Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sailing, Sailing!

In my next D&D Next playtest session, there is a good chance that the PCs will be on a sea voyage, so I need to iron out some simple oversea travel rules.  My first stop here was the Isle of Dread adventure that comes with the latest D&D Next playtest packet.  This adventure contains some elegant and simple rules for overland and waterborne travel. 

In the adventure, we see that a small sailboat can carry 10 characters, up to 1,000 pounds of cargo, and has 100 hit points.  It can cross one (6-mile) hex in 30 minutes.  Assuming there are enough characters to pilot the sailboat in shifts, it could travel 48 hexes, or 288 miles, per day.

Fine Tuning Travel Speed

I decided to see how this corresponded to historical data, and found a web site that details Speed of Sail of Ancient Ships.  Based on my research here, I reduced the speed of the small sailboat to 1 hex per hour of travel, for up to 24 hexes (or 144 miles) of movement possible per day.

Wind and Weather

A sailboat can't sail without wind, and the Isle of Dread mentions that the speed is based on favorable wind conditions, and also gives some rules for rowing speed at a tactical level.  At the start of each day of waterborne travel, I'll roll 1d6 to determine wind, and 1d6 to determine general weather conditions, using the tables below.

Wind Table (1d6, roll each day of waterborne travel)

1. No wind, must row this day (see below).
2. Poor winds, movement reduces by 2d6 hexes that day.
3-4. Favorable winds.
5. Exceptionally favorable winds, movement increases by 2d6 hexes that day.
6. Heavy winds, crew must make a DC13 DEX group saving throw or the sailboat suffers 1d10 damage.  They must next decide if they want to chance sailing that day, or simply batten down the hatches.  If they do not sail, the sailboat drifts 1d10 hexes in a random direction.  If they do sail, the sailboat travels 2d20 hexes, but they must roll a group DC16 INT check.  On a failure, the sailboat goes off course (see below).

Weather Table (1d6, roll each day of waterborne travel)

1. Dense fog, DC 15 INT check or go off course.
2. Rain, DC 13 INT check or go off course.
3. Currents, DC 10 INT check or go off course.
4-6. No adverse conditions.


If the PCs must row, each character on board rolls a DC 10 CON check.  The movement rate that day, in hexes, is equal to the number of characters that succeeded in this check.

Off Course

The sailboat might go off course as a result of Heavy Winds, and/or unfavorable weather conditions.  If this occurs, the DM should determine a random point along that day's course.  At this point, the sailboat veers either one hexside to the right or the left, determine randomly.  The DM should not inform the players that they are off course.  The players will only know when they encounter unexpected landfall.

Each day that the sailboat if off course, and the skies are not foggy or overcast, I'll allow a group INT check to determine if the PCs figure this out.  The DC will be set to 16, minus three for each hexside the boat is off course.  Success indicates that the PCs have used the sun/stars to determine their true course, and can make whatever adjustments they see fit at this point.  The fact that the won't know exactly when they had lost course should provoke some anxiety.

Group Checks

For the various INT and DEX checks described here, I will use the D&D Next "Help" rule.  The character with the highest Ability (+Skill) will make the actual roll, and if there are any other characters there with an Ability score of 10 or greater, they can help, causing the roll to be made at advantage.

The Captain

I rolled up a random NPC to serve as the captain for the voyage, one Noel Ford.  He has a rude personality, and a secret agenda to locate a long lost fey realm that he had been transported to as a boy.  With an INT of only 6, his piloting skills are quite meager, but his +3 Sailing Skill will help somewhat in that regard.

Ready to Sail!

With these simple embellishments of the fine waterborne travel rules in the Isle of Dread, I'm ready to run a sea voyage in the next session, if it comes to that.

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