• Justin Handlin

Captains & Cannons

Captains & Cannons is a guide to ship combat in Dungeons and Dragons. One of the greatest things about 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons is its speed and accessibility. Rules are simplified, combat is sped up, and minutiae is abstracted in order to create a fast, flexible and easy-to-play game. This module attempts to simulate ship combat as close as

possible, while still maintaining the same speed and accessibility that made 5e such a success. Inside Captains and Cannons, the rules are intended to be as easy to learn as possible and are easily graspable by any player that can understand basic combat.

Note that these rules are not intended to replace the traditional flow of combat that players would be accustomed to in order to focus their attention on two ships doing battle. Instead, the rules are intended to be layered on top of traditional combat to allow players on the microscale to affect outcomes on the macro scale. As such, when reading this module, DMs are encouraged to imagine ways that the somewhat basic and straightforward combat between two ships can result in difficulties and challenges on the ships themselves that the players need to address. A fire breaking out on the deck, men being tossed overboard or a band of Sahuagin climbing the sides of the ship; all of these are potential ways to turn the players from ordinary crewmen, into heroes of the seas.

It's worth noting, that D&D has released a ruleset for naval combat in an Unearthed Arcana and expanded on the rules in the Saltmarsh books. But honestly, I wasn't super impressed with them. This Dmsuild product was much more lean and streamlined, that in my opinion fits the 5th Edition feel just perfect.

Beyond just new ships and details to go along with them. This product also includes detailed weather conditions and their impact on the ships at sea; from fog to water currents. This certainly something that can easily be overlooked, but the Drifters Game Workshop crew thought ahead and included it in the document.

My favorite part, and honestly, the part of this product that I've used the most is the Encounters section. In it, not only do you get encounters on the seas. But details on the boats, and more importantly, its crew. Captains and Cannons offer tactics of the ship in combat, detailed crew members and their motives, and cool captains such as Captain Chainedheart of the Drowned Maiden. Each well detailed to easily drop right into your naval stories and campaigns. If you're looking for a powerful resource for high seas adventures, I highly recommend Captains and Cannons. Get it Here!

Unearthed Tips and Tricks! We bring you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure

Character Concept:

Captain Jonathan Drake (Captains & Cannons)

Captain Jonathan Drake, the captain of the Torchrunner, was once the most lauded officer in the entire royal navy, having led multiple expeditions into uncharted waters and territories. Boisterous, yet charming, he dazzled both high society and the common folk with the tales of his daring and the exotic goods he brought back from his travels. On one trip however, his luck seemed to run out. Caught in a ferocious storm, Drake was shipwrecked on the coast of an uncharted island. The crew of the Torchrunner would have died right there on that beach, had it not been for the Red Dragonborn High Priestess: Shara Raelor. Whether through stroke of fortune, or twist of fate, the island was not deserted but in fact populated by a cult of Tiamat.

Monster Variant:


Origin Ghast:

New Feature:

Innate Spellcasting: Intelligence score

2/Day Counterspell

Devour Magic: A spell eater can project a cone of nullifying energy. Targets inside the 30 foot cone must succeed a DC 10 Dexterity save or take 10(2d6 + 3) force damage and suffer the effect of a dispel magic spell. On a success, the creature takes half damage and doesn't suffer the effects of the dispel magic.


Patron Charles K

Tomb of Tal’Grashna

5 Doors have to be opened each one you have 3 ways to open them. First way is to solve either a puzzle or riddles inscribed into the door.

2nd is forgoing the puzzle and subjecting yourself to a poison, curse or disease from a recess a character places their hand near the door. These should be very powerful magic and any spell that is used to counteract the effects must succeed on a DC 15 save.(roll it as a spell attack)

3rd option is facing against creatures that have been held in stasis to attack the party.

When approaching the door a magic mouth appears on the door and ask s the party “Prove your worth to pass through me. Choose between Mind, Body, or Constitution.” After asking, the door has 3 glyphs that light up revealing the choice between the puzzle, fighting, or the affliction.

Magic Item:

Creature Launcher

This unique cannon was created by a rather eccentric Gnomish laboratory and used only by those with a death wish. Instead of cannonballs or bolts, this unique cannon uses creatures as ammunition. With specialized internal mechanics, along with a few magically inscribed runes, the creature launcher is able to propel its living payload a great distance, mostly unharmed. In order to use it, a medium or smaller creature must spend at least half of their move speed to insert themselves into the creature launcher. Once loaded, another creature may use the Operate Crew Action on the creature launcher to fire the loaded creature at a point within range.

Armour Class: 17

Hit Points: 55

Damage Immunities: poison, psychic

Weapon Slots: 2 Living Ammunition. Ranged Weapon Attack: range. 300/600 ft., the loaded creature is fired at a point within range. Upon a successful hit, the creature lands at the intended target.

Dungeon Master Tip:

Crew Battles

Many naval fights may also end in a boarding phase, in which the crews of the two ships engage in personal combat to wipe each other out. However, you may notice that some ships can have fairly large numbers of crew members. When combined with your own potential crews, this can cause fights to be on a scale that is impractical for most DM’s to run.

In this method, decide which type of crew members you wish to amalgamate. After that, add up all of their Challenge Ratings into a single number; this number will be your “Crew Strength.” Do the same for the other crew, and then compare Crew Strengths to see which is higher. Subtract the lower number from the higher. Finally, take the remainder and divide it by the Challenge Rating of that crew’s crew members that you amalgamated (rounding up). The resulting number is how many of that creature type you represent in the battle your players participate in. All of the crew members from either side that are ignored are assumed to be fighting each other and canceling each other out.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Patron: Troy

Create No Win Scenarios

Coordinating your abilities with your allies is a huge deal in combat. With a little bit of creativity you can put your enemies into situations, that no matter the decision they make, they are punished. For example, casting a spell such as cloud of daggers and then having another player use booming blade, creates a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Either the enemy stands in the same spot and takes the cloud of daggers damage, or they move away and take the booming blade and a potential opportunity attack.

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