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Heroes of Saltmarsh I - martial archetypes for 5th Edition

Heroes of Saltmarsh I - martial archetypes for 5th Edition

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Heroes of Saltmarsh I is the first installment in a series of player compendiums tailor-made for groups playing through Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Here you'll find six archetypes, all of which are heavily inspired by classic tales of the seas and ships, and the fantastical characters who inhabit these stories: from Jack Sparrow and Ahab to Odysseus and the feared Black Beard. But fret not – while inspired by the aquatic, the subclasses and character options in this document are not defined by them – each will be just as useful on land, as they are on the deck of a ship or deep under water. And, while published with Ghosts of Saltmarsh in mind, characters using these archetypes can fit into any campaign.

In this document, you'll get complete rules detailing six maritime martial archetypes:

  • The Shark Totem Spirit – a Primal Path option that infuses a barbarian with a shark's ruthless bloodthirst and near-supernatural ability to stalk wounded prey.
  • The Corsair – a Martial Archetype for fighters who've learned how to fight in the close-quarters of a ship's deck – fast, messy, and ultimately lethal.
  • The Way of the Kraken – a Monastic Tradition that teaches dutiful students to fight like the mythical kraken, grasping and smothering foes in an unbreakable grasp.
  • The Oath of Freedom – a Sacred Oath sworn by paladins who value freedom – their own and others – above all else, allowing them and their allies to break chains, while moving swiftly and freely.
  • The Tidal Hunter – a Ranger Archetype for rangers who've learned to hunt on – and in – the seas, granting them the ability to move and fight like an unstoppable tide.
  • The Reaver – a Roguish Archetype for rogues born to the seas, who use terror and cruel efficiency to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.
Looking to spice up your nautical campaign? Check out Daerdan's Tall Tales: 101 Seafaring Encounters!

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Reviews (0)
Discussions (11)
Customer avatar
Mad L May 31, 2020 6:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Eventry G

First off, this is all very thematic and a nice add on. Like many, i think, there'a a few features that need tweaking, sooo here's my suggestions (and how i fixed them in my game)
Tell me what you think please...

For barbarian level 3
TOTEM SPIRIT
Shark. While raging, the first time you attack a creature that that doesn't have all its hit points, you have advantage on your attacks rolls against that creature. Furthermore, if they’re bloodied creatures in a 15-foot radius of yourself, you don’t loose your rage if you don’t attack or take damage.

fighter level 7
CRAFTY COMBATANT
Starting at 7th level, you've learned how to surprise your foes by striking from seemingly impossible angles. When you would make a weapon attack with disadvantage, you can choose to instead make a normal attack. You can use that feature twice, but only once per turn. Once you use this ability, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use...See more
Customer avatar
Alexander K February 23, 2020 7:21 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Personally, I would make the 3rd level feature for the Shark Totem Spirit be for a later level. I would consider it better than the 14th level one. Maybe swapping those two could work, or perhaps adding another qualifier to the 3rd Level, like only your first attack on your turn is at advantage. Also I feel somewhere in its features they should get water breathing and/or swim speed.

I was on board for the Way of the Kraken until the Reaching Tentacles feature, haha. That's some real eldritch stuff.

The rest of it all is pretty solid. Super awesome stuff that I'll definitely be presenting to my players soon.
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 24, 2020 8:18 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Alexander

I agree that the 3rd level feature is more powerful, but that is pretty par for the course when it comes to the Totem Path. It's definitely on the powerful side, but it has to be if it wants to compete with the Bear and Wolf totem. The Shark totem does get a swimming speed (worded in accordance to other features in the PHB) at level 6, although they don't get the ability to breathe underwater, which I guess could perhaps be put in there somehow.. I'll think on that!

Yeah, the Way of the Kraken is pretty out there, but if a player has a dream about being a grappler, I think they'll find it quite fun.

I'm happy you feel like that. If you run into anything along the way or have more concerns/comments, hit me up here or at jvaleur@eventyrgames.com, I always love good feedback.

Thanks for taking the time to comment on it! :)

J. A. Valeur
Eventyr Games
Customer avatar
Alexander K February 24, 2020 2:07 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Your welcome! By the way, I love your other guides. I’ve been using the Dragon Heist bundle, and will use the Saltmarsh one as well. :D

I understand comparing to the Bear Totems power level. I don’t know if that’s the standard to shoot for but I get it, and as mentioned in the other comments, it seems weird on paper to have another ability grant advantage on attacks, especially as like a passive, and without a downside like reckless attack. The margin for how powerful it is might not be that bad in practice, but it would be something I keep an eye on if a player chooses it.

Oh, and maybe they get water breathing only while raging (plus maybe a better swim speed?), kind of like the 14th level Eagle Totem ability has for flying.

And yeah, just the stretchy armstrong ability stood out to me, because the rest of the abilities I could kind of rationalize to specialized training, but that felt like a wacky superhero power.

Thanks for listening to feedback!
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 2:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
Reaver. Not bad. Not sure I like Dex adding to a Wis save, but I get it with the sneak attack ;) Last feature seems a little weak, though I don't have the standard rogue archetypes in front of me to compare. ;)
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 3:46 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oh, but again, thematically, this is a cool archetype. The reaver that puts fear into their foes. Sounds like the perfect pirate captain or viking raider. Also, there was a group called The Ravagers (from 3E somewhere with a prestige class) that I use in one of my settings. This archetype would be a great representation of them in the world :)
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 24, 2020 8:22 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Paul!

Using Dex to set a DC for saves already a thing with the 5E rogue (i.e. the assassin's death strike), so that's why we felt comfortable with that.

I agree that the 17th level feature can appear weak, but because the class is centered around frightening other creatures, that means they'll often have disadvantage on their attacks – thus granting the rogue their reaction attacks :)

Happy you like the flavor overall :)
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 2:46 am UTC
PURCHASER
I love the ranger too. I really like your thematic tie ins. Should make them very relevant to users of 'Ghosts of Saltmarsh'.

The working of crashing wave might need a little rewording to be clear any one creature can only be targeted once during the move. I know it implies this and most of us would read it this way, it's just they can 'attack each enemy that is within reach at any point during this movement'. Some players might argue each 5feet of movement implies this, so a creature might be within reach twice. Anyway, I get what it is - I am just trying to help with 5e wording :P This is a cool archetype!
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 24, 2020 8:23 am UTC
CREATOR
I agree that the wording could be clarified a bit to eliminate any confusion, I'll clean that up in the next edit! :)
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 2:39 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oath of Freedom is very cool. Reminds me of the old chaotic good (liberator?) paladin of 3E, Love it. (Though again, that water not hindering movement may as well be a swim speed). ;)
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 2:00 am UTC
PURCHASER
Way of the Kraken. First feature is very thematic :). In fact, all of these features are. I would never have thought to align the kraken to a monk style, but people could just use this for any grappler. The theme part is awesome though. I like how all features tie in with grappling and extra reach suits. Though the problems with extra reach are plenty, such as creatures leaving your reach. I would state they can extend their reach as part of the Attack action a number of times per day (+ more uses if spend ki), rather than always have 'reach' which is problematic apparently ;)
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 24, 2020 8:23 am UTC
CREATOR
Good thoughts, I can definitely see what you mean! :)
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 1:54 am UTC
PURCHASER
Corsair. Pretty sure 6th level fighter archetype options are non-combative. Instead of the turning disadvantage into advantage, what about making it something to do with ships/sailing/keeping balance/climbing/etc.?
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 24, 2020 8:27 am UTC
CREATOR
It differs a bit (i.e. the arcane archer and the eldritch knight get combat features at 7th level). I didn't want to overuse features like 'Sea Legs' (which the reaver gets), which is why I went for a combat feature instead of a ribbon feature. I feel like the fighter generally benefits from having more options in combat, so I try to add as much as possible.
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 1:50 am UTC
PURCHASER
This looks great. I will add some comments as I go through. Shark Totem line 'being underwater imposes no penalties on movement and attacks'. What does that mean exactly? They have a Swim Speed equal to their land speed? If so, just state that. Pretty sure the rules state anyone with a Swim Speed does not suffer attack penalties in water anyway.
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 24, 2020 8:28 am UTC
CREATOR
I agree that it's a bit of a confusing wording, but it's actually how similar features are worded in the PHB and DMG, which is why we used it. We try to use the official wordings whenever possible.

Thanks so much for your invaluable comments and feedback, really thorough work :)
Customer avatar
Alexander K February 24, 2020 2:12 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I’m curious what parts you’re referencing for that, because in other books, races are given a swimming speed, and the Path of the Storm Herald in Xanathar’s Guide can grant a swim speed (Storm Soul, 6th Level).
Customer avatar
Alexander K February 24, 2020 2:12 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I’m curious what parts you’re referencing for that, because in other books, races are given a swimming speed, and the Path of the Storm Herald in Xanathar’s Guide can grant a swim speed (Storm Soul, 6th Level).
Customer avatar
Eventyr G February 26, 2020 7:50 am UTC
CREATOR
It's the wording used on the spell Freedom of Movement, as well as monsters like the Drowned Blade from Ghosts of Saltmarsh. But, looking through it, I think you're quite right about swim speed being the more common terminology. If I remember correctly, we went with that wording on all the features because it was what we used on the Oath of Freedoms Aura of Movement (which is heavily inspired by Freedom of Movement), but simply having a swimming speed is both a cleaner wording and easier to understand.

We'll put up a corrected version shortly :)
Customer avatar
Ben S December 03, 2019 9:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
I noticed that when you buy the Ghosts of Saltmarsh bundle this book is not included. I'm not sure if that is intentional so just wanted to let you know its not a big deal I'm gonna buy it anyway. I gotta say I really like your work, I bought the Dragon heist bundle and its awesome.
Customer avatar
Eventyr G December 03, 2019 11:42 am UTC
CREATOR
That is an error on our part, which have been fixed now (although the price on the bundle has jumped up a bit to reflect this). Thanks for letting us know – and if there's any way we can compensate you for the inconvenience, let us know at valeurrpg@gmail.com and we'll do our best to accommodate you :).

Thanks for your support - really means a lot! :)
Customer avatar
May 27, 2019 4:05 pm UTC
PURCHASER
A few typos. Needs editing. example: "by turning any disadvantage into a disadvantage." Pg. 2.
Customer avatar
Eventyr G June 03, 2019 7:47 pm UTC
CREATOR
Fixed the typo, thanks for letting us know (and we'll make sure to scold the editor!)! :)
Customer avatar
Enevald V May 22, 2019 9:33 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Great as always, you do amazing work and i love every single pdf i have bought from you.
The archetypes look really fun and they have amazing flavor while still being mechanically satisfying. I do have some concerns however.

The barbarian level 3 feature makes reckless attack 90% of the time useless, i see you pulled it from the sahuagin feature which i appreciate, but i would change it to a bloodied creature instead of a damaged creature.

The fighter level 18 feature makes it so the fighter can make a feedback attack loop if attacking a paralyzed creature. I would change it to specify on a d20 roll.

Im not too familiar with playing a ranger but the tidebringer feature seems a little strong to me, i would make it so that the extra 1d6 can be triggered a number of time equal to the rangers wisdom modifier (minimum of 1).
Customer avatar
Enevald V May 22, 2019 9:48 pm UTC
PURCHASER
New thought about the tidebringer feature:
You could make it an active ability that you can use a number of times equal to your wisdom modifier (minimum of 1) per long rest.
Customer avatar
Eventyr G May 23, 2019 4:19 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Enevald

Thanks a lot for taking the time to give such thorough comments :)

Regarding the barbarian – I don't think that's an issue. You'll still get to use reckless attack when you're going up against an enemy in full health, and I think it's preferable to using bloodied (which as far as I know isn't a proper state in 5E, so you'd put a lot of math on the DM).

Regarding the fighter – you're absolutely correct. I'll fix that ASAP! Thanks :)

Regarding the ranger – it's only the next time for each creature (meaning each other creature can only benefit from it once). I fear that weakening it would make it comparably worse, but I think you might be right that it could be abused. We haven't had any issues in playtesting, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. I'll have to think about that one a bit more.

Again, thanks for your suggestions, input and support! :)
Customer avatar
Eventyr G May 23, 2019 6:47 am UTC
CREATOR
Just wanted to let you know that we've updated the product using your ideas for the fighter and ranger feature. It's not a big change, but it'll certainly make the features more robust and less abuseable. Thanks again for the great input and your kind words! :)
Customer avatar
Enevald V May 23, 2019 1:55 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Its a pleasure to be able to help such a great content creator as you, and i look forward to your next installment!
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 1:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
I know 'bloodied' is not a condition in 5E, but I too will be house ruling 1/2 hit points for the shark advantage thing. I don't blame the designer for doing it the way they have - in fact, they have worded perfectly for 5E... it just treads too much on the Reckless Attack as stated ;)
Customer avatar
Paul C February 06, 2020 1:52 am UTC
PURCHASER
I too have concerns regarding the Corsair's 'Barrage of Blows'. This could simply be a short rest power.
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