Meet the Party: 5th Edition D&D Waterborne Adventures

A Minotaur who served with the marines and couldn’t stay away from the sea. A rogue who left the shadows to fight on a rolling deck with a taunt on her lips. A sorcerer with the power of a storm and the blood of dragons. A sailor whose shanties inspire his comrades to valorous deeds. Each Meet the Party article gives you an entire group of ready-to-play adventurers (maybe even some heroes) for your gaming needs for a variety of systems and settings. Pull up anchor and ready the sails, because it’s time join the crew for Waterborne Adventures in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons!

Last month Wizards of the Coast published another Unearthed Arcana article, Waterborne Adventures.  As the name might suggest the article provides new archetypes, builds, and even a race meant for an adventurer that makes their living on the high seas instead of a deep dungeon. The Minotaurs make their debut, the Mariner Fighting Style is now an option for fighters/rangers/paladins, the Rogue gains the Swashbuckler archetype, and the Sorcerer can now find the origin of its power in the Storm. Like the Eberron party based on an Unearthed Arcana article, the new rules most of this party is based on are “written in pencil, not ink”, so a discerning DM should be ready in case something strange comes up.

Asteron Teskos, Minotaur Level 3 Fighter

HP: 28    AC: 13

Str: 17   Con: 14   Dex: 13   Int:  10  Wis: 12   Cha: 8

Racial/Class/Background Features: Horns, Goring Rush, Hammering Horns, Labyrinthine Recall, Sea Reaver, Fighting Style: Mariner, Second Wind, Action Surge, Martial Archetype: Champion, Improved Critical, Background: Soldier, Military Rank

Gear: Leather Armor, Longbow and Twenty Arrows, Greatsword, Net, Handaxe x2, Explorer’s Pack, Insignia of Rank, Trophy Taken from Fallen Enemy, Set of Bone Dice, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP, A Book That Tells The Story of a Legendary Hero’s Rise and Fall with the Last Chapter Missing

Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Perception, Athletics, Intimidation

Tool Proficiencies: Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (Water), Dice Set, Vehicles (Land)

Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution

Being a Mariner means that Asteron is well-adapted to life at sea, used to moving in armor that is lighter than most fighters wear so that he can swim through the water and scale the rigging. Whether he’s repelling boarders or acting as one, he’s going to be the crew’s most athletic melee combatant, with added tricks thanks to his deadly horns (including the unique ability to attack after using the Dash action). He is only going to become more physically adept, tougher, and deadlier as he levels.

Althaea Hahpet, Half-Elf Level 3 Rogue

HP: 21   AC: 14

Str: 8  Con: 12   Dex: 16   Int: 14   Wis: 10   Cha: 16

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Skill Versatility, Expertise (Stealth, Persuasion), Sneak Attack, Thieves’ Cant, Cunning Action, Roguish Archetype: Swashbuckler, Fancy Footwork, Toujours l’Audace, Background: Guild Artisan, Guild Business, Extra Language

Gear: Rapier, Shortbow and Twenty Arrows, Burglar’s Pack, Leather Armor, Daggers x2, Thieves’ Tools, Jewelers’ Tools, Letter of Introduction, Traveler’s Clothes, Belt Pouch with 15 GP, A Knife That Belonged To A Relative

Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Deception, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Insight, Persuasion, Investigation, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools, Jewelers’ Tools

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Intelligence

Althaea brings everything that your usual rogue provides to the table: good defenses, a wide skill set made even wider by a Half-Elf, and great damage. What being a Swashbuckler gives her is quite unique. While flanking will do just fine, Althaea is capable of using Sneak Attack while engaging an opponent on her own thanks to Toujours l’Audace, and can disengage from sticky situations with Fancy Footwork. As she levels she’s going to seek out opponents to fight one-on-one even more.

Ghesh Yarjerit, Dragonborn Level 3 Sorcerer

HP: 20   AC: 11

Str: 10   Con: 14   Dex: 13   Int: 10   Wis: 12  Cha: 16

Racial/Class/Background Features: Draconic Ancestry (Blue), Breath Weapon, Damage Resistance, Spellcasting, Sorcerous Origin: Storm, Stormborn, Tempestuous Magic, Font of Magic, Metamagic (Empowered, Twinned), Background: Noble, Extra Language, Position of Privilege

Gear: Light Crossbow and Twenty Bolts, Arcane Focus, Dungeoneer’s Pack, Daggers x2, Fine Clothes, Fine Clothes, Signet Ring, Scroll of Pedigree, Purse with 25 GP, A Piece of Crystal That Faintly Glows in the Moonlight

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Intimidation, History, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: Dragonchess Set

Saving Throws: Constitution, Charisma

Ghesh is the offensive magic powerhouse of the party, capable of hurling the fire of the sky thanks to his literally Blue blood and his Storm sorcery. His Stormborn spells also give him utility spells like Fog Cloud and Levitate. Tempestuous Magic lets him literally fly away from enemies who manage to engage him. As he levels he’ll be able to wreath himself in lightning, take to the skies, and even influence the weather. Very useful for a crew of sailing adventurers!

Ballad Kairon, Tiefling Level 3 Bard

HP: 21   AC: 13

Str: 10  Con: 12   Dex: 14   Int: 14   Wis:Cha: 17

Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Hellish Resistance, Infernal Legacy, Spellcasting, Bardic Inspiration, Jack of All Trades, Song of Rest, Bardic College: Valor, Bonus Proficiencies, Combat Inspiration, Expertise (Performance, Persuasion)

Gear: Rapier, Diplomat’s Pack, Flute, Leather Armor, Dagger, Belaying Pin, 50 ft. of Silk Rope, Lucky Glass Eye, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP, A Pair of Knucklebone Dice With a Skull Symbol on the Six Side

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion, Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Flute, Drum, Lute, Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (Water)

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma

Ballad is going to provide all the rousing sea shanties the crew could possibly hope for; the fact that those shanties are going to make the crew better in a fight is a delightful bonus. While he doesn’t have the gear yet his combative nature makes him proficient with medium armor and shields, meaning he’ll get much hardier as he grows. There are few skills the bard is actually bad at, and he’s a deft hand with sword and song. As a bard of Valor he’s going to end up using both at once as he levels, charging into the fight right alongside his crewmembers.

As is tradition, the spellcasters in the group do not have their spells chosen for them, but both do have a theme that players should be encouraged to keep in mind. Ghesh has the power of a storm in his blood, and should choose his spells accordingly. Ballad has a broader theme, fitting for a bard, but should still consider spells that match his nature as a singer of Valorous songs.

As the Unearthed Arcana article states, the Minotaur race featured here is based on the Krynn strain of the species from the Dragonlance setting. The writers say that they went with this to differentiate the Minotaur from other big and tough races like Half-Orc and Goliath. While Asteron has definitely been built to this Meet the Party’s theme, the UA article does discuss ways to adapt a Minotaur for a non-nautical campaign.

Who They Are

Asteron Teskos served with distinction as a marine for the naval force of his people before mustering out. Rather than settle back into the civilian world, however, he took back to the open seas as an adventurer. He’s gruff and an absolute terror on the deck, but he’s a talented sailor who is well-respected by those who know him. The book he carries tells the story of an ancestor of his; having served his people he now wishes to make a legend of himself, making sure that his last chapter is never lost to history.

Althaea Hahpet would tell you that the only world more cutthroat than the open sea is the jewelers’ market. She’s living proof, an agent in good standing with her guild who does some not-so-good things to get ahead. Everyone knows that the fastest way to find gemstones and treasure of that kind is traveling the seas for adventure, so the would-be second-story woman took to the rigging instead. She’s gotten a little addicted to fighting in the open actually, audaciously calling out opponents. It’s a flashy life with glittering jewels and flickering blades, and she loves it.

Ghesh Yarjerit was born to greatness, descended from a noble bloodline, but it was not for him to sit on his ancestors’ laurels. He longed to be greater than those who came before him, surpassing even the true dragons that soar through the skies. He often gazed out at storms as a child, marveling at their power. He saw it fitting when he was suddenly able to answer that power in kind. Adventuring is all about arcane power and prestige as far as Ghesh is concerned; he will master the storms, the seas, the skies, and even dragons if he has to.

Ballad Kairon was given his ‘virtue’ proper name by the crew of the first sailing ship he served on, because none of them loved singing their way through the day as much as he did. The fact that there was something more to Ballad’s tunes was revealed during a pirate attack, and the awakened bard never looked back. Ballad’s needs and desires are simple: sing his songs, play his music, make a name for himself, and see the world. It is this last that drives him most. He loves heroics, and there are a lot of heroes in the world; a healthy overdose of wanderlust will help him see (and spin tales about) all of them.

How They Interact

Asteron originally thought of Althaea as a squishy merchant, an opinion which was quickly revised. He admires her skills, but doesn’t think very highly of her attitude; his workman-like approach to combat contrasts markedly with the Half-Elf’s showiness. Ghesh is out to make himself some sort of legend, which of course the Minotaur sympathizes with. He’s not entirely sure the Dragonborn cuts the most impressive figure, but maybe that doesn’t matter to the writers when you can literally spit lightning. Ballad is like Asteron, a true tradesman of the seas, so the mariner often enjoys listening to the bard’s tales. Maybe he could end up singing a few tunes about a Minotaur . . .

Althaea knows that Asteron doesn’t approve of her techniques, and is only driven to be even flashier because of it. Still, she knows how experienced the mariner is, and trusts him when it comes to the sea. Ghesh is both a potential market and a great asset; his noble relatives will no doubt love some of her wares, and his own noble blood opens some doors that even the swashbuckler can’t. A shame he’s somewhat inclined to be brusque with the help, but that’s manageable. If Ghesh is an asset that Ballad is a gift. Never mind his skill with a sailing vessel or his gift of the gab with the locals: every sailor Althaea’s ever met has a story of buried treasure, and the Tiefling collects them. He’s quite literally her favorite person on the deck.

Contrary to what might be expected of a noble, Ghesh actually holds the entire crew in quite high regard. Dragonborn respect martial strength as a rule, so Asteron’s military service is a point of admiration for the storm sorcerer. It helps that Ghesh is aware of his comparative physical frailty and is wise enough to keep the mariner between him and most foes. Althaea has a respected trade under her belt, one valued by the Yarjerit clan. The fact that she lockpicks and daggers under her belt doesn’t make him think less of her, but it does make him cautious about introducing her to the clan. Ballad just might be Ghesh’s ticket to legendary status, although not in the way most expect. The sorcerer is hoping that any tales of their adventurers the bard creates will draw in those who might offer Ghesh a challenge (and another trophy).

Ballad has nothing but the highest respect for Asteron’s time in the navy, with personal experience as to how bad piracy can be. He does consider the Minotaur a bit of a friendly rival when it comes to seamanship, though. Althaea is exactly the kind of showy sword-swinger that a bard of Valor loves, although Ballad isn’t entirely sure what to do about her cutthroat mercantile practices, which don’t make equally good ditties. Maybe those bits will be left out. Ghesh is nothing if not dramatic, good ballad material on his own, but Ballad also hopes to wheedle a few stories of dragons and ancestors out of the sorcerer.

The Future

The adventuring life is always a dangerous one, but it’s perhaps even more dangerous than usual out on the open water when the flimsy wooden hull of a ship is all that stands between you and the jaws of a kraken. Will this marine, swashbuckler, seafaring dynamo, and sailing skald travel beyond the horizon or sink into the  depths? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!

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