Ocean Punk

aka: Pirate Punk
Also could be called Pirate Punk, though the setting often will not even have so much as a single pirate in it. Life in a mostly watery world (or a mostly watery part of the world where the rest isn't of much matter) with distant islands connected by trade routes, ships sailing back and forth, and of course, many Pirates and buccaneers, whether they're wielding cutlasses on sailing ships or the aquatic equivalent of Humongous Mecha. May contain Organic Technology, and have a large focus on what happens under the waves as well as over. Fantastic elements in keeping with old sailors' superstitions (mermaids, abandoned derelicts that often aren't so abandoned after all, giant sea monsters) can fit, too.

This may also be a type of After the End setting, if the writers are trying to teach An Aesop about global-warming. Or they just thought it would be cool to show a world where our mostly land-based culture and technology ends up being adapted for an existence on the ocean.

For a similar setting that trades the water for the skies, see Sky Pirate. And since Space Is an Ocean, you might have Space Pirates. Compare and Contrast its exact opposite Desert Punk. Not to be confused with seapunk.


Anime and Manga

Comic Books


  • Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea setting.
  • Settings like these may be in part inspired by the story of Noah and other 'great flood' stories from folklore and mythology.
  • The Robin Hobb Liveship Traders series
    • Except that the C plot (Malta) takes place almost entirely on land. Plot lines A (Althea) and B (Wintrow) certainly qualify, though.
  • The Scar by China Miéville
  • Tranquilium starts out overwhelmingly maritime, with the human population being concentrated on islands of various sizes. At the end, it becomes an extreme example of this trope as most of the world's known landmasses are submerged and the population moved to huge arcs that travel in search for new lands.
  • The parts of John Birmingham's Without Warning that deal with the crew of the Aussie Rules.
  • Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series is set in the Pacific Ocean of an alternate Earth where that pesky asteroid never wiped out the dinosaurs so it qualifies. Since the main characters are the crew of a WWII era destroyer that ran afoul of a time-space rift it also has elements of Diesel Punk.
    • Throughout the series, we see many different types of ships, from junk-like fishing boats armed with ballistae to carrier-sized wooden Homes (several of which later undergo refits to become carriers), from East Indiaman-derived frigates and steam/sail hybrids to World War One and World War II-era ships (including a submarine). This series has as much Schizo Tech as it can fit, short of putting Frickin' Laser Beams or missiles on wooden ships.
    • Book 7 adds Grik-built ironclads, including Azuma-class cruisers (based on the design of the French-build Japanese ironclad Kotetsu) and Amagi-class battleships (large four-stacked versions of the CSS Virginia).
  • The second Pendragon novel, The Lost City of Faar, takes place on the territory of Cloral, which is covered entirely by water until the mountain of Faar is raised at the end. Cloral has generally advanced technology, including water guns that can blast through walls, plastic made from processed water, and water-based propulsion systems, with specialized floating cities called "habitats" housing residents.
  • Vampirates.
  • The Wave Walkers trilogy by Kai Meyer.
  • Katya's World by Jonathon L Howard, set on a Water world colonized by Russians where everyone either lives in communities carved out of undersea mountain ranges or on platforms floating on the surface and set after a war with the mother world.
  • Dark Life: After the ocean has raised and washed away the Earth's oceanfront property, Determined Homesteaders in underwater farms have to battle pirates, a corrupt government, and in the case of some of the characters Fantastic Racism from being born with super-powers.

Live-Action TV
  • The Crystal Maze replaced the Industrial Zone with the Ocean Zone in later seasons - a Titanic-style sunken ocean liner trapped within an air bubble on the ocean's floor.
  • Storm World is a juvenile SF series set on a world where the inhabitants (all sucked there through wormholes) are constantly at odds because of the scarcity of land, and above all fresh water.
  • seaQuest DSV
  • Sliders had one of these.

Tabletop RPG
  • FASA Traveller module Rescue on Galatea. The main action takes place on the Ocean Planet Galatea.
  • Dungeons & Dragons module Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. One of the alternate worlds accessible from Lolth's Web was the Ocean Planet "The Great Ocean". The human inhabitants "sail the ocean in great catamarans to carry the trade of their vast mercantile empire from island city to island city."
    • The Crowded Sea in the Al Qadim campaign setting (a subsetting of Forgotten Realms), explored in the Corsairs boxed set, serves this purpose.
    • The 3.5 sourcebooks Stormwrack is a supplement to help dm's create their own Ocean Punk setting more easily. It also expands upon the rules related to ocean travel.
    • One of the Ravenloft domains, Saragoss, is an Ocean Punk Crapsack World setting in which stranded vessels' crews fight over dwindling resources on a drifting mat of seaweed.
  • Rifts World Book 7: Rifts Underseas - Pirates, Powered Armor-wearing Dolphins, Shapeshifting Orcas, giant squid Eldritch Abominations with tentacles miles long, fish-headed mutants, magic singing, playable Humpback Whales, floating cities, Extradimensional aquatic conquerors, and the U.S. Navy, among others. Actually pretty par for the course for Rifts.
  • Owing to the fact that the Elemental Pole of Water is located there, this tends to be the theme of any Exalted campaign set in the West. Common hazards include: Cannibalistic demon pirates, water and air elementals, ornery storm deities, aquatic variants of The Fair Folk, Magitek Lost Technology battleships (some of which may be sentient), gigantic sharks, crazed Wyld mutants, various tribes of aquatic Beastmen and the Lunars who rule them, malevolent empires of the dead...In fact, according to the Sidereals splatbook, the Convention of Water is the single most overworked group of Sidereals in existence. Considering that the job of the Sidereals is to keep Creation from going to pieces, this should tell you a lot about the West.
  • Fifty Fathoms is all about the swashbuckling piratey oceanpunk goodness.
  • In the RPG ''Blue Planet'' (by Biohazard Games, now printed by Capricious Games), a colony on an ocean planet has regained contact with Earth after the wormhole leading to it re-opened, leading to the clash between the Mega-Corporations and the government of an Earth that is dying out, the Earth colonists that have had to adapt to the planet when the wormhole first collapsed, and the native lifeforms of the planet, with the resources of the planet (including a substance that allows for an increased ease in biological modification) on the line.


Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

Alternative Title(s):

Pirate Punk