I’m on a class kick this week, starting things off with Tacticians earlier in the week and then doing Gunslingers. Now, I’ve got an opportunity to make a Pirate from one of my patrons. This should be fun!
The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.
Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!
If you’ve followed my stuff for a while, then you probably know that I use a technique to create classes (and other stuff that there aren’t official rules for creating) with something called “parallel balance.” Basically, I take something that’s preexisting and create similar features/options aligned to that model. For example, if a class gets a defensive power like Evasion at 5th level and I’m using that class as a model, chances are the new class will get a similar defensive power at the same level (although, its overall function may be somewhat different).
Based on what my Patron wanted for this class, I decided to base the Pirate on Rangers.
I didn’t think that I’d have fun building this class (pirate, like gunslinger, has been done to death) but it really just kinda fell into place. Here are my notes on each of the class features:
- Hit Points, Proficiencies, Equipment. This stays more or less in line with the ranger with a touch of rogue thrown in.
- Shipworthy. Although I’m not crazy about the feature’s name, this is more or less the same as a ranger’s favored terrain feature. However, since it requires the pirate to be on its ship, it helps beef up the ship’s stats. Yes, there are those who will call it “too niche”, but it’s a pirate. Niche is kinda its thing.
- Pirate’s Familiar. Next, the pirate gets a familiar. This works like a cross between find familiar and animal companion with the ability to speak to animals tossed in for good measure. It’s for flavor more than anything, but could potentially give you some forward eyes and ears.
- Pirate’s Luck. Instead of fighting style, I gave the pirate an all-around power similar to the bard’s inspiration. You get to add a d6 to any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll. This will help improve the pirate’s overall utility allowing it to be versatile.
- Spellcasting. This one will probably raise some eyebrows, but I knew that when I built this class I wanted something that stuck out. Otherwise, I’d just be building another rogue or Dex fighter (yawn). Pirates I see as more of an all-around class–Jack of All Trades, master of none, etc. The spells help. I took the ranger spell list and trimmed out the “nature” stuff and replaced it with some bardic abilities, being careful not to amp up any DPS.
- ASIs. The pirate gets an additional ASI at 14th, again, making the class somewhat flexible in its overall design.
- Extra Attack. Like rangers or paladins or other half casters, pirates get another attack at 5th.
- Tenacity. A Wisdom proficiency to bump up the pirate’s defense.
- Confident Combatant. Similar to the swashbuckler’s ability, this allows the pirate to add its Charisma bonus to initiative. Since the pirate is a good all-rounder, having that edge will allow pirate characters to set the pace of battle, especially at higher tiers when bad initiative rolls can FUBAR the party.
- Swashbuckler. Finally, swashbuckler is the capstone that lets you add your Charisma modifier to one attack per round. This is basically the same as having one advantage per round (advantage, on average, adds a virtual 4.8 to a d20 roll). Too powerful? Maybe. But who gives a shit, it’s a capstone.
Then there are the two subclasses. Buccaneer is all about crowd control and beefing up Charisma–it’s the “bardy” of the two subclasses. And Salty Dogs are damage dealers, pure and simple. They’ve got the extra utility from the core class features, but ultimately their job is to dish out the hits. I’m sure there are those who will feel Salty Dogs are “uninspired” and that’s fine. But I wanted to have two main subs here: the advanced, flashy subclass (Bucs) and the “barbarian” subclass (SDs).
Fluff to come when I go to publish.
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|Level||Proficiency Bonus||Features||Spells Known||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th|
|1st||+2||Shipworthy, Pirate’s Familiar||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|4th||+2||Ability Score Improvement||3||3||–||–||–||–|
|6th||+3||Pirate Archetype feature||4||4||2||–||–||–|
|8th||+3||Ability Score Improvement||5||4||3||–||–||–|
|11th||+4||Pirate Archetype feature||7||4||3||3||–||–|
|12th||+4||Ability Score Improvement||7||4||3||3||–||–|
|14th||+5||Ability Score Improvement||8||4||3||3||1||–|
|16th||+5||Ability Score Improvement||9||4||3||3||2||–|
|18th||+6||Pirate Archetype feature||10||4||3||3||3||1|
|19th||+6||Ability Score Improvement||11||4||3||3||3||2|
As a pirate, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d10 per pirate level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Consitution modifier per pirate level after 1st
Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: One instrument of your choice
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
Skills: Choose three skills from Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a shortsword or (b) a rapier
- (a) a burglar’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- (a) a chain shirt or (b) leather armor
- A light crossbow with 20 bolts and a dagger
Beginning at 1st level, you are intimately familiar with the conditions surrounding your vessel. Choose a type of vessel: airborne or waterborne. When you make a Dexterity, Intelligence, or Wisdom check related to operating a vessel of your chosen type, your proficiency bonus is doubled if you are using a skill that you’re proficient in. You gain the following benefits while operating a vehicle of your chosen type:
- You and your ship can’t become lost except by magical means.
- Even when you are engaged in another activity while traveling in your vessel (such as navigating, tracking or reveling) you remain alert to danger.
- Your cost to hire a crew is half of what it normally is (as per the PHB, one skilled hireling costs at least 2 gp per day). In addition, you can man a ship with 5 less crew than what is normally required (minimum of 1).
- Because of your excellent tactics, the AC of your ships increases by +1 when you are at the command. This bonus increases by and additional +1 when you reach 5th level (+2), and again at 11th level (+3), and 17th level (+4).
- For any waterborne or airborne vehicle that you are the captain of with a crew of 10 or more (before your modifier) the hit points of the vehicle increases by an amount equal to 10 times your levels in this class. In addition, its speed increases by 2mph.
- While your vessel is berthed, you can make faster repairs to your ship than normal. You repair your ship at a rate of 2 hp per day for a cost of 20 gp for materials and labor instead of the normal repair rate.
At 1st level, you have an animal companion that goes on adventures with you. Choose one of the following: bat, cat, crab, frog (toad), hawk, lizard, octopus, owl, poisonous snake, fish (quipper), rat, raven (parrot or macaw), sea horse, spider, or weasel.
Your familiar acts independently of you, but it always obeys your commands. In combat, it rolls its own initiative and acts on its own turn. A familiar can’t attack, but it can take other actions as normal.
You can comprehend and verbally communicate with your familiar. The knowledge and awareness of your familiar are limited by its intelligence, but at a minimum, it can give you information about anything that it has perceived within the past day such as the number of monsters in the next room or whether or not there is a trap over in the next corridor (if it can detect it, of course).
Its hit point maximum equals the hit point number in its stat block or three times your pirate level, whichever is higher. Like any creature, it can spend Hit Dice during a short rest to regain hit points.
If the familiar dies, you can obtain a new familiar by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another creature from the list above that isn’t hostile to you and that meets the requirements. You can’t have more than one familiar at a time.
As a pirate, you are an expert at overcoming situations when many others would not.
At 2nd level, when you make an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw, you can roll a d6 and add the number rolled to one ability check. You can wait until after you roll the d20 before deciding to use this feature but must decide before the GM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.
The die changes when you reach certain levels in this class. The die becomes a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 11th level, and a d12 at 17th level.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.
By the time you reach 2nd level, you have learned to use the magical essence of the sea or sky to cast spells, much as a ranger does. See chapter 10 of the PHB for the general rules of spellcasting and the end of this article for the pirate spell list.
The Pirate table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.
For example, if you know the 1st-level spell create or destroy water and have a 1st-level and 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast create or destroy water using either slot.
Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher
You know two 1st-level spells of your choice from the pirate spell list.
The Spells Known column of the Pirate table shows when you learn more pirate spells of your choice. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 5th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level. Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the pirate spells you know and replace it within another spell from the pirate spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your pirate spells since your magic draws on your overall force of will. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a pirate spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you strive to emulate: Buccaneer or Salty Dog, both detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level, then again at 6th, 11th, and 18th level.
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
Whether its because you have a mind of steel or you’re just plain stubborn, at 7th level, you’ve learned to harden yourself against mental attacks. You gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws. If you already have this proficiency, you instead gain proficiency in Intelligence saving throws.
At 10th level, your overwhelming confidence thrusts you into battle. You can give yourself a bonus to your Initiative equal to your Charisma modifier.
At 20th level, you are a master duelist and fighter, easily fending off your foes with wit and style. Once on each of your turns, you can add your Charisma bonus to your attack roll.
All pirates have a few things in common, including their rakish charm, fancy footwork, and overall panache. But different pirates use those talents for different purposes, embodied by the pirate archetypes. Your choice of an archetype is a reflection of your focus–not necessarily an indication of your alignment, but a description of your preferred techniques.
You are a daring, adventurous, and–often–reckless sailor. To you, the pirate’s life is about good rum, good song, and plenty of treasure.
When you select this archetype at 3rd level, your fighting style is an enthralling sight to behold, full of panache and wonder. Immediately after you take the Attack action against a creature with a melee weapon on your turn, you can use your bonus action to beguile the target. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failed saving throw, the target has disadvantage on its attack rolls against you until the end of your next turn.
On subsequent turns, you can use your bonus action to maintain this effect, extending its duration until the end of your next turn. However, the effect ends if you move more than 5 feet away from the creature, if the creature can neither see nor hear you, or if the creature takes damage. Creatures immune to charm automatically succeed on their saving throw.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of once). You regain all expended uses after you complete a short or long rest.
At 3rd level, you have a sense for when treasure is nearby. You can use your action and expend one pirate spell slot to focus your awareness on the area around you. For 1 minute per level of the spell slot you expend, you can sense whether or not treasure (at least 100gp or more) is present within 100 feet of you. This feature doesn’t reveal the total amount of treasure or number.
At 6th level, as an action, you can captivate a small audience with your wit and grace. Choose a number of creatures equal to your Charisma modifier within 30 feet of you that can see and hear you. Each creature must make a Wisdom saving throw, and does so with advantage if your companions are fighting them. If a creature fails its saving throw, it is charmed by you. While charmed by you the creature’s speed drops to 0, and the creature is incapacitated. The effect lasts until the start of your next turn, if you move more than 5 feet away from the creature, if the creature can neither see nor hear you, or if the creature takes damage.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
At 11th level, you can use your action to make a melee attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, with a separate attack roll for each target.
Duel of Fate
At 18th level, you can entice a creature to face you one on one. Choose one creature that you can see within 30 feet that can see and hear you. Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to this effect.
While enthralled by you, the creature must use all of its movement to get within melee reach of you and it has advantage on its attacks against you and you and other creatures have advantage on attack rolls against it.
The effect lasts as long as you maintain your concentration (as if concentrating on a spell). As an action, the enthralled creature makes a Wisdom saving throw to regain control of itself. On a successful save, the effect ends.
Not all pirates are charming or dashing swashbucklers. There are those that are rotten-toothed thugs, content with sailing the seas or skies and taking what they feel’s owed to them. These Machiavellian salty dogs use the pirate’s code to manipulate and coerce others into their bidding, always preferring simplicity and brute force over bombasity.
At 3rd level, you adopt a style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if something in the game lets you choose again.
Archery. You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.
Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
Also at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor.
Starting at 6th level, you gain resistance to poison damage and you are immune to the poisoned condition. In addition, you have advantage on Constitution saving throws to avoid the effects of extreme cold and extreme heat.
At 11th level, you can make a single melee weapon attack as a bonus action on each of your turns.
Beginning at 18th level, if you fail a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution saving throw you can choose to succeed instead. Once you use this feature you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Pirate Spell List
The following spell list show which spells can be cast by pirates.
Detect Poison and Disease
Hail of Thorns
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
Cordon of Arrows
Pass without Trace
Protection from Poison
Protection from Energy
Freedom of Movement
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