Naval Combat

Note that this section remains a work in progress -

Naval combat and movement can become very complex very quickly; these rules are an attempt to make it somewhat simple, but based upon reasonable wargaming principles.

In this milieu, virtually every ship worthy of the name is capable of moving via both sails and oars. Ships also are not extraordinarily large in size, with a very few possible exceptions. Sails are almost inevitably lateen, which allows sailing closer to the wind than most. Combat consist most primarily of boarding actions, but also includes some long range missile fire (typically either trebuchets or spells) with ramming a rarity, but one which nevertheless happens.


As we are playing on a square grid there are 8 reasonable directions a ship can move. Assuming the map is oriented with one side at due north, those directions are north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.

At the beginning of an encounter the DM will determine the wind direction, and distance and heading of the combatants. The player commanding each PC ship (normally one) will make all decisions for that ship for the duration of the combat. Unless the encounter is determined to take place in either a storm (somewhat rare) or a dead calm (extremely rare) wind speed will be irrelevant; when it is low turns will be considered to take more real time.

A ship has two sailing modes: Battle sails and Full sails. Normally in combat a ship defaults to using battle sails. Full sails allow the ship to move faster under sail, at the risk of taking extra damage to any rigging hits.

Each combat round the DM will write down movement orders for all ships under his control; then the players will move their ships in accordance with the movement rules. The DM will move his ships as plotted. All movement is considered to take place simultaneously.

Each ship will occupy two map squares, one in the bow and one in the stern. The number of squares a ship may move depends on the attitude it has to the wind at the beginning of the round:

A ship facing directly into the wind cannot move at all, barring oars or making a 45 degree turn with a successful piloting roll.

A ship moving into a 45 degree wind can move one square.
A ship moving with a 90 degree cross wind or a 180 degree following wind can move two squares.
A ship moving with the wind at 45 degrees abaft can move 3 squares.

Each 45 degree turn a ship makes counts as a square. The stern swings over into a new square when the ship turns.

Full sails add 2 squares to each movement except directly into the wind, which is unchanged.

Using oars only a ship may move one square in any direction, or make a 45 degree turn. Each turn after the first under oars the captain must make a rowing check to see if the crew is exhausted; once this happens the ship may not use oars for the remainder of the encounter. Oars may also be used to add one square to the movement of a ship under sail.

Once per encounter a ship may row for 2 squares, at the cost of immediately exhausting the crew. This is normally used to attempt to ram.

If two ships’ movement indicates a collision, both captains must make a piloting roll to determine success, depending on whether they wish to avoid the collision or not. If both are attempting the same thing, only one needs to succeed. If they are trying something different, the high roller succeeds, assuming he would have succeeded anyway. Double failure in this case indicates no collision. When ships collide, each ship does damage to the other’s hull rolling a die based on its size and structure, with modifiers based on the angle of impact, presence of a ram, and any other situational factors.

In the turn immediately following a collision members of the crews of each ship may attempt to board, attempt to repel boarders, attempt to grapple, or attempt to disengage.

Ranged Combat:

For ranged combat a simple initiative roll is made for each ship in the combat round (a simple initiative roll is made without dexterity or weapon speed modifiers.) Each ship may fire any weapon that bears on an enemy ship. The ship’s commander chooses whether to fire at the enemy’s hull, deck, or rigging. If the “to hit” roll is successful the enemy ship is hit; the firer needs to roll 1d4, with a 1 or 2 representing a hit to the area targeted, and a 3 or 4 representing a hit to one of the other areas. (This is defined at the time of the roll.) Rigging hits damage rigging; deck hits damage the crew (incapacitating a number of the crew members;) hull hits naturally damage the hull.

Naval Combat

The Survivors of Lemuria alinman