[RPG] spell that can stop a ship


There is a ship that needs to be stopped from sailing away without sinking it. The ship is large (2 masts), is in deep water and has a gust of wind item.

I am looking for spells up to a lvl 4 slot, including metamagic or material components costing 50 – 100 gp. Using official content, are there spells that can stop that ship?

More info:

Note that the character using the spell in question is an NPC still in the making, so any class is fine. The ship in question is currently in the possession of the PCs, and the NPC wants to stop the PCs without damaging the ship too much due to the worth of the ship and the evidence on it.

Best Answer

Control water is probably your best bet

Control water is a 4th level spell accessible to several classes. It allows you to "control any freestanding water inside an area you choose that is a cube up to 100 feet on a side", which should hopefully be large enough to contain the target ship. Note that you can't move the area you're affecting, so make sure the ship doesn't leave that area.

Control water gives you a number of options that you could use to slow or stop the ship's progress. Most directly, you can redirect the flow to halt the ship's forward progress. (You might need to argue with your DM over whether open ocean counts as "flowing water" for this option.) The best option, however, is probably "part water". If the ship is in a shallow body of water, you can drop it on the river bed or sea floor, which will definitely immobilize it. Otherwise, all you need to do is part the top 5 or 10 feet of water1, and the ship will be trapped in the shallow "pit" of water you've created. This way of trapping the ship has the considerable advantage over most other methods that it does not cause any damage to the ship. It creates an area from which the ship cannot escape, but with "soft" walls made of liquid water that will not damage the ship when it crashes into them.

If you are concerned that the boat is moving too quickly and will be able to use its momentum to escape the shallow pit, you can also start with the "flood" option, which in open water creates "a 20-foot tall wave that travels from one side of the area to the other and then crashes down". The ship in question is certainly larger than Huge (15 feet), so the wave won't carry the ship backwards. (Bonus: it also won't capsize the ship.) But a couple of 20 foot waves crashing against the bow is certainly going to slow the ship's forward progress. Once the ship is slowed, switch to parting the water on the next round to trap it.

The duration of control water is 10 minutes, which should be enough time for a quick smash-and-grab style of pirating. If you need longer than that, spend those 10 minutes disabling the ship's means of locomotion (sails, oars, crewmen, etc.) so that it will be unable to flee once the spell ends.

1 Note: The spell says to choose a cube, and the "part water" option doesn't directly allow you to control the depth of the trench. If you target a cube in the water large enough to contain the ship, parting the water will drop the ship to the bottom of that cube, likely causing significant damage from falling to the ship and everything on it. However, you can control the depth of the parting water indirectly by choosing a cube that is mostly above the water level and only extends 5 or 10 feet downward into the water. This will limit the depth of the trench, since the spell only affects the water inside the cube.