- Place the ships and any important features on the battle map.
- The PCs, and important NPCs roll initiative as normal, this is kept track of in maptools.
- Determine the weather and the direction of the wind.
The Basics of Naval Combat
- At the start of naval combat, all Helmsmans roll a profession (sailor) check to determine when their ship goes in the initiative order, this is kept track of on Initiative Tool or elsewhere.
- Each round the Helmsmans roll a profession (sailor) check, this determines which vessel has the upper hand in that round, allowing the one who rolled highest to achieve a small bonus (see below).
- The use of Upper Hand effects.
- After the Upper Hand is used, the Bosun acts (see The Bosun for info on what s/he can do.)
- Followed by the Helmsman (see The Helmsman for info on what s/he can do.)
- Followed by the Shantyman (see The Shantyman for info on what s/he can do.)
- Followed by the Master Gunner (see The Master Gunner for info on what s/he can do.)
- Followed by the Naval Surgeon (see The Naval Surgeon for info on what s/he can do.)
- And finally by any major PC/NPC that has not acted yet. Following the initiative order of the PCs/NPCs rather than the sailor checks.
- Combat Initiative begins back at part 2.
The Upper Hand
At the beginning of every round, each helmsman makes an opposed sailing check to determine who has the upper hand that round. This represents the vagaries of luck, skill, and the environment, whether catching a favorable gust of wind, taking advantage of a fast current, sliding down the back of a large wave, or disrupting an opposing ship’s wind with your own ship’s “dirty air.” The helmsman who succeeds at the check gains the upper hand, and can immediately re-position her ship by one hex in any direction as a free action. For every 5 by which the successful helmsman’s check exceeds the opposing helmsman’s check, the helmsman with the upper hand can re-position her ship by an additional hex. On a tie, neither helmsman gains the upper hand.
Alternatively, the helmsman who wins the upper hand can change the heading of her ship by 90 degrees. For every 5 by which the successful helmsman’s check exceeds the opposing helmsman’s check, the helmsman with the upper hand can change the heading of her ship by an additional 90 degrees.
A ship that is upwind of another ship (closer to the direction of the wind) is said to “hold the weather gage,” and gains a +2 bonus on the opposed check to gain the upper hand.
Their are four main roles upon a ship that PCs can run, they are as follows:
- The Helmsman: The helmsman’s initiative determines when that ship acts. The helmsman rolls against all other helmsmans in the combat to determine who has the Upper Hand each round. The helmsman should be the PC with the highest Profession (Sailor).
- The Bosun: This role is for someone on the deck of the ship shouting orders to the crew, relaying info from the lookout to the helmsman and so on. Imagine them standing in the bow or on the stern-castle with a spyglass.
- The Shantyman: This person is leading the crew in songs, or cheering them on, and generally trying to raise their morale. They should be someone with a high Charisma since they will mainly use Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Perform.
- The Master Gunner: This is a role for the person in charge of all the siege engines on a ship. They do not actually fire the weapons (they have crew for that), but they rely on the Profession (siege engineer) and Command skill to be successful.
- The Naval Surgeon: This is a role for the person in charge of keeping the crew at full strength and healthy. They restore lost Morale to the crew during battles, and cure any diseases aboard the ship. They rely on the Heal skill for most of their checks.
The Basics of Siege Engines
All damage against structures and vehicles by Siege Engines and Special Ammunition for Siege Engines is doubled, which can be increased by The Master Gunner.
Ships of Gargantuan or Colossal size have 4 hull areas: Bow, Stern, Port, Starboard and their hit points are evenly divided among these areas. Any single area below half receives the broken condition giving a -2 penalty to Profession (sailor) checks to pilot the ship. Any area reduced to 0 is taking on water and the ship’s maximum speed is halved. Any two areas reduced to 0 means the ship is sinking.
A ship has 4 arcs of fire that correspond to the 4 Hull areas. A siege weapon may only hit targets within the arc of fire of that part of the ship. When attacking a ship with a siege engine you may choose Sails or one section of Hull you have line of sight to. Indirect fire weapons like catapults may target any section of a ship within its arc of fire.
In order for a siege engine to fire, it must be loaded with ammunition. Loading ammunition takes a number of full-round actions depending on the siege engine (this time can be reduced to move actions if the crew leader has the Master Siege Engineer feat. For example, a heavy ballista loaded by two creatures takes 1 round to load the siege weapon, since the creatures each take one of the two necessary full-round actions to do so.
Siege engines must be aimed in order to attack a desired target (in the case of direct-fire siege engines) or square (in the case of indirect-fire siege engines). Aiming takes a number of full-round actions depending on the siege engine. Aiming a siege engine with a diminished crew doubles the amount of time it takes to aim the siege engine. Each time a new target or square is chosen as the target of a siege engine’s attack, that siege engine must be aimed anew. For example, a light catapult aimed by two creatures would have to spend a turn aiming the catapult in order to fire it on the next round, since a light catapult takes two full-round actions to aim. If the same light catapult were instead crewed by three creatures, two could spend full-round actions aiming it and the remaining creature could fire it with a standard action.
Mishaps and Misfires
Rolling a natural 1 on an attack roll with a direct-fire siege engine or a targeting check made by an indirect-fire siege engine produces a mishap. Usually a mishap applies the broken condition. A siege engine with the broken condition takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls, targeting checks, and damage rolls.
If the creature that serves as crew leader has the Siege Engineer feat, that creature does not generate a mishap on a natural 1 when firing the siege engine.
The Basics of Ships
Ships Stat Descriptions
There are four sizes of a vessel; tiny, small, medium, and large. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses (except tiny, which are just used as rowboats, mostly).
Tiny Vessels are generally just used as rowboats or fishing vessels.
Small Vessels are fast and maneuverable, but cannot hold that many sailors, siege engines, or loot. They are mainly used as fishing vessels, or as pirate vessels.
Medium Vessels have equal measure in swiftness, mobility, and strength. Most ships out at sea are medium vessels.
Large Vessels are slow and have low mobility, but can hold vast amounts of loot, soldiers, and siege engines. They are mainly employed as warships by the various navy’s of Syrik.
The Basics of Sailors
A crew has three stats: Attack, Defense & Morale.
- Attack: is equal to the captain’s Profession (sailor) skill.
- Defense: is equal to the captain’s Profession (sailor) skill + 10.
- The following modifiers apply to both Attack and Defense:
- Every 5 crew below minimum = -1
- Every 10 crew over minimum = +1
- Crew Level = + Average level of the Crew
- Masterwork Arms = +1. At least 75% of the crew need this modifier to gain the bonus.
- Magical Gear = +1 per enhancement bonus, does not stack with Masterwork. At least 75% of the crew need this modifier to gain the bonus.
- Won previous round(s) = +2 Attack (cumulative) | Whomever took less damage that round is considered to have won the round.
- Lost previous rounds(s) = -2 Attack (cumulative) | Whomever took more damage that round is considered to have lost the round.
- Morale: a crew’s starting Morale score is equal to their side’s Infamy score + crew size + their average level + their average Armor Class + 5 per enhancement bonus on weapons or armor (at least 75% of the crew need this to receive the benefit), with a minimum Morale score of 1. Morale can be modified by the Shantyman prior to boarding, or by purchasing the “Well Paid” upgrade below, or by circumstantial bonuses or penalties the GM applies.
The Basics of Boarding Ship Combat
The attacking crew rolls a D20 + Attack and compares it with the defending crew’s Defense stat. Whichever side is higher deals 1 point of Morale damage to the other side per Rank in Command the Bosun has + the average damage die (maxed) of the crews weapons + 1 point for every five by which they beat the loser – 1 point per Rank in Command the enemy Bosun has. The victor of that round has a +2 Attack in the next round (cumulative). Keep track of the total amount of Morale Damage each side receives during the Boarding Action. This continues till one crew reaches 0 Morale.
The side that boards first (whether it be the attackers or the defenders) receives a -5 penalty to their Defense stat for the first round of Boarding Combat.
A crew that reaches 0 Morale stops fighting and either surrenders or retreats to their own ship or tries to escape. This ends the Boarding Action. The victorious side receives an immediate +10 to their Morale.
Roll 1d4 per five points of Morale Damage each side received during the Boarding Action. This represents the number of injuries that side suffered. For example if a crew started with 10 Morale was defeated, you’d roll 2d4 to determine the number of injuries they suffered. If a crew started with 10 Morale and was victorious ending with 2 Morale, they still suffered 1d4 injuries during the Boarding Action. Fatalities (fatal injuries) is one-fifteenth the number of injuries (rounded-down).
- Any crew above 5th-level has a 10% chance per level above 5th of being an Injury instead of a Fatality.
- If your crew is fighting sailors higher level than they are, they instead receive a 10% chance per level above them, of turning any Injury to a Fatality, this reduces the survival chance of your high level crew by 10% per level above them.
- Disregard any obviously ridiculous results such as a crew suffering more fatalities and casualties than they have members of their crew.
- Fatalities are determined randomly.