As a result, I need ship rules. In the end, I've lifted a lot of ideas from the Lamentations book. The ship is, where relevant, treated like any other stat-block, with hitdice, hitpoints, AC and so on.
I wanted the ship to have a strong and comfortable identity; in the end (and after a little reading) I settled on a retired tea-clipper.
I'm abstracting carrying capacity somewhat. I want to drive home the logistics of such a long-scale sea journey, and how there's not enough room to carry everything.
* * * * *
The Primrose is the ship on which this voyage takes place. It was once used for coastal trading voyages, but is now several decades old and reaching the end of its use. It has seen many former captains come and go, and has been mended and altered enough to become its own idiosyncratic vessel, almost a character in its own right.
The primrose is painted black, the hull tarred, with the various railings and masts painted a pale yellow. It was built as a tea-clipper, so its frame is narrow and angular. To look at, its silhouette almost reminds one of an elegantly curved knife.
The figurehead is an owl, wings spread wide, as if swooping down on prey.
Below deck the cabins - like the ship itself - are angular and narrow. The furnishings are a little old fashioned, the Primrose nearing the end of its useful lifespan and so rather old itself. None the less, until overcrowding becomes an issue, things are reasonable comfortable by the standards of merchant shipping.
The ship has three masts, each bearing a broad, square sail. It is 90 yards long by twelve yards wide. It has three lifeboats, each enough to hold 12.
Mechanics for the Primrose
For most purposes, where there is peril
involved, the Primrose can be treated much like a creature, as follows.
ò 40 Hit-dice.
ò 200 hit-points, and completely ignores any attack that deals 10 or less damage.
ò AC as an unarmoured human against those physically on-board, or AC like chainmail against attacks from outside the ship.
ò Mostly either automatically passes saves, or automatically fails them, based on the nature of the effect. Where the an effect’s outcome is truly in doubt, treat the save as 11+.
ò Immunity to cold, poison, mental effects, sickness, etc.
ò Double damage from fire. Once it has taken damage from fire, it will continue taking that much each round thereafter. Putting it out requires 1 action spent dousing the flames for each round it has already burned. (This can be a character acting once each round, or several acting all in one round, or somewhere in between).
When the Primrose hits 0 hp, it is effectively wrecked. It cannot move, and will begin to sink, taking 3d6 rounds to do so.
The Primrose does not attack. Those on it, however, are capable of manning the cannons.
Damage and Repair to the Primrose
During an encounter, keep a tally of how many times the Primrose has taken damage. Once the encounter is over and it is possible to take stock of the ship’s state, for each tally mark, roll d20 on the table below to see what damage has been done to the ship. If the same result is rolled twice, ignore the second time it comes up; the ship cannot lose a rudder it no longer has, for example.
-1- Rigging is shredded.
-2- Forward mast is useless or lost entirely. -25% speed until fixed, requiring a new mast to be found in order to do so.
-3- Middle mast is useless or lost entirely. -50% speed until fixed, requiring a new mast to be found in order to do so.
-4- Rear mast is useless or lost entirely. -25% speed until fixed, requiring a new mast to be found in order to do so.
-5- Sails are damaged. -25% speed until fixed.
-6- Rudder is inoperable. Steering is impossible until fixed, which will require 10 batches of timber and the ship securely anchored to work on it.
-7- Anchor lost. Will require a new anchor; something big and heavy and ideally grappling-hook shaped.
-8- Upper deck torn up.
-9- Forecastle deck torn up.
-10- Quarterdeck torn up.
-11- Poop deck torn up.
-12- Bowsprit lost.
-13- Hull damaged above the waterline; port side.
-14- Hull damaged above the waterline; starboard side.
-15- Holed below the waterline; forward port side. Ship will sink in 2d10 turns. Requires 10 batches of timber to fix.
-16- Holed below the waterline; rear port side. Ship will sink in 2d10 turns. Requires 10 batches of timber to fix.
-17- Holed below the waterline; forward starboard side. Ship will sink in 2d10 turns. Requires 10 batches of timber to fix.
-18- Holed below the waterline; rear starboard side. Ship will sink in 2d10 turns. Requires 10 batches of timber to fix.
-19- Figurehead lost.
-20- Tiller damaged. Steering is impossible until fixed, which will require 5 batches of timber.
Each HP of damage done to the ship can be repaired. It requires one batch of timber, and somebody working for a turn.
The primrose requires at least 28 on board to be able to sail reliably. This can be both NPC sailors, and PCs who are willing to do the work.
For each person below this, -1 to all d20 rolls related to sailing it, navigation, and so on (for example, roll-under-intelligence or saving throws). For every 4 people below this, -1 to all rolls related to sailing it, navigation and so on (for example, surprise rolls).
The ship has enough room for up to 35 crew plus the initial number of PCs. So, with a party of 4 PCs, there is enough room for 39 on board.
NPC sailors have the following statistics, where it matters:
ò 1 Hit-dice.
ò 4 HP.
ò Armour as leather (if properly equipped) or unarmoured otherwise.
ò Knife (+1, d4)
ò If properly equipped, Maritime Weapons (+1, d8)
ò Saves as Fighter 1.
The ship can carry 1500 batches of cargo. Cargo that can be carried includes:
ò Provisions: each batch of provisions feeds one person for one day.
ò Timber: each batch of timber is enough to repair 1 point of damage to the Primrose.
ò Cannon Ammunition: each batch is enough for one shot from a cannon. (Assume that the gunpowder uses up very little space, and that it does not run out when the cannonballs do).
ò Armaments: each batch of armaments is enough to arm a single NPC sailor with proper weapons and armour for maritime combat.
ò Treasure: each batch of treasure found on the voyage uses up space on the ship if it is to be carried. As a rule of thumb, 500 XP’s worth of treasure makes up one batch; maybe more or less for particularly bulky or easily transported goods.
The Primrose has been fitted with 6 cannons, 3 down each side. Each sits in its own little gun-port, with the necessary tools and supplies to hand.
There are four stages required to fire a cannon:
ò It must be loaded with a charge of powder.
ò It must be loaded with a cannon-ball.
ò It must be aimed.
ò The powder must be lit, which fires it.
Each of these stages takes a round's activity to perform. Multiple crew can work together, so that four of them can charge, load, aim and fire a cannon each round.
When firing a cannon, roll to hit as normal with the bonus of the person who actually fired the thing. If hit, things that are normal-sized (people, wolves, etc etc) get to make a Save vs Breath Weapons to get out of the way of the shot. (Larger things like giants and other ships get no such save). A cannonball does d6 x 10 damage.
If used to fire grapeshot, a cannon does d10 damage to everything in front of it, with no to-hit roll required. Smaller-than-ship-sized things still get their Save vs Breath Weapons to avoid it, as normal.