Crew Combat

Crew Combat Summary:

Attack: roll 1d20 + attack (or ranged attack). If result is greater than enemy’s defence, deal damage equal to difference + damage value (or ranged damage value).

Hitpoints: If a hit deals 5hp or more in a single blow, 1 member of the squad may be injured, immediately roll on the roster chart on the back of the sheet. That character then rolls on the squad injury chart

Morale: When a squad reaches 50% or 25% of hitpoints, it must test morale. Roll 1d20 + morale + leader’s Cha against DC = 10 + number of non-routed enemy squads still in the battle. If successful, reduce the squad’s morale by 1. If unsuccessful, reduce by 1 then the squad routs.

Rout: The squad is out of combat until the end of the encounter. If current morale is a negative value equal to level or more, the squad may not be reformed until morale is restored (RP required). A routing squad provokes a free melee attack from any squads they are currently engaging.


Ship Crew Combat Rules

NPC Crew aboard a ship are split into squads. Each squad consists of 5-10 NPCs (PCs may never join a squad’s roster even if they lead them on the battlefield).

Each squad must have a leader. This must be an Officer (or Mate) who holds a Rank which allows the ‘Squad Commander’ ability (some Ranks have restrictions over the type and number of crew squads which can be commanded). The leader trains, equips, looks after and leads the squad in battle and is responsible for their discipline and work outside of battle also. All squads must be assigned to officers in the following order;

PCs with Officer Ranks, PCs with Mate Rank, NPC Able Hands with Officer Rank, NPC Able Hands with Mate Rank, PCs with no Rank, NPC Able Hands with no Rank.

Officers and Mates add their Charisma modifier to the morale scores of any and all squads under their command. If there are more squads aboard a ship than eligible officers who can command them, then NPC Able Hands or PCs with no rank can take command of the remainder but they do not add their Charisma scores to morale.

Most ships have one extra squad which is known as the ‘First Squad’. This consists of (usually) the Captain and his best Officers, bodyguards, monsters and other allies. This is the squad which the PCs will have to fight/encounter directly in any interactions while the Crew squads fight each other in the background. Aboard the PCs’ ship, the First Squad consists of the PCs themselves along with any Cohorts, Animal Companions, Familiars etc.

Squad Statistics

A squad has a series of characteristics which define its capabilities in combat. These are outlined below:

Name: The name of the squad for identification

Designation: A short description of the role the squad plays on the battlefield and the type of tactics it usually employs (purely for description)

Size: The size of the average member of the group (small, medium, large etc).

Roster: A list of the squad’s members listed from 1 to 10. When the squad is injured (see below), a d10 roll determines which squad member takes that injury. If a number is rolled which doesn’t contain a squad member (or which contains an already injured member), the squad loses 1 morale instead. Each squad member normally contributes 5 hp towards the squad’s total hp. This should be recorded next to their name as injuries and other effects can reduce or increase this value. The size of the squad increases with its level. Once the squad size goes above 10, roll 1d20 to determine the crewmember injured (ignoring rolls higher than the maximum) instead of 1d10.

Leader: The name of the Squad’s leader is written here. If the leader is injured in battle, the squad becomes more likely to rout and cannot use its special abilities.

Cha: The leader’s Charisma bonus is written here. The squad adds this value to its morale checks (see below) as long as the leader is an Officer or Mate.

Morale: The squad’s maximum morale, the squad adds this value to its morale checks (see below). If the morale of a squad ever reaches a negative value equal to or greater than its level, it automatically routs. A routed squad retreats back to the safety of its ship (or runs into the wilderness/leaps overboard) in an attempt to leave the combat (see routing below).

Level: The experience level (0 to 10) of a squad. The more experienced the squad, the more hardened its members and the more special tactics it can employ.

Melee Attack: The squad’s melee attack value. To make an attack, the squad rolls 1d20 and adds this value. A squad can only make melee attacks if it is armed with melee weapons or has the Unarmed Combat ability (see below).

Ranged Attack: The squad’s ranged attack value. To make a ranged attack, the squad rolls 1d20 and adds this value. A squad can only make ranged attacks if it is armed with ranged weapons or has an ability which grants ranged attacks (see below). A squad can only make ranged attacks at enemies up to one range increment away.

Melee Damage: If a squad’s melee attack hits, it does extra damage to the enemy equal to this value (a damage of +0 or lower doesn’t prevent the squad from dealing damage, see below).

Ranged Damage: If a squad’s ranged attack hits, it does extra damage to the enemy equal to this value (a damage of +0 or lower doesn’t prevent the squad from dealing damage, see below).

Defence: The squad’s defence is the number an enemy must beat with attack rolls to cause damage to the squad. This defence applies against ranged or melee attacks.

Hit Points: The collective number of hit points the squad has. Normally each squad member contributes 5 hit points to this pool, although larger or smaller creatures or creatures with strong defensive capabilities may add more. If a squad is reduced to 50% or 25% of its’ hit points, it must test morale (see below). If a squad takes 5 or more damage from a single attack, roll on the roster chart to see which crewman is injured (see below).

Special Equipment: The equipment (if any) that each squad member is armed with in addition to their personal weaponry. Squads armed with better than average weapons will be able to make more powerful and/or more specialised attacks.

Special Abilities: The special abilities (if any) that the squad may employ. These abilities may help the squad in combat, harm their enemies or support the player characters. Supporting the First Squad usually takes a squad a full turn (unless specified otherwise) meaning that they cannot attack on the same turn as using one of these but they may move normally that turn (again unless specified otherwise). A squad may not use any of its special abilities if its leader is injured, or not participating in the combat (ie helping sail the ship or directly assisting the PCs).

Creating a Squad

When a new squad is formed, the squad leader writes the names of each crew member in the squad onto the roster. The rest of the statistics are determined as follows:

Melee Attack and damage: both start at + 0 (the squad takes -4 to attacks and provokes attacks of opportunity if not armed with melee weapons, if armed with two weapons rather than one, the squad may attack twice in one round)
Ranged Attack and damage: both start at + 0 (the squad needs to be armed with ranged weapons before it can use this ability)
Defence: starts at 10 (if given equipment then this may increase; light armour increases by 1, medium by 2 and heavy by 3, shields by an additional 1)
Morale: starts at 2 (this is modified by the squad’s pay and rations)
HP: 5hp per crew member

The squad’s starting abilities are then randomly generated (unless specified by the DM) by rolling 4 times on the following table and applying the results to the stats above (all results stack if rolled multiple times);

d20 roll result
1-2 + 1 melee attack
3-4 + 1 ranged attack
5-8 + 1 melee damage
9-11 + 1 ranged damage
12-15 + 1 defence
16-17 squad ability (see below)
18 + 1 morale
19 +5 hp (not assigned to a specific squad member)
20 Leader ability (see below)

The DM may assign bonus abilities to squads that are hired under exceptional circumstances.

Crew vs Crew Combat

Squads move at a speed equal to the slowest member of the group. If the entire squad has a fly/swim/climb/burrow speed then they may move in that manner. For a crew to board an enemy ship/fortification, a Deck Officer must command them to do so. For a crew squad to attack an enemy squad, they must be in base to base contact (for melee attacks) or within the first range increment of their ranged weapons (for ranged attacks).

The squad rolls 1d20 and adds the relevant attack stat. If the squad rolls higher than the enemy’s defence, they have hit. A hit deals damage equal to the amount by which the squad beat their opponent’s defence plus an amount equal to their damage value.

eg. Squad X attacks the enemy squad Y. X rolls 1d20 and adds its melee attack of +2 getting a total of 16. Comparing this to Y’s defence of 13, X has hit and dealt 3 damage to Y. However, X has a melee damage of +2, meaning that in total, X has dealt 5 damage to Y.

A squad reduces its current hp by a value equal to the amount of damage taken. For every 5 hp the squad loses, a single member of the squad has been injured (for larger creatures this threshold may be 10 or even more hp). Roll 1d10 on the roster to determine which character has been injured (see injuries below).

If a squad is reduced to 50% of its hp, it must test morale (see below). Regardless of whether this test is successful or not, its morale is reduced by 1. Furthermore when a squad is reduced to 25% of its hp, it must test again and then lose 1 morale regardless of whether they pass the test or not. If reduced to less than 5hp (or 10hp for larger squads etc), the squad automatically routs until the end of the encounter (see routing below).

The squad’s morale may be raised/lowered by other factors (eg special attacks, Officer Role actions, out of combat treatment). The minimum value for a squad’s morale is a negative value equal to its level. If a squad is reduced to this minimum value, it automatically routs until the morale is brought back up by 1 (this will persist outside of combat also). The maximum is a positive value equal to twice its level and it may never be raised beyond this.

Crew vs PC Combat

Squad combat will only usually be used for ship boarding actions, coastal raids etc and not for general land based adventuring. During a boarding action, the PCs will fight the enemy ship’s first squad (usually consisting of the Captain and their best marines/boduguards) while the crew fights the remaining enemy crew (made up of squads). If the PCs defeat their enemies and enemy squads still remain in the fight then those squads will either surrender/flee or be converted into individual enemies for the PCs to fight (DM’s discretion, depening on in-character, situational morale/environmental conditions). The PCs are not encouraged to take on enemy squads themselves, and the rules for interaction below are just to provide a safety net if that occurrence were to happen in game.

Each round, a squad may make a move and an attack action like any other creature. They are treated as a single creature for the purposes of non-squad attacks and spells but cannot be targeted by non-damage causing spells (eg charm person, hold person etc but DM’s discretion applies, exceptional circumstances may be allowed). Damaging spells and attacks (eg magic missile, fireball, melee attacks) can affect the squad normally as follows.

The AC for a normal attack to hit the squad is equal to its defence + 4 (the squad does not have a touch or flat-footed AC). Each attack that hits deals 1 damage to the squad per dice of damage rolled. Eg a fighter hits the squad with his composite bow for 1d8+5 damage, the squad would take 1 damage. If the wizard hit with a 5d6 fireball, the squad would take 5 damage. If a critical hit is scored against a squad, then one squad member is injured in addition to any injured by damage. All attacks performed by a PC against a squad are added together for the purposes of determining if a crew member is injured.

If a squad attacks a PC, it deals damage like a swarm equal to 1d4 x melee damage. Squads take up a 30×30’ square on a battlemat for this purpose (multiple squads may overlap even with enemies). Squads can attack at range by rolling their ranged attack +4 vs the PC’s AC, dealing damage appropriate for the weapons they carry.


For every full 5 hp of damage a squad takes from a single attack, one crew member is injured. To determing which unfortunate soul has taken the injury, roll 1d10 on the squad roster. If you roll a number with no squad member assigned (either because they are already injured or the squad is below 10 men), the squad loses 1 morale instead. When a squad member is injured, roll on the following table (1d10) to determine their fate:


When a squad makes a morale check, roll 1d20 and add the leader’s Cha score and the squad’s current morale. The DC is equal to 10 + the number of enemy squads still remaining in the battle (not counting routed squads or the First Squad fighting the PCs). This DC may be modified by the situation if the DM feels the squad is facing a more or less terrifying/difficult fight. If the check is failed, the squad becomes routed.
A routed squad may not participate in the battle further. It turns tail and flees. As it does so, any enemy squads engaged in melee with it get one free melee attack as the squad drops its guard to hightail it. If a squad is routed by failing a morale check, the squad reassembles after the encounter (assuming the PCs win and it is safe to do so) but their current morale stays the same. If a squad is routed because it has lost hitpoints, the squad remains routed until the squad is healed to a safe level (even beyond the encounter).

Loyalty represents the crew’s likelihood to mutiny, surrender or listen to the Captain’s orders. The loyalty of the crew is equal to the average morale of all the squads on board (rounded down) and is further modified by the following effects:


Other Rules

Allied squads can forgo their actions for a whole turn in order to support the First Squad. This grants all members of the First Squad a +1 bonus to all attacks which stacks with all other bonuses and remains in effect as long as the squad spends full-round actions to continue supporting them. Some squad abilities grant additional bonuses when supporting the First Squad, these abilities are in addition to and stack with the bonus to attacks mentioned above.

During an encounter, if a particular NPC is needed the PCs can call the NPC out of their squad. This immediately causes the NPC to join the First Squad and acts independently of their regular squad. Their hp contribution is removed from the squad’s and they cannot receive injuries from their squad roster. However, the NPC must face whatever is in the enemy First Squad(s) along with the PCs.

Crew traits

Some NPCs may have the following traits:

Non-combatant: A non-combatant sailor is unable to contribute in a meaningful manner to combat, but may have other skills or importance. Examples include infirm, sick or injured crew, passengers, children or elderly passengers. They may be assigned to a squad, but they do not contribute any hp to the squad. If they are not assigned to a squad then they may take no part in any encounter/battle and must hide below decks. If they are found by enemies while not part of a squad, they are captured or killed automatically. Non-combatants can still advise the PCs or perform non-combat related tasks outside of encounters if they are physically able.

Able Hand: Able Hand is a special title given to the cohorts of PCs with the Leadership feat and certain important NPCs. Cohorts automatically gain the ‘Able Hand’ trait, other NPCs must be awarded the ‘Able Hand’ trait (usually through roleplay with that NPC or advancing them in some other way). Some NPCs will be deemed important enough to have this trait anyway (eg. Sandara). Able Hands may hold any position aboard ship apart from Captain.

Squad Advancement

As squads gain experience and win battles, they also gain levels. Whenever a squad wins a battle (or emerges victorious over some other appropriate encounter) without routing or losing 50% or more of its’ members, the squad leader (if an Officer or Mate) can attempt a Profession (Pirate, Sailor or Soldier) check at DC 20 + the squad’s current level. If successful, the squad gains a level along with all the bonuses listed below:

A squad’s maximum level is limited by the level of its’ commander. The squad’s level can never exceed the commander’s level -3. If the squad ever finds itself in a position where it is above this level (such as if the commander is replaced with a lower level leader or the leader suffers level loss) the Captain must make a loyalty check against DC 20 or the squad is reduced to the highest legal level, losing all upgrades and bonuses from the levels lost. If the check is successful, the squad may remain at its current level but cannot gain any additional levels until the leader’s level is sufficiently raised.


Offence Bonus: Each time this number goes up, the squad can increase one of the following; melee attack, melee damage, ranged attack or ranged damage.
Defence Bonus: Each time this number goes up, the squad can increase its defence by 1.
Squad Ability: Each time a squad gains a squad ability, select one ability from the squad abilities table below. A squad must meet any prerequisites necessary.
Leader Ability: Each time a squad gains a leader ability, select one ability from the leader abilities table below. The leader must meet any prerequisites necessary.
Maximum Squad Size: More experienced crew learn to work together better. This allows more crewmen to act under the banner of a squad. Once the squad size goes above 10, roll 1d20 to determine the crewmember injured (ignoring rolls higher than the maximum) instead of 1d10.
Typical Profession (Sailor) Modifier: If a particular squad member does not have their own stat block prepared, this number can be used to estimate the sailing ability of a squad.

Squad Abilities


Leader Abilities


Equipment Upgrades

These upgrades are not based on experience and can be applied to any squad, as long as the price is paid for each member in the squad.


Replacing Crew

Occasionally crew members die or otherwise leave service and need to be replaced. The Captain and Boatswain are responsible for hiring new crew as detailed here. When hiring crew to join an existing squad only crew of an equal or higher level can be added to the squad. This represents hiring experienced sailors or those who can learn quickly. If the Captain wants (or needs) to fill his ranks quickly, less-experienced sailors can be recruited, but the squad is instantly reduced to the level of the least experienced sailor hired.

Eg. a squad is level 2 and has the riggers ability. It suffers 5 casualties during a brutal boarding action and the Captain inspects the captives from the enemy ship to see if any are good enough to replace them. Of the ten captives, eight are level 1, one is level 2 and one is level 3. Although all 10 can be hired, only the level 2 and 3 captives can join the squad without affecting its abilities. If the captain wants to fill up the remaining 3 slots in the squad, he will have to hire the level 1 crew, but this will reduce the squad to level 1, meaning it loses its riggers ability (and the stat increase from level 2). Desperate times may call for desperate measures.

Crew Combat

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