Arcanonauts: Explore the Solar System as Wizard Astronauts!

Welcome to Mission Control, Arcanonaut!

You are an Arcanonaut: a wizard explorer from the small planet of Merlin's Rock. The people of Merlin's rock are humanoid, often having pointed ears and a larger variety of skin, hair, and eye colors than we would consider natural. Most Merlinians grow up with one desire: to go to the College of Wizardry and Void Exploration. Their little home is a strange shape as if strangely ripped from some greater body and tossed into the Void. The planet's very existence implies that there must be more out there, that there must be some greater mother planet which birthed your humble home.

There have been a few explorers before you in single-occupant ships, but none have returned. This is the first multimanned vessel to leave Merlin's Rock. We have discovered some ruins on our own moon which indicate the presence of an ancient Void-faring species. You have been trained as wizards and as astronauts, students of magic, and the heavens above. You will use these skills to accomplish your mission:
  • Find the lost Arcanonauts
  • Uncover the truth of this ancient civilization
  • Be curious! 

Pick a Name:
1d6 Arcanonaut Name Examples:
  1. Borgo the Logical
  2. Feldibar the Impetuous
  3. Derwin the Picky
  4. Numis the Doubting
  5. Seeto the Brave
  6. Attor the Optimistic
Pick a Distinct Color (For Ease of Identification):
1d8 Example Colors:
  1. Merlin Blue
  2. Gandalf Gray
  3. Radaghast Brown
  4. Oz Green
  5. Pratchett Purple
  6. Dresden Black
  7. Rand Red
  8. Saruman White
Assign the following values to the Stats below: (+3, +2, +1)
  • Mind (Mnd)
  • Body (Bdy)
  • Agility (Agl)
All Arcanonauts' Suits can:
  • Hold up to an hour of Oxygen
  • Propel themselves by Jetpack (Costs M)
  • Hold 10 Merlins of Magic
  • Hold 10 Item Slots
All Arcanonauts have:
  • 8HP
  • A Suit with a Pointed Hat/Helmet or other wizardly headwear built-in
  • 5 Provisions worth of Magemallows (Stack on one slot)
  • 5 Suit Patches (Stack on one slot)
  • 5 Glow Rods (Stack on one slot)
  • Camping Kit
All Arcanonauts can:
  • Create a light
  • Create a candleflame
  • Levitate an object up to 5lbs 10ft away
  • Inscribe words or shapes on surfaces
  • Capture images of things they see
  • Reveal the general location and nature of magic, power sources, strange energies, noise, extreme heat, lifeforms (Scanning)
  • Find their ship wherever it is
  • Recieve or send signals (at a reasonable range. The Ship has longer range)
  • Record and replay audio
  • Speak or read any language
  • Try to augment their spells or use their magic in interesting ways (Theory check)
Roles: Choose 1
  • Ship Officer: +2 to Piloting and Engineering checks. You gain an Engineering Kit
  • Science Officer: +2 to Theory and Knowledge checks. You gain a Scholar's Kit and an Analyzer Device.
  • Defense Officer: You gain +2HP and a Blasting Wand (1d6 damage, costs 1M)
  • Survival Officer: +2 to Survival and Endurance checks. You gain an Emergency Survival Kit.
  • Medical Officer: +2 to Medicine and Biology checks. You gain a Medical Kit and a Healing Potion (2d6 HP or heal an injury).
Spells: All Spells have a 30ft range and require line of sight unless otherwise stated. Each costs 1 Merlin. If a spell has a duration, it costs 1 Merlin per hour of use. You can use more Merlins to boost the power of spells as per the GM's discretion. 

1d20 Arcanonaut Utility Spells: Roll/Pick 3
  1. Create Platform: Create a 10x5ft platform at an angle and position of your choice. It is about as sturdy as a wooden boardwalk. It attaches to any surface.
  2. Isolation Bubble: You create a 10ft radius bubble. This bubble creates a field that isolates the interior conditions from the exterior for one of the following elements: heat, gravity, time, pressure, atmosphere. However conditions within the bubble begin, they remain stable for the duration of the spell. Extreme differences can increase the power needed to maintain the spell. (Ex: The Sun is a lot of heat for 1 Merlin. Think more like 100 M for a minute)
  3. Magic Probe: You create a probe through which you can see. It will travel in a straight line, adhering to gravity, until it makes contact with something and sticks. The probe releases a signal to its location. It can be destroyed through force.
  4. Induce Heat or Cold: Heat or cool material. This can melt or create 5ft of ice in a minute, melt 5ft of metal in an hour. Targeting a creature causes 1 damage on a successful ranged attack.
  5. Create or Remove Water: Create or remove up to 1 Gallon of water.
  6. Slow or Accelerate: A target object or creature's speed is reduced or increased by half for 1 minute.
  7. Negate or Increase Gravity: A single target's gravity or a 10ft bubble's gravity is negated or increased by half.
  8. Create Adhesive: Create a 5ft bubble of adhesive. You can mold or expand it like putty. Creatures caught in it must make a DC: 15 test to escape. It hardens after a minute left alone.
  9. Oil Slick: You spray out a patch of slick and flammable oil.
  10. Shock: You electrify a target. Creatures take 1d4 damage. You can use this to transfer power at a distance.
  11. Levitate: You can levitate up to 50lbs of weight with your mind.
  12. Dampen or Amplify: A source of light or sound becomes half brighter/louder or half dimmer/quieter.
  13. Shift Gravity: You can change your personal direction of gravity.
  14. Smoke Cloud: Create a 20ft bubble of thick fog.
  15. Conjure Tools: Conjure a basic tool like a shovel, rope, pickaxe, hammer, pulley, wheel, ect.
  16. Magnetism: Attract or repel metal within 30ft.
  17. Ghost Sound: You recreate a sound of moderate volume you have heard before coming from a source of your choice within 100ft.
  18. Find: So long as you have a piece of something or someone, you can find them.
  19. Alarm: You conjure a magical alarm. You set the conditions for what has to happen in its vicinity for it to alert you.
  20. Telepathy: You can communicate mentally with a creature you can see or read their surface thoughts.
1d12 Additional Gear: Roll or pick up to 2
  1. Bag of 20 marbles
  2. Climbing Gear
  3. Survival Knife (1d4 damage)
  4. Healing Potion (Heals 2d6 HP or undo an injury)
  5. Telescope
  6. Bag of Emergency Teleport Powder (Returns one to Ship)
  7. Exploding Pot (Deals 2d6 damage in a 10ft radius)
  8. Instant Grow Seed (Grows an oxygen-rich tree on the spot)
  9. Extra O2 Tank (+10 minutes)
  10. Magic Battery (1M)
  11. Speaking Skull (Magic Tape Recorder)
  12. Gravity Crystal: Create artificial gravity in a 30ft radius in a direction of your choosing
Checks: Players make most rolls, rolling a d20 to defend, attack, and make skill checks based on a DC set by the GM. Higher is better.

Injury: On a Critical Fail Defense Roll, Max Damage Roll or when you drop to 0 or less HP, you take an Injury. Write down the affected body part. Checks involving this part have Disadvantage.
Injury Table (If GM is uncertain): Roll 1d6+Damage Taken
1-3: Concussion: You gain Disadvantage on all tasks requiring mental effort or accuracy.
4-5: Dislocated Shoulder: The arm is useless until the shoulder is relocated, requiring an Endurance check or take 1d6 additional damage.
6-7: Broken Hand: The hand is useless until healed.
8-9: Broken Leg: The Leg is useless until healed.
10-11: Broken Back: You cannot walk or stand or do much of anything, requiring an Endurance check each round to stay conscious.
12+: Skull Shatter: You will die in 1d3 rounds unless healed.

Damage and Death: If you drop to 0 or less HP, you take an injury and go unconscious. So long as you can be recovered by your allies, you can be healed, regaining 1HP with medical care and a night's rest.

Suit Puncture and Asphyxiation: If the suit takes damage from puncturing or ripping, then it begins to rapidly vent Oxygen. Each round the suit loses 1d6 minutes of oxygen. If you run out of oxygen, you pass out. If you are recovered in 3 rounds, you can be healed, regaining 1 HP with medical care and a night's rest.

The Ship:

The Ship, fully powered by the Arcane Engines of the College, contains 100 Merlins of Magical Energy. This is the supply from which all Arcanonauts draw their magic to fill their suits.

It also uses this power to fly. (All of the following are subject to environmental conditions)
  • 0M to fly from a planet to its moon or from one location on the same planet to another.
  • 1M to fly from one planet to an adjacent planet.
  • 5M to fly a medium distance.
  • 10M to fly a long distance.
The Ship can also amplify any spells or magical abilities you have using its more powerful Spell Array and Merlin Storage.

The Ship has 25 HP and takes injuries like an Astronaut, using its own special table below and losing power rather than going unconscious, Engineering checks instead of Medicine checks.

Ship Injuries: Roll 1d6+Damage Taken
1-3: Minor Hull Perforation: O2 Begins to Leak. +2 to Next Injury Roll.
4-5: Stabilizer Failure: Disadvantage to all Piloting rolls related to maneuvering.
6-7: Hull Breach: A fist-sized hole in the ship opens. Everyone inside must roll defense or be thrown around inside, taking 1d6 damage. On a Nat 1, defense roll, the Arcanonaut takes 1d6 damage and is sucked out into space.
8-9: Engine Failure: The engine malfunctions. Speed is halved. Each round the Engines are left unattended (DC: 15 Engineering Check to fix. Advantage if you go outside), there is a 1 in 6 chance each round that the engines will explode, destroying the ship and killing everyone inside.
10-11: Pilot Module Detachment: The Pilot Module detaches into space with the Pilot in tow.
12+: Engine Rupture: The Ship will explode in 1d3 rounds.


  1. lol... reminds me of the old days when we were too poor to buy the fancy games and went for the crazy pocket games, or made up our own.

    1. I pretty regularly make crazy pocket games here


    I would love to see the big book of rumors about the rest of the solar system


      I need to design the Solar System then I will totally do that because this will probably be the next thing I run once Low Road is over.

  3. This is great stuff! A really wonderful blending, fantasy characters in a scifi setting. Please keep sharing if you write more!

    1. Thank you Anne! I will definitely share as I get some more!

  4. Very cool and has a lot of potential for fun. Does the ship recover Merlins on it's own or do the wizards have to recharge it or do they have to refuel some other way? Also I see the physics/astrophysics as more Josie and the pussycats in outer space then anything realistic, how do you see it?

    1. The wizards have to recharge the ship. I was thinking they could trade for power crystals with locals, or maybe discover ways to use the sun, or return to base, but I kind of like the idea of taking away their power to recharge at base and forcing them to find ways to refuel the ship.

    2. Also I don't think of the physics as being not terribly realistic, mostly because I don't think that's interesting in an rpg setting. I do think you will have to consider gravity at minimum. Like jetpacking around will be harder on high gravity planets will be harder. In space, outside of the ship, there will be zero gravity. My main inspiration is the Outer Wilds video game.

  5. Do you know Outer Wilds by any chance? This reminds me of it quite a bit.

    1. Outer Wilds is my main influence! This is basically me trying to find a way to play an Outer Wilds rpg, although I definitely wanted to include fantasy elements, in part to give the characters more diversity than what they would have if they were just astronauts, but also because I like them


  7. Wizaaaaaards!

  8. I've actually been working on something similar- it's a 5e setting inspired by Treasure Planet and Spelljammer.


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