Creating Variant Backgrounds for D&D 5e – Sailor

This week on the Campaign Trail I thought I’d look at variant backgrounds and share a couple of homebrew variant backgrounds I created back in 2014 (for my Vodari campaign) that I didn’t include in Pirate Adventurers. The Castaway background was used by one of my players who found himself stranded on an island of giants. The Explorer can provide an interesting option for a player who has a history of sailing across unknown seas and trekking through jungle filled islands.

Creating a variant background or tweaking existing backgrounds can save you the time you would need to create an entire new background. Most of the new backgrounds found in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide save design time (and page count) by borrowing Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws from the original backgrounds in the PHB. For example, the City Watch background refers to the Soldier background for suggested characteristics.

Charlatan Variant: Fortune Teller | Sailor Variants: Castaway & Explorer

Tribality Publishing – Pirate Adventurers

Ahoy Lubber!

We are very excited to announce that have a new publication on this afternoon. This is the second product that we’ve released: Pirate Adventurers for 5th edition written by Shawn Ellsworth! Pirate Adventurers has player character options for 5th edition to create pirate themed characters. These options put together by Shawn can be used to play an entire campaign in a pirate setting, or just to provide a player with more pirate flavored options than provided by core 5th edition materials.


You can get a copy through our Publisher’s page or with this direct link: Pirate Adventurers. If you’ve been a Patreon with us for a while, we will be sending coupons out to you very soon. Thanks to everyone that has helped us to this point, and we are working on our next product by Rich Howard upcoming in a few weeks.



Weapons for a D&D 5e Pirate Campaign Setting

Ahoy! This week on the Campaign Trail we set sail on a journey to hunt down Weapons for a D&D 5e Pirate Campaign Setting. As my seafaring campaign nears its end, I’ve been taking a look back at all the materials I created and collected over the course of the campaign. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my materials with you lubbers that I found useful. While this list is geared towards outfitting swashbuckling pirates and privateers, you could use it to add guns (inspired by those used during the late 18th century) to any campaign, you scallywag.

Faerie Tales: Naiads, Pixies, and Sprites for 5e

A dear friend of mine asked me to run a 5e adventure for his kids over the holiday. It will be their first official D&D game, though since their dad is a video game designer they are more than familiar with the concept. His son wants to play a Merlin-like half-demon magician with a pet wolf. Tiefling wizard it is; with a wolf familiar because fun trumps rules. His daughter’s requests were a little more challenging: a faerie or a unicorn. I countered with a centaur-like unicorn race with plans to “borrow” Dan Dillon’s centaur rules from the brilliant Midgard Heroes, but her counter-proposal was a faerie with a pet unicorn. We landed on a pixie with a unicorn NPC friend.

Their dad decided that a PC with a leadership role would be ideal, so he could reasonably step in if they needed guidance. As a fan of the oft-overlooked Epic film and Christina Stiles’ (et al) Faery’s Tale, I suggested a sprite fighter (battlemaster) to counterpoint his daughter’s pixie sorcerer. It was an excellent excuse to expand a faerie racial build into sub-races and because I am who I am, naiads (aka nixies) made it into the mix.

Aquatic Allies: Karkinoi (aka What Makes a Race?)

There are a number of excellent blogs and podcasts about creating campaign worlds, from our own Shawn Ellsworth’s World Building series, to James Introcaso’s World Builder blog, and the Dungeon Master’s Block Creation and Inspiration episodes. Not long after joining Tribality I had a number of readers ask whether I’d be publishing my own aquatic campaign setting. My standard answer was to aim them at the brilliant Cerulean Seas from Alluria Publishing. Why reinvent the wheel, I thought? Then someone pointed out that there are scores, if not hundreds of pseudo-European fantasy settings, so why can’t their be more than one aquatic one? They could not have been more right. I’ve since had the pleasure of playtesting aquatic races, adventures, and campaign concepts as I hammer out my ideas, including many published here on Tribality.

The Pacific Mythos – Pacific Deities

This week we have a guest post from Margot Fernandez, who I asked to share her work on bringing Pacific deities into early editions of Dungeons & Dragons. This article outlines the deities and you’ll find a link to a PDF version with full classic D&D stats at the bottom.

Dungeons & Dragons players often send their characters out to sea.  Because I lived for many years in Oceania, specifically Guam in Micronesia, I learned about their gods, myths and legends during that time.  In converting deities to the D&D format, I tried to keep in mind that the same god often appears in different mythoi, and for the sake of clarity I sometimes elided a few figures into one.  Such a figure is Tangaloa, the god of evil spells, poisons and witchcraft.  He seems to lurk everywhere from Hawaii to Australia.

Natural Lycanthropes in 5th ed – Wereshark

Whether an ancient race or the rare child of an inflicted parent, natural lycanthropes (as opposed to infected lycanthropes) can add a level of intrigue, fear, and drama to your campaign. Systems like Werewolf: The Apocalypse, settings like Kobold Press’ Midgard, and supplements like The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes, flesh out these fascinating character options for a range of settings. With the exception of Southlands Heroes‘ werelion, the options for natural lycanthropes in 5th edition is almost non-existent.

You can use this basic concept to duplicate other lycanthropes in your games, replacing normal and dire beast forms and enhanced senses for the racial traits here with your GM’s permission. 

Aquatic Allies: Cnidarians for 5th edition

This week’s From the Depths is brought to you by the awesome supporters on Patreon! Huge thanks to Elliot Riddell and Nick Hoyt for inspiring, brainstorming, and play testing this new Aquatic Ally for 5th ed!

Cnidarians are a semi-humanoid race from an aquatic planet whose land masses consist largely of archipelagoes. Their internal structure consists of a hydrostatic skeleton and simple digestive tract. While their external skin is thicker and stiffer than that of simpler jellyfish, it also allows far more flexibility than most humanoids.

Novel Inspiration: Chagrians for 5th edition

Chagrians are a Star Wars species seen in many of the films and Expanded Universe media, most notably as the assistant to the Emperor, and it’s one I only recently discovered has an aquatic origin. Though there are scores of aquatic sentient species listed in the Wookieepedia, not all of them add something new to a campaign. The chagrians provide an intriguing mix of physical strength, intelligence, and higher education you don’t see in many other races.