Ahoy, matey! What is the best supplement for ships and sailing?


Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Darrr! There are a lot of supplements out for adventuring in the briny deep. In your opinion, what's the best one for shipboard - not underwater - campaigns?

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Check out the FreePort Modules and supplements by Green Ronin. I've read Freeport City of Adventure and it has a mix information on the City of Freeport and Ships/Sea stuff.


Personally I like the Seafarer's Handbook by Fantasy Flight Games. The nautical combat rules are decent, the ship designs useful. It does have some of that Undersea material as well, but that shouldn't stop you. As with most of the FFG books, high on the 'crunch' factor.


I prefer Mongoose's Seas of Blood. It has fairly nice rules for combat, makes good use of template concept to create a nice fantasy feel, and it has some nice deckplans.

Broadsides and Seafarer's HB are both pretty good too. Broadsides is a bit more realistic, Seafarer's has more of a focus on undersea and much more of the space is spent on plug-in setting material.


"Seafarer's Handbook" (Fantasy Flight Games) is a good resource for aquatic campaigns with a fantasy feel, while "Seas of Blood" (Mongoose Publishing) and "Broadsides" (Living Imagination) have a more realistic touch. I also enjoyed "Hostile Climes: Depths of Despair" (Pinnacle Entertainment Group). In February, Green Ronin should be coming out with "Skull & Bones", while Mystic Eye/Thunderhead Games is supposedly working on an undersea supplement due out next year. Avalanche Press also has "Black Flags", though I have not looked that one over (aside from the cover) yet.

You might also look over at SVGames, for ESDs of some of the 2e supplements dealing with the sea, such as "Of Ships and the Sea", "Sea of Fallen Stars", and "The Sea Devils".


Aeolius said:
while "Seas of Blood" (Mongoose Publishing) and "Broadsides" (Living Imagination) have a more realistic touch.
I don't think I'd ever call Seas of Blood "realistic". Just look at the cover*

I have all three books and I don't particularly like any of them. Of course, I'm a sailing nut who fought his way through the Master and Commander book.


*The hobbos are rowing the wrong way and the ship is sailing backwards!


Aaron2 said:
The hobbos are rowing the wrong way and the ship is sailing backwards!
True, though I did say "more" realistic, not completely realistic. Besides, those hobgoblins are simply try to better use their cursed Oars of Bass Ackwards Rowing. :D

My campaign is set primarily underwater, thus my use of the term "realistic" is slightly skewed.


I only own the twin crowns campaign setting and broadsides sourcebooks but I like their rules a lot. For an indepth high seas campaign they are great giving rules for voyages and ship to ship combats that incorporate a lot of realistic factors such as wind speeds and direction, ship acceleration, tacking, etc. Profession sailor becomes a very important skill under the rules as well as navigator and pilot. They don't have rules for commercial shipping besides ship stats and it introduces a seasickness resistance/balance on ships skill of sea legs, but those are my only real quibbles for seaborne campaigns.


My take -

Broadsides: Most realistic rules for ships. If anyone in your group is a fan of sailing and will get into the realism aspect, it might be good to use these rules or they might be frustrated at the lack of realism in the other books. The other books don't even take wind into account during combat, for example. It also classifies ships by class, making it easy to define what kind of ship technology is in your world by allowing certain ship classes - a very nice touch.

Seafarer's Handbook: Best inspirational and high fantasy oriented adventure material. Best coverage on underwater adventuring - but you already said that you don't care about that. :)

Seas of Blood: Most comprehensive ruleset, as it includes mass combat for ship boarding, merchant commodity prices, and some other nice touches that the other books lack.

Swashbuckling Adventures: Best source if you want to go full into a swashbuckling golden age of sail campaign with gunpowder, etc. as it is, essentially, a full d20 game with new classes to replace the D&D ones.

As regards rules complexity, if you are using ships to get from place A to B and have a few encounters mid-route, i.e. as a quick plot device, then the latter three books will enable you to run things quickly and smoothly, with Seafarer's perhaps being the extreme of this style. If you want the actual sailing of the ship to be part of the game, including tactical ship-to-ship combat that attempts to capture the unique feel of ship maneuvering, as opposed to making them move like spaceships in a vacuum, then the rules in Broadsides are better.

Any of the books will get the job done just fine though. It's a matter of what your expectations are. I'm a fan of low magic and a healthy dose of realism, so Broadsides is my preference.