Stormwrack | Crime Club #3

I once saw Kevin Costner floating by Botany Bay on his back like an awful, pink turtle, rocking like the Endeavor. He was mad, of course. But before the navy came to scuttle him, I pried this D&D book from his blistered hands.

“I’m the Mariner,” he said.

“Goodbye Kevin.”


This is the first time we’ve looked at a 3rd Edition D&D book on Crime Club. Stormwrack focuses on sea adventuring, filled with lake classes, ocean races, reef spells, estuary monsters, river feats, and four H2O dungeons. Water.

Eight things worth stealing

1. Supernatural dangers (p13)

Dead Calm is this horrifying weather phenonemon in cursed waters. There is no wind, no wildlife, just supernatural stillness. Sailors often go mad or die of starvation when trapped in the calm — up to 100 miles wide. The calm counts as a desecrated area, attracting undead.

2. Sea Longing (p60)

The race options in this book are pretty silly, but something that caught my attention was the Sea Longing of aquatic half-elves. Thematically, are emotionally tied to the sea, so if they spend more than a week away from the shore, they take a -1 to their Wisdom score. It’s probably a sign of the edition’s crunchiness, but it’s a clever way to add mechanics to a roleplay element. I’d probably give them a Wisdom bonus at sea, though.

3. Ship roles (p82)

You want to know what a captain does? I’ve got you. Hey, how about a boatswain? No problem. This book breaks down every role at sea and how your characters can fit into ship setting. I’ll personally use this as a checklist to fill out a cast of NPCs for my next ocean scene.

4. Cool feats (p92)

I wasn’t going to include feats, but then I saw FLYING FISH LEAP. You can launch yourself right out of the water and into my heart. There’s also a cool one called breathing link which lets you share your oxygen with an ally, which is somehow cooled than just flatout water-breathing. 3rd Edition seems to have a different approach to feats, where they’re more like a special maneuver rather than a consistent passive boost like in 5th Edition, but I can still see myself awarding these abilities attached to a magical item or something.

5. What are boats? (p97)

There’s a whole section in here about naval combat, but I’m not interested in turning D&D into Total War. Some of the language and descriptions is really handy though. 3rd Edition really hammers home the fact that these books are technical documents — useful for wrapping your mind around the setting.

6. Two fun spells (p120)

I don’t care about damaging spells, but I love me some flavour. It’s that SPICE you need in your LIFE. If you have an animal with the party, you can cast Steed of the Seas and get your lovely pony to take on the aquatic type and breathe that sweet water. More impressive though is Mordenkainen’s Capable Caravel, which summons a ship manned by unseen servants with an extra-dimensional cargo hold.

7. I want these items please (p132)

All of these are sick: A bag of teeth you can throw in the water to summon a swarm of piranha, enchanted sails that always catch the wind, and LIVING gottam FIGUREHEADS. The figureheads remind me of Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders — they’re all fitted with different abilities and magical properties. So cool!

8. Four adventures

I had a big plan to read and break down each of these plot hooks and adventures, but then I noticed…

8. This book has every crab.

Small Monstrous Crab.
Large Monstrous Crab.
Huge Monstrous Crab.
Gargantuan Monstrous Crab.
Colossal Monstrous Crab.

Final thoughts

Any misgivings I have about this book relate more the the nature of 3rd Edition rather than the book itself. I love the theme, but I can’t handle the crunch. I think the sea as a setting is super interesting, but it’s difficult to make fun for an extended period. So it’s no surprise that whole sections of this book aren’t useful for Crime Clubing (races/classes are kind of a miss for me). Spells and feats are really nice though, and there’s a lot of handy language for educating yourself on sea stuff.