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  • Naval combat

    Have any of you run Naval Combat? How did you find it? Particularly, what did the other PCs do while the captain was ordering stuff about? How do naval combat actions gel with regular actions?

    In the game I run, the Full Moon, Olaf Keelbreaker, is captain of a longship, which the PCs are all traveling around on currently. So I thought I could run a Naval Combat, like pirates or something. But with all the games I've run or played of 3rd ed, we've never had any Naval Combat, so I've not used it. I don't know if there's anything particular I should watch out for.

    I can see broadly how Olaf's going to order his ship around, and the enemy captain will do the same. And there are rules for boarding actions. But I'm not sure what to do about stuff like the gorilla-lunar bellowing at the enemy crew to frighten them away, or the Changing Moon sniping with her powerbow, or the No Moon using his poisoned blowdarts. Or what the other two social characters who only have melee weapons will do (maybe nothing?).


    My characters:
    Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
    Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
    Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

  • #2
    Hey Wizard.
    In the first game I ran we had a dawn captain, twilight sorcerer and two nights. The dawn would do the naval combat rolls which was good. To keep it interesting, I would let the other players use their charms to modify rolls. The sorcerer was making use of sorcery to affect the other vessel while the nights would sneak aboard and sabotage things and i let that affect the rolls of the enemy or give bonuses to the dawn based on what was being done, (e.g death of obsidian butterflies being used to tear the enemy sails, setting a fire in the storage, killing and replacing the guy in the crows next (flawlessly impenetrable disguise ) to misdirect the enemy captain. That made it a more interesting setup for everyone. They wound up having a lot of fun with it and asked to do more sail based games cause of it.
    Admittedly I had to kludge it together buuuuut it wasn’t too hard. I just used logical rolls for like sneaking aboard and stuff like that. I treated sabotage like hull wounds.
    It also helped that my friends are absurd and all had performance and were able to spontaneously turn it into a ship based musical.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      Have any of you run Naval Combat?
      I did.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      How did you find it?
      With Ctrl+F.

      ​Nah, but seriously, it was pretty fun.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      Particularly, what did the other PCs do while the captain was ordering stuff about?
      Well, at least in my game, the other PCs were also captains of their ships. Misu had Invincible Admiral Method, so his if his flag-wavers directed the other PCs, they'd typically get like five extra dice on their rolls to maneuver.

      ​That said, in instances when they were all on the same ship, they often got the crew ready for broadside/boarding actions (Barbus) or saw to the wounded (Seamstress).

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      How do naval combat actions gel with regular actions?
      I wouldn't advise running combat and naval combat simultaneously. Most naval combats at the time the Exalted RPG emulates was centered around boarding/ramming/disabling the enemy ship, or escaping them.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      I don't know if there's anything particular I should watch out for.
      Artifact ships are scary.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      But I'm not sure what to do about stuff like the gorilla-lunar bellowing at the enemy crew to frighten them away...
      I'd make that a custom maneuver.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      ...or the Changing Moon sniping with her powerbow...
      Is she sniping at the crew, you mean? I'd treat that as a Broadside maneuver, but if successful, instead of doing Hull damage, when the PCs inevitably board I'd give the battle group representing the enemy crew some Magnitude damage.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      ...or the No Moon using his poisoned blowdarts...
      See above.

      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
      Or what the other two social characters who only have melee weapons will do (maybe nothing?).
      "Hurry up and wait" is something people in armies and navies experience. That said, do they have means of buffing the crew if they end up boarding the other ship? (If it looks like they're the ones likely to get boarded, I might allow them to make a War roll to pull off a strategy.)
      Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 05-19-2019, 09:38 AM.

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      • #4
        You could also reflect killing an enemy's crew with giving them penalties as demoralization and the chaos of sailors taking up the posts of dead ones hampers their ability to respond to their captain's commands.


        Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

        Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Beans View Post
          You could also reflect killing an enemy's crew with giving them penalties as demoralization and the chaos of sailors taking up the posts of dead ones hampers their ability to respond to their captain's commands.
          Right, I'm not saying it's the only way to do it - it's just how I would.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the replies!

            Originally posted by Kell_Tamer View Post
            Hey Wizard.
            In the first game I ran we had a dawn captain, twilight sorcerer and two nights. The dawn would do the naval combat rolls which was good. To keep it interesting, I would let the other players use their charms to modify rolls. The sorcerer was making use of sorcery to affect the other vessel while the nights would sneak aboard and sabotage things and i let that affect the rolls of the enemy or give bonuses to the dawn based on what was being done, (e.g death of obsidian butterflies being used to tear the enemy sails, setting a fire in the storage, killing and replacing the guy in the crows next (flawlessly impenetrable disguise ) to misdirect the enemy captain. That made it a more interesting setup for everyone. They wound up having a lot of fun with it and asked to do more sail based games cause of it.
            Sounds a bit like Strategic Manouevres, where the strategist gets bonus dice if their side did some successful scenes of screwing with the enemy.

            I treated sabotage like hull wounds.
            That kind of works. If it's setting fire to it, that makes sense. If it's killing crew, I guess the penalties to operation (-2, or -4 or whatever) still make sense.

            It also helped that my friends are absurd and all had performance and were able to spontaneously turn it into a ship based musical.
            Always good. Though it's my DnD group that's full of musicians and regularly sing for their supper, not my Lunars game.

            Originally posted by TheCountAlucard
            ​That said, in instances when they were all on the same ship, they often got the crew ready for broadside/boarding actions (Barbus) or saw to the wounded (Seamstress).
            Did you do anything with that mechanically?

            Is she sniping at the crew, you mean? I'd treat that as a Broadside maneuver, but if successful, instead of doing Hull damage, when the PCs inevitably board I'd give the battle group representing the enemy crew some Magnitude damage.
            I did think about doing it as a Broadside, but I thought it didn't really make sense for bows to do damage to the ship. But I guess I could take Kell's idea and say the point of Hull damage is to the crew, and any wound penalties represent missing crew.

            Of course, I'd like to give the Changing Moon and No Moon something to roll for their broadside.
            Maybe I can just have the Full Moon captain make broadside manouevres against the enemy ship, representing getting to short range and the Changing Moon and No Moon shooting, and also let them make regular Withering attacks vs a battle group.
            Then, if they later board and fight, I can apply whatever Magnitude damage they did.
            And possibly if they do a Boarding action without a Broadside first, I could give them each a free attack first.


            Though I also realised that if an enemy ship is charging towards the PCs, and the PCs are like "let's charge our ship at them and fight them in close combat", it's probably not necessary to use Naval Combat at all.

            Artifact ships are scary.
            I hadn't considered using one (I was just going to use naval combat maybe for a fight against pirates or two; it's not a West game, I don't really think Naval Combat will be a big part of it), but it's worth bearing in mind for the future.


            My characters:
            Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
            Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
            Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
              Did you do anything with that mechanically?
              Well, if memory serves, Barbus took that War Charm for drilling a crew in the use of a siege weapon; I passed the bonus along to whoever was making a Broadside. With Hectare, I ruled that the various Durability-Enhancing he'd done over the course of many sessions had effectively given the ships an extra -0 health level (and also made the maintenance that did have to be performed on the ship much easier). With Seamstress, I admit it wasn't represented much mechanically, but the various hygienic programs she'd implemented went a long way toward keeping the crew happy and healthy.

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              • #8
                I'm a fan of the naval combat rules for the most part. I use the naval rounds in a more abstract way, giving other party members opportunity to take actions that affect the combat in between each naval round. Depending on the party members' actions, this may give benefits or penalties to various ship actions. I try to add as much narrative to the naval actions as possible, including allowing entire combat scenes in between naval rounds at times where it makes sense.


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                • #9
                  I run a game set in the West: from An-Teng all the way to Fajad (Gem is next, with a big stop in Coral). One player is a Sail Supernal, the others are not sailors, just travellers on the ship with the Captain.

                  The ship combat section is fun! Its a lot of positioning and then pulling off manuevers- basically withering and decisive gambits but simpler. The Sorcerers in the party have used sorcery to attack the enemy ships, the Athlete Zenith made a crazy leap to start cutting down enemy on their flagship before boarding range.

                  Just a tip- use hazards! My Captain Sailor got a little bored with just basic piracy on merchant ships so i pulled them into a Fae trap. Fog started to appear around them, cutting visibility, while the knife-sharp rocks standing only a few feet out of the water were deadly to the hulls- and then the Fog Shark Swarm came!


                  ..."But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me"

                  Message me for Japanese translations.

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                  • #10
                    Hazards is a good idea, especially because another character has the navigation tree.


                    My characters:
                    Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
                    Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
                    Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

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                    • #11
                      I've been running a game set in the West and we've found the naval combat rules to be fun. Even in moments where the close-range combatants couldn't act yet the rolls to set up positioning for boarding were super quick. I just made a quick spreadsheet with the maneuvers and they rammed and boarded the enemy ship in no time.


                      Exalted Behind a Screen of Jade, Savant of the Immaculate Texts, No Moon Scholar, Seeking Awakened, Cloaked Changeling, Disciple of the Antler Crown, Wraith, Good Sitting Dog, Best Lurking Cat with Bones, Pioneer Pooch, Scion with Shield of Knowledge, Director

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