New Skill Uses
This skill encompasses the science of naval architecture, ship design, and construction techniques for large vessels. To some extent it overlaps Craft (boatbuilding), but boatbuilding is the skill used to build small craft—vessels of size Small Size or smaller. Building ships of greater size requires a shipwright, not a boatbuilder, and Knowledge (engineering) is the signature skill of a shipwright.
Large vessels exceed any normal application of the Craft skill, since they represent the collaboration of dozens or even hundreds of specialists, none of whom possess all the skills necessary to build a ship alone (unlike the boatbuilder, who must know at least a little bit about many related skills such as rope making, sail making, carpentry, and even ironwork). Instead of having each specialist make separate Craft checks to fabricate individual components of a ship, the chief shipwright simply makes Knowledge (architecture and engineering) skill checks to successfully design and oversee the building of a large vessel.
The absolutely crucial tasks of navigation and piloting fall under the description of Knowledge (geography). While Profession (sailor) covers the maneuvering and handling of a ship, the science of navigation requires a distinctly different set of training—mathematics, geometry, optics, and astronomy, among other fields. Navigation revolves around two basic tasks: course setting and piloting.
Course Setting: When you set out on a voyage, you need to know how to get where you’re going. The difficulty of setting an accurate course depends on the quality of information you have about where you’re going: The DM makes this check for you, since you don’t know for certain if you have planned an accurate course.
|Close and very familiar||DC 5|
|Distant and very familiar||DC 10|
|Close and studied carefully||DC 10|
|Distant and studied carefully||DC 15|
|Close and seen once||DC 20|
|Distant and seen once||DC 25|
|Close but uncertain||DC 25|
|Distant and uncertain||DC 30|
|Mythical or legendary||DC 35|
|Start point well known||+0|
|Start point uncertain||+5|
|Start point only guessed at||+10|
|Start point completely unknown||+20|
|Extremely poor chart||–5|
You make a course setting check when you begin a voyage, and anytime you realize that you have gotten lost and need to determine a new course to follow to reach your destination.
If you fail your course setting check by 5 or less, you arrive in the vicinity of your destination; for close voyages, you miss by 5d10 miles; for voyages to distant points, you miss by 5d100 miles. If you fail your course setting check by more than 5, you are wildly off course. On a close voyage, you miss by 10d10 miles; on a long voyage, you miss by 10d100 miles.
Piloting is the art of not getting lost and determining where you are in relation to your intended course, so that you can make corrections as necessary. Piloting actually involves a variety of related techniques: celestial navigation, dead reckoning, and true piloting—using landmarks to establish your position. Each day of your voyage, you make a piloting check to establish your position and make the routine corrections necessary to hold to your intended course. The DC of this check depends on the methods available to you; on open ocean with cloudy skies, you have no landmarks and no
celestial bodies to observe.
|Very familiar locations in sight||DC 5|
|Locations studied carefully in sight||DC 8|
|Locations seen once in sight||DC 13|
|Unknown Locations in sight||DC 15|
|Open sky, clear weather||DC 17|
|Open sky, poor visibility||DC 25|
|Open sky, stormy weather||DC 30|
|Open sky, gale or hurricane||DC 40|
Failing your piloting check once is not a problem; you simply failed to establish your location for the day. You can go back to your previous day’s established position and estimate your current position given the course and speed you think you’ve followed since. You do not become lost until you fail your piloting check on three consecutive days.
This skill covers a broad variety of tasks and training, ranging from routine jobs such as steering, setting sails, and dropping or raising anchor to smart shiphandling, tactical maneuver, and handling a ship in a storm. Characters with no ranks in Profession (sailor) are simple deckhands—competent to work as part of a crew and handle jobs such as reefing sails, manning the helm under the direction of a commander, and generally make themselves useful.
Characters with 1 to 4 ranks in Profession (sailor) are petty officers, officers, or technical experts such as boatswains.
Characters with 5 or more ranks in Profession (sailor) are expert shiphandlers. They know how sails should be set for current winds. They can handle tricky tasks of piloting such as crossing a river bar. And they are skilled at tactical maneuvers in battle such as executing or avoiding a ramming attack, bringing a ship alongside for boarding, and the like.
Check: Steering a ship in good weather conditions with sufficient crew requires no skill check. However, adverse conditions might require you to make skill checks every round, minute, or hour to keep your ship on course and out of danger. Any Profession (sailor) checks you make to control or navigate a vessel require a full watch or complement of able-bodied crew. If your ship is undermanned, modify the DCs given below as follows:
|Less than full watch section||DC +5|
|Less than half watch section||DC +10|
|Less than quarter watch section||DC +15|
Foundering: Your vessel is at risk of foundering when you are in high winds, or rough skies. Check for foundering once per day, or once per hour in high winds or storms.
|Foundering in strong winds or light surf||DC 5|
|Foundering in severe winds||DC 10|
|Foundering in windstorm/gale or heavy surf||DC 15|
|Foundering in hurricane or very heavy surf||DC 20|
|Foundering in dire gale||DC 28|
Sailing in High Winds: Keeping control over a vessel in powerful winds requires a check. If you fail your Profession (sailor) check in dangerous winds, your ship is driven before the wind, but you can retry your check in 1 hour or when the wind drops.
|Sail or row in severe winds||DC 20|
|Sail or row in windstorm or gale||DC 30|