Naval Combat Rules

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Of Ships and the Sea

A Primer for Naval Combat


This system for naval combat is derivative of the 7th Sea naval combat system and owes homage to Qualkenbush's High Seas Combat rules. The boarding system is lifted almost whole cloth from the Aldana Steel boarding rules.

Ships at sea.
Ships at sea.

Contents

Introduction

This system is intended to capture a balance between cinematic combat and some ability for players to feel like they are "owners" of their ships, making decisions that impact the battle.

A Note on Rounding

In several places these rules call for division, usually "one-half strength" or similar formulations. The rules assume mathematical rounding, so that one-half of 3 rounds to 2, as does one-half of 4, and one-half of 5 rounds to 3. As a consequence, traits rated 1 are still 1 even when divided in half; this represents the "minimal nature" of a rating of 1.

Ships and their Statistics

Like heroes, ships have traits and advantages which represent different aspects of the vessel used in combat and elsewhere.

Ship Traits

Ships have the same five traits as characters, but they represent something different.

  • Brawn (Cannons): The number and weight of the ship's guns. Each point of Cannons represents roughly 15-20 guns. When firing chase guns, a ship's Cannons are treated as one-half their broadside value.
  • Finesse (Discipline): The skill and training of the crew. Fishermen are usually discipline 1; merchant crews are usually 2; military crews are discipline 3, with some elite ships reaching 4. Only truly exceptional crews with long service together reach Discipline 5.
  • Wits (Sails): The sails, rigging, rudder and other manuevering parts of the ship. A ship's Sails rating cannot be higher than its Crew, though Crew damage in combat doesn't reduce Sails during the battle. (It may after combat; see the section on casualties, below.)
  • Resolve (Hull): The strength and resiliency of the ship. The maximum Hull of a ship is rougly one point for every 20-30 feet of keel length/30-40 feet of total length.
  • Panache (Crew): The relative size of the ship's crew; merchant vessels have relatively smaller crews, military ships relatively larger for their size. Typically, a ship has approximately 4 Brute Squads/25 sailors for each point of Crew.

At the start of a story, a ship receives Drama Dice equal to the number of their lowest trait. Before a battle, the Captain can generate additional temporary Drama Dice through a Wits + Incitation check before the battle: for every 10 points he rolls, the ship receives an additional Drama Die.

Ship Advantages

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

NB: I'll add point values to advantages later.

  • Large Ship: This is a big ship, like a galleon or man-o-war, and its crew is proportionally larger. Treat its crew as a 2 higher during boarding actions, and it requires twice as many sailors for each point of Crew.
  • Small Ship: This is a particularly small ship, like a cutter or sloop, or it has been rigged such to require particularly few sailors. As a consequence, it requires half as many sailors for each point of Crew and it is treated as having one-half Crew during boarding actions.
  • Carronades: Some of the ship's guns have been replaced with heavy-caliber, short-ranged carronades. The ship has a +2k0 bonus to Cannons within 4 Raises, but is at -1k1 at farther range.
  • Gun Drill: The crew is exhaustively trained in rapid fire. The ship can fire more than once per round. It still requires an action to reload, and because the ship is focusing on firing rapidly instead of aiming the gunner is treated as having 2 less in his Gunnery knack for shots after the first in a round, to a minimum of 0.
  • Marines: The ship carries a complement of marines or other dedicated boarders. They represent 1 die of Crew that can only be used for boarding actions. This advantage can be taken multiple times.
  • Swivel Guns: The ship is armed with extra swivel guns to repel boarders. The first round of combat, the attackers take 1k1 in Crew Hits as they suffer swivel gun fire.
  • Boarding Nets: The ship has boarding nets rigged that attackers must cut through. Attacking boarders must spend 1 Action from crew assigned to boarding the first round to cut through the nets, making them effectively one Crew less the first round.

Ship Rigs

Every ship has one of three sailplans, or rigs, which affect how it sails in combat:

  • Square-Rigged: The ship is primarily rigged with square sails; this rig is best for running with the wind, and makes the fastest passages. To count as square-rigged, more masts must be square-rigged than not. (At this time, most galleons and other ships had a lateen or gaff sail on their aftmost mast; such ships still count as square-rigged if they have three or more masts.) Square-rigged ships receive a Free Raise when running or tacking downwind, but must make an extra Raise when beating.
  • Hermaphrodite Rig: Also called a brigantine rig, this ship has a mix of square-rigged and fore-and-aft rigged sails. Most common on two-masted brigantines, but also sometimes seen on three or more masted vessels. The hermaphrodite rig offers some of the advantages as well as some of the drawbacks of both square-rigged and fore-and-aft rigged vessels.
  • Fore-and-aft Rig: This ship is rigged almost entirely with fore-and-aft sails, either lateen or gaff sails. Fore-and-aft rigged ships are able to sail better to windward than square-rigged vessels, but make slower passages and are slower when running. Fore-and-aft rigged ships receive a Free Raise when reaching or beating, but must make an extra Raise when running.

Ship's Officers

The rules recognize the following officers with these key skills and posts:

  • Captain: Tactics/Quarterdeck*
  • Pilot/Quartermaster: Piloting/Quarterdeck
  • Master of the Tops: Rigging/Shrouds
  • Gunner: Gunnery/Gundeck
  • Bosun: Leadership/Upper Deck
  • Surgeon: Surgery/Orlop
  • Carpenter: Shipwright/Well
  • Master-at-Arms: Combat Skills/Upper Deck

The captain is usually stationed on the quarterdeck, but other than assigning Crew Dice each round he does not have a particular key skill or post. Instead, he can make a Wits + Tactics roll each round at a TN of 15; if successful, he gets 1 unkept die (plus an additional unkept die for every raise he makes) he can add to any roll made on the ship, including damage and soak rolls.

Generally, a ship's officers are assumed to have their relevant skills at the level of the ship's Discipline.

Naval Combat

These rules assume the use of a map, since we have a bunch of the great WizKids pirate miniatures. No measurement is required, however, and so it can be easily done mapless.

Range, Wind, and Initial Setup

Range is measured in Raises; sighting distance is somewhere around 12 Raises, and ships can be identified at about 10 raises out. In heavy weather, sighting and identification distances may be closer. These increments are inexact, and do not refer to exact distances.

At the beginning of combat, the GM determines the direction of the wind; for the purposes of these rules, the strength of the wind is abstracted away.

Ships begin in a relative position determined by the story of the GM, but if needed, captains or quartermasters can make opposed Piloting rolls to determine which ship has advantageous placement - in most cases, that means beginning with the weather gage.

The Weather Gage

Upwind ships are said to have "the weather gage" - the advantage gained in manuevering from being upwind, and also the advantage being upwind gives to the elevation of a ship's guns. As a consequence, ships with the weather gage receive a Free Raise to all cannon attacks, while ships attacking the ship with the weather gage must make an extra Raise to represent their guns being unfavorably depressed.

Naval Rounds

Like ordinary combat, naval combat occurs in rounds. A ship's Crew represents how many actions a ship can take a round, just as Panache represents how many actions a character takes each round.

Unlike ordinary combat, however, movement matters in naval combat. Ships are always moving, but they are moving in a particular way - in a direction the captain must decide in advance. While ships move at all times, for convenience's sake ships' movement is tracked - and captains can make movement decisions - twice a round, at the start of Phase 0 and at the start of Phase 5.

Before any movement or actions occur, however, action dice must be assigned. Because Action Dice represent the crew assigned to a task, they must be ordered to their posts at the beginning of a round, and those Action Dice can only be used for actions at that post. Crew dice can be posted to the Gun Crews, Topmen, a Work Gang, and the Boarding Party. Crew dice assigned to different posts can take the following actions:

  • Gun Crews: Fire, Reload
  • Topmen: Active Defense, Re-rig Sails
  • Work Gang: Shore Up Hull, Clear Debris, Fight Fire
  • Boarding Party: Boarding
  • Any Crew die can be used for the Stand Firm action.

Crew can be reassigned to a different post mid-round; doing so is an Interrupt Action requiring one additional Action Die. If the reassigned Crew also needs to act on an earlier phase, it is an Interrupt Action requiring two additional Action Dice, for a total of three!

Taking all of this into account, the order of a naval round is:

  1. Action Dice (Crew) are rolled.
  2. Action dice are assigned.
  3. Movement is adjudicated before Phase 0.
  4. Phases 0-4 occur as normal.
  5. Movement is adjudicated before Phase 5.
  6. Phases 5-10 occur.

Movement

Ships have four basic movements:

  • Run: The ship sails downwind on a broad reach or dead run. Ships receive two Free Raises when running.
  • Wear: The ship zigzags downwind, tacking as it goes to present broadsides. Ships receive a Free Raise when tacking downwind.
  • Reach: The ship sails perpendicular to the wind on a beam reach.
  • Beat: The ship tacks repeatedly upwind, sailing close-hauled to the wind. Ships must make an extra Raise when beating.

Whenever a ship moves, the captain or pilot makes a Sails + Piloting roll; the difficulty is generally 15, though rough seas or bad winds may require additional Raises. If the roll fails, the ship luffs while tacking, wears poorly or otherwise has some issue; it still moves, though it has to take extra effort (and usually extra distance) to get where it is going. When close to a lee shore, this can be very dangerous.

When considering the relative movement of two ships, they are generally attempting to do one of three things: sail towards each other to close for battle, sail roughly parallel to each other, or separate so that one ship can escape the other.

Closing for Battle

When two ships are trying to close for battle they are sailing directly towards one another, usually because one or both wants to end a gun battle and board.

If both ships are trying to close as fast as possible, the range will decrease by 2 Raises each time movement is adjudicated, for a total of 4 Raises per round. One or both ships can try to slow the rate of approach; if one ship wishes to close faster than the other, the ship wishing to close faster must call and make more Raises on its Sails + Piloting roll than the other. The ship with the Weather Gage receives two Free Raises to this end.

Parallel Courses

Ships can run at a parallel course. If both captains wish their ships to stay parallel, they must merely succeed at their basic Sails + Piloting roll.

While sailing in a parallel course, one or both ships can try to close or widen the gap. If one ship wishes to change the range increment and the other does not, the captain of that ship must call and make more Raises on its Sails + Piloting roll than the other. The ship with the Weather Gage receives two Free Raises to this end.

Chases

When two ships are chasing each other, both captains can calls raises to pile on extra speed or make tighter manuevers. If one ship calls and makes more raises on its Sails + Piloting roll than the other, it closes one Raise towards that ship; this means that a ship can close a maximum of 2 Raises per round. If the ships are not traveling at similar angles, the GM may require one or two additional Raises from the chasing ship as it manuevers abaft of its prey.

If both ships are sailing directly away from each other, the range will increase 2 Raises per movement phase, for a total increase of 4 Raises per round.

Changing Courses

A ship can change course from Parallel or Closing to being the pursued party in a Chase, or from Parallel or being the pursued party in a Chase to Closing. Ships can only change to a Parallel Course if both captains intend to sail parallel.


Gunnery

Firing at other ships is key to naval battles. Ships have four batteries of guns: two broadsides, one port and one starboard, and two sets of chase guns, one at the stern and one at the bow. Broadside batteries roll the ship's Brawn/Cannons for damage; Chase guns roll half of the Ship's Brawn/Cannons.

A ship can only fire a broadside battery when the appropriate side faces the other ship. Otherwise, it will fire its chase guns. A wearing or beating ship is assumed to be zig-zagging across the seas, so if the ship succeeds at its manuever roll it can fire broadsides at ships to lee or windward.

To fire a battery, the ship's gunner makes a Discipline + Gunnery roll. The TN is based on Range, and is equal to a TN of five for every Raise of distance (so if the range is 10, the TN to hit is 50. If the range is 5, the TN to hit is 25). Shots are assumed to be hull shots; to aim for the rigging, the Gunner must make one raise. To aim for the deck, the Gunner must make two raises.

Any battery of guns can only be fired once per round unless the ship has the Gun Drill advantage. Additionally, it takes one Action to reload a battery.

Special Ammunition

There are several types of special ammunition; the type of ammunition to be used must be declared when the battery is loaded or reloaded. Firing any kind of special ammunition requires the gunner to make a Raise when firing the battery.

  • Chain Shot: Chain or bar shot is designed to damage rigging and sails, and can also be effective in anti-personnel uses. Chain shot is +1k1 to damage when aiming for the rigging, but does -2k2 to the hull. It cannot be used beyond Range 4.
  • Grape Shot: A loose canvas bag filled with musketballs or other shrapnel, grape shot is used in anti-personnel actions. Grape shot is +1k1 to damage when aiming for the crew, but does no damage to the hull. It cannot be used beyond Range 4.
  • Hot Shot: Heated cannonballs, hot shot can only be fired from shore installations. It does +1k1 damage, and for every 10 that explodes a Fire (see below) starts on the ship in the location (hull, deck, rigging) that the shot hit. If a 10 explodes more than once, however, the shot did not leave the cannon and the damage is done to the shore installation as the cannon explodes rather than to the target ship.

Crossing the T

One of the most deadly fusilades in naval combat is "crossing the T" - a ship firing a full broadside down the length of a ship as it passes by. If the defending ship does not actively defend or fails its active defense roll, it is in difficult straits.

Shots at the hull while crossing the T are less effective due to the ship's shape, at -1k1 damage, but shots at the deck or the rigging are twice as effective: the attacking ship effectively hits 2 times, rolling damage twice as the defending ship soaks twice.

Called Shots

Cannons can make called shots against particular parts of the ship if they make raises. Some example called shots and effects:

  • Rudder (Hull shot, 4 raises): The rudder is shot off. The ship must make 2 extra raises on Sails rolls, and automatically fails all attempts to Beat.
  • Quarterdeck (Deck shot, 2 raises): All characters on the quarterdeck must avoid a 5k5 Explosion -- TN 20 to take half damage, or 25 to avoid damage entirely.
  • Clear the Deck (Deck shot, 2 raises): All characters on the main deck must avoid a 5k5 Explosion -- TN 20 to take half damage, or 25 to avoid damage entirely.
  • Mast (Rigging shot, 5 raises): The ship's mast is struck and falls. The ship loses half its maximum Sails rating, rounded up, or all of its Sails rating if it is a single-masted ship. Characters in the rigging must make a TN 30 leaping roll or take 4k4 damage as the rigging falls into the sea, and regardless they end up in the water. The GM or hero firing the cannon needs to spend a Drama Die to bring down the mast.

Active Defenses: Hard-a-port!

While slightly cinematic, ships can Actively Defend by trying to manuever the ship to reduce the damage taken. Ships are big, however, and entire batteries are firing, so ships can rarely avoid all the shot in a barrage. If the ship succeeds at its active defense, the attacking vessel rolls half damage for its cannons, or if it is Crossing the T (see above) it rolls normal damage but does not get the Crossing the T bonus.

Gunnery Damage

Ships roll their ship's Brawn/Cannons attribute for damage.

For hull damage, the amount rolled is the number of Glancing Hits, similar to Flesh Wounds in personal combat. The defending captain or ship's carpenter then rolls his ship's Resolve/Hull at a TN of the current number of Hull Hits. If he fails (and for every 10 points he fails), the ship takes 1 point of Structural Damage. When the ship has taken Structural Damage equal to its Resolve, the ship has been "Hulled" - it is taking in water at the waterline, and no 10s explode on ship rolls. Additionally, the ship will eventually sink if the hull is not repaired.

For deck damage, the amount rolled is the number of Crew Hits. The defending ship's Bosun rolls Discipline + Leadership; if he fails, the ship loses 1 point of Crew + 1 additional point for every 20 he fails by.

For rigging damage, the amount rolled is the number of Sail Hits. The defending ship's Master of the Tops rolls Sails + Rigging; if he fails, the ship loses 1 point of Sails + 1 additional point for every 20 he fails by.

Critical Hits

Each time the attacking ship rolls a 10 on damage, they do a critical hit in addition to ordinary damage to the hull, deck, or rigging. Critical hits damage an area of the ship, and additionally may wound Heroes in that area. If an area of the ship is hit, Heroes in that location must avoid a 5k5 Explosion -- TN 20 to take half damage, or 25 to avoid damage entirely.

Many ships do not have a separate gundeck and upper deck; in those cases, Upper Deck hits do not subtract cannons but all characters on the main deck must roll to avoid explosions.

Hull Critical Hits

  • 1-3 Gundeck hit! - The ship loses 1 point of cannons. (Gundeck)
  • 4-6 Orlop hit! - One die fewer of Crew recovers (see Casualties, below) at the end of the battle. (Orlop)
  • 7-9 Stores hit! - All hull and rigging repair rolls require an additional Raise until the ship can replace its stores. (Well)
  • 0 Powder room hit! - The ship explodes and begins to sink. All characters must avoid a 8k8 explosion - TN 25 for half damage, 40 to avoid entirely. This option should be used only sparingly, and the GM or hero firing needs to spend a Drama Die (which can be countered by drama die expenditures from the GM or player) to cause the explosion.

Deck Critical Hits

  • 1-3 Quarterdeck hit! - Shot clears the quarterdeck. (Quarterdeck)
  • 4-6 Upper deck hit! - Shot rakes across the main deck. (Upper deck)
  • 7-9 Galley hit! - The galley fire is overturned. 1 Fire starts on the deck.
  • 0 Dismasted - The ship's mast is struck and falls. The ship loses half its maximum Sails rating, rounded up, or all of its Sails rating if it is a single-masted ship. Characters in the rigging must make a TN 30 leaping roll or take 4k4 damage as the rigging falls into the sea, and regardless they end up in the water. The GM or hero firing the cannon needs to spend a Drama Die to bring down the mast.

Rigging Critical Hits

  • 1-3 Falling Spar - A spar drops to the deck. Characters on the deck must make a TN 20 leaping roll or take 3k3 damage; additionally, the spar does 1k1 Crew Hits.
  • 4-6 Broken Spar - The spar characters in the rigging are standing on as a cannonball tears through it. Characters in the rigging must make either a TN 25 climbing roll to get to a safe part of the rigging or a TN 20 leaping roll to jump for the water; otherwise, they fall to the deck and take 6k6 falling damage.
  • 7-9 Sails in the Sea - The shot drops spars, sails and rigging into the sea. They act as a sea anchor, requiring two Raises to all movement and Active Defense rolls until the captain uses a Crew Action to roll Discipline + character's Attack (Knife/Hand Axe/Heavy Weapon) against a TN of 20 to sever the lines.
  • 0 Dismasted - As above, under Deck Critical Hits.

Fire!

Certain actions - hot shot, galley fires, and other player actions - can start a fire aboard ship. Fires occur in a location (Hull, Deck, Rigging). Fires in the hull are inside the ship; fires on the deck rage across the deck. Fires in the rigging represent the sails and lines themselves on fire. There can be more than one Fire burning in a given location at a time; each rolls damage and must be put out separately.

At the start of every round, a fire does damage to the ship depending on its location.

  • Hull Fires: 3k3 Hull Hits, 1k1 Crew Hits
  • Deck Fires: 2k2 Hull Hits, 2k2 Crew Hits
  • Rigging Fires: 4k4 Sail Hits

Fires have a risk of growing and spreading. Every time a 10 is rolled on Fire damage, fire spreads. Fires always spread to areas that have fewer Fires than their area, and they spread in the following order: first up, then down, then they increase in size. So, a Fire 1 that breaks out on the deck will first spread to the rigging, then spread to the hull, then become a Fire 2. A Fire 1 that breaks out in the hull first spreads to the deck and then becomes a Fire 2, then spreads to the deck again (making it a Fire 2) and then becomes a Fire 3.

Fighting Fires

Putting out a fire requires a Work Gang tasked to fight fires. A Work Gang can fight fires in a single location with each Action; they roll Discipline + Officer's Leadership, must hit a TN of 15, plus one Raise for every area of the ship that has a Fire. The Work Gang can put out more than one Fire in a single location by making two raises for each additional fire the gang tries to put out.

Boarding Actions

Ships can attempt to board when they are at Distance 1 by devoting 1 or more Crew to a Boarding Party and attacking the other ship. When Heroes are involved, often the ordinary combat system is best; however, the following boarding rules can be used for easy resolution or as a background to heroic action.

Once ships have closed to board, compare the sum of each ship's Discipline and the Crew Dice both sides have assigned to Boarding Parties, modified by any advantages such as Marines, Swivel Guns or Boarding Nets. The attacker adds the difference between the two crews to 1 Exploding Die and compares it to the following chart. The numbers under "Attacker Takes" and "Defender Takes" are the kept dice in Crew Hits they must roll to soak.


 Result  Attacker
Takes
Defender
Takes
Alternate or Additional Dramatic Effects
 -9 or less 
All
0
Massacre.  The boarding party is massacred, leaving a blot on the attacking captain's reputation (or the commanding officer who is known to have ordered the attack if not the captain).  Loss of 5 Reputation points.  The officer leading the defenders on the other ship gains 5 Reputation points.
-7 – -8
4
0
Grape Shot.  The defenders managed to move a swivel gun and point it into the attackers' ranks, causing great damage with grape shot and demoralizing the attackers.  All crew rolls on the attackers' ship are at -1 kept die from now until a decisive victory improves morale or until the commanding officer rallies his troops (Panache + Incitation, TN 20).
-5 – -6
4
1
Counterstrike.  The defenders launch a counter-offensive and storm the attacking ship in turn.  Run a second boarding action next round, where the former attacking ship is now defending.
-3 – -4
3
0
She's Going Down!  The two ships have become locked and the defending ship is beginning to sink.  The officer commanding the boarding party must make a Wits + Leadership roll, TN 25, to get his crew to cut the attacking ship free from the sinking ship.  After five rounds, the defending ship is sinking too fast and drags the attacker along if it has not been cut free.  Heroes can jump in any time during those five rounds to take over the efforts to cut the ship free.  After that roll on the Ship Sinking chart in Pirate Nations to see how long the two ships will take to go down.
-1 – -2
3
1
Take That!  The boarding party's commander takes 3 Dramatic Wounds and gains a 1 pt Defeated or Vendetta Background (player's choice).  Assuming he survives, of course.
0
2
0
Rescue.  In the middle of the fray, the main sail falls (or is dropped) on the entire boarding party and puts it out of action, trapped underneath.  The attacker may send another boarding party to free the first, next round if still using this chart or on his next available action if switching to normal skirmish rules.  Until they are freed, the members of the first boarding party are of no use.
1 – 2
2
1
Locked in Combat.  The boarding action is indecisive. The attacker may opt to pursue the boarding action for another round.  This may be done by rolling on this chart again or by switching to normal skirmish rules.
3 – 4
0
1
Tides of Battle.  The boarding action is indecisive.  At his discretion, the attacker may choose to spend one Drama Die (either from the ship's pool or, if commanded by a Hero, from the leader of the boarding party's pool) to re-roll this result entirely.  The new result must be kept, even if it is worse (unless a result of 3 or 4 is obtained again, of course.)
5 – 6
1
2
Locked in Combat.  The boarding action is indecisive. The attacker may opt to pursue the boarding action for another round.  This may be done by rolling on this chart again or by switching to normal skirmish rules.
7 – 8
1
3
Important Prisoner.  The boarding party captures someone important; it may be the enemy captain, a wealthy merchant travelling on board, a noble that will bring a handsome ransom, or other character of interest, at the GM's discretion.
9 – 10
0
3
Abandon Ship!  The defenders, seeing all but lost, set fire to the powder magazine and jumped overboard (too bad if there are sirens around or if the water is ice-cold.)  The attackers' boarding party returns in a hurry, and the attacking ship has only a short time to get far enough away from the 10k5 explosion.  For each Action, the attacker may roll Panache/Sails against a TN of 15; each success takes one unkept die off the explosion roll (e.g., the first success turns it into a 9k5 explosion).  Raises may be taken on the Panache/Sails roll to take more unkept dice off.  After all the unkept dice have been dropped, the kept dice are taken away (duh.)  Regardless of what the attacker does, the now-abandoned defender ship blows up after one full Round + 1d10 Actions (10s explode too, ha-ha.)
11 – 12
1
4
Strike her Colours!  The boarding party also captures the enemy's colours.  The officer leading the boarding party gains 5 Reputation points.  And the enemy flag as a cool war trophy.
13 – 14
0
4
Take the Stateroom.  The boarding party captures the enemy captain's stateroom.  If he is a Hero, the officer leading the boarding party gains a 1 pt Treasure Map Background.  The captain of the attacking ship gains a Free Raise to all Navigation rolls for the next Act.
15+
0
All *
Clean Sweep.  The defending crew is swept away by the boarders or throws down its weapons in terror.  All Heroes participating in the boarding action gain 5 Reputation points, and the captain of the attacking ship gains 5 as well (cumulative if the captain led the boarding action.)  [And yes, I know that's not what "clean sweep" means.]
* At the discretion of the attacker, the defenders may simply be captured, having surrendered unconditionally.

An example: The White Star (an Avalon privateer) boards the El Gaucho, a Castillian brig. The White Star has a Discipline of 2, the Marines advantage and assigns 3 Crew (for 4 Crew total, counting the Marines) to the boarding party. The El Gaucho assigns 2 Crew to defense, and has a Discipline of 3. The difference between the White Star's boarding party and the Gaucho's defenders is 1 (6 - 5) and the Avalon captain rolls a 6 on his boarding roll. On the chart, this is a 7 - Important Prisoner. The attackers take 1k1 Crew Hits, the defenders 3k3 crew hits, and the battle continues.

Casualties and Repairs

Ships - and those who sail them - get hurt. This is how they're repaired. With the exception of "in-combat repairs", all these repair actions require extended time while a ship is not in combat.

Repairs in Combat

During combat, the ship can devote Crew Actions to ad hoc battlefield repairs as it re-rigs sails, shores up the hull or - in the case of the crew - reorganizes them after they've taken damage and gets them back on track.

All in-combat repair actions take the same form; the ship devotes a Crew Action and an officer rolls his trait + skill to direct the crew towards some repairs. The number rolled is the number of Hull Hits, Sail Hits, or Crew Hits healed. Note that in-combat repairs can never repair Structural Damage or lost points of Sails or Crew.

The in-combat repair actions are:

  • Shore Up: A Work Gang is tasked to shore up the hull of the ship. The Ship's Carpenter rolls Wits + Shipwright; the number rolled is the number of Hull Hits repaired.
  • Re-Rig Sails: The topmen reset sails in order to mitigate the damage shooting has done to the rigging. The Master of the Tops rolls Wits + Rigging; the number rolled is the number of Sail Hits repaired.
  • Stand Firm: Any officer (but usually the bosun or captain) gives a speech to his men, helping them shake off the effects of fire. The officer rolls Panache + Leadership; the number rolled is the number of Crew Hits healed.

Casualties

After a battle, the number of Crew dice lost are casualties - but the Surgeon can attempt to get some of the casualties back on their feet. He must operate immediately following a battle, and he makes a choice: either he treats the most wounded first, or he treats the least wounded first. If he triages the most wounded, he makes a Wits + Surgery roll at a TN of 20 to have a die of Crew back on their feet at the start of the next Act. For every two raises he makes, another die of Crew will recover.

If the surgeon triages the most battle-ready, he makes a Wits + Surgery roll at a TN of 20 to get one die of Crew back on their feet within a day; for every two Raises he makes, another die of Crew will recover at the start of the next Act. If more than one die of Crew were casualties in the battle, one die of Crew cannot recover if the suregon triages the least-wounded.

The surgeon's base TN of 20 assumes that he is operating at anchor in reasonably calm seas. The surgeon must make additional raise if he is operating in heavy seas or when the ship is traveling at top speed; he receives a Free Raise if he is operating on land.

Repairing the Rigging

The Master of the Tops can repair lost rigging, provided the ship hasn't been dismasted. The TN on a Wits + Rigging roll to repair Sails is 15 for one point, with two Raises for every additional point of Sails repaired. He can make one repair attempt per Act.

The master of the tops' base TN assumes that he is working at anchor in reasonably calm seas. He must make additional raise if he is working in heavy seas or when the ship is traveling at top speed; he receives a Free Raise if he is attempting repairs in dock.

If the ship has been dismasted, the rigging cannot be fully repaired until a new mast can be cut and installed. Before then, the rigging can at best be repaired to one less than its maximum Sails using a jury mast, and all repair rolls require two additional Raises.

Once the ship is in port and a new mast has been acquired the Master of the Tops must make a TN 30 rigging roll to properly seat it. If he has access to a hulk or crane, he receives one or two free Raises to that roll depending on the relative size of the port or hulk.

Repairing the Hull

The ship's carpenter can attempt repairs to the ship's hull, provided the ship hasn't been hulled. The TN on a Wits + Shipwright roll to repair Structural Damage is 20 for one point, with two Raises for every additional point of Structural Damage repaired. He can make one repair attempt per Act.

The carpenter's base TN assumes that he is working at anchor in reasonably calm seas. He must make additional raise if he is working in heavy seas or when the ship is traveling at top speed; he receives a Free Raise if he is attempting repairs in dock.

If the ship has been hulled, the carpenter can never repair the last point of Structural Damage until he can careen the ship and work on its bottom - the ship will always have at least one point of Structural Damage until it is in port. Even if the ship has been repaired above its Hull in Structural Damage, it still is treated as if it is hulled - 10s do not explode.

To keep a hulled ship from sinking, the crew must "fother a sail" into the below-waterline hole; the ship's sailmaker rolls Wits + Sailmaking at a TN of 20 (modified for rough seas as above) to make and position the sail. The ship will still need to be pumped constantly, but will not sink as long as 1 point of Crew is assigned to a Work Gang at the pumps. During combat, these Crew can be assigned to other tasks, but if they are the ship will have to make an additional Raise on piloting rolls and Active Defenses as the water in the well makes the ship sluggish.

The hull can be permanently repaired in port when the ship is drydocked or beached and careened; the shipwright or carpenter must make a Wits + Shipwright roll at a TN of 5 + 5 for every point of Hull the ship has to effect the repair.

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