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Shipboard Roles

Player characters who spend a significant amount of time traveling on the seas should have an important role while they are on the ship. The following are typical roles on a pirate ship and provide additional abilities to offer players for use during naval combat encounters.

Captain

Prerequisite(s): Proficiency with vehicles (water)

The captain is the overall leader of the ship and his orders are to be obeyed absolutely. To disobey is mutiny and punishment is swift and often death. A pirate captain is usually elected, while a privateer is given command by attaining a captain’s rank. Captains are often charismatic natural leaders or powerful and intimidating figures, they act as the face of the ship.

As a captain you gain the following naval combat abilities:

Captain’s Orders. As a bonus action on your turn you can choose one creature (other than yourself) within 60 feet of you who can hear you. The creature gains advantage on their next attack roll, skill check or saving throw. You can not use this ability again until you complete a short rest.

Weak Spot. As an action you can look for a weakness in the defenses of the enemy’s vessel. Make an Intelligence check with a DC of 15 (adjusted for conditions) to spot a weakness and give advantage on the next attack roll by your allies that targets that weakness until the start of your next turn.

Quartermaster (Firstmate)

Prerequisite(s): Proficiency with vehicles (water)

The quartermaster (or first mate for privateers) is the second in command and is responsible for enforcing rules and acting as a counterbalance to the captain in decisions by representing the crew. The quartermaster is also responsible for splitting up any booty taken from a prize.

As a quartermaster you gain the following naval combat abilities:

Rally. As an action on your turn you can choose a crew member (other than yourself) within 60 feet of you who can hear you. The creature gains advantage on their next attack roll, skill check or saving throw.

Terrify. As a bonus action, you can choose an enemy creature within 60 feet of you who can see and hear you. The creature gains disadvantage on their next attack roll, skill check, or saving throw. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Pilot

Prerequisite(s): Navigator background

As the number three on the ship, the pilot reports directly to the captain. The pilot serves as the ship’s navigator and is usually the best sailor on the ship. A pilot is also responsible for keeping a daily log and maintaining charts, maps and navigation tools.

As a pilot you gain the following naval combat abilities:

Evasive Maneuvers. As an action on your turn you can take evasive maneuvers. Make a Dexterity (pilot) check with a DC of 15, success will grant your enemies disadvantage on all attack rolls against your ship until the start of your next turn. You can not use this ability again until you complete a short or long rest.

Full Sail. As an action, you can order all the sails to be set. Make a DC 15 Charisma (Vehicles – Water) check. On a success, your ship’s velocity doubles until the start of your next turn. At the start of your next turn, if your ship’s velocity is greater than the maximum speed of your ship, the velocity slows down to equal to the ship’s maximum speed. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Boatswain

The boatswain, or bosun, is responsible for the ship itself and keeping it in shape for travel and battle. He looked after the wood, canvas and ropes that were of vital importance on board. The boatswain oversaw activities such as dropping and weighing the anchor, setting the sails and leading shore parties when supplies or repairs were needed.

As a boatswain you gain the following naval combat abilities:

Order Repairs. As an action on your turn you supervise repairs to the deck, hull, sails or rigging of the ship. The ship recovers hit points equal to 1d4 + your level.

Emergency Repairs. When your ship’s current hit points are equal to or less than half its maximum, you can make emergency repairs. As an action, you lead the repair of the deck, hull, sails, or rigging. The ship recovers hit points equal to a 1d6 + your Dexterity modifier. The die rolled for repairs changes when you reach certain levels: to 2d6 at 5th level, 3d6 at 10th level, and 4d6 at 15th level. Once you use this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can use it again.

Master Gunner

Prerequisite(s): Proficiency with martial weapons

The master gunner is the person in charge of the ship’s guns and his mates who assist him in his duties.

As a master gunner you gain the following naval combat abilities:

Careful Aim. You personally aim any cannon to help set the range for all others cannons. All cannon attacks made by your ship until the start of your next turn are made with advantage. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Order Broadside. As an action on your turn you can fire all of the guns on one side of the ship at the same time (foregoing their normal turns). This allows you to make one attack roll for all cannons with advantage. On a miss, the attack does half damage. fire all of the guns on one side of the ship at the same time (foregoing their normal turns). This allows you to make one attack roll for all cannons with advantage. On a miss, the attack does half damage.

Ship’s Surgeon

Prerequisite(s): Proficiency with Medicine

A ship’s surgeon reports to the quartermaster and serves not just as a healer, but as the barber for the entire crew. A surgeon should as comfortable with shaving a beard as cutting off a damaged leg. Ship’s rarely have a true doctor onboard and this role is often filled by the cook, carpenter or whoever says yes to the job.

As a ship’s surgeon you gain the following naval combat abilities:

Smelling Salts. As an action, you touch a creature that is unconscious in an attempt to rouse them using an alchemical solution. Make a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check. On a success, the creature becomes conscious and gains 1 hit point. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Medical Miracle. As a bonus action, you touch a creature in an attempt to heal any damage. The creature regains hit points equal to 1d4 + your Wisdom modifier. The die rolled changes when you reach certain levels: to 1d6 at 5th level, 1d8 at 10th level, and 1d10 at 15th level. This ability has no effect on undead or constructs. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pirate Adventurers for Fifth Edition 1.0 published by Tribality.com (Innovaworks Inc.); Copyright 2016 Shawn Ellsworth