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  #1  
Old 12-03-2019, 09:59 AM
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Sailors of 5th Edition

Hey all!

I'm incredibly interested in seafaring and other such adventuring games, where being out in the vast ocean blue things such as rations, how many hands are on deck, and more, all become important key features! I'm especially a fan of a group of PCs that are hired into different positions (low-ish) on the ship, and slowly work their way up into higher positions until they control their own ship, or even a fleet. It's an incredibly fun concept, full of dangers, and completely different from your standard "dungeon crawl" whilst still having a crawl like experience!

This could be in the style of One Piece, going from Island to Island. Or it could be more like the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or the Dutch East India Company) where you are hired to traverse a route, each with its own challenges and dangers. Or, it could be like a Westmarches style campaign, but instead you go off exploring a newly discovered set of islands and coastlines.

All of this is interesting, but I've stumbled against a single issue. The Seafaring systems out there just don't tickle my fancy, and 5th Edition does. But 5th Edition isn't made for seafaring. Dwarves will very rarely get to use their Stonecunning. Rangers' Favoured Terrain... well... And the issues continue piling up.


So how do you all (and the forum in general) feel about homebrewing it a bit. Not to make whole new classes... That'd make no sense. But simple tweaks and simple refluffs. Stonecunning ADDS (doesn't negate the initial stonecunning skill) Master Shipsbuilder, getting advantage on Intelligence(History) skills related to ships and shipbuilding.

Favoured terrain would become Favoured Weather. Where if it is the right kind of weather (day or night), you get advantage on Wisdom(Survival) checks to navigate the ship.

The list goes on. Anyone else have any ideas?
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Old 12-03-2019, 04:34 PM
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The book "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" includes an assortment of mechanics, magic items, monsters, etc for a sea fairing adventure. I'm not certain what all it includes though.

Beyond that, Homebrewing is definitely worth putting on the table. I wouldn't necessarily adjust any racial or class details (other than perhaps some small re-flavoring where appropriate), and instead give characters who qualify access to appropriate backgrounds, like Sailor, Shipwright, Smuggler, Pirate, and Fisher, which should cover basic Sea Fairing skills and proficiencies. It makes sense for someone who operates exclusively at sea to gain a certain set of skills, even if they started with an entirely unrelated background.
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Last edited by Gaijin; 12-03-2019 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:31 AM
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I seem to remember an Unearthed Arcana article about this as well. Seafaring something? I'll try to dig it up.

EDIT: Here we are, Of Ships of the Sea.
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:50 PM
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Of Ships of the Sea was used as a prep for Ghosts of Saltmarsh I believe. I've looked over both and although they do cover things like ships and the balance of all that, it doesn't go into a lot of detail when it comes to PC options.

I'll probs stick to refluffing some stuff. I'm also in love with giving players a secondary background, like the ones mentioned bij Gaijin.
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:27 PM
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Ah, okay. I also remember a UA that was something to the effect of Waterborne Adventurers, but I think they put all of that stuff into the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:50 PM
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As for class considerations,
The ranger's Natural Explorer ability doesn't really confer a whole lot of benefits on the ocean since it's all about traveling and forging, which uses an entirely different mechanic on a ship. Proficiency in Vehicles (water) basically renders Natural Explorer obsolete while at sea.

Druids would have a notable advantage, since nearly every encounter would be happening outdoors.

Flight and ship-to-ship battles would render grounded meleeists obsolete.

Sneak attacks would be highly impractical, since cover would be hard to come by.

AOEs will be extremely potent, since even the largest ships have a width equal to or less than the diameter of a fireball spell.


As long as the bulk of the adventure is happening on land and in conventional environments, there shouldn't be any issues. The biggest risk is of over-optimizing for ship-to-ship encounters.
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Last edited by Gaijin; 12-04-2019 at 05:58 PM.
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