Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hiring the Ship's Crew

None of this describes hiring a crew, however, or what quality the crew will be.  It can be annoying to go through the process of making up individuals for a ship one by one, trying to figure out how a collection of 20 or 30 people determines what a "green" crew is versus a "poor" one.

So, in the interest of making players happy, I suggest these two tables:

Here I am arguing the principle that the difference between finding a good crew member (or hireling) and a bad crew member is a matter of choice.  Taking a longer period of time to look over prospects, being more diligent in finding people and letting the word spread that there are serious ship-owners looking for good people helps spread the word around, enabling the ship owners a greater variety of possible crew members - and consequently, a higher quality of crew and individuals.  It is recommended that the player roll on the bottom table to find the overall crew's quality . . . and then, as necessary, individual members of the crew can be determined from how long it took to find them.

I am somewhat reticent about there being any chance of finding a hireling with +5 in all personality traits, even with a year of searching.  There's only 1 such person in 46,656.  In my world of 237 million in population, that's only 5,019 persons.  How many of those are ship captains?  Still, we are talking about 36 continuous years of searching in order to ensure odds of finding such an individual and this is a fantasy world - some concessions can be made for party luck and unusual benefit.  As such, even though it defies logic, I'm letting it stand.

I feel the need to point out that individuals of the -5 shell are not the same as the +5 shell.  The shells are arranged (see the previous post) so that a person with traits of +3, +4 and -5 would be in the -5 shell because the minimum trait they possess is -5, and not because all their traits are at -5.

This settles my needs for crew acquisition for the present.  The players have a means of obtaining a particular crew, they have a clear idea of what the individuals might be like, they know what a crew of various levels can accomplish and we have the necessary details for managing the rules I've made for naval warfare so far.  I can now move onto other things.


Maxwell Joslyn said...

Great series Alexis. When the D&D work rolls around to improving these aspects (hirelings and naval combat) of my own game, as usual I'll have to come back and consider your approach at length. I especially like determining the crew independent of its members at first; I was thinking about that but didn't come up with anything that put the crew first, so was stuck on "how do I avoid crew quality being something like an average of member traits and thus more bland for larger ships."

Shelby Urbanek said...

A question regarding the cost of hiring the crew: does the "Average" crew set the base price for hiring, to be modified up or down depending on relative skill, or is the "Poor" crew the baseline price, with crews costing more as they approach "Elite" status?

Also, how would you handle determining the traits of a hired captain? Say, if a party spent a month looking for as good a captain as they could get, and roll an 11 getting them a +2 shell fellow. Would you roll for all three traits and bump the lowest up to +2 if necessary, or assume +2 for a randomly determined trait and then rolling the other two, or some other method? What would the likelihood be of such a captain being leveled?

Alexis Smolensk said...


It was my intention to use the price of the ship as the baseline for the hiring price. maintenance is usually 1% of the cost of the ship; I felt the captain's salary ought to be equal to that. Therefore, the actual fee will vary from place to place, depending on the price of shipping (more shipping, cheaper captains). And yes, was going to use average crew quality as the average price. As far as costs for other levels, James had a good comment on the subject here:


I'm not sure its how I would go with it, but it is definitely in the right direction and I'll build on it when I'm at that place in my pricing table (which I should finish this month).

Regarding the traits of a captain, it's important not to be controlled by the 2d6 roll. Look at the odds. Remember that the chance of a +5 trait is obtained by rolling box cars. A +4 trait occurs 1 in 18 times and a +3 trait occurs 1 in 12 times (using die odds). Therefore, your two-shell fellow would only count the results of 9 and up on 2d6. For that we roll a d10: 1-4 = +2, 5-7 = +3, 8-9 = +4 and 10 = +5. Easy peasy.

According to the rules I work by (still not on the wiki, sorry for that), "leveled" is equivalent to "educated." Thus everyone in the modern world with a degree or a trade diploma would be leveled (its just that the modern vocational class offers about 1 h.p. per level - lol). The captain would have to possess a bunch of sage abilities (also not added to the wiki yet), which could only be gained with experience and levels. The old DMG described a captain as 5-8th level. That's about right for a caravel, a little high for a yawl or a sambuk, definitely too low for a frigate. Horatio Hornblower, Captain Ahab or William Kidd as a mere 8th level? Ridiculous.

So the likelihood of a captain being leveled is 100% - no exceptions. Remember my rules regarding Biological Units? A non-level may have the biological units the captain has, but the captain has training that is reflected in vastly increased hit points. That's how I get around the argument that goes, "a captain doesn't need more hit points just to run a ship."

It isn't just more hit points. A captain has class.

Sorry. Bad joke.