Can a player character grapple a ship?


The situation contemplates engaging with a huge or gargantuan ship, by means such as an 18th level Rune Knight using the Runic Juggernaut feature as described in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, pg 46 (also applicable for a large rowboat, in which case a ballista/harpoon as described in Storm King’s Thunder pg 133, similar to an Oaken Bolter’s harpoon attack as described in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes pg 126).


I am assuming that a vehicle like a ship is not a creature, as that appears to be dealt with in other questions regarding the effects of spells that target creatures but not objects etc.


According to chapter 9 Combat, section Grappling, PHB pg 195, it states (italics mine):

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. //snip// The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. //snip// A grappled creature can use its action to escape.

Further according to Appendix A: Conditions, PHB pg 290 it states (italics mine):

Conditions alter a creature’s capabilities in a variety of ways and can arise as a result of a spell, a class feature, a monster’s attack, or other effect.

According to chapter 9 Combat, section Making an Attack PHB pg 192, it states (italics mine):

  1. Choosing a target. Pick a target within your attack’s range: a creature, an object, or a location.

According to Objects section, DMG pg 246, it states:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

According to Appendix A: Of Ships and the Sea, section Components, in Ghosts of Saltmarsh (“GoS”) pg 186 states (italics mine):

A ship is composed of different components, each of which comprises multiple objects.

In all the example stat blocks of ships in GoS, despite all of the examples being immune to most condtions, none of them have immunity to the grappled condition (or the restrained condition, for that matter).

According to the description of a Kraken’s Tentacle attack MM pg 197, it states (italics mine):

Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d6 + 10) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 18). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained.

Which is different from a infernal war machine Scavenger’s Grappling Claw, which according to its stat block Descent into Avernus pg 219 it states (italics mine):

Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: The target is grappled (escape DC 12). If the target is a creature, it is restrained until the grapple ends.

It appears that an attack would (presumably) be targeting the hull component of a ship, either as (the equivalent of) an object, or a location, however it is unclear which.

It also appears that while the rules for grappling in PHB refer to targeting only creatures, the rules elsewhere strongly imply that items other than creatures can be grappled.

It is not clear whether the rules elsewhere (eg. Kraken, Scavenger, harpoon) can only be used by non player characters, or whether a player character wielding a harpoon/ballista against a large (possibly huge?) ship, or a huge Rune Knight against a huge or gargantuan ship, can make use of the grappling rules. Like this.

Accordingly, can a player character grapple a ship?

Which is the correct length for a sailing ship, 100 ft. or 80 ft.?

Ghosts of Saltmarsh provides both stat blocks and deck plans for the several kinds of ships listed in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The stat blocks include, among other things, ship sizes expressed as "X ft. by Y ft." Deck plans, meanwhile, are presented as maps on a standard grid of 5-foot squares.

However, the deck plans don’t all match up with the ship sizes stated in the stat blocks. The sailing ship, in particular, is listed in its stat block as having a size of "100 ft. by 20 ft." But its deck plan clearly shows only 16 squares, or 80 ft., from bow to stern.

It is tempting to try to resolve this discrepancy by supposing that a ship, like a creature, might control a space larger than its actual physical size. (See PHB p. 191.) The typical medium humanoid, after all, isn’t 5 ft. wide; it’s smaller than the space it controls. However, that supposition is undermined by the galley, which is listed as "130 ft. by 20 ft." and yet measures 27 squares, or 135 ft., from bow to stern. It is difficult to imagine how a ship could be larger than the space it controls — and so the whole notion that ship size is about controlled space rather than actual size appears to break down.

What, then, is the actual length of a sailing ship? Is it 100 ft. as its stat block states, or 80 ft. as shown in its deck plan, or something else?

Is there any way to have more than one ship in Starfinder?

This question stems from How much does a spaceship cost? and is a side question that came up in discussion there.

I know that you build, upgrade, or replace your ship with build points.

However, that seems limiting and non-economic. I’m not looking for a solution that would involve splitting the build points into a few useless rowboats. I can figure out how to build a bunch of ships that are useless compared to my level on my own, thank you.

I am looking for any other way to acquire multiple ships.

Is there any monetary way to control more than one ship? Any feats or other acquired abilities that let you control more than one ship? Can you use the leadership feat to control the captains of other ships? Could one, eventually, control a fleet?

Of the possible solutions, it seems to me that the Leadership feat might be the only way but that too is limiting unless you can cascade it (you control two captains who control two captains each, etc.).

Can the Destructive Wave spell be triggered on a ship by striking the deck or an open container of earth (“ground”)?

My 9th-level Tempest Domain cleric is about to embark on a sea voyage to the ice sea. I realized that my new destructive wave domain spell requires that “You strike the ground” to trigger it.

Is there a way to trigger this spell while on a ship?

We have been warned there will be encounters on the journey at sea.

I am trying to head off a debate with my DM when I try to use this spell at sea.

  • Since we walk on the deck, can that be considered ground (i.e. can I strike the deck)?
  • Like vampires that take dirt along to survive sea voyages, can a bucket of dirt (ground) be used (I strike the ‘ground’ in the bucket!) to trigger the spell?
  • Or if I walk onto an iceberg, since I have a ring of water walking, can that be considered ground?

Tempest gods are followed by seafaring people as storms impact them greatly. So it would seem kind of odd not to be able to use a unique Tempest Domain spell at sea.

In Ghosts of Saltmarsh, how do the players obtain a ship?

In Ghosts of Saltmarsh, there is a lot of information about ships, naval combat, and the sea in general. However, I can’t find any information on how to get a ship in the first place. I want to run this adventure compilation, and I don’t want to have to sideline the game for 30 minutes to find out how to get a ship in the first place. Could someone please explain how my players can get a ship?

When does ship Evasive Action end?

According to the book, when doing ship-to-ship combat, every player gets an action each round (acting as the AI of the ship), and the enemy ships get a number of actions equal to their AI rating, and the Dodge action is replaced by Evasive Action. My understanding is that Dodge is maintained until the player’s next turn (or until the end of the next round if they don’t take an action for whatever reason). Does Evasive Action similarly last until the invoking player’s next turn or until the end of the round? The situation seemed a bit more fuzzy since it’s increased defense for all of the players in that case.