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Captains and Cannons: A Ship Combat Guide in D&D 5e
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Captains and Cannons: A Ship Combat Guide in D&D 5e


Captains and Cannons: a Guide to Ship Combat in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

This ruleset explains how to run a ship battle in your campaign. Whether you want to fight on lashed-together longships, blast enemies with the cannons of your carrack, or just ram rowboats, this ruleset has everything you need.

Designed to be scalable, flexible, fast, and easy to learn, Captains and Cannons is here to make your naval based campaign come true.


  • Easy to learn rules on how to run ship combat encounters
  • 13 sample ships to use and adapt for your own campaign
  • 6 sample combat encounters, each with their own plot hooks, unique ship, and captains.
  • 4 sample "environmental challenges," complex weather patterns modelled after the complex traps in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
  • List of ship equipment to upgrade and customise your vessel to fit your way of playing.


Mister Tarrasque: "If you're looking for a simple, yet deep ruleset to run a naval campaign, you should get Captains and Cannons."

JVC Parry: "If you and your group are looking for a realistic way to simulate naval combat in your D&D game that adheres to the basic principles of D&D 5e combat then this is certainly the supplement for you! 4.5/5."

Non Zero Sum Games: "For the cost of a fast-food meal you can have a supplement that you will access time and time again. 4.6/5"



Twitter: @drifterworkshop

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Reviews (5)
Discussions (12)
Customer avatar
Martijn H June 11, 2019 5:16 pm UTC
Hey Jeffrey!

First of all, this book works, it's great, best DnD buy for me this year <3
I have one question though, if you wouldn't mind? I have a player who is REALLY into crafting. I even made a crafting system with ingredients, DC and crafting times for all available official tools just for him. But now we have this pdf for ships, he wants to try and upgrade the ship they have (he has proficiency in carpentry tools, smithing tools and sea vehicles). He wants to make extra weapon slots and upgrade the ship's hit points and speed. How possible is this without becoming unbalanced, if at all? And what would the pricings be in your mind for doing such a thing? I'm sorry if my question is alot! :o

Again, you did AMAZING work, thank you!
Customer avatar
Colby M June 10, 2019 7:10 pm UTC
I'm very interested in this ruleset but am wondering if it covers rules for boarding other ships or repelling boarding actions form enemies. I am planning a pirate campaign and would like my PCs to be able to loot and possibly capture other ships if they so wish. Thanks for your attention.
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y June 10, 2019 9:26 pm UTC
Hey there, thanks for the interest in the book!

There are no explicit rules for boarding because in my experience when writing this, introducing those rules became too mechanical and actually depreciated the experience of boarding.

What these rules do however is integrate seamlessly with regular combat. That way you can have a ship battle going, while at the same time board the enemy ship as individual characters.
Customer avatar
Rick K May 28, 2019 6:43 am UTC
I just wanted to say that this product is excellent in every way. I am running an updated version of the Greyhawk world in which my players are traveling to the Isle of Dread and eventually to the newly released Saltmarsh adventure. I wanted to add some high-seas adventure, both on the Plane of Water (for Isle of the Dread) and on the Azure Sea when they travel to Saltmarsh in The Domarj. I wasn't sure where to begin and was thinking about ginning up my own ruleset. And then I came across this. The information you provide here is detailed, very easy to use, and just what I needed. Thank you so much! You just made my job much, much easier.
Customer avatar
MARGARITA P April 22, 2019 6:17 pm UTC
This product looks interesting, but I had a question:

Currently, my campaign is a naval one focused around the players managing the crew of a ship, which will expand into each one managing the crews aboard their own individual flagships. this leads to a dynamic which I want to keep which is players hunting down skilled NPCs to add to the crew of there ship, or pillaging a naval fort to take the cannons and mount them on their ship.

I look at another ship based ruleset: and although it is an awesome idea, it did not work in my setting as it restricts the more granular management of a ship and its crew, for example, cannons can misfire, and now you are down a cannon, find a skilled gun crew, and the cannon they are manning will never blow up and reload faster, but the other cannons will not, so you need to find a lot of skills NPCs.

Apologies for this being so rambly and thank you...See more
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y April 23, 2019 12:37 am UTC
Hi there, and thanks for your interest in the book.

A big focus of this ruleset was to give more focus on the crew than on the ship (since that's what D&D is all about). As such, it focuses more on what the crew does during their turns, and then translates that into ship actions.

We also have things like crew bonuses that you would be able to adapt to your idea of recruiting specialised crew members, and a consideration was made in this book to accomodate big sea battles, so your desire for individual party ships would work.

That said, please feel free to let me know if this book was not up to your standard if you buy it, I would always appreciate the feedback.
Customer avatar
Joshua C April 16, 2019 5:31 pm UTC
Hello, I am seriously considering purchasing this but i wanted to also ensure it fits my needs, and includes certain things. I was hoping you could help me a bit with some more info such as: Does it give ship examples (stat blocks etc.), does it include Character/crew positions or leadership positions ( i hope this makes sense, i mean like in the UA), and on a side note, any lore about airships? thank you for any additional info.
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y April 16, 2019 9:31 pm UTC
Hi Joshua,
Yes it does have a suite of example ships, covering what you would need to run a normal ship combat.

I do not use crew positions in these roles as I feel they are restrictive. Instead, there are "Crew Actions" which achieve much of the same effect. This book was released before the UA and thus takes no inspiration from it at all.

Unfortunately no airships in here, I am saving that for the sequel. If you are interested in airships, I may recommend you pick up the book "Izzys guide to flight" instead.
Customer avatar
Joshua C April 17, 2019 9:29 pm UTC
Hey Jeffrey,
I just gotta say you rock! the fact that you were willing to direct me to another resource besides your own, well, I just gotta say you secured me as a customer because of that. I give props to you!

Thank you so very much.
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y April 17, 2019 9:40 pm UTC
Happy to help and thank you for your support.
Customer avatar
Andrew B April 13, 2019 10:07 pm UTC
I think this is going to be great. But I have one question so far. Can the same weapon have multiple load and operate actions taken on it during the same round? I don’t see anything in the rules saying that a crew of 15 on a longship couldn’t have 7 load and 7 operate actions on one weapon, and then get 7 attacks in a single round. Do you use one action on a weapon per round? Or maybe one load and one operate? Thanks.
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y April 14, 2019 12:24 am UTC
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for picking up the book. Unfortunately that plan would not work since weapons can't be loaded unless they're empty, they can't be empty unless they've been fired, they can't be fired unless it's the ship round, and sailors can't take actions during the ship round. Hope this clears things up.
Customer avatar
Andrew B April 16, 2019 1:17 am UTC
Got it, that's how I have been playing and it seems to work well. Thanks for the response!
Customer avatar
Michael D March 08, 2019 7:11 pm UTC
Hey! Just wanna start off by saying I love this rule set! I'm about to use it in my campaign that's turning pirate themed and me and my players are stoked. I do have a question for you though:
For the maps I'll be using hexagonal pieces I got from an old heroscape set, and I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to do distance. I'm thinking each grid would be around 40-50 feet but honestly I'm not sure. I don't want to have a massive map each combat but I do want the players to feel fast and agile in their sloop. I know cannons have a range of 600 feet and the largest speed unit is 20 so those are two factors that need to be taken into consideration.
So, as the wonderful creator, how would you handle a hex map instead of a grid?
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y March 08, 2019 8:58 pm UTC
Hi thanks for the interest in the book, it really means a lot to me.

Using hexes is really something I had trouble with figuring out which is why I didn't include it in the book, sorry about that.

If I had to be pressed for an answer, I'd say that keeping to the rule that each individual hex is the same size as the smallest Speed Unit of the ships on the map would still work best since that allows for better management of a ship's movement.

Tell you what, if you try it out and it doesn't work well, shoot me an email and I'll see if I can work something out and include it in an update.
Customer avatar
Carl A February 28, 2019 6:57 pm UTC
My group is looking for a very light ship system so that the party can build themselves up to controlling 3 or 4 ships in naval battles. The Unearthed Arcana rules look great, but they seemed designed for the entire party to be on one ship.
What are your thoughts on using your system to have 4v4 ship battles?
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y February 28, 2019 8:32 pm UTC
With my seperate initiative tracker, I woulf sayvthat my rules handles large ship combats better than the UA. That said, 8 ships is still going to include a lot of moving pieces so to speak, and I think any ruleset would have difficulty simulating it within 5e.
Customer avatar
Keith M February 07, 2019 11:08 pm UTC
I love the rule book but I want to print it up for my players to have a copy of the rules we are using for the pirate campaign we are doing. Can you add a copy without the brown back ground (printer friendly)?
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y February 08, 2019 11:06 pm UTC
Thanks for buying the book and the feedback. I've uploaded a printer friendly version now (this took way too long haha)
Customer avatar
stephen M November 08, 2018 11:47 am UTC
This was a timely find for me due to a pirate campaign im in but I noticed the catapult doesn't say how many weapon slots it takes?
Customer avatar
Jeffrey L November 03, 2018 5:26 am UTC
Jeffrey, could you contact me at my email please? I have a question I'd like to ask you privately sir. Phenominal job with this. My current campaign draws heavily on maritime AND aviation encounters and this unifies my rules. Its actually really close to the homebrew system I haphazardly set up for my players. This is one of my top materials so I would like to interest you in something. Thanks for your time bud amd thanks for the 5 star book.
Customer avatar
November 01, 2018 3:41 pm UTC
if you could explain how your navel combat is different than the others thats been released id love to hear about it. there was a review video posted but I cant watch it at this time but I was wondering since others have either done section combats as players control some part of the ship, or normal combat with more actions to take using the ship. Love to hear your take on combat and health and repairs.
Customer avatar
Jeffrey Y November 01, 2018 5:35 pm UTC
Hey there, thanks for the interest.

The main way I would say mine is different is that it doesn't require any one person to take full control of the ship the way that most rules do. I add the Ship phase which is when ships are allowed to move, and this prevents a thing I often saw in other rulesets where players were forced to wait for everyone else to move before they could do their own thing. This makes combat much more dynamic, and easily integrated with regular combat.

In fact my big goal was to have these rules be intuitive and easily integrated with the core rules. Ship health works similar to creature health, they have what are essentially hit dice, and crew members can restore them with crew actions.
Customer avatar
November 01, 2018 8:31 pm UTC
Thank you that makes sense to me and after watching the review it doesnt sound to bad. like Tribality where there was jobs and conditions and This seem streamed like and shouldnt slow down combat. Ill check it out thank you for replying
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on October 24, 2018.