I'm playing around with some ideas to go along with Rob Donoghue's Expanded Ship Rules.
In a chase between two ships, what Opportunities might you offer either of the captains? Here's my list so far:
- Holding the Weather Gage: Your ship is upwind from its adversary, granting you an advantage.
- Favorable Wind: You catch the wind, increasing your speed.
- Into the Maelstrom: A fierce squall is sighting in the distance. If you can outrace the enemy ship, you can use it to discourage pursuit or to even the odds.
- Sandbars, Reefs, and Archipelagoes: The lookout spies a reef, sandbar, or a patchwork of shoals or even islands in the distance. If you can outrace the enemy ship, you can turn the depth of your enemy’s hull to your advantage, or hide in a secluded cove.
- Cut off Wind (pursuer only): By angling your ship and sails, you reduce the amount of wind available to your adversary, slowing them down. This applies only to the pursuer; you cannot race against the wind.
TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e
Use local currents, eddies and wind effects to gain advantage over your adversary. (Makes more sense in coastal waters).
Trim the Sails
Properly trimming the sails improves speed. Not all captains have the same level of skill, and different ships have different rigs to trim...
Her Best Point of Sail
(Makes more sense for those evading). Some boats run before the wind better than others, some beat better than others, some reach better than others. If you're trying to evade, use this to your advantage. In particular, if you beat better than your pursuer, then sail closer to the wind and they'll be stuffed (effectively this could be a new Opportunity: Gain Weather Gauge).
Ships with fore (pursuer) or aft (evader) mounted chase cannons can fire chain shot to disable rigging or grape shot to disable crew and slow down their opponent.
The Invisible College Defensive Sea Anchor (Patent Pending)
(Evader only). Total fantasy this, but... an inventive type could rig a length of heavy line between barrels, to which are attached more ropes, old sails, anything that will create drag. Drop it over the stern of your ship to watch it wrap around the keel or rudder of the ship chasing you, which will promptly slow down. Their crew will eventually get rid of it, but it could give you an edge.
The Invisible College Offensive Sea Anchor (Patent Pending)
As above, but the barrels are filled with explosives on a water-proofed fuse.
Some good ideas here, Guy. Most of them feel more like Ship Features or Backgrounds to me than Opportunities, though. That's not a critique.
Question: do you all think tactics like Full Sails or "Wet the Sails" should be Opportunities (to boost speed/advantage) or should those be maneuvers that captains can call on?
Hmmm... you're right. Properly, I should word them differently to be Opportunities. E.g. Local Knowledge would be something like 'you can see their skipper trying to cut across the bay, but you know that there's a back eddy there... you head further out and begin to overtake'.
The IC Defensive Sea Anchor could be "Looks like Jones the Tar has been screwing around with his 'art projects' on deck again... but wrapped around the enemy rudder it would make a fine sea anchor. Jones squeaks with outrage as you haul the mess of old lines and barrels overboard and into the enemy's path"
Personally I try to avoid adding mechanics where-ever possible. My players already have more advantages, features and backgrounds than they can remember. So I'd use these as opportunities for narrative advantage. But others' mileage will vary.
I'm not really trying to pad the mechanics so much as give the existing rules a bit more...cruft. If the rules of 7th Sea are meant to help players create an awesome story, then the Sailing rules fall short unless you've read a lot of naval fiction. The Expanded rules on the ES have some good ideas, but still fall really short (IMHO, of course) in giving ship battles weight and players meaningful choices. So I'm puzzling out ways to make things fun and exciting without an over abundance of hand waving.
This is stage one: pursuit. Basically, when two ships encounter each other, pretty much all actions boil down to: get away, engage, or seek advantage. Rather than specify a bunch of techniques and maneuvers to enable combatants to do those things, I think using Opportunities as prompts will do the trick within the more narrative framework. I'd like to have a list of 10 opportunities, relatively broad and non-exhaustive, that give me a menu of stuff I can offer for my players to take advantage of.
Definitely adding local knowledge to that list. :)
My semi-final list of Opportunities: