So...keelboats
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  1. #1
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    So...keelboats

    Now that I have Ghosts of Saltmarsh and have looked at the ship rules, I can see that the keelboat actually doesn't make any sense. I had hoped that there was a just a little glitch in the presentation (the dimensions of the ship was off, or the crew was missing a decimal point), but nope, it's just unfathomable.

    They start with the DMG (p 119), like all the ships, so that's where the the low crew/passengers and tiny cargo capacity (only twice as much as a rowboat!) is coming from. If we stick with that approach (which the book seems to want to do given how it emphasizes that one person can run this ship just fine) the problem is that the 12 rowing benches with a maximum of 3 crew and 4 passengers makes no sense. Well, that and one person smoothing controlling a 60' ship is a little hard to swallow.

    I was expecting I'd look at it, see the mistake, and be able to just change some numbers. For instance, I figure I can fix some of this just by cutting the dimensions in half and taking out all but 4 benches. The only problem with that is that the cabin is obviously designed to be as big as it looks. You couldn't fit 2 beds and a desk in it if you just shrunk the dimensions.

    So...yeah, I don't know what to do here that isn't messy. Has anyone come up with an elegant way to fix this shipwreck?

    Other than that, the ship rules look decent so far (haven't finished the whole section yet).
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    I believe the text is meant to be something like a ship's boat or pinnace. The plan is meant to be an actual keelboat - which is a board category since it includes pretty much any riverboat.

    Do you actually need stats for a keelboat? It should probably have a small crew but high cargo capacity (which could be used for passengers if you cram them in). Most keelboats would not be rowed - oars on a larger vessel are somewhat impractical in the narrow confines of a river.

    I suspect the block of text containing the description of the keelboat featured in the deck plan was accidently deleted, along with the name of whatever boat was listed next. The proof-reader wouldn't spot the error, since the text was still [name of a boat] [description of a boat].
    Last edited by Paul Farquhar; Thursday, 23rd May, 2019 at 08:31 AM.
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    From looking at even more, it really does look like two boats were had in mind, and then at attempt was made to stick them together. There, unfortunately, doesn't appear to be a clear way of separating them. So here's about as simple as I can do it while still keeping with the general way the rules are presenting.

    Separate it into a smaller boat (I don't know what to call it, so I'll just take pinnace) and an actual keelboat. For each of them, use the statblock as listed, except where specifically noted.

    Pinnace
    20' x 10'
    Rudder rather than helm, which can be used with either oars or sailing.
    Don't use deckplan. No cabin. One rowing station.

    Keelboat
    25 crew, 10 passengers
    20 tons cargo
    Double hull hit points
    1 action if less than 10 crew. 3 crew minimum for operation.
    Oars require 10 rowers.
    30' mast, keep deckplan.

    That's more complex than I'd like, but about as simple as I can think of to make it satisfying.
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    A tiny amount of research has given me possibly SOME idea of where they got their notions from... but they came to bad conclusions.

    The Keelboat as MAPPED, is based loosely on the kind of Keelboat (Riverboat) that say, Lewis and Clark explored on. Lewis and Clark had a LOT more than 3 crew aboard. Meanwhile, the statistics seem to be for small watercraft, like Paul above says - a ship's launch boat. Essentially anything bigger than a rowboat, but smaller than everything else.

    Of course, like most D&D boats, real Keelboats tend to be skinnier (Clark's was 55' long and 10' wide, apparently), but these are better for D&D-style battle maps, so I'm okay with cheating on the dimensions.

    I'm not really looking for "realism" exactly - I'm looking for playability.

    Sword's suggestion above looks pretty good to me.

    Now for one other beef with the rules:

    Some of the ships/boats appear to list AVERAGE crew/passengers and others appear to list MAXIMUM (I think the rules are meant to be MAX capacity). Take the Longship for example. 100 passengers? Sure, Vikings occasionally transported armies, but really, if you put 40 crew and 100 passengers in that Longship, you'd have STANDING ROOM ONLY. It can be DONE, but it's not like you're gonna cross the Atlantic at that kind of capacity. I think they should have limited the crew and passengers to REASONABLE AVERAGES, which I think is true of most of the other ships.

    I dunno, what do you guys think?

    Oh, one more thing: It's been a long time since I read the Unearthed Arcana on the subject, but I think the Keelboat might have had the same problems there. I'm feeling Deja-Vu about it. I might have even complained about it in the feedback bit of the playtest, but I can't quite remember.
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    Yeah, I feel like they are trying to use the keelboat statistics for everything that's bigger than a rowboat but smaller than a sailing ship. My biggest disappointment for the "Of Ships and the Sea" rules is that they stuck to the list of 6 ships from the DMG. I would have preferred if they had provided a bit less detail on these 6 ships (I think the stat blocks could have been compressed) and instead included several additional ships. My list of additional ships would probably be: sloop (for small sailing craft, which are used several times in Ghosts of Saltmarsh), cog (because the Sea Ghost in the adventure is basically a cog), schooner (not quite as big as a "Sailing Ship" but more maneuverable with regards to the wind because of the fore-and-aft rigging; it would be the elf of ships), and galleon (I'd say the "Sailing Ship" is a carrack, and that a galleon is a bigger version, and the most modern of ships). In such a world, the keelboat could have a stronger identity as riverboat, with sloop and cog doing its work on the high seas.
    Last edited by 77IM; Friday, 24th May, 2019 at 04:05 AM.
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    Yep. That would have been great!

    Hey, maybe we should write all that up and use it ourselves. Anyone wanna take a crack at it? Let's use the system they made as much as possible, just with a few "tweaks".
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    For my Primeval Thule game we had to redo ships entirely based on Roman travel speeds, which were about twice DMG numbers - 4 to 6 knots being typical, half that if winds against you. Main ships are Xebec, a fast sailing ship, and Tartane a small ship or large fishing boat. 5e really feels the lack of any decent ship numbers imo. And the keel boat 1mph only makes sense if trying to sail upriver against the wind...

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    One of my players did this https://simonsprimevalthule.blogspot...udith.html?m=1

    I give Xebec sailing ship stats but base 6mph for a good one. Tartane has 100hp, DT 10, 3mph for a good one, needs 2 crew and can take 10 passengers and 5 tons cargo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FitzTheRuke View Post
    Take the Longship for example. 100 passengers? Sure, Vikings occasionally transported armies, but really, if you put 40 crew and 100 passengers in that Longship, you'd have STANDING ROOM ONLY. It can be DONE, but it's not like you're gonna cross the Atlantic at that kind of capacity.
    On a longship, there wouldn't be distinction between "crew" and "passengers". They would all be vikings and would all be expected to take a turn on the oars and fight on land. 100 Vikings in total would be reasonable, and the stats are right at the upper end of the size range for such a vessel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
    Yeah, I feel like they are trying to use the keelboat statistics for everything that's bigger than a rowboat but smaller than a sailing ship. My biggest disappointment for the "Of Ships and the Sea" rules is that they stuck to the list of 6 ships from the DMG. I would have preferred if they had provided a bit less detail on these 6 ships (I think the stat blocks could have been compressed) and instead included several additional ships. My list of additional ships would probably be: sloop (for small sailing craft, which are used several times in Ghosts of Saltmarsh), cog (because the Sea Ghost in the adventure is basically a cog), schooner (not quite as big as a "Sailing Ship" but more maneuverable with regards to the wind because of the fore-and-aft rigging; it would be the elf of ships), and galleon (I'd say the "Sailing Ship" is a carrack, and that a galleon is a bigger version, and the most modern of ships). In such a world, the keelboat could have a stronger identity as riverboat, with sloop and cog doing its work on the high seas.
    Well, the problem you get into here is anachronism. A schooner is a 19th century ship. A Galleon is late 16th Century and later. A carrack is essentially the Santa Maria and you wouldn't really see anything more advanced than that, certainly not a schooner.

    It really depends on how far down the rabbit hole you want to dive with this. There's so much there. But, an open water ship capable of carrying a hundred people for any length of time? That's pretty advanced really. People tend to forget just how small those old sailing ships really were. You don't get the big ships until centuries later.
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