Accomplishing things on a boat is handled by various skill checks. There is no all-encompassing skill check for sailing, the check is relevant to the action being performed. Standard sailing generally requires no rolls – so long as you have at least 1 rank in the skills relevant to your duty you have sufficient training to perform the basic tasks of your job. Skill checks will only be required in special circumstances – generally in role played scenes. I will break down the skills relevant to each position on the ship below. In addition to these, you will likely use Balance, Climb, Swim, Survival, and Use Rope.

Artillerist – In charge of manning the large weapons.

  • Profession: Siege Engineer

Boatswain – Supervises deckhands. Also skilled in deck rigging and handling cargo – setting up cargo booms, rigging hoists to raise heavy loads, lashing ships together, etc.

  • Profession: Sailor

Captain – An experienced Sailor, Navigator, and Commander. Overlaps with a master a lot – difference is a master owns the ship, and if both are present, the master is affording the captain authority.

  • Knowledge: Geography
  • Profession: Sailor
  • Diplomacy or Intimidate

Deckhand – Most sailors (not rowers) on a large ship are deckhands – able bodied seamen who handle the ship’s sails, deck maintenance, etc.

  • Profession: Sailor

Helmsman – Though an actual rotary helm has not been invented yet, there are direct rudders – basically a giant oar hanging off the back of the boat. There isn’t much in the way of skill involved in this role.

Master-at-Arms – a.k.a Quartermaster, is responsible for rationing out food, water, and equipment to the soldiers and crew aboard.

  • Diplomacy or Intimidation

Pilot – Some ships, particularly those going on long journeys – have a dedicated navigator. They assist the captain in navigation, taking over these duties.

  • Knowledge: Geography

Rower – While smaller ships may only have a handful of rowers, ships many have as many has 160 rowers aboard. They generally work in alternating shifts of 6 hours. Despite modern ideas, rowing was actually a skilled job and rarely, if ever, given to slaves.
*Profession: Sailor

Surgeon – Officer who treats injuries and wounds. Small ships rarely have one, but usually will at least have a couple members with some ranks in heal.

  • Heal

Skill Additions

Here are some extra rules for skills to accommodate sailing.


Narrow or Difficult Surfaces

State DC Desc
Heeling Deck 10 boat is leaned to one side
Sargasso, heavy mat 10 thick mats of seaweed that get thrown onto the ship
Roll, heavy 15 boat is rocking from side to side
Surf, heavy 15 waves are between 1 and 4 feet high
Yardarm 15 the ropes strung across the upper level of the sail for sailors to stand on
Green Water 20 ~1 foot of water on the deck, common during high waves
Sargasso, light mat 30 thin slippery mats of seaweed

Difficulty Modifiers

Type DC
Wet Deck +2
High Winds +2
Icy Deck +2
Severe Motion +5
Underwater -10
Body Brace +5
One handed Brace +7
Two handed Brace +10


Surace DC
Anchor Chain 5
Ship’s Rigging 5
Ship’s Hull 20

Knowledge: Geography

There are two new uses of this skill:

Course Setting – The difficulty of setting an accurate course depends on the quality of info you have about where you are and where you are going.

Destination – Base DC

Destination DC
Close and very familiar 5
Distant and very familiar 10
Close and studied carefully 10
Distant and studied carefully 15
Close and seen once 20
Distant and seen once 25
Close but uncertain 25
Distant and uncertain 30
Mythical or legendary 35

Starting point DC modifiers

Location DC
Well known +0
Uncertain +5
Guessed at +10
Unknown +20

Tool Modifiers

Tool Check
High quality (ie Masterwork) map +5
Normal Map +2

If you fail by 5 or less, you still arrive in the vicinity of your destination – 5d10 miles for short trips, or 5d100 for long voyages. Double these numbers if you fail by more than 5.

Piloting – is the art of not getting lost, staying to course, and making corrections as necessary. It involves using astrological signs, land marks, etc to establish your position.

Base DC

Condition DC
Very familiar coast in sight 5
Carefully studied cost in sight 10
Coast seen once in sight 13
Unknown coast in sight 15
Open Ocean, clear weather 17
Opean Ocean, poor visibility 25
Open Ocean, stormy weather 30
Open Ocean, game or hurricane 40


Modifier DC Mod
Depth Bell -3
Know Direction (from spell) -5
Last check missed +2
Last two checks missed +5



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