Unearthed Arcana: Of Ships and The Sea

This month's Unearthed Arcana, from WotC, is all about sailors! "Ships, officers, crew, and hazards on the high seas—those are the focus of this month’s Unearthed Arcana." It's a 9-page PDF with ship stat blocks form airships to galleys, information of crews, and rules for sea travel and hazards. There's also information on owning and managing your ship!


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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Parmandur

Legend
I'm actually wondering if this is a stealth playtest for spelljammer.
Spelljammer rules are already in Dungeon of the Mad Mage. There have been indications that there will be a high seas AP along the Sword Coast in the near future, though Spelljammer could get in there easily enough.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Spelljammer rules are already in Dungeon of the Mad Mage. There have been indications that there will be a high seas AP along the Sword Coast in the near future, though Spelljammer could get in there easily enough.
Oh okay, cool. I hadn't heard of the high seas AP and had thought that the spell jamming in mad mage was only a minor reference.
 

Demetrios1453

Adventurer
Spelljammer rules are already in Dungeon of the Mad Mage. There have been indications that there will be a high seas AP along the Sword Coast in the near future, though Spelljammer could get in there easily enough.
A high seas adventure along the Sword Coast would reasonably involve the pirates of the Nelanther Isles, which aren't terribly far from Lantan. So it could definitely be a way to combine both.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Oh okay, cool. I hadn't heard of the high seas AP and had thought that the spell jamming in mad mage was only a minor reference.
The Mad Mage has rules for Spelljamming, through a Spelljamming Helm item. Doesn't preclude Spelljamming making it into another AP, but the Mad Mage provides the rules to do it.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Seems sad that ships have a charisma score of 0. Many a sailor has been wooed by the fine lines of a comely vessel!
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Also ship speeds are way under valued, and if sails are concerned then the conditions are a major factor.

So for the following conditions: Calm, Light, Moderate, Strong and Gale forces I’d suggest:

Galley: 0, 4, 8, 12, 3 (in the direction of the gale)
Keelboat: 0, 5, 10, 15, 2 (in the direction of the gale)
Longboat: 0, 3, 6, 9, 4 (in the direction of the gale)
Sailing ship: 0, 6, 12, 18, 1 (in the direction of the gale)
Warship: 0, 3, 9, 18, 5 (in the direction of the gale)

That makes the sailing conditions more interesting at least.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
There is a distinct lack of things that I would have thought to put in to this subset of rules.
Like Captains with Lair Actions while on their ship. Rules and bonuses for PCs at the Helm, Lookout, or Stove Pot. More magical items for your ship, like figureheads! Also maybe some cannons.
Also Quatermasters typically man the helm, they should have proficiency with water vehicles :p
 

gyor

Legend
I'd change Ships surgeon to ships healer, it just makes more sense in settings with magic. Why would I perform surgery when one can cast cure wounds. I'd also add in the post of ships mage.

Also if ones ship is large or huge one can cast animate object and I think the rules should consider what happens when it does that.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm actually wondering if this is a stealth playtest for spelljammer.
Great minds think alike! Unfortunately, I don't have a great mind. I was wondering if it's a stealth playtest for Eberron airships.
 

gyor

Legend
Great minds think alike! Unfortunately, I don't have a great mind. I was wondering if it's a stealth playtest for Eberron airships.
FR also has Air Ships in some places like Halruaa. Actually some FR nations have Spelljamming Fleets like Evermeet, Wa, Shou Lung at the very least.
 

MarkB

Hero
This is handy. My players are about to acquire a small airship. This will be helpful for both statting and running it.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I thought the Navigator was the person who navigated the ship, and the Quartermaster was in charge of stores, provisions, and cargo? Can some more nautically-minded person confirm or deny?

Overall I like the direction they are headed here, but it's rough in some parts.
:1: "Crew quality" is under-baked; they should probably just use the Loyalty system in the DMG directly (which I've found to be a fairly good system), with a separate modifier for quality.
:2: I love the "components" idea, but the formatting takes up a ton of space, so they could probably categorize and compact this a bit.
:3: Giving ships Str, Dex and Con is a great idea -- but they should not have Int, Wis or Cha of 0. This is the first place in 5E where an ability score is listed as 0; for example, sentient magic items don't have Str, Dex, and Con of 0, they simply lack those scores. But I think the concept of giving character-like abilities to vehicles works very well.
:4: The "hazards" pseudo-skill-challenge thing where you add up check results really doesn't work for me. That section could just be replaced with some random tables (e.g. "Open Sea Hazards," "Coastline Hazards," "Mutinous Crew Hazards") which would be more useful and inspirational.
:5: I love that they defined crew roles in terms of why a PC would want to do that role. But they're a bit restrictive in that you need exactly those six roles and each does one specific skill check. If a keelboat has a crew of 3, does that mean 3 roles are always unfilled? I'd rather see a list of like 10 roles, with better guidance for doubling-up on duties (e.g. sometimes the captain serves as helmswoman, sometimes she doesn't). Flexibility here is better for me than specificity.
:6: I could only think of 5 criticisms but I really wanted to use all six dice emojis.
 
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I'd change Ships surgeon to ships healer, it just makes more sense in settings with magic. Why would I perform surgery when one can cast cure wounds. I'd also add in the post of ships mage.

Also if ones ship is large or huge one can cast animate object and I think the rules should consider what happens when it does that.
Ships surgeon is an old navel reference. It needs to stay. The rest, however is a good point .
 

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