One of the first things you'll likely come across when exploring Sea of Thieves for the first time are Ashen Keys, though it's not immediately made clear what you can use these objects for. We'll show you where to find and use Ashen Keys and Chests to help you get gold and new items along with it.
Where to Use Ashen Keys
Ashen Keys are, appropriately enough, used to open Ashen Chests, which usually contain high-quality loot. However, both chests and keys are very rare, and bringing the two together is a challenge in its own right. You can also sell them to the Bilge Rats, though it's not as profitable as cracking open a chest yourself.
Where to Find Ashen Keys
Currently the only ways to get Ashen Keys are either by killing an Ashen Key Master, or there's a minor chance you'll hook one when fishing, providing you're not using bait when you do.
Where to Find Ashen Key Masters
Ashen Key Masters are a kind of skeleton captain, distinguished from the standard breed by the red glowing mist around them, not to mention the text above them that reads "ASHEN KEY MASTER," which is kind of a giveaway. To find one, there's several ways to go about it: you could try exploring a dangerous skeleton fort, where they can appear during boss waves, or they can roam island coastlines at random. We found the best approach to force one to spawn is to sail up to a small island, circle around it looking for the telltale glow, then sail away again if you see nothing. Venture back out to open sea until you've left the island's vicinity (i.e., the area that causes its name to pop up on the screen), then turn around and come back, causing the island to reload. There's a chance the Key Master will be back now, but you can loop this process until one shows up.
How to Beat Ashen Key Masters
Unfortunately Key Masters are pretty hardy enemies, able to withstand multiple direct hits from a Blunderbuss and restore a large amount of health by eating bananas. Attack them with your cutlass but keep that great big shotgun ready. The moment they start trying to eat, interrupt them with a blast to the face. Alternatively, don't even engage them directly, just firing on it with cannons and sniper rifles from the safety of your ship. It might take a bit longer, but if there's multiple of you, it shouldn't be too slow. Once it dies, it'll drop the key where it died, as well as a skull you can sell to the Order of Souls. Don't worry about losing the key, it'll give off an orange glint that marks it out. Bring it back to your ship and put it somewhere safe.
Where to Get Ashen Chests
Ashen Chests show up in quite a few places, but none of them are exactly easy. You can find them in any of the following ways:
- A possible drop from either a dead Kraken or Megalodon
- A possible spawn on Skeleton Ships.
- Certain skeletons, "Ashen Guardians", can drop maps that lead to Ashen Chests when killed.
- Skeleton Fleets always have one ship with a Captain on it. This ship is guaranteed to hold three Ashen Chests.
- A reward for completing an Ashen Skeleton Fort.
- A reward for certain Voyages provided by the Bilge Rats (found in every tavern).
- Piracy. I'm just saying, you won't be the only player collecting chests and keys.
Opening an Ashen Chest
Once you have an Ashen Chest and a Key, hold the latter and approach the chest until you get the prompt allowing you to open it. It'll hold three pieces of treasure, one of which is always an Ashen Tome, a valuable artefact that can be sold to the Bilge Rats for 10 doubloons. The others vary, but are usually of middling-to-high value, worth either further doubloons or just lots of gold.
If that was helpful to you, you can always check out this link for our full beginner's guide. Or you can head here to find out everything you need to know about the big Hungering Deep update.