Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sea Travel in the Ancient World and Sea Travel in RPGs Set in the Ancient World

A Brief History of Sea Travel

Humans began using boats to get around a long time ago. It started with using wood as a buoyancy aid for swimming, then we started to tie them together into rafts, these eventually had sails attached to them, then better rigging was invented and compasses where made and then ships were made out of metal and had lots of guns.

But for our purposes we are interested in ships that the ancient Greeks sailed, or at least people like the ancient Greeks in ships maybe similar to what they might have sailed. What it comes down to is this:
-There are lots of oars needed to move a ship around, they solved this by having multiple decks of oars (trireme literally means three decks of oars). Oars meant you could go fast and turn better than just with sails.
-You need a very large crew to move around a big ship.
-The sails are square, not triangular, and have pretty simple rigging. This means that they sailed with the wind for the most part, not across it or against it.
-The Aegean Sea wasn't that big and there were islands everywhere. It was probably very difficult to sail out of sight of land, meaning that they had little need to develop navigation systems.

Sea Travel in Ánemos, or "I should buy a boat"

While most people in Ánemos have never even left their village, let alone their island, those that do need ships. But the Sea is also the main source of food and lively hood in Ánemos, so even the most backwards bumpkin knows their way around a row boat or fishing sloop. This means that mechanically all PCs are very competent sailors and can work in pretty much any position on a ships crew as needed. And most everyone in Ánemos wants a ship of their own as a way to gain prosperity and independence, plus fares are expensive!

Using the guidelines from the 5th Edition DMG I expanded the specifics and made up some stats. I also liked Joseph Manola's idea about making mounts and therefore travel more interesting and useful, so I created a similar "quality" spectrum on which to describe ships.

Ship Descriptions and Stats

Common Galley: The all around utility ship, with room enough for passengers and cargo. Faster than cogs, but not great in a fight.
Trading Cog: Large slow moving ships with deep cargo holds, these are very common on the high seas. Many rowers are needed to move their great bulk and ballast is required when their holds are empty.
Fishing Sloop: Small sail boats favored by fishermen, just large enough to make small journeys between islands.
Row Boat: Basic row boat, cannot be used to travel across between islands due to strong currents. Most ships carry at least one with with them.
Minoan Quinqureme: The backbone of the Minoan Republic's navy, these tall and well built ships prowl the Inner Sea and enforce Republic law. Built To carry many fighting men from place to place.
Minoan Maris Castra: The crown jewels of the Minoan Republic's navy and the largest ships ever built, there are only three in existence at a time. They lead the navy in war, but otherwise act as merely symbols of power. Massive, heavily armored, and slow.
Arsuf Longship: Lean and fast, these are weapons used to raid and flee quickly.
Arsuf Clancraft: The pride of every Clan, these are mobile homes and the Clan's most important possession. With a full crew, these ships can sail longer and faster than almost any other ship on the Sea.
Chalcis Wyrship: Every timber was carefully chosen, every join is caulked with , and the sails have spells and runes sewn into them. They run light and fast on the water almost seeming to sail themselves. With a Windcaller crew of Chalcis mages these are be the fastest ships in the world.


Ship
HP
Base
AC
Damage
Threshold
Ramming
Damage
Dice
Speed
(mph)
Crew
Passengers
Cargo
(tons)
Common
Galley
200
10
10
d6
2
20
20
150
Trading
Cog
250
9
10
d6
1
30
10
300
Fishing
Sloop
100
8
0
d4
1
1
6
1
Row
Boat
50
8
0
d2
1.5
4
2
1
Minoan
Quinqureme
500
12
20
d12
3
60
60
100
Minoan
Maris Castra
1000
13
30
d12
2
100
200
100
Arsurf
Longship
300
11
15
d10
3.5
40
20
50
Arsurf
Clancraft
350
12
15
d10
3.5
30
70
50
Chalcis
Wyrship
250
12
15
d8
4
20
10
10
Chalcis
Wyrship,
Windcaller
crew
250
13
15
d8
8
5
25
10


Ship Quality

Quality
Cost
HP
AC(None/
Reinforced
/Plate)
Damage
Threshold
Damage
(Ramming)
To-Hit
Bonus
Speed
Poor, -1
-25%
-25%
(-2/+0/+3)
-25%
2d-2
+0
-50%
Average, 0
0
0
(0/+2/+5)
0
2d
+1
0%
Good, +1
10%
5%
(+1/+3/+6)
5%
3d+4
+2
0%
Excellent, +2
25%
10%
(+2/+4/+7)
10%
4d+8
+3
25%
Exceptional, +3
50%
20%
(+3/+5/+8)
20%
5d+12
+4
25%
Magical, +4
-
30%
(+4/+6/+9)
30%
6d+16
+5
50%
Exceptional
and Magical, +5
-
40%
(+5/+7/+10)
40%
7d+20
+6
50%

*Damage Threshold: This is the minimum amount of damage needed to damage this ship.
A +5 Ship

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