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!

Heisting Xanathar’s Lair

It’s a good day! After endless hours of work, we finally have another product ready for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. This time it’s the Xanathar’s Lair – and, more specifically, DM’s resources, maps and aid for staging a heist on the mad beholder’s lair! Heisting Xanathar’s Lair is available on the DM’s Guild as a standalone product, but has also been added to our Complete DM’s Bundle for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.

To celebrate, we have a free, high quality battlemap for you: the Pit of Blood and Fortune in Xanathar’s Lair. The arena is a nice addition to Xanathar’s Lair, and might come in handy if your party signs up for the gladiatorial contest. As always, the battlemap is primed for digital tabletops.

You’ll get a full map of Xanathar’s Lair when you purchase Heisting Xanathar’s Lair (which, at 80×100 inches was a real pain to make, I must say!).

Anyway, enjoy!

Trollskull Manor Map

Another free Waterdeep: Dragon Heist map to celebrate our DM’s Bundle becoming an Electrum Best Seller on the DM’s Guild!

Admitted – we’re late to the party. It’s taken us a while to make a Trollskull Manor map. And if we’re being honest, it’s mostly because there’s already so many good, free Trollskull Manor maps available. What we did see the need for, however, was an unfurnished Trollskull Manor map for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, that was completely barren, allowing your players to furnish it themselves. If they decide to do so, we can recommend Mike Schley’s Schleyscapes which were also used in the making of this map.

Enjoy – and happy heisting!

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist – Dragon Season

And here we are, with yet another map for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, once again using tools from Mike Schley’s Schleyscapes. This time it’s one of the encounters from the encounter chains in Chapter 4: Dragon Season.

Encounter 4 - Mausoleum (DM)

You can find both player and DM’s versions of the map here. We’ll be putting more maps up for Chapter 4 across the coming days and weeks, as we get them done.

We’ve also just published our DM resources for Chapter 4: Dragon Season on DM’s Guild. It’s a series where we give advice, enhancements and resources for Wizards of the Coast’s official D&D Campaign ‘Waterdeep: Dragon Heist’. So if you think that’s something you’d like or you want to support our work, head on over to the DM’s Guild where you’ll find that and much more.

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist – Fireball

Continuing on my last post, we’ve created another map for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, once again using tools from Mike Schley’s Schleyscapes. This time it’s the Gralhund Villa from Chapter 3: Fireball – a sprawling manor filled with dangerous enemies.

Gralhund Villa, 40x55, DMs

You can find both player and DM’s versions in our DM’s Resources for Chapter 3: Fireball on the DM’s Guild.

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist – A Friend in Need

The newest Official 5th edition Campaign Book features urban adventure for characters of level 1 through 5. I’ll be posting blogs on the campaign as I play through it with my tables, and publishing (hopefully) helpful stuff to the DM’s Guild whenever I’m able.

First order of business: maps.

Now, I don’t have anything against the sketch-and-paper style of maps that WotC have decided to go with in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, but it does have some shortcomings. While the maps are great for getting a quick understanding of an area, building or dungeon, and great if you’re drawing out your maps at the table, they’re not really primed for digital tabletop-use – which is what I use.

Therefore I’ve created two renditions of the Zhentarim Guild and Xanathar Guild Hideout maps, using tools from Mike Schley’s Schleyscapes, that I feel does better on a screen. You can find both player and DM’s versions on the DM’s Guild, when you download Valeur RPG’s DM’s Resources for Chapter 1: A Friend in Need. You’ll not only get the two maps, but also a map for the Yawning Portal, and resources and ideas that’ll help you run the first chapter of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.

Have fun adventuring!