Simple Naval Combat Rules



Ships have Armor Class. AC is the same as leather armor for peaceful/clumsy ships and chain mail for warships/maneuverable ships.

Ships have Hit Points. Most ships have 1 HP per minimum crew. Warships typically have 30 HP.

Ships have a Speed. 30 feet/round (about 3 mph) is average.

Ships have Initiative. Ships have no initiative bonus. All crew and passengers act on the ship’s initiative.

Ships fire ranged weapons. Each round, a ship may fire one weapon per 10 max HP. Ballistae do 1d8 damage and catapults 1d10. Attack rolls are made with a Attack Bonus = the character firing and have the same range as a shortbow. Every 10 passengers may fire 1 volley of arrows (1d6 ship damage).

Individuals can attack a ship. Divide individual damage by 10, rounding down. Ship weapons do x10 damage to individuals. The DM arbitrates non-damage spells. Ships save as a level 1 fighter.

Ships collide. Boarding follows normal D&D melee rules. A galley with a ram does 2d10 damage and may sail through a destroyed ship or back up from a whole one.

Crew die in battle. The crew takes one casualty for each HP of ship damage (half killed, half unconscious at 1 HP).

SAMPLE SHIPS: HP and speed vary +-50% based on ship quality.

Boat: open boat, raft, keelboat. Spd 20. HP 3. AC as leather.
Longship: Can land on shore. Spd 35. HP 10. AC as chain.
Galley: heavy rowed ship. Spd 30. HP 30. AC as leather.
Sailing ship: merchant ship. Spd 30. HP 20. AC as leather.
Warship: armed sailing ship. Spd 35. HP 30. AC as chain.
Leviathan: Absurdly large ship. Spd 25. HP 50+. AC as chain.
Technologically advanced ship: Imyrian Battle-barge: Stats as previous ship types, but AC as plate mail, d12 weapons, and/or speed +10.


Crit Location: On a critical hit against a ship, the attacker may forego extra damage for one of the following:
1) Sail Damage: The ship’ speed is slowed by 10 until the crew skips a turn for repairs.
2) Called Shot: The attack (non-critically) hits a specific character or object.
3) Weapon Hit: A ship weapon is destroyed.

Fire: If a flaming weapon crits, or an attacker fumbles a flaming weapon, or the ship rolls 1 on a save vs fire, the ship burns. It takes 1d6 damage on the opponent’s turn. On its turn, its crew has a 50% chance to put out the fire.

Wind Direction: Occasionally, strong winds affect navigation. Only rowed ships can go directly into strong wind. For instance, in a strong north wind, you can’t sail north (but you can sail NW and NE).

Officer Actions: During each turn, multiple players must work together to survive. On the ship’s initiative, a PC can us his/her turn to take an officer action. If there is an NPC in an important position, add a +2 bonus to their respective rolls.

Captain: Order broadside: The captain’s player chooses an enemy to attack this turn. Add the captain’s Intelligence Attribute Bonus to the ship’s Damage Rolls against that enemy.

Helmsman: Con the helm: The helmsman’s Player Character moves the ship. If the ship moves, add the helmsman’s Dex bonus to the ship’s AC.

Ship Surgeon: Operate: The surgeon’s player tracks damage to the ship. If the ship lost any HP last turn, the surgeon restores 1 ship HP.

Simple Naval Combat Rules

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