Rules: Rivers and Boats

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River and boat travel in Eradain is typically by variations of a Keelboat and Longship. Rafts or barges or flatboats are typically only used for downstream cargo haulage, except on lakes, such as Lake Erada. Some are dismantled and then hauled back up river as cargo in other ships or boats or pack animals and wagons to be reused. The predominant vessel in the rivers of Eradain is the Keelboat, which has a shallow draft and is able to navigate many of the rivers of the land both up and downstream. Longships are used as higher end vessels and warships and also travel the oceans. Sailing ships and Galleys also travel the oceans.

River Sizes

Notes about river sizes on and depth taken from Tao of D&D used in his 20 miles per hex maps:  With 1 point (expressed in blue numbers on the map) equaling approximately 8-12 feet in width and 1 foot in depth (its really a guideline rather than a rule, as not all rivers obey the same groundwater laws), there is a point when zooming in further causes the river to be the same width as the hex that holds it … but then, that should be obvious.

In this example I saw on his map river locations with a “4” (32 feet wide and 4 fee deep?) and others with higher numbers such as “83” (664′ to 996′ wide and 83′ deep?)

Pattern = smallest seemed to be 4 with +3 per hex downriver. Adjoining rivers are added together with the +3 added, thus a 4 river joining an 18 river = 4+18+3=25 as the new river size at that point.

Additional Tao of D&D posts and snipped comments:

  • How It's Done Rejoiner
  • Random Map Generator - Elevations
  • I've also added blue numbers for each hex where the river flows through. These indicate the approximate size of the river - it works out to about 0.25 cubic meters of water per second per number - but really, it is just a general assessment for comparison to other rivers. An ordinary mountain stream typically has a discharge of 1 meter per second - so it would be rated at '4' on the map above.
  • The black numbers in the bottom right corner of each hex are elevation figures in feet. The blue numbers following the rivers indicates the size of the river: rather than a representation of width, its more a demonstration of how much relative water the river is carrying. I couldn't put it into cubic meters per second or anything like that, as it does not represent an exact figure, but rather an account of how many hex-sides have drained specifically in that river valley. I hope to explain this at a later date. Think of a river with 3 points as being something you might cross while only getting your calves wet, without the need of a ford, whereas a river with 30 points would be large enough to carry a fair-sized barge.

A simplified system based on this may be implemented into my own maps at some point in order to determine how large and deep rivers are.

Eradain Keelboats

Keelboats were long, narrow craft, usually about seventy-feet in length, though the first keelboats used by explorers and fur traders were smaller. They had a keel providing stability, especially for upriver travel. Unlike flatboats, they were designed to return up the river. As many as twenty-five men would work a keelboat upstream, using a variety of methods: Poling with "shoulder poles," which rested on the bottom, and which the boatman pushed, walking from bow to stern as he did so; tow-lines, called cordelles, which were man-hauled from the riverbank in a method called cordelling {some keelboats also used a hawser (rope) which was mounted to a reel on board that could be attached to a tree or a stump on shore and wound in}; overhanging branches were used, grasped by the men from the deck, drawing the keelboat along in a method called "bushwhacking", and finally there was a mast and sail useful depending on any prevailing wind (as the river changed direction in ox-bows etc, the sail would be hoisted or reefed). The boats moved upstream at about a mile-an-hour; in decent weather, with a fifteen hour day routine.

As many as twenty-five men would work a keelboat upstream, using a variety of methods: Rowing, poling, tow-lines, finally there was a mast and sail useful depending on any prevailing wind. The boats moved upstream at about a mile-an-hour; in decent weather, with a fifteen hour day routine. Keelboat operators would sell and trade to acquire a profitable cargo of agricultural and other manufactured wares.

The goods constituted a veritable department store: cloth, butcher and scalping knives, rifles, mackinaw blankets, vermillion, powder horns, tools, bridles, Spanish saddles, sugar, ink, paper, quills, flints, calico, flannel, shirts, kettles, traps, axes, branding irons, wool socks, combs, beads, rope, four, coffee, and, of course, alcohol.

At night river clanners will be whooping it up, dancing and singing and being rowdy. Mike Fink called “king of the keelboaters”, was a semi-legendary brawler and river boatman who exemplified the tough and hard-drinking men who ran keelboats up and down the rivers. The keelboatmen were the envy and terror of the simple folk along the shores. A wild, turbulent class, ready to fight and to dance, equally enraptured with the rough tune of a fiddle, or the sound of the war-whoop, which promised the joyous diversion of a fight. They were drinkers, gamblers and self-professed ‘half-alligator’, ‘half-horse’, but were also partial to a sentimental song.[1]

Boat Statistics

All the keelboats have oars, rudder and mast. The boat generally includes a cabin and lockers for storage, and walkways for poling. To carry cargo the keelboat is fitted with a cargo box. This storage area occupied the entire body of the boat; with the exception of about twelve feet at bow and stern and rose four or five feet above the deck.

Using Pathfinder Rules/Stats:

Ship Type AC HP Base Save Maximum Speed Arms Ram Squares Crew
Cargo Capacity
Keelboat Common 8 65
5 Hardness
+4 30 feet* 1 2d6+6 2
12 oars
10 tons
Keelboat Medium 8 60
5 Hardness
+4 30 feet* 1 2d6+8 2
20 oars
15 tons
Keelboat Large 6 75
5 Hardness
+5 30 feet* 1 3d6+12 3
30 oars
20 tons
Longship 6 75 +5 60 feet* 1 4d6+18 3 50/75+100

AC: The ship's base Armor Class. To calculate a ship's actual AC, add the captain's Profession (sailor) modifier to the ship's base AC. Touch attacks against a ship ignore the captain's modifier. A ship is never considered flat-footed.

Base Save: The ship's base save modifier. All of a ship's saving throws (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) have the same value. To determine a ship's actual saving throw modifiers, add the captain's Profession (sailor) modifier to this base value.

Maximum Speed: The ship's maximum tactical speed in combat. An asterisk indicates the ship has sails, and can move at double speed when it moves in the same direction as the wind. A ship with only sails can only move if there is some wind.

Crew: The first number lists the minimum crew complement the ship needs to function normally, excluding those needed to make use of the vessel's weapons. The second value lists the ship's maximum crew plus additional soldiers or passengers.

Capsize (Ex): A creature with this special quality can attempt to capsize a boat or a ship by ramming it as a charge attack and making a combat maneuver check. The DC of this check is 25, or the result of the captain's Profession (sailor) check, whichever is higher. For each size category the ship is larger than the creature attempting to capsize it, the creature attempting to capsize the ship takes a cumulative –10 penalty on its combat maneuver check.