The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh offers a mix of exploration, combat, mystery-solving, and role-playing opportunities. It provides a classic adventure experience with elements of horror and intrigue, allowing players to unravel the secrets of a haunted house and thwart a criminal enterprise.
The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh was later adapted and included in the Ghost of Saltmarsh adventure compilation for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The adventure takes place in the coastal town of Saltmarsh, which is beset by rumors of a haunted house known as the Old House. The players are tasked with investigating the mysterious happenings in the house and uncovering the secrets hidden within.
The module consists of three parts: the haunted house, the smuggling operation, and the final confrontation. In the haunted house, the players explore the decrepit mansion, encounter traps, and face various undead creatures and other dangers. They must unravel the clues and gather information to understand the true nature of the house’s sinister secret.
As the players dig deeper, they discover that the haunted house is a front for a smuggling operation. The smugglers are using secret tunnels beneath the mansion to transport contraband goods. The players have the option to confront the smugglers directly or gather evidence to expose their activities to the authorities.
The adventure culminates in a confrontation with the mastermind behind the smuggling operation. This final encounter tests the players’ combat abilities and problem-solving skills as they strive to defeat the villain and put an end to the threats facing Saltmarsh.
The adventure is set in the coastal town of Saltmarsh, which is located near treacherous marshlands. The town serves as a hub for fishing, trade, and smuggling activities. The eerie and isolated atmosphere of Saltmarsh adds to the sense of mystery and danger.
The adventure provides several hooks to involve the players, such as hiring them as investigators, having them stumble upon the haunted house by chance, or connecting them to local authorities concerned about the smuggling activities. Yet, the centerpiece of the adventure is the haunted house itself. It is an old mansion that appears abandoned and decrepit on the outside but hides a variety of secrets within. The players must explore its rooms, uncover hidden passages, and overcome traps and supernatural threats.
The haunted house presents a range of challenges for the players, including combat encounters with undead creatures like zombies and skeletons, as well as traps and puzzles that test their wits and problem-solving abilities. The players need to gather clues and piece together the mystery of the haunted house. They interact with various NPCs in Saltmarsh to learn about its history, the previous owners, and the events that led to its current state. This investigation aspect adds depth and immersion to the adventure.
The adventure concludes with a climactic encounter against the mastermind behind the smuggling operation. This confrontation can involve combat, negotiation, or other creative approaches, depending on the players’ choices and actions throughout the adventure.
Overall, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh provides a rich and immersive adventure experience, combining elements of haunted houses, smuggling operations, mystery-solving, and role-playing. It offers players a chance to unravel a dark secret, combat supernatural foes, and make impactful choices that shape the outcome of the story.
An adventure for those seeking inspiration, but you can easily flip this PDF to any D&D version or game system. If you need help on conversion, I created this page for such an occasion: Convert Old Dungeons and Dragons Adventures