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Sea zombies, otherwise known as drowned ones, were a variety of zombie who arose from the corpses of humans who drowned at sea.[4] Slaves chained to a sinking ship would often arise as sea zombies.[7]


Being the corpses of drowned humans, sea zombies typically looked bloated and had discolored flesh that was dripping with foul water. Their eye-sockets were empty, they had blackened lips, and their tongue frequently protruded.[4][6] Often their bodies might be encrusted with barnacles and certain aquatic life, such as starfishes.[1]

Those who had been assassins in life often wore a simple, makeshift mask of driftwood.[8] A rare form of drowned one, known as a drowned master, had shadowy tentacles in place of their legs and were always tethered to a powerful source of magic. They often acted as a leader of other drowned ones.[9]


Unlike the standard land-dwelling zombie, sea zombies possessed free will and could be rather cunning. They typically harbored hatred towards the living and it was one of the few things that motivated them.[4][6]


Because their bodies were waterlogged, some claimed that it was difficult to harm sea zombies by means of fire or fire-based magic. They also claimed that sea zombies were quite vulnerable to lightning, electricity, and severe cold temperatures.[4] Being a form of undead, they were also immune to all forms of poison.[4]

On land sea zombies moved at a very slow, clumsy and shambling gait, but in water they were very fast swimmers.[4][6] In the years following the Spellplague, drowned ones (with the exception of drowned masters) were often said to be incapable of swimming, always sinking to the bottom of any body of water. Though they moved unimpeded by the water.[1]

Their appearance and the stench of decay from their bodies often caused living creatures within 20 feet (6.1 meters) of them to feel nauseated. The putrid water that dripped from their bodies also contained many pathogenic bacteria, which carried a small chance of their victims contracting a severe disease.[4][6] Most often this took the form of bluerot.[8]


Being a form of undead, sea zombies were immune to sleep, charm spells, illusions, and other types of mind-altering spells.[4] They also uniquely possessed a form of telepathic link that bound them all[1][4] allowing them to instantaneously communicate their thoughts and observations to other drowned ones within 1 mile (1,600 meters) of them.[1]

Whenever a priest reanimated as a sea zombie, they often would receive spells from evil deities.[4]

Drowned masters in particular possessed a number of unique abilities. An aura of intense cold radiated off their bodies in a 5 feet (1.5 meters) radius, their tentacles drained positive energy from other creatures and imparted negative energy, and they could expel ink in a 30 feet (9.1 meters) cone that was imbued with damaging negative energy. In addition, both their tentacles and ink could potentially infect their foes with the bluerot disease.[9]


As many sea zombies were reanimated from the corpses of sailors, they typically wielded weapons common to that profession. Such as belaying pins, clubs, daggers, hooks, and short swords.[4][6] Those who were rogues or assassins in life could often be seen using daggers and crossbows, stealthily skulking around,[8] while those who were martial artists in life were known to use their bare fists. Whatever weapon a drowned one wielded, it was always coated in bluerot.[1]

They were often known to launch attacks upon anchored ships, climbing aboard the vessels and forcing their occupants overboard where they could be dealt with more easily.[4][6]


Sea zombies were often found to congregate in loose packs.[4]


Sea zombies had no need to eat flesh, though they often did so just to strike terror in others.[4]


Sea zombies were almost always found in bodies of water, most often shallow bodies. They normally only strayed as far as 100 yards (91 meters) from water.[4] Drowned masters never traveled far from whatever powerful source of magic they were tethered to.[9]

In the Sea of Fallen Stars they could be found in the Shipwreck Plains,[7] the Haunted Plains, and the ruins of Voalidru.[10] In its extension, the Alamber Sea, many sea zombies could be found in the shipwrecks near the Alaor islands.[11]

On the Faerûnian mainland, there were many that inhabited the Rat Hills dump near Waterdeep.[12]

Beyond Toril, this type of undead was also known to occur on the planet of Oerth[5] and in the Domains of Dread,[13] particularly in the domain of Draga Salt-Biter.[14]


Drowned ones understood the languages they had known in life, but were incapable of speaking them.[1] Whenever they did speak, such as when a sea zombie priest recited the verbal component of a spell, it came out as unintelligible whispers.[4]


Some time in the early-14th century DR, a necromancer by the name of Delthrin Everet rose a legion of sea zombies and other aquatic types of undead to defend Marsember against a pirate raid.[15]

In the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, the Rat Hills Conflagration drives many sea zombies out of the Rat Hills and into Waterdeep.[16]

In the month of Marpenoth, 1369 DR, Iakhovas lured the entire population of the Whamite Isles into the ocean with kelpies, drowning and reanimating them into an army of sea zombies.[17] These and many other aquatic undead later fought in the Twelfth Serôs War of 1369 DR.[18]

Also in 1369, during the event known as Halaster's Higharvestide, one hundred and thirty-six sea zombies arose from the sea bordering Waterdeep and walked across the Sea's Edge Beach. The then-Blackstaff of Waterdeep fought them off with a Walking Statue and many uses of the wall of fire spell, eventually vanguishing them all within an hour.[19]

In the Midwinter of the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR, as formed on the eastern shore of the Sea of Fallen Stars, a force of sea zombies and ghosts of pirates came ashore and attacked the city of Telflamm. They were ultimately driven back, due to the concerted efforts of the city's branch of the Church of Tempus.[20]

In 1371 DR, some of the remaining sea zombies on the Whamite Isles were summoned by the mohrg Borran Klosk to sack the city of Alaghôn. They were fended off by Haarn Brightoak and members of the Emerald Enclave.[21]

Some time in the 1490s DR,[note 1] many drowned ones made up the army of Gar Shatterkeel and his Cult of the Crushing Wave.[22]

Rumors & Legends[]

Rumors circulated claiming that sea zombies were animated by the will of a variety of evil deities. On Oerth, the most prevalent rumor tied them to that planet's native death deity, Nerull.[4]

Sword Coast folklore spoke of sunken ships within the Mere of Dead Men that were swarming with sea zombies.[23]



  1. Although Locathah Rising is not precisely dated, it is set "a few years" after the events of Princes of the Apocalypse (p. 2).

See Also[]


Wyrmskull ThroneDungeon #79, "The Akriloth"Ghosts of SaltmarshLocathah Rising
The MercenariesThe Jewel of Turmish
Referenced only
An Opportunity for Profit
Video Games
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Card Games
AD&D Trading Cards
Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
Assault on Myth Nantar


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Mike Mearls, Kate Welch (May 2019). Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 233–235. ISBN 978-0-7869-6686-8.
  2. Bruce R. Cordell, Eytan Bernstein, Brian R. James (January 2009). Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 196. ISBN 0786950692.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Andrew Finch, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Chris Perkins (August 2004). Monster Manual III. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 46. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), pp. 373–374. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Grant Boucher, William W. Connors, Steve Gilbert, Bruce Nesmith, Christopher Mortika, Skip Williams (April 1990). Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix. Edited by Mike Breault. (TSR, Inc.), p. 59. ISBN 0-88038-836-6.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 James M. Ward (1988). Greyhawk Adventures. (TSR, Inc.), p. 33. ISBN 0-88038-649-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Steven E. Schend, Thomas M. Reid (1999). Wyrmskull Throne. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 0-7869-1405-X.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Mike Mearls, Kate Welch (May 2019). Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 234. ISBN 978-0-7869-6686-8.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Mike Mearls, Kate Welch (May 2019). Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 235. ISBN 978-0-7869-6686-8.
  10. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), pp. 139, 160. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  11. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  12. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 65. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  13. William W. Connors (1996). Monstrous Compendium - Ravenloft Appendices I & II. (TSR, Inc.), p. 71. ISBN 0786903929.
  14. Colin McComb, Scott Bennie (April 1992). Islands of Terror. Edited by Anne Gray McCready. (TSR, Inc.), p. 49. ISBN 1-56076-349-3.
  15. Ed Greenwood (July 1995). Volo's Guide to Cormyr. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 218. ISBN 0-7869-0151-9.
  16. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  17. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  18. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), p. 43. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  19. Steven E. Schend (January 1997). Undermountain: Stardock. Edited by Bill Olmesdahl. (TSR, Inc.), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-0451-8.
  20. Steven E. Schend, Sean K. Reynolds and Eric L. Boyd (June 2000). Cloak & Dagger. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 0-7869-1627-3.
  21. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 150–151. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  22. Chris Lindsay ed. (2019). Locathah Rising. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8.
  23. Ed Greenwood and Sean K. Reynolds (May 1999). “Wyrms of the North: Voaraghamanthar, "the Black Death"”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #258 (TSR, Inc.).