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  • Rules for Ships

    My most recent inexplicable obsession is filling in some of the gaps in the now-defunct Tenebrous Seas Wiki, an online sourcebook for aquatic/maritime NWoD chronicles. The biggest gap, to my mind, is the lack of systems for representing ships and travelling in them. I'm told that there are rules in Exalted (specifically, in Scroll of Kings) for naval combat, and I was wondering if someone here could enlighten me about how ships work in a d10 system. Does each part of a ship (mast, hull, forecastle, etc) have its own HP, or is there a common pool for the entire ship? How does what the ship is made of impact its speed and maneuverability? Is sailing considered a Survival specialty, or is it a completely separate skill? How do boarding, ramming, and sinking work? How much cargo and how many passengers can a ship hold, and what effect results from not having enough sailors to properly crew a ship - does it gain a Condition, or does it take a penalty to Speed or Handling?


    Author of Motor City Breakdown, [New Seeming] Mechanicals, and [Entitlement] Divers of the Cerulean Pearl
    Accuracy Consultant on Ashes of the Motor City, Author of Devil's Night in the D
    Editor, Compiler, and Senior Contributor to Tenebrous Seas
    Current Project(s): Late Antiquity/Early Medieval Dark Era for Genius: The Transgression

  • #2
    Well there’s also a whole naval combat system in third edition, are you interested in that as well?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      I'm told that there are rules in Exalted (specifically, in Scroll of Kings) for naval combat, and I was wondering if someone here could enlighten me about how ships work in a d10 system.
      I don't recall Scroll of Kings but I'll answer what I can from Exalted Third Edition's sailing rules.

      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      Does each part of a ship (mast, hull, forecastle, etc) have its own HP, or is there a common pool for the entire ship?
      The game uses "hull levels" for the overall integrity of the ship.

      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      How does what the ship is made of impact its speed and maneuverability?
      Speed and maneuverability are set by the ST, but the degree to which the construction materials of the ship affects them is typically below the system's level of resolution.

      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      Is sailing considered a Survival specialty, or is it a completely separate skill?
      Separate skill, but if you're looking to crib it for Chronicles of Darkness I'd just lump it in with an existing skill.

      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      How do boarding, ramming, and sinking work?
      When ships and/or big aquatic beasties try and do these things, they make opposed Wits + Sail rolls until one accumulates enough "momentum" over the other to initiate a given maneuver. Ramming or broadsides do some hull damage; boarding actions move things into the regular combat rules; if a ship takes enough hull damage levels, it is sinking or burning or otherwise incapacitated. Keep in mind that a ship that runs out of HP doesn't necessarily sink, nor is sinking instantaneous; getting its last HP marked off just means it's effectively out of the fight.

      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      How much cargo and how many passengers can a ship hold...
      Depends on the ship. Given that the setting is far short of the Golden Age of Sail, only the largest Guild vessels will be able to hold thousands of tons of cargo.

      Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
      ...and what effect results from not having enough sailors to properly crew a ship - does it gain a Condition, or does it take a penalty to Speed or Handling?
      The likeliest result is that the ST will either leverage penalties to rolls, or decide that they just aren't able to sail the ship.

      ​(That said, a Condition seems appropriate from what I can recall of the Chronicles of Darkness ruleset.)
      Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 12-19-2019, 01:46 PM.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
        Well there’s also a whole naval combat system in third edition, are you interested in that as well?
        Yes, that would be great. I imagine I should just find a friend who has the Exalted 3e book and just crib from that?

        Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
        Separate skill, but if you're looking to crib it for Chronicles of Darkness I'd just lump it in with an existing skill.
        Personally, I think I'd just treat it as a separate skill. I see no reason why a terrestrial survivalist or outdoorsman should have any advantage over say, a scientist at piloting a ship that neither of them is familiar with. Then I'd just allow for specialties in motorized or sail-powered or oar-powered watercraft. But I know that players generally hate adding new skills to the mix, so I could understand why some STs prefer to put sailing under Survival, or even Athletics.

        In fact, you could make a case that different sizes of vessel require different skills to handle effectively. A rowboat would obviously use Strength+Athletics, and a sailing yacht might use either Dex+Athletics or Int+Survival, while a huge naval gunship might require Int+Computers or even Presence to convince all those sailors to follow your orders. Like most things in WoD, the exact makeup of a given roll is largely situational.

        Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
        Depends on the ship. Given that the setting is far short of the Golden Age of Sail, only the largest Guild vessels will be able to hold thousands of tons of cargo.
        Tenebrous Seas assumes the modern era as the default setting, but players could still potentially run into ghost-ships or timey-wimey nonsense on the high seas.
        Last edited by Super_Dave; 12-19-2019, 02:13 PM.


        Author of Motor City Breakdown, [New Seeming] Mechanicals, and [Entitlement] Divers of the Cerulean Pearl
        Accuracy Consultant on Ashes of the Motor City, Author of Devil's Night in the D
        Editor, Compiler, and Senior Contributor to Tenebrous Seas
        Current Project(s): Late Antiquity/Early Medieval Dark Era for Genius: The Transgression

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
          A rowboat would obviously use Strength+Athletics, and a sailing yacht might use either Dex+Athletics or Int+Survival, while a huge naval gunship might require Int+Computers or even Presence to convince all those sailors to follow your orders.
          I'd still go with Intelligence or Wits as the Attribute over Presence for your gunship example, because it's ultimately more about coordination than charisma. Sailors are already conditioned to follow orders. If one's crew hasn't had the chain of command drilled into them, a lack of charisma is the least of one's problems.

          Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
          Tenebrous Seas assumes the modern era as the default setting, but players could still potentially run into ghost-ships or timey-wimey nonsense on the high seas.
          What sort of scenario were you planning out?


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          • #6
            Since the Exalted relevant stuff is mostly being addressed, I'll point out that in the nWoD/CofD rule, sailing boats defaults to Drive, not Survival, though that presumes things that aren't simple row boats. If you're running a naval game, swapping Drive for a period/location appropriate alternative is already the stated thing to do in things like Dark Eras.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
              I'd still go with Intelligence or Wits as the Attribute over Presence for your gunship example, because it's ultimately more about coordination than charisma. Sailors are already conditioned to follow orders. If one's crew hasn't had the chain of command drilled into them, a lack of charisma is the least of one's problems.
              That's a good point, I guess Presence isn't really appropriate there. Drive probably works better, per Heavy Arms' suggestion.

              Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
              What sort of scenario were you planning out?
              Well, here are a few timey-wimey story hooks I've come up with:
              • After a terrible storm, the ship pulls safely into its home-port... but in the wrong century. Have the PCs actually traveled back in time, or is this an extremely convincing use of the Mind Arcanum? Or something even stranger?
              • The night watchman notices a strange vessel (a long, narrow ship made of woven reeds) floating off the port bow, its oars abandoned and crew vanished. Her only passenger is an impossibly-old man clutching a crook and flail and wearing the regalia of a pharaoh. He rolls on the deck in a fit, ranting and raving about his lost crew and monstrous serpents swallowing the sun if he doesn't complete his nightly journey. Do the players take him aboard for medical attention, or do they indulge his dementia and grab an oar?
              • A science vessel searching for Atlantis by following Plato's directions comes to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and discovers a landmass which GPS and sonar say isn't there. An away team goes ashore, and the Greco-Roman locals seem friendly enough, but they have a disconcerting habit of shifting into ancient super-scientists and fish-men and back without explanation or comment.
              • A tiny coastal fishing-village in northern [COUNTRY_NAME] wants to hire the PCs as mercenaries to protect them from being raided by pirates. Blonde haired, blue eyed, axe-wielding pirates whose ships are silent, sonar-invisible, and impossibly fast. Obviously, their horned helmets mean that they can't be real, historical vikings, but then what the hell are they?
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              Since the Exalted relevant stuff is mostly being addressed, I'll point out that in the nWoD/CofD rule, sailing boats defaults to Drive, not Survival, though that presumes things that aren't simple row boats. If you're running a naval game, swapping Drive for a period/location appropriate alternative is already the stated thing to do in things like Dark Eras.
              That's a good point, actually. It would definitely simplify things to use Drive for most modern, motorized ships. I still think Survival might be appropriate for sailing, though, in certain cases.
              Last edited by Super_Dave; 12-20-2019, 12:10 PM.


              Author of Motor City Breakdown, [New Seeming] Mechanicals, and [Entitlement] Divers of the Cerulean Pearl
              Accuracy Consultant on Ashes of the Motor City, Author of Devil's Night in the D
              Editor, Compiler, and Senior Contributor to Tenebrous Seas
              Current Project(s): Late Antiquity/Early Medieval Dark Era for Genius: The Transgression

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              • #8
                While Exalted (and esp. 3e) makes Survival a side concern for Sail, in the nWoD/CofD rules a sailor not relying on modern IRL tech would definitely want to have decent ratings in Athletics, Crafts, and Survival to supplement all the stuff that isn't actually piloting the boat. Athletics for any manual powered boats, or to be able to climb around in rigging, and so on, Crafts because boats are constantly falling apart at sea and you need to be doing regular maintenance on them, and Survival since it would cover fishing/scrounging for food at islands, identifying hazards, and so on.

                The only place where Drive and Survival would overlap IMO would be in navigation, but the precedent there is to use the higher of the two in such situations.

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