How long does it take for a creature on planet Archipelago to smell blood in the water and come looking for a meal? In reality that depends of the water currents and the distance from the source of blood the random creature may be. As a simplified guide to game play, 4% per game turn that the blood is in the water is a good realistic rule option. So at five game turns of bleeding in the water the player character has a 20% chance of being attacked by a marine predator. If the player character is still bleeding in the water at 20 game turns then the chance of becoming dinner for one or more creatures is at 80%. In play-testing the game we have estimated that a game turn represents about 30 seconds of game-time at the minimum and 1 minute at the maximum. So after about 13-25 minutes in the game there is a 100% chance the blood will attract some type of predator. What type and size is left to the Game-master to decide.
How far can you see at sea? Because of the curvature of the planet and the sea as a relatively flat surface the rule is 1.17 nautical miles times the square root of the height in feet of the object you are looking for. So in perfect weather with no clouds an Island that was 1000 feet above sea level would be first visible from about 37 miles out at sea. A ship with a mast at 20 feet would be first visible at 5.23 miles with the tip of the mast showing first ,then the sails followed by the hull of the ship. If the hull was only 6 feet above the water then the ship would be 2.8 miles away before the hull could be seen. A person clinging to wood with just their head out of the water could not be seen until they were about 1 mile away. A farsee magnifies what can be seen, so a 20X farsee makes objects at a distance of 20 feet look like they are only 1 foot away. However the farsee can't make an object that is beyond the curvature of the planet be seen, until the object is visible above the horizon. Then the use of the farsee can magnify details of the object.
In the basic rules, each ship is given a maximum speed for the type of sailing being done. Such as sailing/tacking into the wind, sailing across the wind or with the wind, the speed of rowing is also given for those ships which can be rowed. The assumption is that the players will chose how fast they are sailing as long as they stay within the ship's maximum speed design limit. This makes for ease of play, but it does lack a certain level of realism. For those who want a more realistic option; the Game- master may determine the ship's speed depending on wind speeds. Every 4 hours of sailing time the Game-master may roll a 6 sided die to determine just how fast a ship may travel based on the surface wind blowing at that time.
Roll a 6 and the ship can travel 100% of its design speed
Roll a 5 and the maximum speed is limited to 85% of the ship's design speed
Roll a 4 and the maximum speed is limited to 70% of the ship's design speed
Roll a 3 and the maximum speed is limited to 55% of the ship's design speed
Roll a 2 and the maximum speed is limited to 40% of the ship's design speed
Roll a 1 and the maximum speed is limited to 25% of the ship's design speed
This means that if you are trying to make good an escape from a hostile harbor and the wind is falling off your ship might not sail as fast as you want; more realistic, but frustrating if your opponent has a rowed galley in pursuit that is not dependent on the wind.
Drinking sea-water is extremely dangerous: Yet despite this warning some players may have their characters elect to drink sea water. The following rule may then be applied by the game-master. For each cup of seawater drunk by the player character they will have a +1 penalty added to their endurance roll to see just how sick they become. So if they drink 3 cups the penalty is +3 added to their die roll.
If they roll equal to their endurance with the penalty added they are sick and will vomit the water out along with anything else they have eaten in the last three hours, they then will be weak but okay.
If they roll 1 over they become sick, vomit and are incapacitated with cramps for 24 hours.
If they roll 2 over they become sick, vomit are incapacitated with cramps for 36 hours and hear voices.
If they roll 3 over they become sick, vomit and are incapacitated with cramps for 48 hours and they both hear voices and see things not there.
If they roll 4 over their endurance they become sick, vomit and are incapacitated with cramps for 60 hours and they both hear voices and see things not there if they are not physically restrained they will hurt either themselves( 67%) or someone else (33%).
If they roll 5 or more over their endurance, they will go into violent convulsions and die within 30 minutes.
If the Game-master desires to, this rule would also apply to involuntary ingestion of sea water from a near drowning event. In this event the seawater swallowed is limited to one cup or less.
The Game-master may elect to have a person who is lost at sea and without freshwater make a moral roll. Failure and they will give in and drink seawater. The Game-master also has the option of adding a roll penalty +1 for each 12 hours the player character has gone without fresh water.
The Water spout: This is a tornado at sea which pulls up water and fish as it spins across the ocean surface. They are most common in the spring summer and early fall. The game-master can decide which size to use. A small water spout that rips the sails from the player's craft or a large water spout that can lift men from the deck of a ship or capsize the largest sailing vessel. The geographical area where they are most common is the area between the temperate and sub-tropical climate zones. Like a tornado on land the path of a water spout is erratic and very hard for the players to predict. The game -master can decide if the spout will just dump water and fish onto the player's craft or rip the ship's sails and masts apart.
Fog and Clouds: The Game-master should use clouds and fog to hide objects, so that the players don't see them until they are very close. An entire island can be hid with a thick fog bank so that the players only know the island is there by the crashing of the surf against the rocky shore at the last possible moment to save their ship from crashing onto the rocks. Of course a saving roll on the player character's dexterity with their seamanship skill as a positive modifier will add to the game's sense of risk.
Rain and Wind: These are controlled in the basic game rules but can be used as an effective way to add a realistic and exciting element to the game. there is a huge difference between landing on an island warm dry and ready for a fight and landing on an island cold, wet and seasick. As Game-master it is important to remember that the sea is not always calm and flat but rather it can have waves taller than the player's ship. Keeping notes on wind direction, speed, and any storm clouds on the horizon during the game is important having the players under a time constraint because of an approaching storm is good for a realistic adventure.
Rogue Waves: Science has only admitted this natural event was real since 1995 Earth time. They are very real on Archipelago. A rogue wave is a wave more than two times the average height of the normal waves. A rogue wave can reach a height of 30 meters while only 7 meter high waves are the normal maximum for deep open oceans. In deep water the rogue wave will move in the direction of the wind at speeds up to 200 knots per hour. Faster than any ship can sail. If or when the rogue wave reaches water where the depth of the water is half or less than half the height of the wave a breaker will form and crush the ship with tons of water that falls upon it. A 20 meter high rogue wave will form a breaker in 5 fathoms of water far from any land. In deep water if the wave is met head on and the front angle of the wave is not greater than 55 degrees the ship can survive. If the wave is steeper than 60 degrees the ship will fall backwards and capsize. If the wave hits the ship on the side, the ship will roll over on its side, capsize and sink if water gets into the hold. As Game-master you might use the rogue wave in the following manner. Your players see a rogue wave sink another NPC ship from a distance afterwards your players can pick up an injured survivor of the lost ship who has a ... map, message, etc and thus starts a new adventure. Or a smallish rogue wave can damage the player's ship and force them to a nearby island for repairs where a new adventure can begin. Or if your players are out of control, a rogue wave can sink their ship and just a few of them survive. When picked up by a NPC ship and dropped off on a island to start over again with nothing.
Being Becalmed: A fear of any sailor in a wind powered ship is becoming becalmed. Having no wind with which to move the ship towards land. the biggest risk in becoming becalmed is running out of water and food for the player characters on board the ship. If your players tend to only buy the minimum provisions for each voyage you can use being becalmed to teach them to provide for the unexpected. If you are a projected 3 days sail from known land and the wind dies leaving the sail slack and the sea like a glass mirror reflecting the hot sun back at the crew it is a long way to row if you have a galley with oars or a rowboat to tow the larger ship the many miles to land. Remember that a ship normally sails 24 hours a day so a 3 fay sail from land is 72 hours times the ships average speed in knots. Maybe as much as 200-300 knots from land. A very long way to row.
Travel Between Islands:
On Planet Archipelago travel by ship between islands should be a vital part of each adventure. This requires that you as the game-master include any of several possible options, or events that can happen to the player characters and their ship. The following is provided as a guide to help in generating events that can happen to a ship and its crew. You should feel free as game-master to modify this list as you see fit, to match the skill of your players.
When I game-master I often make a percentage roll for each day of sea travel and another for each night of sea travel. I then allow the players to make a single percentage roll if they roll below the percentage that I rolled, they will have some type of encounter. If they roll higher than I did then they have an uneventful passage for the day or night. I then roll a six-sided die to determine what time of day or night the encounter will take place and I ask who will be on watch and on the deck or in the rigging during that time. I then decide what type of event will happen.
A random die roll with a 20-die on this chart can be used if you are not sure what might happen to the ship and its crew. In general I don't want or try and kill the entire ship and crew rather I look to keep them engaged in the game and the reality of life on an alien planet.
1 or 2. An isle back medusa is sighted, the player characters can then decide if they try and sail around this floating menace or kill it. if night the isle back medusa is run over by the ship and the first warning is the thump and jerk of the ship hitting something in the dark followed by tentacles flying up over the ships side rails as an angry medusa reacts.
3. thumping is heard on the side of the ship and dragon fish are see flying out of the water and hitting the side of the ship. If the ship's deck is 24 inches or closer to the ocean surface the dragon fish will land on deck and try and bite the crew as they flop about unable to breath out of water.
4-5. Just after sunset or just before sunrise the smell of rotting fish is followed by the appearance of a Nessie head and neck checking out the crew. There is a 14% chance it will attack and a 56% chance it will try and "play" with the crew nipping like a puppy at the crew darting and splashing from one side of the ship to another. If attacked it will attack back.
6-7. At night the soft glow of bioluminescence in a wake of sea water is see approaching the ship at about 50 feet distance it is recognized as a behemoth skimming across the dark surface of the sea feeding on everything that enter its large open mouth. It is just a stupid animal and if it runs into the ship by mistake it can do 50 points of impact damage to the ship, enough to cave in the sides of a small boat and enough to spring a leak in a large ship. This would then require a member of the crew to always man the bilge pump or the ship would slowly sink over many hours.
8. The water around the ship begins to boil as a large school of Rayfish go into a feeding frenzy of a school of small minnows this is then followed by a half dozen sharks feeding on the edges of the school of rayfish and in turn and last a Mare Mostro appears and begins to feed on the shark this 20-30 foot long creature may decide ( a percentage roll) to take a bite of the players boat or ship to see if it tastes good.
9. In the dark the ship bumps up against something to be followed by thick muscled tentacles pulling at the rigging and ships rails and any crewmen by chance. The ship has bumped up against a Kraken feeding on the ocean surface in the dark of night. The tentacles can be 20-40 feet long the creature is attracted to any light from a lantern on board the ship. It will be confused by the ships rigging and sails with a 50% chance the ships will have sails and rigging damaged or destroyed by the creature.
10. within a day of land a type A sea serpent is detected by the ratcheting sound of its scales rubbing across the keel of the ship or boat before the creatures head appears above the water to take a little bite at a tender crewman on the deck at the time. Farther out at sea a type B or C sea serpent is expected. If it is the type C if can jump out of the water high enough to land by accident on the deck of most ships. If this happens the frighten and confused creature will bite at anything and everything that moves plus the impact damage of its body smashing up against the wooden rails and bulkheads of the ship.
11. A small rowboat is seen adrift in the distance. If checked out the crew will find a young male or female castaway, very hungry and thirsty who will say they escaped from a ship attacked by a sea monster but in fact they escaped from the ship and stole the lifeboat because they were going to be hung for thief and the murder of a fellow crewman on the ship they left. As game- master you should already have a few NPC that can be inserted as a foil to the player's adventure.
12. Within a half day of land in the evening the ship is swarmed by a cloud of sticky bugs. Farther out a flock of swallows lands on the ships rigging, mast and spar nothing seems to frighten them and they don't move, only snapping their jaws at any crewmember that gets too close to them. This means the ship can't tack or change direction or speed until they leave. If more than a day from land two pelicans can do the same preventing the ship from normal activities as they sit in the rigging or ship rail and snap their long beaks at anyone that gets close to them. If attacked the pelicans or swallows will attack back in defense. After 6 hours the swallows or pelicans will leave, leaving behind a smelly toxic mess of poop.
13. Within two days of land a seagator is seen near the ship these can be as large as 30 feet the size of many ships. This creature will be willing to make a jumping lung attack against any human body parts that it sees hanging over the ship's rail or side. It also makes a ratcheting sound as its scales and back armor ,bumps and rubs against the ship's hull.
14. A rouge sea wave of 20 feet suddenly appears from the port or starboard side and rocks the ship from side to side spilling a (rolled die) percentage of the ship's freshwater supply.
15. The cook finds that there is mold in the ship's food supply. If eaten anyway, the crew members who eat it get violently sick for 3 days with stomach cramps so severe they can't stand watch or work the ship's sails or steer the ship. After the cramps, diarrhea and vomiting they are weak and dehydrated with strength points reduced by a third until they have recovered with good food and water for 3+ days.
16. Tall thunderclouds begin to appear and climb into the sky upwind of the ship's course, two hours later they cover the sun and the dark underside of the clouds can be seen with flashes of lighting and the distant clap of thunder. An hour later heavy rain and hail pelt the ship there is a 20% chance the hail can punch holes in the sails, break glass or knock a crewman unconscious for a few moments with 3 points of impact damage. The ship is rocked by heavy winds and seas if the sails are not reduced there is a chance of the sails being ripped from the ship. Roll on the rigging dependability value for the type of ship. The storm then passes.
If at night the stars slowly disappear behind clouds that can't be seen in the dark of night then suddenly flashes of lightning, wind, hail and rain engulf the ship. there is a 20% chance the hail can punch holes in the sails, break glass or knock a crewman unconscious. The ship is rock with heavy winds if the sails are not reduced there is a chance of the sails being ripped from the ship. Roll on the rigging dependability value for the type of ship.
17. The sky become very calm and the wind dies down then it stops blowing completely. Without wind in its sails the ship slowly drifts to a stop and the sea becomes like glass. With no movement of wind the sails hang limp and still useless. Then if in the tropics the heat begins to mount with the sun's reflection off the glassy sea and no breeze to cool the crew. The ship is becalmed this will last either a 20 die roll of hours or 2 six-sided die roll of days, you decide. If the crew runs short of food and water they will begin to weaken and lose strength points. You may also have them lose intelligence points as the heat begins to affect their judgment. All point loses are temporary once they are out of the situation and get cooled down with water and food.
18. The sky becomes very calm and while overcast the wind dies down then it stops blowing completely. There is a kind of strange yellow-green tint to the sky then suddenly in the distance, a large waterspout is seen (A tornado at sea) the wind begins to pick up and the lead gray sky darkens as the water spout gets closer. The wind is blowing in a circle around the water spout so if the player characters decide to run (sail) with the wind they will only sail closer to the water spout as they sail around the storm. Only sailing across the wind has a chance of escape. The water spout is moving 10-20 knots per hour across the ocean surface with wind speeds in the water spout in excess of 200 knots per hour enough to destroy all masts and rigging if not sink the ship outright. The best chance of escape is sailing opposite of the water spout's rotation across the wind this will at first appear to take them closer to the spout but in fact, it moves them away to a safe escape. This helpful hint should be given to the player characters only if they make a sea lore skill roll on their intelligence. A die roll on the ship type rigging dependability should be made to determine any damage to the ship's sails from the wind.
19. A strange blue-white bioluminescence is seen under the water surface near the ship it changes sides from time to time as the creature swims under the ship. The creature follows and swims along with the ship for the remainder of the day or night and no other sea creatures are seen. The ship is never bothered, while this creature is near. This is a "sea Angel" it swims too deep to be bothered by any weapon but if fired upon it will leave the ship and another encounter roll can be made.
20. a thunderstorm appears ahead of the ship in the direction it is sailing the storm can be seen for about an hour before it has moved out of sight. 4 hours later the player characters will see debris in the ocean ahead of them they will find floating barrels, wood spar, sails rope boxes and other floatable cargo including not less than one and not more than 3 wet and tired crewmen from a ship sunk in the distant storm they saw. This can be used to introduce new player characters who have nothing in way of equipment or to introduce some NPC antagonists to interact with the players on their ship. Or even to introduce a rich merchant who will pay a reward for his rescue and return to his home.
Other events at sea:
The ship's navigator should take a position reading of sun and stars every day at sea at noon and every night at sea at midnight. They roll on their navigation skill plus intelligent points If the players fail to tell you they are going to take these reading or if they consistently fail the navigation roll then when they reach what they believe should be their destination you can have only empty sea greet instead of the expected island. They have missed their navigation and now are lost you as game master can decide in which direction their destination is then they can decide what direction they will sail to find land. If they pick the right direction then they get un-lost, if not they may spend several extra days at sea looking for the land they failed their navigation to find.
If the player characters decide to sail off the known and charted trade routes then they need to keep a crewmember at the bow looking for shoal waters, rocks, sandbars or mud bars this is done by visual examination done with a successful intelligence roll and by taking depth sounding with a marked line and weight that give the water depth up to the length of the line (5 fathoms, 30 feet is most common). If the water is getting shallower they should slow down. Failure to check the water depth in uncharted waters can have them run onto a coral reef, rocks or sand doing serious damage to their ship maybe even sinking it.
Uncharted Islands: As game-master uncharted islands present a major tool for adventure. If your players have made a navigational mistake and are lost and off the charted sea lanes between known islands you can use an uncharted island to present them with new issues. Because almost all of the native lifeforms on the planet are hermaphrodites it is possible for new and unknown plant and animal species to be found on an uncharted island. An uncharted island can become a base for your players to build their own barony or kingdom which can lead to conflict if the Falcons see this new island as an "easy pickings" and they try and conquer this island from your players. The island may contain a strong active Duarf population unwilling to share or the ancient ruins of the Duarf when they were more advanced. As Game-master the choice is yours. You can pay to have a custom island designed by us or you can design your own. A future collection of uncharted islands is in the works as a supplement for game-masters. The picture shows an uncharted island as seen via a farsee as it is revealed by the early morning clouds.
Running Aground: A key factor is the tides, the reliability of sailing charts and the question; Are the player characters making regular soundings of the water depth as they sail? The Moon of Archipelago is smaller than Earth's so the average tide is just 3 feet with a maximum of 6 feet and a minimum of 2 feet. Water depth is measured in the traditional 6 foot equals 1 fathom. If the boat draws 4 feet loaded it can sail into water one fathom deep with about 2 feet between the bottom keel of the boat and the seafloor. However with the tide out the one fathom of water becomes a half fathom or 3 feet and the ship hits the sea floor. If the seafloor is sand or mud the biggest danger is getting stuck in the mud or sand. Hydraulic suction can hold the ship stuck into the mud even when the tide comes back in. The chance of this happening is 32%. There is a 22% chance that anyone walking on a mud bar with the tide out will be stuck in quick mud which is much like quick sand. If the character is unable to get out they could drown when the tide comes in. The game-master can determine their chances the character's strength value and having something solid to hold onto would be determining factors in getting out. removing cargo or ballast to lighten the ship is the best way to get a ship unstuck.
Hitting a Coral Reef: Unlike a mud bar close to shore the coral reef may be thousands of feet even a mile or two away from land. The water on the outside edge of the coral reef can drop suddenly to hundreds of feet in depth while the water on the top of the reef may be only a few feet or inches deep and the water depth on the lagoon side of the reef may be 20-30 feet deep. Unlike mud or sand the coral is hard enough to tear a hole in the wooden hull of a ship the factors of how much damage will be done is based on the ships speed and are given in the basic rules.
Rocky Shoals: Shoal waters made of large underwater boulders can be worse, because they are harder to see. The isolated clumps of large rock may be surrounded by deep water so great care needs to be taken by those sailing in shoal waters.
Sargasso: this floating plant named after a similar plant back on Earth has two dangers. First while shallow draft ships can sail over the floating plants ships which draw more than 1.5 fathoms tend to catch the plants which buildup around the ship. Slowing the ship and placing strain on the system As Game-master this is a good time to roll on the ships rigging dependability value if the roll is failed then ropes and other parts of the rigging can begin to break. The other danger is that with large patches of Sargasso there are often Quillian nearby as they harvest the plant on a regular basis. The picture shows two Quillian reed boats in a patch of Sargasso as seen via a farsee.
Fire at Sea: a wooden sailing ship is wood, fabric and rope and both wood and rope are treated with oil and bitumen to prevent rotting and to help make the ship water-proof. If a player is careless with fire aboard ship, you as game-master must have a reasonable chance that player will have their character set their own ship on fire. I suggest a 20% chance rolled for each game turn the player has their character continue with the careless behavior around or with fire on board ship. During a storm the fire is normally extinguished so that the rolling and pitching of the craft won't dump hot coals out of the firebox and onto the flammable deck if the players don't extinguish their cook fire during a storm with heavy seas there should be at least a 12% chance that hot coals will start a fire on the ship during the storm.There is also the chance of the ship catching fire during combat as naptha grenades can set fire to the ship.