Monks in Space: The Tsunami

A few weeks back I received a question from George Cameron. Take it away, George!

I actually have a request of you, if you do that sort of thing. Would you be willing to do a conversion of the Tsunami and/or Locust from the Realmspace book? I’m about to start using your material in our 5E Kara-Tur game, and I thought having a carrier battle with this monstrosity would be fun. I hope it isn’t rude of me to ask!

It’s not rude at all. I’m more than happy to help. First some background. Realmspace was the second Spelljammer Accessory product released for 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It was written by Dale “Slade” Henson.  Realmspace provided Dungeon Masters and players with the tools to bring Spelljammer rules into the Forgotten Realms, one of D&D’s most popular settings. This supplement introduced two new types of Spelljammer ships, the Locust and the Tsunami, that originated from Kara-Tur. Kara-Tur was originally its own D&D setting based off of medieval Asian culture. However, in 2nd Edition AD&D Kara-Tur was officially made part of the Forgotten Realms. If you’re interested, the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide has information about Kara-Tur for 5E . Okay, enough of that. Let’s get to it! I will be covering the Tsunami in this post and will detail the Locust in a future post.

The Tsunami

There are several interesting things about the Tsunami. Most noteworthy, the Tsunami is unlike any of the other Spelljammer ships. First off, the ship is massive and looks like a gigantic centipede. It also doesn’t travel through Wildspace using a traditional Spelljammer helm. Instead, it utilizes a Ki Helm. The Tsunami also housed dozens of smaller Locust ships that would swarm enemy ships in combat. Basically it was a Spelljammer aircraft carrier.

Unfortunately, the Tsunami carried over a lot of rules from Kara-Tur that just don’t exist in 5e. This included an entirely new set of character classes for the world like ninjas, samurai and so on. The Tsunami included rules for operating the Ki Helm that designated how many ki points each of these classes possessed. This gave me the idea (and George shared the same idea) that it would be awesome if this massive ship was crewed entirely by monks.

One important note about the Tsunami. This ship was not designed to be used by the players. EVER. It is way too powerful. However, the Tsunami makes a great adversary for your Spelljammer crew. It could appear in the skies above their world as a portent of doom. Or it could capture their ship setting off an escape adventure. I have added enough detail about the interior of the ship in case the players end up on it, but it is not for them.

The Tsunami for 5e

Instead of doing a straight conversion of the Tsunami, I wanted to tweak some of the elements of the Tsunami that were detailed in Realmspace. Firstly, for the purposes of combat and stats I will be treating each section of the Tsunami as a separate ship. Originally, a stretchy material held together the individual segments of the Tsunami. Consequently, this allowed separation and flexing between sections during maneuvering. Because of this unique configuration, the Tsunami has a Maneuverability Rating of 2. I carried over this MR, but with a different explanation for how it works. Here are the raw stats for the ship:

Ship TypeCostCrew Min/MaxMRACHPDamage ThreshholdKeel LengthBeam LengthStandard ArmamentHelm Type
Tsunami2,500,000115/1000223 (Head & Tail)
19 (Center)
1000 (Head & Tail)
300 (Center)
30 (Head & Tail)
20 (Center)
950 ft. (289.6 m)50 ft. ( 15.2 m)20 Huge Ki Helm

The Head and The Tail

The head and tail sections are 75 feet (22.9 m) long and 50 feet (15.2 m)  wide. Both of these segments are made of hard wood completely armored with sheets of iron. This provides incredible durability in combat. The head and tail sections each have 1000 hp and an AC of 23.

The layouts of the head and tail sections of the Tsunami are very similar. Three separate decks make up each of the sections. The lower deck and center deck serve nearly identical purposes in each section. However, the top decks of each section serve different purposes.

The head section of the Tsunami serves as the command section of the great ship. Therefore, the top deck of this section holds all of the spaces necessary for commanding the ship. The bridge dominates the forward area of this deck. Aft of that are a chart room and a war room.

The top deck of the tail section is open to space. This area serves as a parade ground for the troops that serve aboard the Tsunami. A raised platform sits at the forward section of this deck. Here the Admiral and his officers can inspect their army. The aft section of this deck contains boarding ramps that can be lowered down to the ground when the ship lands as well as down to captured ships.

The lower deck in either section houses multiple cargo holds. Here the monks store all of the food and supplies needed for long journeys into Wildspace. In addition, more secure holds may contain the spoils of the monks’ conquests or even prisoners.

The center deck of the head and tail sections contain officer staterooms as well as an officer’s mess. There are also lavish quarters in the head section for the Admiral that commands the ship. In the aft section of the center deck is the ki helm that powers the ship as well as spartan quarters for the monks that power it.

The Ki Helm

The ki helm consists of two massive iron sections that if placed together would form a cylinder six feet (1.8 m) high and 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter. However, the sections are not together. Instead one section is placed in the head section and the other sits in the tail. The iron helm is void of any ornamentation save for ten jade sculptures evenly spaced chest high around the outside surface. Each sculpture depicts a great wave and serves as a battery for ki. The monks operate the helm by harnessing their ki and transferring it into these batteries. Similar to the use of other spelljamming helms, the monks are able to channel their energy into the helm for 12 hours before they are too weak to continue.

The Spelljamming Rating achieved through ki depends on the number of monks and how many ki points they devote to the helm. The Tsunami achieves an SR of 1 for every ten ki points  channeled into the helm. Therefore, ten 1st level monks expending all of their ki points could reach an SR of 2. It is possible for less than ten monks to operate the helm so long as they are able to channel a minimum of ten ki points into the helm. However, the Tsunami requires a minimum of two monks to function, one per helm. This is because the ki helm serves two functions. In addition to providing the motive force for the ship the ki helm also holds the various sections together. Ki energy runs from one section of helm through the iron banding in the center sections to the opposite helm.

The Center Segments

Twenty identical 40 foot (12.2 m) by 40 foot (12.2 m) segments form the body of the Tsunami. Iron banded wood makes up the bulkheads in the center sections. Although not as strong as the head or tail, the center sections each have 300 hp and an AC of 19.

Three decks make up each segment with the lowest being the hangar deck. This deck holds two Locust ships which launch through portals in the sides of the segment. In addition, this area houses each of the two man crews that operate these ships and the other monks that assist in arming and maintaining the ships. The middle deck contains living quarters, a mess area and ammunition storage. Each segment of the Tsunami holds a small boarding party that resides on this deck. It also houses the  crews that man the weapons on the top deck. Finally, the top deck of each center section is a weapons deck. A  Huge weapon fixed to a rotating platform rests atop each weapon deck. This allows the weapon to fire in any direction. The top deck also holds gangplanks, grappling lines and other devices that aid in the boarding of enemy ships.


In combat, the Tsunami will first launch all of its Locust ships to weaken an enemy. While the enemy ship slows to engage the smaller fighters, the massive carrier will begin to circle its body around the enemy. This allows the Tsunami to fire all of its weapons at once. The great ship will coil tighter and tighter until it is close enough for boarders to leap onto its prey. During combat the head and tail sections will turn perpendicular to the body. This maneuver positions a center section as a barrier between them and the enemy. These center sections are expendable. Badly damaged sections are jettisoned from the ship. The sections fore and aft close together to reform the ship through the power of the ki helm.

Once the Tsunami disables the enemy it uncoils and moves in to capture the ship. A set of massive metal grapples on the tail section that resemble pincers latches on to captured ships. Boarding parties strip anything of value and make prisoners of the crews. The monks sell off spaceworthy ships and cut loose those that are not.


2 thoughts on “Monks in Space: The Tsunami”

  1. AAAAAAAAAAAH! I am beside myself with joy! Thank you VERY much! I will definitely be leaving you feedback once I take this bad boy out for a spin against my players!

  2. The “Tsunami” is actually the combination of two mechas from “Science Ninja Team Gatchaman” (aka Battle of the Planets aka G-Force). The first mecha was a centipede that could reform if parts of it got knocked out of the middle. (This is a full episode so skip forward to where the mecha starts to fight in the middle. Try not to step in the badly-dubbed melodrama)

    The second mecha I *cannot* remember the episode of, even though I’ve seen it, but it looks EXACTLY like the “Tsunami” illustration in Realmspace. It was a flying robot that carried a bunch of fighter planes sticking out of its back, two per segment (even though the segments couldn’t break apart and reform).

    So began the unfortunate harvesting of anime-references for Spelljammer that culminated in the “undead insects used as fighting machines by an androgynous alien race” (stolen directly from “Aura Battler Dunbine”) and the “giant space turtle that could fly by pulling its head and legs in and shooting fire from the holes” (which is Godzilla-movie competitor “Gamera”).

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