Ghosts of Saltmarsh in the Forgotten Realms (free maps!)

In our last blogpost, we discussed making WotC’s newest adventure series Ghosts of Saltmarsh into a full campaign. It’s a topic that deserves more attention – and a more detailed look – but before we get further into that, I wanted to take a detour and talk about putting Ghosts of Saltmarsh in the Forgotten Realms.

We’ve just published DM’s Resources for Danger at Dunwater, our second installment of DM’s Resources for Ghosts of Saltmarsh. In it – spoilers ahead! – the players begin exploring the region around Saltmarsh, as they are sent to investigate a lizardfolk lair in the nearby marshes. Since we’ve moved the campaign to the Forgotten Realms, a new map was needed – which also got me thinking about Forgotten Realms in general.

Sword Coast map with Saltmarsh included. Original map by Mike Schley.

Hate it or love it, Forgotten Realms has so far been the primary campaign setting for 5th edition D&D. And while I understand the criticisms that Forgotten Realms is sometimes met with – mostly that it’s a pretty generic, medieval-style setting, inspired heavily by the tropes in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth – I can’t help but love it anyway.

Perhaps it’s because the Avatar-novels was what got me into D&D to begin with – and the fact that I’ve since read nearly all the Forgotten Realms-novels. Or maybe it’s because the setting is generic, allowing me to decide which quirky and unique elements to introduce when I want to give a campaign a particular flavor. It’s probably a combination of both – using a world with a rich and Google-able lore, that is simultaneously easy to understand because it is built on old traditions, seems to be the perfect fit for me.

I can’t say too much about Greyhawk, because I’ve never played a game set in it, but as far as I can tell, it’s a pretty generic setting as well. So for me, it simply becomes a choice between a setting I know and understand, and one that I don’t. That’s an easy enough choice for me – so we’re moving to the Forgotten Realms!

Overall, moving Ghosts of Saltmarsh to the Forgotten Realms is remarkably easy. I’ve gone into more depth with this in our first DM’s Resources for The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, but to quickly summarize, most of the work is done by simply changing the three primary factions.

  • The Traditionalists remain as they are; local people who are wary of outsiders.
  • The Loyalists are instead members of the Lord’s Alliance, called upon by Saltmarsh to protect the town when giants were rampaging the North (during the events of Storm King’s Thunder) and who are now working to make a proper harbor city out of the backwater town (bringing with them unwanted taxes and laws against smuggling).
  • The Scarlet Brotherhood are the Zhentarim, eager to reap the profits of Saltmarsh’ growth, by taking control of the Town Council.

Here and there you’ll have to change some minor stuff (such as replacing the Sea Princes with the pirate-controlled city of Luskan, when they’re mentioned), but simply changing the factions will get you far. But there’s one thing we still need – maps! Luckily, Mike Schley (check out his amazing work here: https://prints.mikeschley.com/) has made some huge maps for the Sword Coast, where we can easily fit Saltmarsh in.

A Mere of Dead Men-map showing Saltmarsh and surrounding adventure locations.

Inspired by redditor /u/murganis, who’s made his own maps, showing Saltmarsh in the Forgotten Realms, and the suggestions given in the Ghosts of Saltmarsh book, I’ve added Saltmarsh to Mike Schley’s maps. These are featured in both a larger Sword Coast-version, as well as a Mere of Dead Men-version, that shows the adventure sites described in chapter 2, 3, and 6. These maps are, off course, completely free, as they are only remakes of maps provided for free to the community by Mike Schley and WotC. You’ll find a full-size gallery with all versions at the bottom of the post.

For maps showing the insides of the adventure locations – the Haunted House and the Sea Ghost, as well as the Lizardfolk Lair – check out our DM’s Resources for The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and Danger at Dunwater respectively. And stay tuned for the next post, where we’ll talk more about making a proper campaign out of Ghosts of Saltmarsh!

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