Adventures about boats?

In light of the latest episode of Between Two Cairns, what are everyone’s favourite adventures about boats? They could be water boats, sand boats, or even space boats - just more tied to action on the actual vessel itself rather than the destinations the characters are going to.

A couple years ago I ran a small sandbox using Knave based on the 5e Saltmarsh book, but found that beyond boarding a smuggler’s ship near the beginning, I struggled to make boat stuff an appealing part of the campaign.

Now, I’m running a Vaults of Varn campaign, and would love to find some good material to reskin for some vault hunters with a sand barge.

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I did one about a cruise ship out of San Diego (long before I lived in San Diego or ever thought I would, oddly) using Call of Cthulhu 5th ed rules (the then-current edition). I used a book called Fearsome Passages for the boat stuff/deck plans, if I recall. At least I know I used that book for an airplane flight adventure I did with a group back in the 90s. Anyway, here’s the gist of it. A cruise ship is hosting an international chess match between an American prodigy, Davey Jones, and a Bolshevik Russian. Davey’s father was a south-seas trader and left Davey his weird journals detailing the natives and their unusual fire-worshipping cult. In fact, Davey’s mom was one of these natives, though she died while D. was still young. A photographer on the ship notices some strange lines in the prints of the game in progress - light streaks that seem to almost tie the pieces together in a cat’s cradle design. Later, during the game the boiler overheats, sending a plume of smoke into the sky. Eventually, if the PCs don’t figure things out, the boiler explodes and fire demons come out of it. Davey has been impregnated with subconscious occult lore from reading his father’s journals (which are in his cabin) and somehow, the odd symbols that can be found int he journals match Davey’s unorthodox but highly effective chess moves.

LOL. I don’t know if it was all that good, but I was a pretty young GM in the 90s. Certainly when it came to Call of Cthulhu.


Sorry. Fearful Passages. Not Fearsome. Fearful Passages - Chaosium | Call of Cthulhu Classic |

I recall Yochai and Brad covering Vampire Cruise by Amanda Lee Franck ( page) awhile back.

Amanda’s seminal work on “You Got a Job on the Garbage Barge” is my favorite example of premium boat adventure design. Just the right amount of whimsical fun contained in a micro world facing serious problems.

Looks like there is a third boat adventure in the works, but this time on an underwater vessel.

My group played a Call of Cthulhu scenario on a river cruise a long time ago. I want to say it was a Blood Brothers adventure. Anyways the river boat concept worked great and felt like a interesting location as a groups stronghold.


I was sitting wracking my brain yesterday trying to think of a good one and completely forgot Garbage Barge. It’s so good. I’ve only run the introductory adventure in the gas lake so far, but there’s so much more to explore on that giant boat.


I keep hearing about Garbage Barge, but only just went to check it out, and wow it looks cool and unlike anything else - thanks!

Also, I’d never considered Cthulhu scenarios - I have never played it, and the premise isn’t as much what I’m into, but taking a look at some of the products more closely, it does seem like a good place to mine ideas from.


Not quite an adventure, but Thousand Thousand Islands’ Korvu zine is about a whole community that is a vassal of the sea. It’s got some awesome boat stuff.


This isn’t quite a boat, or at least not a boat that travels on water, but there’s the old Call of Cthulhu scenario Grace Under Pressure which takes place largely in a deep sea research submarine. Spoiler: it’s Deep Ones

I’ve often thought it creates interesting tensions and challenges for the PCs, similar perhaps to the OSR trope of being trapped underground in a dungeon or cavern complex.