Ships and Sailing

From World of Charun

Water vechiles are built for many different, specific functions, few of which are very interesting to an adventuring group. Most adventuring takes place on (or under) land, so even though dozens of different styles and classifications of ships exist - from one-person dugout canoes to enourmous triple-masted war galleons - only a few are useful in game.

Ships presented here are split into three types, based on their applicability to the adventurintg party: those on which the PCs are the main crew, those on which PCs are part of the crew, and those on which PCs can be passengers.

Their usefulness in game is limited, since only the largest ship is walkable. The other ones can be placed in a harbour, as a token of one's ownership, and used to transport the PC(s) to various locations through a scripted jump, or through a DMs aid. They can also be useful during adventures and out of game RP.


Small Vessels

On a small vessel up to 60 feet in length, either the PCs are the entire crew, or they compromise most of the crew with a little help from experienced sailors who can be cohorts or hirelings. Unless the PCs hire a captain, they are in charge of the ship and usually take care of the major functions, such as rowing, navigating and minding the rudder. These types of ships usually stay on lakes and inland waterways. If they go out to sea, they rarely leave sight of land.


A keeled boat built for the navigation of rivers, and sailing along the coastline. They are used for transporting cargo, for trading and fishing. It lacks a rodder, and is controlled with poles or oars. They usually have a cabin in the middle.

Skill Seafaring +0
Sailing Speed: 10 km/hour
Rowing Speed: 10 km/hour or 40 km/12 hours
Size: 60 ft. by 20 ft.
Crew: 5 (4 rowers)
Passangers: 10
Cargo: 25 tons (speed halved if 12 tons or more)
Cost: 30,000 gp
Walkable: No


A large, oared vessel, the ferryboat is used for transportation across lakes and inland waterways. It does have a small sail, which can be used in combination with the oars. Crew and passengers are exposed to the elements and those aboard have only one-quarter cover from foes.

Skill Seafaring +0
Sailing Speed: 5 km/hour
Rowing Speed: 5 km/hour or 30 km/12 hours
Size: 60 ft. by 30 ft.
Crew: 10 (8 rowers)
Passangers: 12, or double that under cramped conditions
Cargo: 30 tons (speed halved if 15 tons or more)
Cost: 20,000 gp
Walkable: No

Medium Vessels

On a vessel between 70 and 90 feet in length, PCs are part of the crew; there's no space for passengers who don't help keep the ship in shape. The PCs might not be masters of the ship, and they don't necessarily have control over who their shipmates are or how they behave. PCs still have assigned work, but it may be less critical to the ship's operation, such as carpentry or cooking. Sometimes these ships are oceangoing, but typically they do not have the stability or cargo capacity to sustain their crew for a long voyage on open waters. They generally travel along coasts or established routes.

Northman Longship

The longship is made and used by by the Northmen to raid coastal and inland settlements, for long distance trade and commerce, and for exploratory voyages. The longship is characterized as a graceful, long, narrow, light wooden boat with a shallow draft hull designed for speed.

Longships are fitted with oars along almost the entire length of the boat itself. They also sport a rectangular sail on a single mast which was is used to replace or augment the effort of the rowers, particularly during long journeys.

Skill Seafaring +4
Sailing Speed: 15 km/hour
Rowing Speed: 10 km/hour or 40 km/12 hours
Size: 56 ft. by 12 ft.
Crew: 25 (12 pairs of oarsmen and one coxswain).
Passangers: 10
Cargo: 24 tons
Cost: 50,000 gp
Walkable: No

Sailing Ship

A large ship used for transporting cargo. The crew sleep under deck, where the cargo is kept as well. There aren't any oars to man.

Skill Seafaring +4
Sailing Speed: 15 km/hour
Rowing Speed: There aren't any oars to man.
Size: 80 ft. by 20 ft.
Crew: 20
Passangers: 10
Cargo: 150 tons (speed 15 if 75 tons or more)
Cost: 100,000 gp
Walkable: No

Large Vessels

Vessels of least 100 feet in length have enough space to carry passengers, or hide stowaways for quite a while. If the PCs are in charge of the vessel, they haev a major responsibility, along the lines of overseeing a keep or a temple. Otherwise, the PCs are only a small portion of the crew, with many crewmates and varied job duties. Many of these ships can go out to sea for weeks and are excellent for long trading voyages or warships.


A warship can accommodate two heavy catapults and four ballistas. Four larger rowboats are used as lifeboats and troop transports.

Skill Seafaring +2
Sailing Speed: 15 km/hour
Rowing Speed: 10 km/hour or 40 km/12 hours
Size: 120 ft. by 30 ft.
Crew: 260 (80 rowers, 160 marines)
Passangers: 60 (deducted from the marines)
Cargo: 5 tons
Cost: 150,000 gp
Walkable: No


A galley has enough flat deck space to accomodate three heavy catapults. War galleys generally convert much of their cargo space into passanger space for soldiers.

Skill Seafaring -2
Sailing Speed: 15 km/hour
Rowing Speed: 10 km/hour or 40 km/12 hours
Size: 140 ft. by 35 ft.
Crew: 200 (160 rowers)
Passangers: 20 (each ton reduced from the cargo capacity enables one more passanger.)
Cargo: 150 tons (Speed wind 10, oars 5 if 75 tons or more)
Cost: 200,000 gp
Walkable: No

Cargo Ship

A very large ship used for long trading voyages.

Skill Seafaring -2
Sailing Speed: 15 km/hour
Rowing Speed: 10 km/hour or 40 km/12 hours
Size: 180 ft. by 40 ft.
Crew: 250 (200 rowers)
Passangers: 30
Cargo: 200 tons
Cost: 250,000 gp
Walkable: Yes

DM Tables

The following section is mainly used by DMs during their quest and campaigns. However, it can be interesting for players to read as well.


The sailing speed entry on each ship is based on light wind, which is used by default. However, in certain DMd scenarios there may be varying wind strengths that affect sailing speed.

WIND CONDITION Speed Multiplier Dice% for DMs
Calm (0 mph) Can't move 01-05
Light (1-10 mph) x1 06-70
Moderate (11-20 mph) x2 71-80
Heavy (21-30 mph) x3 81-90
Severe (31-50 mph) Can't sail 91-98
Windstorm (51-74 mph) Can't sail 99
Hurricane (75-150 mph) Can't sail 100

d8 Wind Direction
1 South
2 Southwest
3 West
4 Northwest
5 North
6 Northeast
7 East
8 Southeast

As long as the ship is pointed within 90 degrees of the downwind, its maximum speed is equal to the speed given in the ship's statistics block multiplied by the speed multiplier from above.

If the ship turns so that its bow points within 45 degrees of the direction the wind is coming from, its speed is reduced by half as long as it's heading in that direction.

If the ship turns into the wind, it comes to a halt and ends its movement.


Ships rowing move more consistently. As long as enough rowers are present, oar-powered ships move at their given speed in any direction. They are also more maneuverable in close quarters than ships sailing.

If the indicated number of rowers isn't available, the ship's speed is reduced by the same percentage as the reduced crew. At least a quarter of the indicated number of rowers is needed in order to make any progress at all.

Rowing can be executed in two ways. One hour of maximum speed, after which the rowers need to rest an hour, or average speed which can be upheld over the course of a full day.

Ship Control

Sailing a ship under good weather conditions with sufficient crew requires no skill check. But if the weather is foul, or the ship is short-handed, you must make skill checks to keep it under control. Checks are made once per hour.

Sail in light seas +5
Sail in moderate seas +15
Sail in heavy seas +25
Less than full crew +10
Less than half crew +20
Less than one-quarter crew +30
  • If the control check is failed by 1-4 points, the ship's speed is halved for 1 hour.
  • Failure by 5 points or more means that no progress is made in the next hour. Minor breakdowns and such account for many of these delays.
  • If the control check fails by 10 or more, the ship is sent off course in random direction. Use the wind direction table to determine the direction. The ship moves in that direction for 1 hour at its maximum speed.
  • If the control check fails by 15 or more and the ship is sailing in heavy seas, it breaks and sinks.

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