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.

And Hang the Musikers, Too – Even More Roles on a Pirate Ship

Here is the final post in this series by guest poster Mark S. Cookman.

Previously in this series I looked at command officers and mid-grade officers on a pirate or privateer vessel. In this article, we will be looking at the makeup of the crew itself. Remember that the only rule with pirates is that there are no rules; no two crews of any two pirate ships were exactly the same. Even so, we can narrow down some roles common to pirate/privateer crews based upon the jobs that must be done aboard ship. Most simply put, pirate crews are a mixture of brutes, gunners, swabbies, and musikers. Let’s examine each category in turn.

The Next in Line to Hang – More Roles on a Pirate Ship

Here is another guest posting by Mark S. Cookman for our Nautical Nonsense column.

In the first part of this series, I looked at Officer Roles on a Pirate Ship. In this second part of a three part lesson dealing with the crew positions aboard a pirate vessel, we are going to look at the responsibilities of the Sail-master, the Carpenter, the Cook, the Surgeon, and the Master at Arms. These were all lower officer positions and were either voted upon or assigned by the captain as discussed in the first part of this lesson. The sailors who served in these positions were skilled laborers and, as such, their skills were always very much in demand on a ship. They were almost always offered a greater share of the treasure because of their skills. These were definitely crew members that a pirate ship could not function without.

Officer Roles on a Pirate Ship

Here is another guest posting by Mark S. Cookman for our Nautical Nonsense column.

If you are running a game with pirates in it, then you should know what the job entails. It’s not all boarding ships, counting booty, and drinking rum like you might think. A great deal of hard work is required to run a sailing ship with a law-abiding crew, let alone one populated by pirates. In this essay we are going to examine the five principle officers on board a pirate ship, their duties, and their responsibilities. This is part one of a three part lesson. In the next lesson we will examine the duties and responsibilities of other officers and crew members with special duties. In the final lesson, we will look at one very special group of crew members that are almost always overlooked. Read on to learn what pirates expected of their primary officers.

6 Kinds of Waterborne Cutthroats from History

I thought this guest post by Mark Cookman might be interesting to listeners who caught my spot as a guest on the Dungeon Master’s Block podcast. In the episode we talked about pirate campaigns and this look at the different types of pirates is a good follow-up.

Diversity spices up any encounter table and the goal of this article is to provide you, the GM, with a description of 6 different kinds of sailing villains from the pages of history so that you can spice up your own pirate encounters. We are going to explore the differences between six types of seafaring scoundrels. They are pirates, privateers, buccaneers, corsairs, smugglers, and marooners. When we are done, you’ll know what each of these names mean, you’ll understand why the old adage ‘once a thief, always a thief’ also applies to pirates, and you’ll also learn what pirates called themselves. So freshen your drinks, pull up your chairs, and let’s begin.