Thirteen years ago, on the world of Caribdus, a trio of witches convicted of practicing dark magic were sentenced to death by drowning. With their last breath, the sisters worked a dark curse upon the world. For months it rained nonstop across all of Caribdus, until the seas had risen 50 fathoms, leaving scattered islands where whole continents had once lain. The witches themselves arose as undead monsters with hordes of evil beasts and undead at their command.
Not long after the disaster, ships from Earth's age of piracy began to appear on Caribdus. Drawn from their own world by a mysterious force, the humans are now trapped among the strange races of Caribdus. For the most part, these visitors are now just another of the many races of the world. But there are those who believe that these humans were brought to Caribdus for a reason — that they are destined to defeat the Sea Hags and save the world.
50 Fathoms is one of the earliest campaign settings for Savage Worlds. The setting blends swashbuckling adventure (with all the usual tropes associated with high seas and pirate stories) with even more fantastic elements than usual (an alien world, elemental magic, etc.) Like most Savage Worlds settings, it makes use of the plot point system, allowing players to explore the world of Caribdus more or less freely, while guiding them towards their ultimate confrontation with the Sea Hags.
Contains examples of:
- Alliterative Name: ALL Masaquani names have this.
- Anachronism Stew: Justified, as the human characters can come from any time in nearly two centuries of earth history.
- Apocalypse How: Raising the sea level by fifty fathoms (300 ft), destroying the two largest states in existence and wiping out a large proportion of the world's population fits pretty squarely into Planetary/Class 1. If the heroes don't manage to save the day, things might slip to Class 2 or even Class 3.
- Artistic License – Ships: Forgivable, in that this is a fantasy role-playing game and not a historical treatment by any stretch.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Ugaks can summon their 'gods' to defend their island if need be. These 'gods' include a giant ape, a giant shark, and a Giant Spider.
- Black and Gray Morality: Not only can players choose to be honest sailors or pirates and still be heroes, but some of the plot points require the crew to make decisions where there is no clear cut "right answer".
- Body Horror: The Octopons are Masaquani who threw their lots in with the Sea Hags and were given monstrous forms.
- Cthulhumanoid: The Kraken, a playable race that resemble the Great Old One. Also, the villainous Octopons, which more closely resemble cephalopods than humanoids.
- Dying Race: The Doreen, Kraken and Scurrilans. The Kraken were pretty much wiped out by the Sea Hags. The Doreen got the short end of the stick in the aftermath. As for the Scurrilans, no more than 200 were created, and they don't get along...
- Fish People: Also crab people, squid people, seal people, dolphin people and (villainous) octopus people.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: The Masaquani, who can have skin of any color, although they're not from space.
- Kevlard: The Grael (walrus folk) have it as a racial trait.
- Lovecraft Country: The quiet little fishing village of Dunich...
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Blackbeard, Torquemada, Redbeard Rufus, and Francis L'Ollonaise.
- Pirates: Quite a few: good, bad, and indifferent. Pirate-themed works were a big inspiration, as you can see under Shout-Out.
- Prehistoria: The savage island of Torath-Ka.
- The Remnant: Kraken civilization has been pounded to rubble, but Grand Admiral Caspian has never stopped trying to find a way to fight the Sea Hags.
- Sea Monster: It's a nautical fantasy setting, so sea monsters are to be expected.
- Shout-Out: In the foreword, the author mentions the Pirates of the Caribbean films and The Pirates Of Darkwater as his primary inspirations. One of the adventures is a Shout-Out to "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" via the film Dagon, and another references the Oak Island Money Pit.
- Shrouded in Myth: No one knows the full story of how the Sea Hags arose; which is a major obstacle for players trying to figure out how to kill them.
- To Be Lawful or Good: In particular, the plot point "Debauchery" forces the characters to obey the law and let a rapist go free or do the right thing by killing him and accept the consequences (a hefty price on their heads).
- Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Definitely the aesthetic the designers were aiming for.
- Wretched Hive: Lots of places, but notably Shark Bay, Swindon, Deiking, Kiera, and Brigandy Bay until/unless it is sacked by the East India Company.