Some spelljammers are designed to be driven by a single pilot. Larger vessels, however, require the collaboration of a crew, much like on a traditional sailing ship. A spelljamming crew may contain some or all of the following roles.
The key abilities shown are not requirements for filling a given role but rather credentials that would allow a character to be especially effective while serving in that position.
Note that these rules were designed prior to the release of the 5th edition D&D Spelljammer books. Many of the mechanics below contradict the current “official” mechanics of spelljammers. Rather than revise all of the previous mechanics, they have been preserved below in their original form for the sake of reference. The “official” 5th edition mechanics are described in the Astral Adventurer's Guide. It is up to each DM to decide which version of the spelljamming mechanics to use—the 5th edition ruleset, the legacy Aethervane mechanics, or something else entirely.
The captain is the executive officer aboard the ship and gives all other crew members their orders. In many cases, the captain owns the spelljamming vessel, but some borrow or rent their vessel from a patron or organization. Often, the captain is also the primary pilot, but this is not always the case.
A spelljammer in this campaign is a permanent magic item and ranges from uncommon to legendary. The only way for a PC to acquire one is to obtain it as an adventure award or to purchase it from the Spelljamming Guild in Bleak Haven.
The first mate is responsible for keeping up crew morale, keeping the crew on task, and taking over for the captain when needed. Credentials include everything that makes a good captain. The first mate often serves as a secondary pilot.
The pilot attunes to the ship's helm and uses the helm to steer and propel the ship while it is in the Material Plane. In order to attune to the helm, the pilot must meet the helm's minimum required character level.
Other than the level requirement, any character is able to use the helm; no proficiency or prior experience is necessary. Once attuned, the pilot is automatically considered proficient in using the helm. If the pilot must make a difficult maneuver while operating the helm at tactical speed, they may roll an Intelligence ability check and add their proficiency bonus to the roll.
The pilot is also generally responsible for keeping the helm in working order and serving as the ship's primary lookout, so proficiency in Air Vehicles, Arcana, and Perception can certainly come in handy. A high Constitution is useful, too, if the pilot is called upon to use the helm for more than 8 hours without rest.
The navigator consults navigational charts and aethervane data to plot a course to the destination, advises the crew regarding changes in the currents and encounters with astral phenomena, and updates the charts and logs as new discoveries are made during the voyage.
The bosun oversees ship repair and maintenance and coaches others in the ship's technical operation.
The surgeon tends to injuries and illness among the crew and maintains sanitary conditions aboard the vessel.
If traveling outside the Astral Plane, the Cook makes ship meals, allowing the crew to eat something other than rations, keeping up their health and morale.
The sailors operate the vessel's rigging and are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the ship, helping the pilot watch for danger, and defending the ship as necessary.