Last updated on January 12, 2020

As the Windbourne rounds the leeward side of the island, the shipwreck of the Empress of the Waves comes into view. The old galleon badly beaten, but unbroken. The sea was relentless in its assault. Each wave driving it into the rocks, while the rip current tried to pull her back out to sea. Still she clung to the island’s stony grasp and refused to go to the bottom of the Parchwood Bay.

– Session 2 – (22 Dec 2019)

This past weekend, I ran a heavily modified version of the adventure ‘Salvage Operation’ from Ghosts of Saltmarsh. I liked the general idea of the adventure, but I did not care for the background or the chosen enemies. It was also much too high a level for my party of 6, level 2 characters.


In the year 615 P.D., the de Rolo family fled Wildemount aboard the Empress of the Waves. Unable to make their way to the Menagerie Coast, the de Rolos and some of their closest supporters, fled north to the town of Icehaven. They set sail from Icehaven bound for the city of Stilben in eastern Tal’Dorei. The ship traversed the Frigid Depths and entered the Shearing Channel from the north. They never made it to the Lucidian Ocean in the south.

When the de Rolo party disembarked they did so in a hurry. The ship was listing badly and capsizing seemed imminent. They grabbed what they could and lowered the lifeboats. Most of their life savings remained behind in a locked chest in the ship’s brig.

A few years later, after the family had founded the city of Whitestone, they heard tales of a ghost ship floating aimlessly in the fog of the Parchwood Bay.

My Salvage Operation

When the party found the Empress, she was wedged in a cluster of rocks a few 100 yards out from a small island. They managed to get a boat over to the shipwreck and tie it off. Instead of spiders, I used Giant Crabs and Swarms of Rats (rebranded as Crabs). I underestimated how powerful the swarms were to level 2 characters and nerfed them on the fly.

In the Captain’s quarters, I had a pair of Sahuagin enjoying a meal, but the players never got there. They went to the forecastle quarters first, fought some more crabs and found the unobstructed passage below deck.

As soon as they started down the stairs, they heard a woman calling for help. The old woman became trapped while looking for treasure and needed help. The party rushed in and quickly discovered it was a trap. The Sea Hag revealed her true form and two of the party’s members dropped. The cleric of Kord revived her fallen comrades and the party proceeded to make short work of her.

Once the party found the chest, I resorted to the escape sequence in the original adventure. While they managed to escape, a string of bad dexterity saves (14 in a row!) had the party’s dragonborn warlock on the brink of death twice.

The Shipwreck Map

Shipwreck of the Empress of the Waves
Empress of the Waves

The map is 32×18 and was created with assets from 2 Minute Tabletop.

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MrFarland Written by:

Don Farland lives in central Pennsylvania with his loving wife and Bruno, a quirky, jumpy cat too damn cute for his own good.