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Aert Anthonisz. (1579/15801620) Title A French Ship and Barbary Pirates Date circa 1615
When ships themselves become a part of a combat, things get more unusual. The following rules are not meant to accurately simulate all of the complexities of ship-to-ship combat, only to provide you with a quick and easy set of rules to resolve such situations when they inevitably arise in a nautical adventure, whether it be a battle between two ships or between a ship and a sea monster.
Preparation: Decide what type of ships are involved in the combat. Use a large, blank battle mat to represent the waters on which the battle occurs. A single square corresponds to 30 feet of distance. Represent each ship by placing markers that take up the appropriate number of squares (miniature toy ships make great markers and should be available at most hobby stores).
Starting Combat: When combat begins, allow the PCs (and important NPC allies) to roll initiative as normal the ship itself moves and attacks on the captains initiative result. If any of the ships in the battle rely on sails to move, randomly determine what direction the wind is blowing by rolling 1d8 and following the guidelines for missed splash weapons.
Movement: On the captains initiative count, the ship can move its current speed in a single round as a move-equivalent action for the captain (or double its speed as a full-round action), as long as it has its minimum crew complement. The ship can increase or decrease its speed by 30 feet each round, up to itsmaximum speed. Alternatively, the captain can change direction (up to one side of a square at a time) as a standard action. A ship can only change direction at the start of a turn.
Attacks: Crewmembers in excess of the ships minimum crew requirement can be allocated to man siege engines. Siege engines attack on the captains initiative count.
A ship can also attempt
to ram a target if it has its minimum crew. To ram a target, the ship must move
at least 30 feet and end with its bow in a square adjacent to the target. The
ships captain then makes a Profession (sailor) check if this check
equals or exceeds the targets AC, the ship hits its target, inflicting
damage as indicated on the ship statistics table to the target, as well as minimum
damage to the ramming ship. A ship outfitted with an actual ram siege engine
inflicts an additional 3d6 points of damage to the target (the ramming vessel
suffers no additional damage).
A ship gains the sinking
condition if its hit points are reduced to 0 or fewer. A sinking ship cannot
move or attack, and it sinks completely 10 rounds after it gains the sinking
condition. Each hit on a sinking ship that inflicts damage reduces the remaining
time for it to sink by 1 round per 25 points of damage inflicted. Magic (such
as make whole) can repair a sinking ship if the ships hit points are raised
above 0, at which point the ship loses the sinking condition. Generally, non-magical
repairs take too long to save a ship from sinking once it begins to go down.
A vast variety of boats and ships exist in the real world, from small rafts and longboats to intimidating galleons and swift galleys. To represent the numerous distinctions of shape and size that exist between water-going vessels, Table 749 categorizes seven standard ship sizes and their respective statistics. Just as the cultures of the real world have created and adapted hundreds of different types of seafaring vessels, races in fantasy worlds might create their own strange ships. GMs might use or alter the statistic above to suit the needs of their creations, and describe such conveyances however they please. All ships have the following traits.
Ship Type: This is a general category that lists the ships basic type.
AC: The ships base Armor Class. To calculate a ships actual AC, add the captains Profession (sailor) modifier to the ships base AC. Touch attacks against a ship ignore the captains modifier. A ship is never considered flat-footed.
hp: The ships total hit points. In addition, all ships have a hardness rating based on their construction material (hardness 5 for most wooden ships). At 0 or fewer hit points, a ship gains the sinking condition as described above.
Base Save: The ships base save modifier. All of a ships saving throws (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) have the same value. To determine a ships actual saving throw modifiers, add the captains Profession (sailor) modifier to this base value.
Maximum Speed: The ships maximum tactical speed in combat. An asterisk indicates the ship has sails, and can move at double speed when it moves in the same direction as the wind. A ship with only sails can only move if there is some wind.
Arms: The number of siege engines that can be fitted on the ship. A ram uses one of these slots, and only one ram may be fitted to a ship.
Ram: The amount of damage the ship inflicts on a successful ramming attack (without a ram siege engine).
Squares: The number of squares the ship takes up on the battle mat. A ships width is always considered to be one square.
Crew: The first
number lists the minimum crew complement the ship needs to function normally,
excluding those needed to make use of the vessels weapons. The second
value lists the ships maximum crew plus additional soldiers or passengers.
A ship without its minimum crew complement can only move, change speed, change
direction, or ram if its captain makes a DC 20 Profession (sailor) check. Crew
in excess of the minimum have no effect on movement, but they can replace fallen
crewmembers or man additional weapons.
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