5E Mythological Figures: Captain Nemo

Not a mistake has been made in the working. But we cannot prevent equilibrium from producing its effects. We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones.” Bold words from a brave and brilliant man, an inventor of the highest caliber, explorer of the deep blue, and anti-imperialist hero: Captain Nemo!

Captain Nemo DnD 5e banner.jpg
When I was a wee little fellow I read a pocket edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea at least a dozen times, and while I can scarcely remember the other characters in that book Captain Nemo still stands out. If you haven’t read it yet here it is for free on Project Gutenberg. You won’t learn very much about him in that book (although he is definitely awesome throughout) aside from his hatred for imperialism, that his family is gone, and of course that he’s a truly brilliant inventor who crafted his own (very large) submarine.

In another book (The Mysterious Island) it’s revealed that Captain Nemo is indeed royalty (the Prince of Dakkar and son of the Hindu raja of Bundelkhand), given a Western education and touring Europe before he lost his family and kingdom in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Afterward he embraces science and constructs the Nautilus, traveling across the globe and recovering sunken treasure (some of which goes to help rebellions like the Cretan Revolt despite claims to have no interest in worldly affairs). Sometimes they save castaways and other folks left to the mercy of the open sea. Eventually he dies of old age while on board his ship which they sink into Dakkar Grotto (in the southern Pacific Ocean on Lincoln Island).

Design Notes: This is an OGL-ified build using the most recent (and finally officially published and no longer playtest material) artificer because frankly, how could we have the man who made the incredible Nautilus be anything else? After 10 minutes trying to justify other build routes to myself I gave up and decided to bite the bullet and go after this class’ most recent version (Sage Douban uses the old one), leaning into the Artillerist archetype because I think his submarine used a combustible engine. I am frankly impressed by the quiet power locked inside this class. If you run his statblock through the numbers, the DMG lands him at juuuuuuuuuuuust 0.05 past a 9 and the Blog of Holding weights it even heavier at 9.8333 so a solid 9. I would be inclined to drop this down to an 8 because he’s a bit of a one-round-pony, but with shield I’m not 100% sure he is that vulnerable. Even so I’m putting this at a soft 9 with the consideration that he’s almost certainly not fighting all by himself, dropped down to 8 if he’s got no allies to help soak up attacks.

Note: The languages Captain Nemo’s statblock has are not RAW (as usual with the Mythological Figures side of this column, everything else is rules-as-written). It also seems like he’s missing his proficiency with the organ but I am pretty sure musical instruments are treated as tool kits, so ‘Tool Mastery’ treats him as Expertise-proficient with it (and for that matter all other musical instruments).

Extra Note: GMs keen to include the Nautilus in a more tangible way than as stage dressing can use the statistics for a Scarlet Marpenoth from Dragon Heist with the following changes: Gargantuan (230 feet by 30 feet), crew capacity 25, passenger capacity 50, Travel Pace of 58 miles per hour (460 miles per day), Strength 22 (+6), Con 20 (+5), it loses the Activate Electrified Hull action and gains a Prow melee weapon (6 + pilot’s proficiency bonus to hit, 8d6+6 piercing damage), Armor Class 25, Hit Points 400 (damage threshold 20), it can only turn a maximum of 15 degrees in a round, and Speed (water) 200 feet.

Captain Nemo
Medium humanoid (human), lawful good inventor (gunsmith) 9
Armor Class 17 (imbued breastplate)
Hit Points 49 (9d8+9)
Speed 30 ft.
19 (+4)​
16 (+3)​
12 (+1)​
20 (+5)​
12 (+1)​
11 (+0)​
Saving Throws Con +5, Int +9
Skills Arcana +9, History +9, Investigation +9, Nature +9, Perception +1 (advantage)
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages English, French, German, Hindu, Latin
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)

Background: Scholar. Acumen or fate gently nudges Captain Nemo toward the answers to his questions. When he fails to recollect or discover more about a subject of lore, he knows where or whom can give him that information (usually from an athenaeum, library, institute of higher learning, another scholar, or mystical creature). The lengths to which he must go to acquire this information and the feasibility of doing so is entirely at the GM’s discretion.

Brilliant Suggestion (5/Long Rest). Captain Nemo can use his reaction when he or another creature he can see within 30 feet makes an ability check or saving throw, gaining +5 bonus.

Enchanted Firearm. At the end of a long rest, Captain Nemo can use woodcarver’s tools to turn a rod, staff, or wand into an enchanted firearm. He can only modify one magic item at a time using this feature. Captain Nemo deals an extra 1d8 damage with any inventor spell he casts using this item.

Imbued Items. At the end of a long rest Captain Nemo can touch up to 3 nonmagical objects, turning them into magical objects containing one of the following abilities. If it requires attunement, Captain Nemo is automatically attuned to it unless he decides otherwise. The object retains this ability indefinitely or for 5 days following his death. When Captain Nemo imbues a fourth item, the effect ends on the oldest use of this feature.
  • Armor Protectives: A creature gains resistance to a type of damage (acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder) while wearing this armor.
  • Auto-Ammunition: A creature gains a +1 bonus to ranged attack and ranged damage rolls made with this weapon. It never needs to be reloaded.
  • Improved Defense: A creature’s AC increases by 1 while wearing this item.
  • Improved Weaponry: A creature gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon.
  • Mechanical Enchantment: The item duplicates the effects of eyes of the eagle.
  • Mechanical Enchantment: The item duplicates the effects of gauntlets of ogre power.
Minor Artillery. Captain Nemo can use an action and either smith’s tools or woodcarver’s tools to craft a Tiny or Small cannon (AC 18, hit points 45; immune to poison, psychic, and all conditions) in an unoccupied space within 5 feet, choosing whether or not it has legs. He can only do so once between long rests, or by expending a spell slot of 1st level or higher, but can never have more than one minor artillery cannon at a time. Casting mending on a cannon restored 2d6 hit points. It lasts for 1 hour, until he uses an action to dismiss it, or until it is reduced to 0 hit points.
On his turn, if Captain Nemo is within 60 feet of it he can use a bonus action to fire his minor artillery cannon. If it has legs, as part of the same bonus action he can command it to walk or climb up to 15 feet. While within 60 feet of it, Captain Nemo can use an action to detonate the minor artillery cannon, destroying it. Creatures within 20 feet of it make a DC 17 Dexterity Saving throw or take 13 (3d8) force damage, or half as much on a successful save.
  • Abjurative: Energy flows outward in a 10-foot radius, granting 14 (2d8+5) temporary hit points to creatures in the area.
  • Fire: Flames spit out in a 15-foot cone adjacent to the cannon. Each creature in the area makes a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or take 13 (3d8) fire damage, or half as much on a successful save. The fire ignites any flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.
  • Force: Captain Nemo makes a ranged spell attack against a creature or object within 120 feet of the cannon, dealing 13 (3d8) force damage on a successful hit and pushing the target up to 5 feet away.
Minor Inventions. Captain Nemo uses an action to touch a nonmagical object, working on it with his tinker’s tools or other artisan’s tools. It gains one of the following properties until he spends an action touching it to end the effect:
  • It sheds bright light in a 5-foot radius and dim light for an additional 5 feet.
  • It stores a spoken message up to 6 seconds long. Whenever a creature manipulates the object, it emits the spoken message loud enough for creatures as far as 10 feet away to hear it.
  • It continuously discharges a scent or plays a nonverbal sound loud enough for creatures as far as 10 feet away to hear it.
  • It displays a visual effect on one surface (as many as 25 words, simple illustrations, or a mixture of both).
Captain Nemo can affect up to 5 number of objects at the same time, ending the effect on the oldest use of this feature when he exceeds his maximum.

Never Without A Toolbox. With 1 hour of uninterrupted work and using tinker’s tools, Captain Nemo can craft a set of artisan’s tools in an unoccupied space within 5 feet. He may do so during a short or long rest. Captain Nemo can only have a single set of artisan’s tools crafted using this feature at a time.

Spellcasting. Captain Nemo is a 9th level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as his spellcasting ability (spell save DC 17; +9 to hit with spell attacks). He requires a set of tools he’s proficient with to use this feature, one of his imbued items, a minor artillery cannon, or an enchanted firearm. Captain Nemo has the following spells prepared from the inventor’s spell list:
Cantrips: light, message
1st-level (4 slots): expeditious retreat, feather fall, grease, longstrider, shield, thunderwave
2nd-level (3 slots): enhance ability, heat metal, scorching ray, shatter
3rd-level (2 slots): fireball, haste, protection from energy, revivify, wind wall

Tool Mastery. When Captain Nemo makes an ability check that uses a tool kit, he gains double his proficiency bonus (total +8).

Imbued Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) magical slashing damage.

Auto-Ammunition Rifle. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 80/240 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) magical piercing damage.
Mike Myler


Mike Myler

Ohhhh my god the comic books are so much better than the movie. I mean, the movie was objectively fairly good but it's like comparing kool-aid and ambrosia.

Mike Myler

Since we're talking about them I'm just gonna throw this out here real quick:

Either of these work for Mina Harker:

Reflavor as stupid American character:

and as for Alan Quartermain...
oh looksie—he's in the public domain
makes note

as is the Invisible Man (who should be very easy to art!)
makes note

Bonus Appearances:


Nemo's alignment is very difficult to pin down. He has a thirst for vengeance, but also has compassion, cares greatly about his crew, and occasionally intervenes to help the oppressed. So I think Lawful Good is in the ballpark, when looking at his character in both books. I see him more as Neutral Good, since he follows his own moral compass and is not beholden to the laws of the world above. And he is occasionally in moral conflict with his own actions.
I love seeing works of literature translated into game mechanics.
The version of Captain Nemo I made was a Darklord of Ravenloft with the Nautilus as his "haunted house" and the Sea as his domain. He was also an underwater vampire who slept in a tank of salt water, played his organ to dominate his guests, etc.
Probably the best game I've ever run was based off a now somewhat obscure book from the early 20th century: Gustav Meyrink's "The Golem."

Mike Myler

Is there an alchemy or transmutation focused one? That's kind of nuclear-ish.
I don't think so? Also not sure if that's nuclear-ish. I'd probably slide that more into the "evoker" realm of things (particle physics—which is a lot of what nuclear physics is—is mostly about smashing atoms together).


Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I don't think so? Also not sure if that's nuclear-ish. I'd probably slide that more into the "evoker" realm of things (particle physics—which is a lot of what nuclear physics is—is mostly about smashing atoms together).
Dude... it's D&D, he just went Eberron, but instead of an Air or Fire elemental for his ship like the Lyandar, he plugged a Lightning Quasi-elemental into the core of the Nautilis to provide electricity to the ship's systems!.


Also not sure if that's nuclear-ish. I'd probably slide that more into the "evoker" realm of things (particle physics—which is a lot of what nuclear physics is—is mostly about smashing atoms together).
In any case, turning one element into another is definitely alchemy-ish, even if the comparison doesn't necessarily work the other way around

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