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5E 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].
 
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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.
 

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.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
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.
 
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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".
 

S'mon

Legend
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...
 


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.
 

Hussar

Legend
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.
 

I think anachronism would work fine for an elven ship, which is what was suggested.

As for longships, they probably where the most advanced seafaring vessels of their time.
 

The weapons and armour span a thousand years or more in D&D, so I'm fine with the ships doing the same. (Though I agree, we generally want to avoid getting too much past 16th century within reason). I agree that elves should be able to have slightly more "advanced" ships, at least when it comes to maneuverability.
 

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. They probably where the most advanced seafaring vessels of their time.
Right, but these rules suggest you can add a hundred idle landsmen regularly aboard with your crew of forty and cross the ocean.
 

Hussar

Legend
I think anachronism would work fine for an elven ship, which is what was suggested.

As for longships, they probably where the most advanced seafaring vessels of their time.
Umm, not even remotely. The Chinese were sailing around the world while the Vikings could barely leave the North Atlantic.

Why would elves have better ships than everyone else? It's not like there's anything in Elven lore to suggest they make good sailors and, in fact, given that they don't usually like folks cutting down trees, it's not like they are big on building ships. I could see elves using magic to cross water more than being centuries more advanced in ship building techniques when nothing else in their culture is particularly more advanced than anyone else.

Or, put it another way, they were using galleons after the American Revolutionary War. We're talking some very, very serious anachronism here.
 



Umm, not even remotely. The Chinese were sailing around the world while the Vikings could barely leave the North Atlantic.
I don't know what history books you have been reading (perhaps produced by the Chinese Communist party?) but that's rubbish. The ancient Chinese achieved many things, but great explorers they weren't. The Polynesian people travelled much further in that part of the world - their ships where basic, but their navigation was far superior. As for the vikings, they explored the Mediterranean and North Africa as well as crossing the Atlantic. And they went to (and settled) Russia too, because longships can also navigate rivers and be carried over land by their crew.

Why would elves have better ships than everyone else?
Why not? It's not like D&D is a history simulator, and in the real world technology has always varied across different regions and cultures.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think it's established the Qeng Ho fleet did go all over and at the time Chinese ship technology was advanced. The problem was cultural.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
OOC:
I think it's established the Qeng Ho fleet did go all over and at the time Chinese ship technology was advanced. The problem was cultural.
we're talking real world not sci fi! ;)

Maybe you mean Zheng He, who Qeng Ho was named after, I think

And it's certainly not established, very much debated "There is still much debate about issues such as the actual purpose of the voyages, the size of the ships, the magnitude of the fleet, the routes taken, the nautical charts employed, the countries visited, and the cargo carried."

But still impressive stuff, even the bits that are not debated
 
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Speaking of the Chinese and the Polynesians, that's another thing that mildly annoys me about these ship rules. They're too Eurocentric. D&D nicely represents many different cultures. Rise of Tiamat has the Ice Hunters of the Sea of Moving Ice with Kayaks (they call them Kyeks, I think) and Tomb of Annihilation has a large, six-person Canoe for sale.

I'd have liked to see a good Polynesian outrigger or catamaran as well. How about the Philipino Karakoa? I dunno, some variety would have been interesting.

Speaking of which, while we are on the subject of Elves. That would have been interesting too. Why not get a few of the artists to do some imaginings of what an Elf ship would look like? Even if they conclude, like Hussar, that elves shouldn't have "better" ships than everyone else (it's a good argument, I think), they'd probably at least have "pretty" ships, wouldn't they? What's a dwarf ship like?
 

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