Legends of Belariath


Ship combat

Ship to ship fighting is best left at a range except when piracy is involved (to be explained later). The two ships pull in broadside of each other at relatively close range and then try and pound the other into oblivion with magic, ballista bolts and even ramming them if all else fails. By close range it means that individual crewmen can be targeted on deck with bows and crossbows generally, it a common warfare tactic to take out the other shipís ballista firers and spellcasters first, leaving it defenseless and then crushing the ship itself with overwhelming force.


Most magic is too weak, or too limited in range, to affect structures the size of boats. And others, like reverse gravity and gravity sinkhole, are centered about the mage, actually harming their own allies. The only non naval spells that can be used against boats are some fire spells (only Fireball, Comet Flare, and Flame Thrower due to the range limits of several fire spells) and air sphere lightning spells (Ball Lightning, Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolt). Naval spells are spells specifically designed to damage ships and their crew, but only work on the water due to the massive amounts of water and salty, sea blown winds necessary to use them.

Because of the cramped nature of the vessels, the sheer volume of physical and magical elements a mage must draw to cast spells powerful enough to harm opposing vessels and chaos of ship to ship battles only one mage may be designated the shipís Ďcannoní at a time for every 100 feet the vessel is long down to a minimum of 1. So if the vessel is between 1 and 199 feet long only one mage can be the cannon. But on monsters 200 feet or greater in length 2 mages can have the necessary space to cast their spells, standing at opposite ends of the ship to not interfere with each other.

The cannons are the only mages able to attack the other vessel and cast defensive spells (ie water wall), all others reserved for a boarding attempt (If attempted at all and to be explained later) and casting Carpenterís Dream Repair to keep their vessel afloat. Because heavy magic spells are immensely taxing it is often that you will see a mage relieve the current cannon of their position and take over for them. This switch takes 1 full turn.


Much like with magical attacks the majority of physical attacks do not work on ships. There are only 2 devises that have the capability of physically harming a ship. A ballista and a forward prow ram. Ballistae can only be fired by physical classes. But bows and crossbows are effective at targeting individual crewmen on the opposing deck (supposing the ship is within range) suffering a -10 to attack though because of the difficulty in targeting individual persons. If a ballista is aimed at an individual it too suffers that -10 penalty.

Description: A ship mounted, overly large crossbow that fires 4 foot long bolts. Useful for punching holes in the side of ships and in peopleís torsos. Takes 2 turns to load. Deals double damage to individuals.
Strength (STR) Required: 30
Attack Modifier: 15
Equipment Slots Used: none
Number of Uses: 0 (0 = unlimited)
Two-Handed? Yes
Weapon Class: Ship Mounted
Price: 850 Mehrials

Ballista Bolt:
Description: A four foot long bolt that is fired from a ballista.
Strength (STR) Required: 0
Attack Modifier: 5
Equipment Slots Used: none
Number of Uses: 10 (0=unlimited)
Two-Handed? Yes
Weapon Class: Ship
Price: 300 Mehrials

Caged Fire Ballista Bolt:
Description: A four foot long bolt that is fired from a ballista. Has a cage behind the tip that can be filled with hot coals. When in flight the rushing air easily lights them on fire, making it an ideal weapon to light the opponentís deck or sails on fire.
Strength (STR) Required: 0
Attack Modifier: 5
Equipment Slots Used: none
Number of Uses: 10 (0=unlimited)
Two-Handed? Yes
Weapon Class: Ship
Price: 400 Mehrials

Ship Prow Ram:
Description: Illegal on all but imperial warships (though hardly stopping people who do illegal things) it is a forward attachment built into the front of the boat that allows them to use their ship as a battering ram.
Equipment Slots: none
Price: Varies. 1/3 of cost of ship rounding up (not including weapons, enchants, or aesthetic purchases. Just the ship itself)

River vessels cannot have any ballistae. Merchant trading vessels and civilian transport ships (ocean faring) may only carry 2 ballistae on them by imperial law. Pirates can carry 3 ballistae. Imperial vessels can carry 5 and also may have a ram.

Calculating Ship Damage:

Ships have an endurance rating and a damage capacity. The endurance rating is their stats while the damage capacity is their hp. In order to harm a ship your ranmagatk with the proper spells or ranphyatk with a ballista must surpass the endurance rating of the ship, +50 if the vessel is ocean bearing, +20 if it is a river vessel. So letís assume weíre fighting an Amorianas class vessel which has an endurance of 100 and a damage capacity of 300. If using a ballista youíd roll a ranphyatk +20 against the ships 1d100 and add 50 to whatever number came up from the 1d100 roll. If the attack is higher then the damage is calculated as normal with a !damage roll, but fire and lightning do double damage and double that result. (Note: A caged ballista bolt does not deal double damage, it is merely used light the opponentís sails on fire or functions as a normal ballista bolt.)

Example of attack against Amorianas class vessel

Person makes her attack against it.
<+Person> !ranphyatk 20
<@Desdaemona> Person (Person) makes a ranged physical attack roll for (d31)27 + (d45)43 + 20 = 90
Now to see if it damaged the ship.
<+CaptainofVessel> !r 1d100
<@Desdaemona> CaptainofVessel rolls for 1 dice at 100 sides per die: 28
You add 50 to the endurance roll so the ship rolled a 78.

The Person has successfully harmed the vessel. You do a !damage 90 78 to determine how much the ship has been harmed and subtract it from its damage capacity (hp). If this scenario had the exact same numbers that occurred with a ranmagatk with a fire or lightning spell youíd double the result of the !damage roll. Of course rolling an attack that is less than the shipís defense deals no damage and can be considered a miss.

Damage on a ship with water wall. Water wall subtracts damage from the damage roll. So say you cast a fireball spell against a ship with 9 slots of water wall and the damage roll is a 10. You subtract 10 from 9 and -then- double -that- result. So in that case the damage that made it through would be 2. This applies to specific targets of the ship that need a certain threshold of damage in order to be broken as well.

Specific Targets and their Effects on the Ship:

Targeting the sails gives a -20 modifier to the attack. Attack is still ranmagatk or ranphyatk vs. 50+1d(shipís endurance). Successfully hitting them with a fire or lightning spell, or a caged ballista bolt, lights the sails on fire and deals only 5 damage to the ship, but freezes them in the water unless they have oars. A Winds of War spell hitting the sails deals no damage to the ship, but can tear the sails if they arenít tied down. A roll of 1d10 determines if they survive the winds or not. A roll of 8 or higher and they survive, 7 or lower and they tear and half the top speed in knots. Taking out a new sail and stringing it up takes up so much time it can only be done after battle.

Example: If using a ballista the attack against a shipís sails is ranphyatk +0 as the -20 removes the +20 ballista modifier. If you arenít using a caged ballista bolt to light the sails on fire then it is a waste of an attack. You then do your rolls of !ranphyatk vs 50 + !d(ship endurance), successfully hitting the sails lighting them on fire and reducing the shipís top speed to 0 if they donít have oars. Ship speed is very important to dodging ramming rolls and staving off boarding so donít underestimate the value of lighting a shipís sails on fire. Regardless of how much higher your attack is over the shipís defense though only 5 damage is dealt to the shipís damage capacity (hp)

Taking out the Rudder takes great aim and precision represented by a -40 to the attack modifier. Deals only 5 damage to the boat, but freezes them on their current path until it can be fixed. All attacks from the disabled boat suffer a -10 penalty and all attacks aimed at the disabled boat gain a +10 modifier. But hitting the rudder alone is not enough, you must roll at least a 10 or higher with the !damage roll, else it does no damage at all and the rudder survives intact. Because damaging the rudder fixes them on their current path it makes ramming a lot easier. They suffer a -5 penalty to the Ramming defense roll. On the same note a ship with a damaged rudder canít be used to ram another vessel, nor can it continue to pursue them.

So a person attacking the rudder would be ranphyatk-20 (20 Ė 40 = -20) (with a non enchanted ballista) to the shipís 50 + 1d(endurance). Then if the attack was higher youíd have to roll !damage (attack) (defense) and get at least a 10. If you get a 1-9 you deal no damage to the ship and the rudder survives. Deal 10-50 and the ship takes 5 damage and the rudder is disabled. The rudder is a unique part of the ship where lightning and fire damage is -not- doubled. Because it is underwater for the most part.

In order to break the mast you must hit it while suffering a -30 to attack penalty and deal at least 25 damage. Rolling less than 25 deals no damage. Fire damage and lightning damage is doubled for reaching that minimum. If you manage to reach that minimum, the mast breaks and crashes down onto the deck, dealing a further 50 damage and fully crippling the ship, oars or not, making it a sitting duck in the water. All further attacks on the ship gain a +20 and all attacks from the ship suffer a -20 penalty.

So a person attacking the mast would be ranphyatk-10 (20 Ė 30 = -10) (with a non enchanted ballista) to the shipís 50 + 1d(endurance). Then if the attack was higher youíd have to roll a damage roll and get at least 25 to break the mast with fire/lightning double damages counted towards that. For instance, say you used a fireball spell and rolled a 22 for damage and they had a 9 slot water wall up. (22-9)x2 = 26. The mast would break, deal 26 damage to the ship + an additional 50. Had it done 40 damage then the total damage to the ship would be 90. (40+50)


Having a ram makes this maneuver far less suicidal, but still dangerous. At any point in the chase the captain of a vessel may declare their intent to ram. They have 2 turns to close the distance between the ships to 0. If distance 0 is attained within those 2 turns (or the captain was already at distance zero and just steered their boat to the side to ram the other boat). All attacks made by the crew of the ramming ship suffer a -10 during these two rounds. Ramming attempts always work on ships with broken masts and ramming cannot be attempted with a ship that has a broken mast. If the Ram is successful it deals 1d(opponentís shipís damage capacity) to their opponentís vessel and deals 1d(opponentís shipís endurance) to their own vessel. Without a ram it deals 1d(opponentís shipís damage capacity) to both vessels. If they miss their attempt they must spend another 2 rounds to position themselves before trying again.


Pirates are an ever present threat to merchant vessels, slipping in, attacking them, stealing what they can get their hands on and fleeing, leaving a broken vessel in their wake. But there is no sneaking when there is nothing but water all around you. In order to attack someone you have to be close enough to launch a spell or fire a bolt, even against a target as large as a ship.

To represent this, when a pirate ship is encountered the pirate captain rolls a 1d10, representing how close they were able to get without being spotted by the merchant vessel. He gains +2 to the result of thas roll if he is both a Warlord and is a master of navigation. Whatever he gets is subtracted from 30 (30 being the visible line of sight on the water) and that is their starting position. Each turn the two captains roll 1d(their shipís top speed in knots) + (the number of air mages on board), the difference representing the number of lengths they gain or lose on each other followed by attacks if they are within range of each other.


Both of the ships top speed is 8 knots and they have 2 Air-Mages on board, they roll a 1d8 +2. The merchant Captain rolls a 2 and the pirate Captain rolls a 5. In this case, the pirate ship gains 3 spaces on the merchant ship. If the original distance between them was 10 lengths, it is now minus those 3 lengths for a total of 7 lengths between.

If the length ever becomes greater than 30 then the merchant ship loses the pirate vessel and if it ever drops to 0 or a negative number then the pirate ship has either rammed the other ship or moved close enough to begin attempting to board them. Once it reaches zero the two stop trying to get away from each other. If the pirate vessel is able to start within attacking distance they get a free round to shoot at the unsuspecting ship before the first roll to start to see if the merchant vessel can escape.

You may at this point be wondering why there isnít an option to remain at a distance and pound the other ship into oblivion with spells or why the merchant ship canít turn around and charge the pirate in return. The reason is simple. This isnít warfare. Pirates gain money from what they steal and merchants have a need to protect their cargo. Attacking damages cargo. Quite often a pirate vessel may choose to not attack at all, or only shoot to disable, to be able to steal the greatest amount of booty from them, or convince them to offer up a certain amount of cargo for safe passage.

When within 14 lengths of each other, spells may be launched, but only at the respective hulls of the ships. Specific parts and individual crewmen cannot be targeted by anything, though area of effect spells may still hit.

When within 12 lengths of each other, ballista may be used to target only the hulls of the other vessel

When within 10 lengths of each other, specific parts of the vessel may be targeted. (Mast, sails, ect.)

When within 8 lengths of each other, crossbows may be used and individual crewmen can be targeted. Demands may be yelled across to the other ship if surrender is to happen.

When within 6 lengths of each other, bows may be used.

When at 0 lengths ramming can occur or the ship can pull in broadside and attempt boarding.

A quick note about piracy. A few spells take more than one turn to fire. But it is the turn they are firing it that determines if the opposing ship is in range. Say they were at a distance of 14 and the mage began a Winds of War Spell, but the next turn the merchant ship gained some ground and the distance became 16. Well the mage misses due to the ship being out of range. A wise mage begins casting the turn before they come in close (hopefully at least, there is an element of luck in that) so they can unleash hell the moment their ship comes in range of the other.


Once a pirate ship has closed in, either by disabling the enemy vessel or just managing to get in close very quickly, a boarding attempt may be made. Both captains roll 1d(crew on their ship) a warlord adding +5 to the result of this roll (Note: This is the total crew, which is listed under each vessel, not the number of PCs on board. Physical PCs are worth 3 crewmen, magical PCs are worth 2 crewmen and advance class PCs are worth 5 crewmen. Artisans, entertainers and healers are just worth 1 like an NPC.) Should the attackers win they have successfully boarded the victimís vessel, should the defenderís win all opposing players suffer 5 damage and their ship loses 1d5 NPC crewmen. Then the defender now has a chance to try and board the enemy vessel, if they choose not to the other side having a chance to try again. If both sides do not attack then it is a draw where taunts and yells and ranged physical and magical attacks may be launched, but no naval sphere skills and no AoE skills due to proximity. In this instance players on both sides can attack each other and both ships lose 1d5 crewmen. This lasts until one side breaks off and attempts to flee, which can only be done if the other chooses not to pursue, or succeeds in boarding. Should they succeed in boarding the defending vessel loses 1d5 crewmen and its players suffer 5 damage and then have a few rounds of the players which are now are in close quarters. Should they lose a second time their vessel is overrun, regardless of how many players on that vessel are still standing. Should they repel them then it is back to the neutral position of both sides on their respective ships and the repelled persons suffer -5 to life and lose 1d5 crewmen.

Example: Two ships with a crew of 30 and 5 PCs apiece attempt to board each other. Those PCs on both sides are 1 artisan, 1 mage, 1 knight, 1 Warlord and 1 Fire Mage.

So both sides would be quoted having 25 NPCs. (The total number of crew it takes to run the ship minus the PCs) + 1 for the artisan, 2 for the mage, 3 for the knight and 10 for both the warlord and firemage. So both sides would roll 1d41 +5 to whatever they get as both have warlords.

Letís say the pirates win the roll. Now the merchant loses 1d5 crewmen, letís say 3, and itís players lose 5 life. Pirates manage to board their vessel.

Now a round of battle between the PCs. All Mages can finally let their spells fly! But cannot use AoE spells due to risk of hitting themselves or own crew. Stunning, killing or forcing another character to yield effectively removes them from the rest of battle and that is represented in the crew rolls.

Letís roll again. The pirates roll 1d41 +5 and the merchant rolls 1d38 +5. The merchant wins. The pirates are forced back onto their ship, they lose 1d5 crewmen (1) and their players lose 5 life.

A round of battle between the PCís

Both sides do not attempt to board! Both sides lose 1d5 crew. Merchant loses 5, pirate loses 3.

A round of battle between the PCs.

We roll a boarding attempt again, the merchants rested for their attempt so itís the pirateís turn. They roll a 1d37 +5 and the merchant rolls a 1d33 +5. Pirates win! Merchant loses another 5 crew in their 1d5 roll, their players lose 5 life and their Warlord is forced to yield because he is nearly dead!

Round of battle between PCs

Pirates roll again. 1d37 +5 against 1d23 +0 (lost 5 crew, 5 for the warlord and no +5 bonus) and the pirates win easily. All surviving crew must surrender or die on the merchant vessel. Pirates can now plunder the vessel. They roll a 10d10 representing the percentage of the remaining cargo they steal and maybe even a prisoner if that is discussed OOCly.

They leave, pawn the stuff off and make a tidy sum. If the merchants win they can take what supplies and equipment they can off of the pirate vessel, worth enough to do a free 5d10 repair of their own vessel, and leave the pirates stranded for the imperial navy to collect and punish.

Winds of War and Water Reverse both can knock players off of their ships. To represent this, if a ship has been hit by winds of war or water reverse then they halve their crew and until the players manage to climb back aboard they are not counted.

So, using the same ships and PCs from the last example let's say that the warlord and firemage were washed overboard. Until the x number of turns it takes for them to climb back aboard the roll would be based off of 15 (not 30) crew. So 3 PCs are still aboard so 15 Ė 3 = 12 NPCs, +1 for the artisan, 2 for the mage and 3 for the knight. A grand total of 18. As you can see using those spells can make boarding dramatically easier. But you must have great timing else the crew members may come aboard before you can start trying to board them. (Remember, once at distance 0 you cannot use AoE spells or Naval sphere spells out of risk to your own ship and crew)