High Seas Combat (v1.0)
(Being A Set Of House Rules For Naval Combat In )
by Jeff Qualkenbush
As with the original set of rules, the following modified 7th Sea Naval Battle and ship construction rules are not quite realistic, but I feel are better and more dramatic than the rules in the GM's Book and the Pirate Nations Book. So without further delay, have at thee.
Normally, 7th Sea characters will sign onto ships, and eventually command them by promotion (or election) to Captain. Extraordinarily rich characters, however, may purchase ships and outfit them. If qualified (having the Captain Skill), ship owners may appoint themselves as Captains. Otherwise, Captains must be hired. Ships owned by player characters will generally be Merchantmen, Privateers, or if the players are inclined, Pirates.
Starting player character heroes may spend up to 20 of their hero points to start the game with a ship. For each hero point spent the character receives 600 Guilders to spend building and outfitting their ship. If the players wish, and with Game Master approval, they may pool their resources to construct a ship, thus becoming joint owners. If desired, the characters may also add any starting funds that they have towards the ship.
The first step in constructing a ship is choosing the basic hull-type. For convenience, the ships have sorted into five basic categories. Each category has its own ratings for each of the six ship attributes, which are:
Hull Points: This represents the damage capacity of the ship's hull.
Rigging Points: This represents the damage capacity of the ship's sails and rigging.
Speed: This represents the ship's speed in combat situations.
Handling: This represents the ship's basic maneuverability.
Size: This represents the ship's basic size as compared to other ships.
Cargo: This represents the cargo, in tons, that the ship can hold.
Additionally, each description will list the maximum crew that the ship will carry (Not including player characters), the minimum sail crew that is required, and the maximum number of guns that the ship will hold. The five basic ship categories, and their various attributes are listed below:
(1) THE CORSAIR is a small, highly maneuverable type of ship, that is favored by smugglers and pirates. Some ship types which fall into this category are sloops, small brigantines, and schooners. Corsairs are characterized by shallow drafts, length to beam ratios of about 6:1, and relatively small cargo tonnages. Corsairs normally have the following attributes:
Hull Points: 25
Rigging Points: 15
Cargo (Tons): 10
A well-armed Corsair may carry up to eight long guns (cannon) on each side, two more as chasers (on the bow), and two as stern guns (Total possible armament of 20 guns). A fully armed Corsair requires a gunnery crew of 60, plus ten gunner's mates, and two gunners. In an emergency, a Corsair must have sail crew of at least six men. A Corsair cannot hold more than 100 men.
(2) THE SMALL WARSHIP is a sleek, naval ship, designed to carry many guns without sacrificing maneuverability. Typical ships in this category include sloops-of-war, frigates, and small capital ships. Small Warships have fairly shallow drafts (except for frigates), and length to beam ratios of about 5:1. Small Warships normally have the following attributes:
Hull Points: 35
Rigging Points: 20
Cargo (Tons): 16
A fully armed Small Warship may carry up to 16 long guns (cannon) on each side, two more as chasers (on the bow), and four as stern guns (Total possible armament of 38 guns). A fully armed Small Warship requires a gunnery crew of 114, plus 19 gunner's mates, and two gunners. In an emergency, a Small Warship must have sail crew of at least ten men. A Small Warship will not carry a crew of more than 160 men.
(3) THE MERCHANTMAN is a large, sturdily built ship, designed to carry large commercial cargos. Ships in this category include large brigantines and medium capital ships. Merchantmen have deep drafts, and length to beam ratios of about 4:1. Merchantmen normally have the following attributes:
Hull Points: 40
Rigging Points: 25
Cargo (Tons): 24
A heavily armed Merchantman may carry up to 12 long guns (cannon) on each side, two more as chasers (on the bow), and four as stern guns (Total possible armament of 30 guns). A fully armed Merchantman requires a gunnery crew of 90, plus 15 gunner's mates, and two gunners. In an emergency, a Merchantman must have sail crew of at least 12 men. A Merchantman will not carry a crew of more than 160 men.
(4) THE LARGE WARSHIP is a big, bulky type ship, designed to carry heavy batteries of guns. Ships which fall into this category are large capital ships and ships-of-the-line. Large Warships are almost always owned by a nation's navy, and are used primarily in continental sea battles. They will rarely be seen in colonial waters, except when bringing cargos of payment for garrisoned troops. Large Warships are characterized by deep drafts, and length to beam ratios of about 4:1. Large Warships normally have the following attributes:
Hull Points: 45
Rigging Points: 25
Cargo (Tons): 20
A fully armed Large Warship will have twenty long guns (cannon) on each side, two more as chasers (on the bow), and six as stern guns (Total possible armament of 48 guns). A fully armed Large Warship requires a gunnery crew of 144, plus 24 gunner's mates, and four gunners. In an emergency, a Large Warship must have sail crew of at least 12 men. A Large Warship will carry a maximum crew of 200.
(5) THE GALLEON is a huge, slow, hulk of a ship, bristling with guns. This type of ship is favored by the Castillians, and is their "Treasure Ship". Galleons have deep drafts and length to beam ratios of about 3:1. Galleons normally have the following attributes:
Hull Points: 50
Rigging Points: 30
Cargo (Tons): 32
A fully armed Galleon will have 24 long guns (cannon) on each side, four more as chasers (on the bow), and six as stern guns (Total possible armament of 58 guns). A fully armed Galleon requires a gunnery crew of 174, plus 29 gunner's mates, and four gunners. In an emergency, a Galleon must have sail crew of at least 16 men. A Galleon can carry no more than 250 crew.
Ships may be constructed in any major port. Basic costs (in Guilders) and construction times are listed below by ship type. If the ship is being constructed in a colonial port, add one month to the construction time.
In addition to the basic costs of ship construction, other expenses must be paid to fully outfit a vessel, as detailed below:
1. WEAPONRY: A ship's weaponry is made up of "Long Guns" (Cannon) which fire 12 to 16 pound shot). Long guns cost 400 Guilders each, and require three-person gunnery crews. Pont or Swivel Guns can also be mounted on a ship's deck at a cost of 120 Guilders each. Pont guns are used to repel boarders, and do not count towards the maximum number of cannons. However, there is only enough room for one Pont gun per ships' size point on each side (e.g. a Merchantman, Size 3, could have no more than three Pont guns on each side).
A ship's armament also includes its supply of shot and powder. Shot and powder must be stored in the ship's magazine (part of the cargo hold tonnage) and costs 400 Guilders per ton. To determine how much shot and powder is used for an engagement, multiply the number of guns fired (not including Pont guns) by the number of times they are fired, and divide this by 120. This will provide the number of tons used (e.g. a fully armed Merchantman that fires eight broadsides would use up [12 x 8] / 120, or .8 ton of shot and powder). As stated earlier, each ton of shot and powder takes up one ton of cargo space.
If a ship's magazine is set on fire in any way, the shot and powder will explode doing 2K2 points of damage to the hull per ton of powder.
2. CREW: A ship's crew may be recruited at a rate of 1K1+2 men/women per week in a friendly port. If "Press Gangs" are sent out (a common practice used by various navies), an additional 1K1+2 crewmen may be shanghaied each week. The Game Master may also require the player(s) to make appropriate interaction rolls to attract crewmen. New sailors coming aboard a ship must be supplied with basic gear, at a cost of 16 Guilders per person. Aboard naval ships and Merchantmen, sailors must be paid normal wages (See Player's Book). Specially skilled non-player characters, such as a Ship's Carpenter or Physician may also be hired (See Player's Book for wages).
Each crew member, aboard any kind of ship, requires 4 Guilders worth of food each month, and one ton of cargo space must be set aside for the crew's food supplies on a voyage. If desired, the Food Spoilage Rules from the Pirate Nations Book may be used, otherwise it is assumed that the food will last for the duration of the voyage.
Aboard naval ships, basic gear, wages, and food supplies are all paid for by the various governments. Aboard pirate and privateer vessels, these costs are subtracted from booty. On Merchantmen, the owner must pay for all expenses.
3. BOATS: Jolly boats, for taking crew and cargo ashore, cost 300 Guilders each. Each jolly boat holds 15 crewmen (or 5 crewmen and a cannon) and takes up one ton of space aboard a ship. A cannon carried on a jolly boat can not be fired, but a Pont gun may be attached to the stern for protection.
4. MODIFICATIONS: Optional improvements may be made on ships when they are first built, at varying costs. Reinforcing the hull will increase Hull Points (by up to five points) at a cost of 400 Guilders per point. Reinforcing the masts and using superior quality sail canvas and ropes will increase Rigging Points (by up to five points) at a cost of 200 Guilders per point. A ship may be streamlined, to increase its Speed by one, at a cost of 1,000 Guilders plus 50% of the basic ship construction cost. A ship may be close hauled and fitted with a superior rudder, to increase its Handling by one, at a cost of 1,000 Guilders plus 20% of the basic ship construction cost. Both streamlining and close hauling delay the ship construction by one month.
Additionally, the following special modifications from the 7th Sea Ship Construction Rules may be used with the Game Master's approval:
Hidden Towline: This fixes a hidden rope to the underside of the ship, at a cost of 600 Guilders. Smugglers use this to haul contraband materials beneath the water, where it is unlikely to be found.
Oars: The ship has one or more banks of oars, at a cost of 600 Guilders. This allows a ship to move even when becalmed or sailing directly into the wind. However, when oars are used the ship's Speed is considered two less, to a minimum of one.
Concealed Gunports: The gunports of the ship are designed to be nearly invisible when closed, at a cost of 30 Guilders per gunport. The number of guns aboard the ship can be kept secret until they are used. A Wits check with a TN of 20 done at close range will reveal the existence of these gunports.
Well Trained Crew: The ship's crew are particularly skilled in sailing and gunnery. Sea Travel Speeds are increased by ten miles per day. All attack rolls made with the ship's cannons receive an extra die.
Smuggling Compartments: Some of the supposedly solid areas of the ship are in fact hollow, and used smuggle contraband, at a cost of 1,800 Guilders.
Extra Cargo Space: The cargo hold of the ship is well designed and can hold one extra ton of cargo, at a cost of 500 Guilders plus 5% of the basic ship construction cost.
Extra Crew Quarters: Extra quarters have been provided for the crew, so that the ship is manned by more sailors than others ships her size, at a cost of 1,000 Guilders plus 10% of the basic ship construction cost. This allows the ship to carry an additional 10% more crewmen above that listed for the ship type.
Boarding Party: The ship has well-trained boarding parties aboard, at a cost of 10 Guilders per boarding party crewman (See the section on Grappling and Boarding). Each boarding party Brute Squad is considered to have a Threat Rating of 3, instead of the normal rating of 2.
Retractable Keel: The ship can retract its keel, allowing it to sail in shallow waters, at a cost of 2,000 Guilders plus 20% of the basic ship construction cost.
Also, the following flaws from the 7th Sea Ship Construction Rules may be used with the Game Master's approval to help reduce the cost of the ship:
Old: Some of the ship's planks are rotten, but overall, she's in good shape; she just needs a little more love and care than a newer ship. The ship requires maintenance and careening every two months instead of every four. This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 5%.
Sluggish: The ship tends to sail more slowly than other ships of her size. This reduces the ship's Speed by one, to a minimum of one. It also affects the ship's Sea Travel Speed, reducing it by five miles per day. This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 1,000 Guilders. This flaw cannot be taken if the ship has been streamlined.
Small Rudder: The rudder is not big enough to turn a ship of this size, so she turns slowly. The ship's Handling is reduced by one, to a minimum of one. This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 1,000 Guilders. This flaw cannot be taken if the ship has been close hauled and fitted with a superior rudder.
Poorly Trained Crew: The ship has a particularly poorly trained crew. When conducting or defending against boarding actions, the boarding parties are considered Threat Rating 1 Brute Squads, instead of the normal rating of 2.
Tattered Sails: The ship's sails and rigging are in poor repair. The ship's Rigging Points may be reduced by up to five points. Each point reduction lowers the cost of the ship by 200 Guilders.
Vermin: The ship is infested with rats, weevils, and other vermin that constantly get into the provisions. The crew's provisions will only last three weeks for every month's worth purchased. This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 1,200 Guilders.
Awkward Cargo Space: The cargo hold of the ship was poorly designed, so that this ship cannot carry as much cargo as other ships of her size. The ship's hold has one less ton of cargo space. This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 500 Guilders.
Cramped: The crew quarters of the ship are poorly designed. This means she has to do with fewer crewmen than other ships of her size. The ship's maximum allowable crew is reduced by 10%. This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 1,000 Guilders.
Disgruntled Crew: The crew of the ship are easily upset by any little thing going wrong. Theus help the Captain if the rum ration runs out. The GM may spend a Drama Die to have 1K1 Brute Squads worth of crew turn surly and refuse to due anything for the rest of the Scene. If they are in combat, these Brute Squads surrender immediately. This reduces the cost of hiring and equipping a crew by 5%.
Warped Rudder: The ship's rudder is bent, either to port or to starboard. If left to her own devices, the ship will sail around in circles. At the end of a combat turn in which the helm is not manned, the ship will turn 60 degrees to port or starboard, thus automatically assuming a circling tactic for the next round (See the Ship-to-Ship Combat section). This reduces the basic ship construction cost by 600 Guilders.
After a ship is fully constructed, it will require regular maintenance. After damage in combat or storms, a ship's Rigging may be repaired by the crew at a rate of four points per week. Half of the damage to the Hull of a ship may be repaired by a crew at sea, at a rate of two Hull Points per week, or at four points per week if there is Ship's Carpenter aboard. The remaining Hull damage must be repaired in a friendly port at a cost of 50 Guilders per point of damage repaired (for lumber, labor, etc.). Repairs in port are made at a rate of ten points (either Hull or Rigging) per week.
Ships will require careening and maintenance every four months. This involves the scraping of barnacles and teredo worms off the hull of the ship to prevent drag on the bottom, and eventual penetration of the hull. Ships with shallow drafts (Corsairs and all Small Warships except Frigates) may be beached and careened on deserted islands or on riverbanks. This is risky, however, especially for pirates or privateers, due to the obviously vulnerable position in which careening ships are placed. Ships may also be careened in friendly ports, for a fee equal to 10% of the basic construction cost of the hull (e.g. it would cost 800 Guilders to have a Small Warship careened in port). Careening takes about three days if performed by a full and efficient crew. For each month after the fourth that a ship goes without careening, its speed is reduced by one (though it will never go below one). After six months, and each month thereafter, without careening, a ship loses 1K1 Hull points. This damage may not be repaired until the ship is careened.
Travel on the sea is handled relatively simply. The different types of ships have basic sea travel speeds (not to be confused with their Speed attribute which is used in Ship-to-Ship combat) as shown below and given in nautical miles:
|Ship Type||Miles Per Day|
To this basic sea travel speed, add or subtract the following modifiers as appropriate:
- Streamlined ships sail an extra ten miles per day.
- If a ship's crew is highly competent (i.e. has a Well Trained Crew modification), add ten miles per day. If the Master-o-Tops (the ship's Sail Master) has at least four ranks in the Rigging Knack, then add another ten miles per day. If the ship's Pilot has at least four levels in the Pilot Knack, then add yet, another ten.
- For each voyage roll one Die to determine the average winds, as indicated on the table below:
Roll Winds Results
1 Light Breezes -30 miles per day
2 Poor Winds -20 miles per day
3 or 4 Light Winds -10 miles per day
5 or 6 Moderate Winds No change to speed
7 or 8 Strong Winds +10 miles per day
9 Powerful Winds +20 miles per day
10 Gales +30 miles per day
- For each 20% of total Rigging Points suffered by the ship, lose five miles per day.
- Some Hull damage can cause reduced speeds, but this depends upon the exact nature of the damage and such reductions are left to the Game Master.
- For each month past the fourth that the ship is not careened, lose five miles per day (cumulative) until the ship is properly careened to reduce drag.
On cross-ocean trips and other long sea voyages, the Game Master may spend a Drama Die to initiate and cause a special event to occur during the voyage.
Roll one Die and consult the following table:
1 or 2 BECALMED: The ship sails into the doldrums, and is left at rest (No movement) for 1K1 days.
3 or 4 FOG: The ship is caught in a thick fog for 1K1-5 days (minimum of one). The ship's Pilot must make a Navigation check roll with a TN of 20, or the ship will become lost for an additional 1k1-5 days (minimum of one).
5 or 6 SHIPBOARD DISEASE: The crew of the ship are afflicted with a pox or plague. Each player character or NPC must make a successful Resolve roll with a TN of 20 or lie sick with fever for the whole voyage (If the total rolled is less than five then the individual dies of the illness unless successfully treated by someone with the Doctor skill). 6K6 of the ship's crew will also become ill. Roll a Die, if a seven or higher is rolled, then the illness is terminal and they will die unless treated, other wise they will be lie sick with fever for the whole voyage. If there is a ship's Doctor aboard, then only 3K3 of the crew will become ill.
7 or 8 SQUALLS: Sudden squalls delay the ship for one day, damage the ship's Rigging (take 1K1 points of damage to Rigging Points), and blow the ship off course by 6K6 miles in a random direction.
9 WRECK: The vessel is threatened with the immediate possibility of shipwreck. The ships' Captain or Pilot (whichever has the best chance) must make a successful Pilot check roll with a TN of 15, or the ship will be dashed to splinters on uncharted rocks or reefs. Player characters must make a Wit roll with a TN of 10 to get into a jolly boat, or onto a raft or piece of floating wreckage, otherwise they must start making drowning checks as per the Game Master's Book.
10 STORM: The ship is caught in a violent sea storm which lasts for 1K1-5 days (minimum of one), damages its Rigging and Hull Points (1K1 to each), and blows it off course by 10K10 miles in a random direction. The Captain or Pilot of the ship must make a successful Pilot check roll with a TN of 15 for each day the storm persists, to avoid the possibility of shipwreck as described above.
NOTE: With the GM's approval, the players may spend one Drama Die each to avoid these circumstances. However, all the players must agree to spend a Drama Die. If a player is out of Drama Dice, then another player may spend one for him.
During a sea voyage, rolls are made to determine if a ship meets other vessels, friendly hostile, or neutral. This roll does not require the expenditure of a Drama Die by the GM. Roll one Die, a roll of 10 indicates that another vessel or vessels, or a special encounter has appeared.
An encounter check is made:
· Once each day in coastal, Colonial, or Continental water;
· Once each week in major sea lanes;
· Once per month in uncharted or unexplored waters.
When an encounter occurs, roll 5K5 and consult the following the table:
Roll Type of Encounter
5 A heavily armed Eisen mercenary Small Warship
6 A lightly armed Montaigne Merchantman
7 A lightly armed patrol ship (Small Warship) belonging to the nearest sea power.
8 A heavily armed Castillian Galleon
9 A heavily armed Pirate/Privateer Corsair
10 A lightly armed Vendel Frigate (Small Warship)
11 A heavily armed Avalon Merchantman
12 A Castillian convoy of 2 lightly armed Merchantmen and 2 heavily armed Small Warships.
13 Two heavily armed Castillian Galleons
14 Two lightly armed Pirate/Privateer Corsairs
15 A heavily armed Vesten Small Warship
16 A heavily armed Castillian Merchantman
17 A heavily armed Large Warship belonging to the nearest nation searching for Pirates/Enemy Privateers
18 A lightly armed Avalon Corsair
19 A heavily armed Vodocce Galleon
20 A small Avalon fleet (3 to 6 Small Warships)
21 A heavily armed Montaigne Merchantman
22 A heavily armed Pirate/Privateer Small Warship
23 Two heavily armed patrol ships (Corsairs) belonging to the nearest nation
24 A heavily armed Vendel Merchantman
25 A small Montaigne fleet (3 to 6 Small Warships)
26 Two lightly armed Castillian Merchantmen
27 A heavily armed Pirate/Privateer Corsair
28 A lightly armed Vodocce Merchantman
29 A lightly armed Vesten Merchantman
30 A small Vendel fleet (3 to 6 Small Warships)
31 A heavily armed Castillian Large Warship
32 Two heavily armed patrol ships (Small Warships) belonging to the nearest major naval power (i.e. Avalon, Castille, or Montaigne)
33 A lightly armed Montaigne Merchantman
34 A heavily armed Avalon Large Warship
35 A Castillian convoy of 2 lightly armed Galleons and 2 heavily armed Large Warships
36 An Avalon fleet of 1K1+2 Small Warships
37 A Montaigne fleet of 1K1+2 Small Warships
38 A Pirate/Privateer fleet of 1K1+2 Corsairs
39 A Pirate/Privateer fleet of 3 to 6 Small Warships
40 A heavily armed Montaigne Merchantman
41 A Castillian treasure fleet of 3 to 6 heavily armed Galleons guarded by an equal number of heavily armed Large Warships
42 Six Sirens (p. 161 GM's Guide)
43 Uncharted island (GM's imagination)
44 A heavily armed Inquisition Small Warship (Their mission is up to the GM)
45 A heavily armed Crescent Corsair
46 The 7th Sea appears (Pilot check with a TN of 20 to avoid entering it)
47 A Leviathan (p. 159 GM's Guide)
48 An abandoned Ghost ship (GM is encouraged to be creative)
49 A ship belonging to one of the major Pirates (i.e. Allende, Berek, Kheired-Din, Yngvild, or Reis)
50 The Black Freighter appears (Players should quickly sail away)
To determine how an encountered ship is armed, consult the following table:
Long Guns / Side
Pont Guns / Side
Lt Armed Corsair
2 - 5
Hvy Armed Corsair
6 - 8
Lt Armed Small Warship
5 - 10
Hvy Armed Small Warship
11 - 16
Lt Armed Merchant
3 - 8
Hvy Armed Merchant
9 - 12
Lt Armed Large Warship
6 - 14
Hvy Armed Large Warship
15 - 20
Lt Armed Galleon
10 - 17
Hvy Armed Galleon
18 - 24
How an encounter progresses once it is rolled is determined by the actions of the player characters (and their Captains) and the judgement of the Game Master. Usually, Merchantmen, Galleons, and Convoys encountered at sea will generally not bother other ships, and will try to evade if attacked.
Corsairs will usually only attack Merchantmen, and will attempt to evade Warships. Patrol ships and solitary Warships may attack vessels which appear to be Pirates or Privateers, or those belonging to an enemy nation. If outnumbered, Patrol Ships may attempt to evade, in order to bring reinforcements. Fleets although powerful at sea are usually set upon some mission and will not take time out to engage other ships unless they are recognized as Pirates or enemy Privateers. However, a fleet will sometimes attempt to destroy a ship if they fear that the ship will give away its presence in enemy waters.
Encounters will normally appear at extreme range unless weather conditions reduce the sighting distance. Each turn thereafter, the encountered ship(s) or creature(s) will close a single distance interval. The distance range intervals in descending order are Extreme, Far, Long, Medium, Short, and Close. The players may make an Observation Check (Wits plus any bonuses) for their lookouts (if they are posted) each turn at a base TN of 10 plus 5 for each distance interval past close range (i.e. 10 for Close, 15 for Short, 20 for Medium, 25 for Long, 30 for Far, and 35 for Extreme). The GM may have the players roll each turn until either the encountered ship or creature is spotted, or until the player's ship is attacked. As an alternative, the GM may just have the players make one roll and take it as the minimum distance that the encounter is first seen (i.e. a roll of 26 would indicate that the encounter was not seen until it was within long range).
If an encounter turns into ship-to-ship combat, use the rules in the next section entitled "Of Naval Combat" to determine the outcome, otherwise play out the encounter using the standard 7th Sea combat rules.
THE TURN: Time in ship encounters is measured in Ship Turns. Each Ship Turn equals about two standard 7th Sea turns. Unless otherwise stated, all turns listed in this section are assumed to be Ship Turns. Maneuvers, Boardings, and Cannon Fire occur simultaneously.
During the turn:
a. The initial distance of each ship will be determined.
b. Each Captain will then choose a tactic, which will determine the relative positions and distances between the ships.
c. Then any ships within close range may attempt to grapple and board.
d. And finally, each ship will fire its cannon and apply damage.
SCALE: Distance in ship encounters is measured simply as one of six possible ranges as described in the previous section: Extreme, Far, Long, Medium, Short, or Close. These range intervals are abstract distances and do not have a set actual length. Exact footages are not considered, and are not necessary for the cinematic feel of the game.
The normal sighting distance between ships is Extreme range. The recognition distance (i.e. being able to tell what kind of ship it is and what colors it is flying) is Far range. Again, as described in the previous section, posted lookouts must be able to make their Observation checks in order to see and recognize another ship. In rough weather, sighting distances are reduced to Long range, and recognition down to Medium. In a storm or in foggy weather, sighting distance becomes Medium and recognition is at Short.
TACTICS: At the beginning of each turn, the Captain of each ship involved must in the encounter must choose a tactic. The three possible tactics are:
(1) Evade. A ship which hopes to escape and leave an encounter may evade. This indicates that the ship is attempting to sail away from all other ships in the encounter, and to move out of sighting range.
(2) Bear Down. A ship which hopes to close with an enemy quickly, to board and capture, or just get into better range for guns, may bear down. This indicates that the ship is pursuing its prey at maximum speed.
(3) Circle. A ship which is maneuvering to gain a better position for gunfire may circle. This indicates that the ship is not trying to get any closer to or farther away from its enemy, but is attempting to loose a broadside without being caught in one herself.
Captains (controlled by the players aboard their ships, and by the GM for non-player Captains) write down one tactic at the beginning of each turn. In a particularly perilous situation, a Captain may also choose a Desperate Strategy at the beginning of the turn. The two possible Desperate Strategies are:
(1) Wet Sails. A ship which needs more speed may wet its sail, to catch more wind, at the risk of tearing the sails and straining the rigging. Wetted sails last two turns before they dry, and add 2 points to the ship's Speed each turn. Each turn that the sails are wet, roll one Die; on a roll of 9 or 10 the rigging is damaged causing 1K1 (non-exploding) to the Rigging Points, and the ship moves at half normal Speed next turn.
(2) Hard Turns. A ship that requires more Handling may make hard turns, at the risk of straining the rudder. Each turn spent making hard turns, add 2 to the ship's Handling, and roll one Die. On a roll of 9 or 10 the rudder is damaged causing 1 point of damage to the Hull, and subtracting 1 point from the Handling permanently, until the rudder is repaired in port.
After Tactics and Desperate Strategies are revealed at the beginning of a turn, each Captain may roll to perform a Brilliant Maneuver. This requires either a Contested Roll using opposing Tactics Knacks if fighting a single opponent, or with Strategy if fighting more than one ship. The winner of the Contested Roll gains a free Raise to all further rolls against that opponent for that turn.
EVASION: If all the ships in an encounter choose the Evade tactic in the same turn, all of them escape, and the encounter ends. When one ship chooses the Evade tactic, and one or more of the other ships choose to Bear Down on her, a chase ensues. Each ship involved in a chase rolls a number of dice equal to the ship's current Speed. If the pursued ship's total is higher than the pursuer's, the range between them increase by one range increment. If the pursuer's total is greater than the pursued ship's, the range between them decreases by one. For every 10 points the winner exceeds the loser's total by, the range is further increased or decreased by another range increment. If the totals are the same, the range remains the same, and a roll is made on the mishap table. Roll one die and consult the following table:
Roll Mishap Results
1 or 2 A sail comes loose from the rigging of the pursuing ship and must be re-rigged. The ship slows to a speed of 1 while the sails are fouled until the ship's Master o' Tops makes a Rigging Knack roll with a TN of 15.
3 or 4 The pursued ship is hit by a large swell/wave. Everyone near a deck rail or in the rigging must make a Finesse + Balance Roll with a TN of 15 or fall overboard. Anyone falling into the water must make a drowning check as per the GM's Guide. The ship's Captain must choose to either slow the ship to turn around and rescue the unfortunate persons, or leave them to their own fate.
5 or 6 The wind in becalmed for 1K1 turns. Unless the ships are equipped with oars, they may not move for that number of turns. However, ships so equipped may still move, but the ship's Speed is considered two less, to a minimum of one.
7 or 8 A major/important crewman or NPC from the pursuing ship falls overboard. The ship's Captain must choose to either slow the ship to turn around and rescue the unfortunate individual, or leave crewman/NPC to their own fate. This could be bad on morale, depending on the popularity of the person, or could affect the operation of the ship.
9 or 10 The pursued ship's anchor has come loose and will fall into the water unless someone climbs down and either cuts it loose or secures it. The individual must make a successful Finesse + Climbing Roll against a TN of 15 or fall into the sea. If the climbing roll was successful, then the individual may either cut the anchor loose, or roll Finesse + Knotwork with a TN of 15 to secure the anchor. If a tethered anchor falls into shallow water it will take hold and the ship will make a sudden stop (GMs may roll for damage against the ship and crew if they are so inclined). If the anchor hits deep water then it slows the ship and reduces its speed by 1 until the anchor is either hauled up or cut loose.
If a pursued ship manages to escape past the sighting range of all pursuers, she has successfully evaded, and is removed from the encounter. When one ship Evades, and no enemy Bears Down on her, the range automatically increases by one.
An Evading ship may only fire its stern guns at enemy ships, until a pursuing ship reaches Close Range. When an enemy ship closes to this range, the Evading ship may automatically fire a broadside. Ships Bearing Down on another ship may only fire their chasers, until the get within Close Range. At this range, pursuing ships may grapple and/or fire broadsides. If a ship is Circling while another is Evading, the Circling ship may automatically fire a broadside at the Evading ship (the Evading ship may only fire its stern guns back).
BEARING DOWN: If two ships in an encounter Bear Down on each other, then the range between them decreases by two. If a ship Bears Down on an Evading ship, a chase ensues, as detailed above. If a ship Bears Down on a Circling ship, the range between them decreases by one. A ship Bearing Down may only fire chasers against another ship Bearing Down, or against an Evading ship, until she reaches Close Range (as mentioned above). A ship Bearing Down may have a chance to fire a broadside at a Circling ship, depending upon the rolls detailed below.
CIRCLING: A ship which is Circling stays in roughly the same position. So, against an Evading ship, range increases by one automatically, against a ship Bearing Down, range decreases by one. If two ships Circle on the same turn, their range remains constant. A Circling ship always has a chance to fire a broadside at an Evading ship within range. Against a ship that is Bearing Down on it, a Circling ship has a chance of firing a normal broadside. Both ships roll a number of Dice equal to their current Handling Attribute (plus two Dice for Hard Turns, and the bonus for Brilliant Maneuver). If the Circling ship gets a higher total, she may fire a broadside at the ship Bearing Down without suffering one herself. If the ship Bearing Down gets a higher total, or if the totals are the same, both ships may fire broadsides.
If two ships are Circling each other, each ship makes the roll listed above. If one ship beats the other by 20 or more, she may fire a broadside, and the target may only return fire with chasers or stern guns (Captain's choice). Otherwise, both Circling ships may fire broadsides.
In a group of ships, a given ship may not fire more than two broadsides per turn (one from each battery of guns). When two broadsides are fired, they must be designated against separate ships.
CANNON FIRE: A ship's guns may be fired as broadsides, or the stern guns or the chasers may be fired as their own batteries. No two of these four batteries (each broadside is a battery) may be fired at the same enemy ship, however. Each battery may fire once per turn, and then requires one turn to reload. Therefore, none of a ship's batteries may be fired twice in two turns, as one turn is required to reload the cannon.
At the end of a turn, after the new range has been calculated, and after grappling attempts (see the next section), ships may fire their guns, as indicated by the Tactics used that turn. Before a battery is fired, the Captain of the attacking ship must choose to either fire at the defending ship's Hull or Rigging. The roll to hit with cannon is made by rolling a number of dice equal to the Threat rating of the Crew. A normal Crew will have a Threat rating of 2, or 3 if the Well Trained Crew modification is taken). The TN to hit is five times the Handling Trait of the targeted ship (i.e. a ship with a Handling of 3 would have a base TN of 15 to be hit).
This roll will be modified as follows:
a. For each Range Increment over close range, add five to the TN.
b. If firing at the ship's Rigging, add 10 to the TN.
c. Subtract five from the TN for each level of Gunnery Knack possessed by the that gun battery's assigned Gunner (the individual in charge of that battery's guns) (i.e. if the Gunner in charge of the broadside has a Gunnery Knack of 3, then subtract 15 from the TN to hit). If the battery is not manned by a player character, the Game Master will need to calculate the levels in Gunnery for the NPC gunners in charge of each of the ship's batteries. An average Gunner will have 1 or 2 levels of Gunnery.
d. If the enemy ship is larger than the attacking ship, add five to the TN.
e. If the enemy ship is smaller than the attacking ship, subtract five from the TN.
Once the Target Number to hit has been determined, roll to hit the targeted ship. If all ones are rolled on the dice (i.e. a roll of three on three dice), a mishap has occurred and one randomly determined gun explodes, killing its crew.
The damage done by a successful volley of cannon fire is determined by rolling two dice and adding the firepower of the battery firing. A battery's firepower is determined by taking the number of guns in the battery and multiplying them by ".1" (i.e. a battery of 15 guns would have a firepower of 1.5). Thus, when a battery hits, it does its firepower x 2K2 (Rounded Up) in damage to either the Hull or Rigging of the enemy ship, depending upon the aim. If grapeshot was fired at close range, assume that the damage done is the number of enemy crew on deck killed.
The effects of damage are simple. For every ten points of damage to the Hull, a gun and its crew are destroyed. When the amount of damage to the Hull exceeds half of its normal Hull Points, the ship loses one point of Handling and starts taking on water. When the Hull Points are reduced to zero, the ship sinks (the crew has two turns to get away).
For every five points of damage to the Rigging, a crewman on sail duty is killed. When the amount of damage to the Rigging exceeds half of its normal Rigging Points, the ship loses half of its speed, and may only roll half the number of dice for maneuvers during chases. When the Rigging Points are reduced to zero, the ship is crippled, and may not move (although it may still Circle, with -5 to its Handling (If this reduces the Handling to a negative number, then it reduces the TN to hit the damage ship by five for each level. For example a damage ship with a Handling of -2, would reduce its TN to be hit by 10).
When two ships reach close range, one or both may attempt to grapple the other. This takes place before cannon fire, and a ship which has been grappled may only fire into the enemy Hull. An enemy who fails to grapple, however, may face the possibility of a broadside of grapeshot. The chance of grappling each turn is based on the relative sizes of the two ships.
Roll one die and consult the table below:
Size Relationship Chance of Grappling
Grapple Ship is Smaller Roll of 8 or Higher
Grappling Ship is Same Size Roll of 6 or Higher
Grappling Ship is Larger Roll of 4 or Higher
Once an enemy ship has been grappled, boarders (usually lead by the Master-at-Arms or Quarter Master) may swarm aboard. At this point it is necessary to determine how many trained fighters there are in each crew, as shown below :
· 1/4 of a Merchantman Crew are Trained Fighters
· 1/3 of a Naval Ship or Privateer Crew are Trained Fighters
· 1/2 of any Avalon Crew are trained Fighters
· All Pirate and Vesten Crews are Trained Fighters
· All Marines are Trained Fighters
· All of a Ship's Officers, Major NPCs, and Player Characters are Trained Fighters
Each ship's boarding party and defense party may only be made up of trained Fighters.
At the start of boarding, divide the number of Trained Fighters by six to determine the number of six man Brute Squads that will participate in the boarding action. Combat will then take place using the combat rules from the 7th Sea Player's Guide (Alternately the quick combat rules from The Pirate Nations Book may be used).
Before melee combat begins, each side may fire its Pont guns (if so equipped and manned) at the enemy crew once before melee combat starts. Boarding melee combat is faught using the standard combat rules and turns for 7th Sea. A ship's Trained Fighters will normally be Threat Rating 2 Brute Squads, unless they are considered a green/poor quality crew (Ship has the Modification of "Poorly Trained Crew), in which case they are considered Threat Rating 1. If the ship has the Modification of "Well Trained Crew", then its Brute Squads are Threat Rating 3. All the ship's officers and one fifth of the Trained Fighters are considered to be armed with firearms in addition to their melee weapons. During any turn that an opposing crew's Trained Fighters are outnumbered by a factor of three or more to one odds, they will surrender.
Alternately, if the GM does not wish run long, drawn out battles, the following quick combat method may be used to resolve boarding melees between crews:
Divide the ship's Trained Fighting crew into Brute Squads. But instead of fighting out the melee with the 7th Sea Combat rules, have each side role a number of dice equal to the number of Brute Squads plus any manned Pont guns. Each result of 9 or 10 indicates that one enemy Brute squad is killed. (NOTE: If using this quick combat system, anyone leading the boarding party or the defense party who has the Roger's Pirate trick of "Over the Side" will modify the result so that an 8 or higher will result in a kill.)
Grappled ships fighting a boarding melee are effectively immobile and indefensible to other ships. Any ship circling nearby may loose a broadside on them with a -15 on the TN to hit, but must divide the damage equally between the grappled ships. Once a boarding melee has ended, either through surrender or other means, ships may be ungrappled (cut away) in one turn.
The following special situations may present themselves in normal ship combat:
Commonly, coastal towns are protected from enemy raiders and bombardments by forts and fortresses bristling with guns. Forts are dealt with in ship combat assuming they are immobile, and may fire their full battery every turn. To be destroyed, a fort must be reduced to 0 Structure Points. Statistics for normal forts are provided below:
12 Long Guns
35 - 42
20 Long Guns
50 - 70
24 Long Guns
60 - 84
36 Long Guns
80 - 120
48 Long Guns
100 - 168
All garrison occupants are considered to be Trained Fighters for melee purposes.
Only ships with shallow drafts may approach within short or close range of a fort. A fort may be automatically "boarded" when a ship comes within close range. All shots aimed at a fort get two Raises to hit (due to the size and immobility of forts), but shots from a fort get one free Raise to hit as well (due to the relative stability of fort gun platforms).
Ships at sea may bombard defenseless towns for ransoms. This is a common practice of Pirates and Privateers who want a town's booty, but do not want to fight a land engagement. A coastal town will nearly always be guarded by a fort. Once this is destroyed, the town may by freely bombarded. Shot directed at a town will always hit (a whole town is an easy target). After 200 points of damage have been caused by bombardment, the town will surrender, and give up its wealth. A town of average size may have one or two cannon itself, which will fire back at the attackers in the harbor, at the equivalent of medium range, until the town surrenders.
Battles between more than three ships may be difficult for the Game Master to handle. In order to run a large ship combat situation, use the following rules and guidelines:
1. If possible, split the battle into a number of smaller combats, which may be played out normally.
2. Keep track of each ship's distance from each other ship. Remember that the Evade tactic is directed against all other ships (i.e. an evading ship is trying to escape from everyone) whereas the Bear Down tactic is directed against one particular ship (i.e. a ship Bearing Down is closing on a specific target). The Circle tactic may be used against two enemy ships at most.
3. A ship must remain within sighting distance of at least one other ship involved in the combat to stay in the battle. A ship out of sighting range of one ship may "catch up" to sighting range with any other ship in the combat in one turn. For example, a Corsair which has lost sight of a Merchantman (i.e. has moved past extreme range) could still catch up to extreme range in one turn, provided she is still within sighting range of another ship that is nearby the Merchantman (i.e. within sighting range).
HEROIC ACTIONS IN MELEE
In boarding melee, player character heroes should not be subject to the normal brawl and chaos, and should not be counted among those killed by cannon or gun fire or random melee actions. Player characters should be forced to wade through a few Brute Squads and then fight the enemy NPCs and or Villains. In addition to engaging the enemy NPCs, players may attempt to perform Heroic Actions, such as these listed below (NOTE if the GM wishes, Villains may perform these actions against the Hero's ship as well):
1. Cut the Sails and Rigging: A Hero may climb up into the rigging (TNs will vary) and cut down various sails and pieces of rigging to crush enemy crewmen and further confuse the boarding action. To get a likely sail, the character must spend two Actions climbing up, and must fight a Brute Squad. Once the hero gets past the Brute Squad, he/she must roll against their Panache with a TN of 10. If successful, two Brute Squads (randomly determined by the GM) are crushed and enveloped in the falling canvas. If the roll fails, one Brute Squad on each side will be crushed.
2. Light the Ship's Powder Magazine: In a desperate boarding action, a Hero may go below decks to light the ship's powder magazine to blow up the ship, or to douse it if lit by someone else. The character must fight through at least one Brute Squad on deck, and then at least one more below decks before reaching the magazine. Once past the Brute Squads, the Hero to will need to spend two Actions in order to get to the magazine and light a fuse or to douse it). Once the fuse is lit, returning to the deck and abandoning the ship will take at least three Actions (more if something goes wrong). A fuse can be set to burn at various lengths, ranging from one to ten Actions. When it explodes, each ton of powder and shot in the magazine will do 2K2 points of damage to the Hull of the ship, and 1K1 points of damage to the Hulls of any other ships grappled to her.
3. Ungrapple: In the middle of a boarding melee, a player character may attempt to cut the grapples holding the two ships together. The Hero must move into the thick of the fight, and must fight through or maneuver around at least two Brute Squad and or NPCs (GM's call) to get to and cut each grappling rope. Once three ropes have been cut, the ships will start to drift apart. The enemy ship may make one attempt to regrapple before the ships drift to short range. Enemy boarders aboard either ship when the ships are ungrappled remain where they are, unless they try to swim back to their ship if the fight turns against them.
Performing a Heroic Action successfully will earn the player character an extra share of the booty (aboard a Pirate or Privateer vessel) or a bonus reward of 1K1 x 20 Guilders (aboard a Merchantman or Warship) is the hero's side wins.
Pirate crews (and often Privateers as well) will usually congregate at a "Pirate Havens". A haven is a safe port where pirates may repair their ships and take shore-leave without fear of capture. The Straits of Blood, the island of La Bucca, and my own Tortago are examples of popular pirate havens. All ships not hostile (or known to be hostile) to the pirates will usually be allowed into the harbors for 20% of their cargoes. This serves to cover the port's costs, and helps to make the potentates of these ports rich.
Within pirate havens, the Game Master may set up pirate expeditions by giving the players "tips". A tip may be information on silver or gold shipments, stranded Merchantmen, unprotected coastal towns, mule "silver train" routes, Castillian treasure fleets, etc..
When a pirate or privateer successfully takes a ship or coastal town, there may be booty. Booty is split into shares for a ship's crew, according to the Articles or Charter of the ship.
Warships, pirates or privateers will normally carry little cargo. One ton on each ship will be taken up by supplies. Another one to three tons will be taken up by jolly boats. Half of what remains will be filled with powder and shot. On a roll of 7 or higher on one die, the ship will carry one type of cargo in the rest of the hold.
Merchantmen and Galleons will carry normal supplies, one to three jolly boats, and one to three tons of powder and shot. The rest of their holds are normally filled with two types of cargo. Roll two dice for each type of cargo on the table below:
Type of Cargo
18 Special (GM's Call)
19 or 20 No Cargo, only ballast
Divide the number of empty cargo tons between the two types of cargo evenly. Cargo may be sold at pirate haven, for normal prices (See the section on Of Sea Trade).
Coastal towns which are raided or bombarded into surrender will have one to ten different types of cargo in town (roll one die), with one to ten tons of each type (roll one die), as well as 1K1 x 1,000 Guilders in ransom money. Add an additional 1,500 Guilders for each small fort defending the town; 3,000 Guilders for each medium fort; and 5,000 Guilders for each large fort. Forts which are destroyed or taken, may also be plundered for half of their guns, and 1K1 tons of powder and shot each.
The Owners, Captains, and Investors in Merchantmen may risk the hazards of sea travel in order to make profits on sea trade. At the beginning of a Merchantman's trade voyage, percentages of the final profits must be agreed upon.
Normally, they are as follows:
· The Owner(s) of the ship receives 45%
· The Captain of the ship receives 30%
· The First Mate of the ship receives 5%
The additional 20% of the profits are subtracted for various expenses. Note that, if the Owner is qualified to be the Captain of a Merchantman, he may appoint himself to that position, and take a 75% share of the profits (if he/she is the sole owner). The same also applies to the First Mate.
The Owner(s) of a Merchantman must pay for the ship's construction and outfitting. They must supply wages for the crew and purchase cargo themselves. Of course, a group of player characters may get together and pool their resources for a ship, but the expenses are still high. In order to make ends meet in sea trade, the Owner(s) of a Merchantman may elect to form a Joint Stock Company.
The first step in forming a Joint Stock Company is obtaining a Charter from a nation's government. Charters may only be granted from a major city on the main continent or at a major colonial port. A player character must make a successful contested Oratory skill roll versus the Wits of a government official (usually a 2) to be granted a Charter. If this roll fails, a Charter must be bought for 1,500 Guilders (2,000 Guilders in the colonies).
Once a Charter is obtained, the Owner(s) of a Merchantman may start their own Joint Stock Company. If one of the player characters is not a Banker (possesses the Merchant Skill Advance Knack of Accounting), a qualified Banker must be hired for a 5% share of the profits (deducted from the Owner's normal share). After the Company is fully organized, it may sell shares of Stock. Each 'share' equals 1% of the profits of all voyages made by the Joint Stock Company (this is deducted from the Owner's percentage). When a Joint Stock Company starts, each 1% share may be sold for 500 Guilders. At a later time, the Company Owners may wish to buy back the Stock in their company, in order to reap the full profits. Stock may be sold or bought back at a rate of 1K1 shares per month. The price of Stock in a Company may drop off (if the Company is unsuccessful) to as low as 100 Guilders per share, or rise (if very successful) as high as 1,000 Guilders per share. Fluctuations in the values of stock will determined by the Game Master.
Each time a Merchantman sets out on a new voyage, it may purchase cargo, for sale at another port. Expenditures for cargo normally come out of the Owner's pocket (or from the money gained by selling stocks in the Company). The value of cargo varies from one place to another. The basic costs on the Thean main continent and the various colonies for a variety of cargoes are listed below (all values listed are in Guilders for one ton of the indicated cargo):
New World $
A Merchantman may carry up to 24 tons of cargo in its hold (although allowances must be made for powder and shot, crew rations, and jolly boats). The cargo tonnage for other types of ships is listed under the section Of Ship Construction.
When a Merchantman comes into port to sell its cargo, roll one die for minor fluctuations in price due to local demands (add one to this roll if the Captain, an Owner on board, or the ship's Purser has both the Merchant Skill Knacks of Appraising and Haggling). Roll once for each type of cargo the ship carries:
1 There is very little demand for the cargo, probably a large shipment of it has arrived recently on another ship; reduce the cargo's value at this port by 20%;
2 or 3 There is a poor demand for the cargo; reduce the cargo's value at this port by 10%;
4 thru 7 There is normal demand for the cargo; it may be sold at the normal value;
8 or 9 There is good demand for the cargo; increase the cargo's value at this port by 10%;
10+ There is excellent demand for the cargo; there has not been a shipment of it for a long time; increase the cargo's value at this port by 20%.
It takes about a week in port to unload cargo for sale, and to buy new cargo and reload the ship.
Passengers may also be taken between ports. Ships will normally charge a person one Guilder for every 40 miles traveled. This includes fees for personal baggage and meals. Prices may vary, depending on the social status of the passengers, the haste in which they wish to leave or arrive at their destination, and the hazards involved in ferrying the passengers to their intended destination.
To be added to as ideas are formulated, discovered, or (if you will excuse the pun) pirated from others.
I am currently working on converting the St. Roger Glamour Knacks to work with this system. When finished, they will be included in this section.
'Trade In Traveller' - A detailed article about (interstellar) trade.