. You can’t go wrong with the classics.
Ghosts of Saltmarsh is available everywhere today, May 21st.
The alternate art cover (left) is available exclusively at game stores only.
A review copy of Ghosts of Saltmarsh was provided.
All images are copyright Wizards of the Coast and used with permission.