• Justin Handlin

Dungeon Dressing: 20 Things to Find in a Boat for your Dungeons & Dragons Game



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The fantasy world is one of adventure, magic, and monsters. Their travels take them far and wide. To the top of the highest mountains, down into the deepest dungeons, and across large and small bodies of water.


When it comes to crossing either the sea or just a river, the characters tend to need a naval vessel. Boats aren’t empty pieces of wood there for player character conveniences. They each have a story of their own. Small items found inside can share small details of the world around the characters and help bring the world to life. Huge thanks to the Crit Nation community for helping come up with this great list!


20 Things to Find in a Boat for your Dungeons & Dragons Game

  1. Three strange oval and round stones that are the exact same shape and size. A DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check reveals that the stones are not native to the area.

  2. The side of the boat has massive gouges in its side. A successful DC 12 Wisdom (Survival) check confirms the marks were made by a huge giant shark.

  3. Underneath the wooden seat is a small compartment. Inside a hand-carved bucket, a small anchor, and a compass.

  4. At the head of the boat is a large carved tribal idol. A successful DC 16 Intelligence (Religion) identifies the idol as the image of the goddess of agriculture. Objects such as this are created in her image to gain favor for a great harvest.

  5. A long recessed storage area runs along the entire starboard side of the boat. Inside it contains several pockets filled with water and a collection of small fish no larger than a pinky finger. A successful DC 13 Intelligence (Nature) check identifies the fish as a minnow. These small fish make for perfect bait for catching large fish.

  6. The bow of the ship has a carved goose standing between two trees that arch over it. A successful DC 19 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals a coded message along the branches. The message is written in the Druidic secret language. It is a map to a secret fishing hole.

  7. A basket at the stern of the vessel contains a collection of old damaged charts with popular trade routes. A character with the Sailor background automatically can read the map identifying nearby docking areas and ports. Any other character needs to succeed on a DC 13 Intelligence check to read the map.

  8. Laying inside the boat is an old rusted and tarnished cutlass. This shortsword does an extra 1d4 poison damage. When the sword hits a creature or object, the attacker must roll a d20. On a roll of 5 or lower, the weapon breaks and becomes unusable.

  9. 1d4 vials of a dark mixture sit in a small basket. The outside of the vial is coated in algae and muck. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Medicine) check reveals the concoctions to be antitoxin.

  10. An old dirty bottle near empty with a homemade red moonshine. On the bottle written in common is “Liquid Courage”. A creature who drinks this liquid must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned. Additionally, while poisoned this way the creature gains advantage on saving throws against being frightened for the next 8 hours.

  11. The bottom of the vessel contains rotted meats and a swarm of rats devouring whatever the foul-smelling carcass used to be.

  12. A medium-sized toolbox sits at the bow of the small vessel. Inside is a block and tackle with rope all covered in dried blood. In a small bottle is a rolled piece of parchment. A hand-drawn image of a pudgy fisherman and a massive fish hanging from a pulley system.

  13. A small sealed chest makes up one of the seats upon this vessel. A character with a successful DC 16 Thieves’ tools check can unlock and open it. Inside it contains jerky and pickle rations and a spyglass.

  14. Laying on the hull of the vessel is a large empty wine bottle. Inside is a rolled piece of parchment. The parchment is a love letter to a long-lost lover. It tells the story of a spouse who went out to sea fishing and was lost at sea. They wrote the letter while left adrift after a storm-tossed it into the bottle hoping it would reach their dear “Blair”. In it, they detail that they should not return, continue on and live a happy life. A successful DC 19 Intelligence (Investigation) can date the parchment to approximately a year.

  15. Overtop of a large knot of wood is wrapped 50 feet of hempen rope. The end of the rope is tied to a large double hooked anchor. Additionally hanging over the side of the boat is a hooded lantern and two flasks of oil.

  16. An old patched backpack sits atop one of the seats. Inside is a fishing tackle, ink pen, an hourglass, and a weather journal titled “Secrets of the Pond”. A character who spends a short rest reading the book learns the best fishing locations in the local area. A successful DC 15 (Survival) check in these areas yields enough fish to feed 2d10 creatures for 1 week.

  17. This vessel has two large barrels attached to both sides. A successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check confirms the contents of the barrel to be fresh Bourbon Toe ale. A character who spends a short rest drinking this ale can reroll a single Hit Die roll to regain hit points but must use the new roll. The vessel contains enough ale for 2d4 uses.

  18. At the bow of the vessel are short iron chains with two sets of manacles. A successful DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals that this vessel is used to transport prisoners.

  19. The structure of the vessel doesn’t appear to be in pristine shape. While it still floats, for how much longer is questionable. The edges of the boat's frame appear bent and cracked. A successful DC 18 Wisdom (Survival) check indicates a pattern as if something wrapped around the boat and attempted to squeeze it. The damage is most certainly created by a massive tentacled creature, likely a giant octopus.

  20. A bundle of 1d4 pristine quality short reeds sit atop a bedroll wrapped by leather straps. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check identifies these as core components for the ritual water breathing. The high quality of these reeds doubles the duration of the water breathing spell cast that uses them as the material component.


Related Article: 20 Orcish Taunts, Insults and Curses

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