Friday, August 10, 2012

A Dark Sail on the Horizon

High Seas, the piracy supplement to Flashing Blades, includes a random encounter table most applicable to the waters of the West Indies and Europe; however, it's poorly suited to the maritime activity of the Mediterranean. Accordingly, I made my own.

Encounters at Sea - Mediterranean

Roll (d6, d6) Encountered Ship(s)
11 A lightly armed French merchant tartane (Corsair)
12 A lightly armed patrol ship (Small Galley) belonging to the nearest sea power
13 A heavily armed Spanish Galleon
14 A heavily armed Pirate/Privateer Corsair
15 A lightly armed Barbary Small Warship
16 A heavily armed English defenceable ship (merchant Small Warship)
21 A Dutch convoy of two lightly armed Merchantmen and two heavily armed Small Warships
22 Two heavily armed Spanish Galleons
23 Two lightly armed Sallee Rover Corsairs
24 A heavily armed Knights of Saint John greatship (Large Warship)
25 A heavily armed Spanish Merchantman
26 A heavily armed Large Warship belonging to the nearest sea power searching for Pirates/Privateers
31 A lightly armed English pinnace (Corsair)
32 A heavily armed Ragusan argosy (Galleon)
33 A small Spanish fleet (1D6 Large Galleys plus a lightly armed Merchantmen)
34 A heavily armed Venetian Merchantman
35 A heavily armed Barbary Pirate (Small Warship)
36 Two lightly armed pinnaces (Corsairs) belonging to the nearest sea power
41 A heavily armed Ottoman Merchantman
42 A small French fleet (1D6+1 lightly armed Small Galleys)
43 Two lightly armed Genoese Merchantmen
44 A heavily armed Barbary Pirate Corsair (1-3)/Small Galley(4-6)
45 A lightly armed French Merchantman
46 A lightly armed Dutch Merchantman
51 A small Barbary fleet (1D6+1 Small Warships)
52 A heavily armed Venetian Large Galley
53 Two heavily armed patrol ships (Small Galleys) belonging to the nearest sea power
54 A lightly armed Greek tartana (Corsair)
55 A heavily armed Spanish or Ottoman Large Galley
56 An English convoy of two heavily armed defenceable ships (merchant Small Warships) escorted by two heavily armed Large Warships
61 A Barbary Fleet (2D6 heavily armed Small Warships)
62 An English Fleet (1D6 merchant Small Warships and 1D6 Large Warships)
63 Sallee Rovers Pirate Fleet (2D6 heavily armed Corsairs)
64 Spanish or Ottoman Galley Fleet (2D6 heavily armed Large Galleys)
65 A heavily armed Dutch Galleon
66 Spanish or Ottoman Treasure Fleet (1D6 heavily armed Galleons escorted by 1D6 heavily armed Large Warships)

Notes -
  • "Knights" refers to the galleys and roundships of the Knights of Saint John (Malta) (1-4) or Knights of San Stefano (Tuscany) (5-6)
  • English and Ragusan ships always have reinforced hulls (+ 5 Hull Hit Points)
  • Dutch ships always have reinforced masts and superior quality sail canvas and ropes (+5 Rigging Hit Points) and are close-hauled and fitted with superior rudders (+ 1 Handling)
  • Spanish ships always carry the maximum number of marines possible
  • "Spanish" include Neapolitan ships
  • "Pirate/Privateer" encounters consist of European pirates (1-3), perhaps wold-be renegadoes on their way to join the Barbary corsairs, or privateers (4-6) employed by one of the Mediterranean sea powers (1-4) or the Knights of Saint John (5-6)
  • Ottoman Warships and Galleons carry the maximum number of cannons royal allowed
  • "Barbary" referes to the corsair fleets of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli
  • "Sallee Rovers" referes to the pirate fleet of the Republic of Salé along the cost of modern Morocco
  • Greek ships may be Ottoman (1-3) or Venetian (4-6)
  • "Spanish or Ottoman" is a special case - if the encounter takes place west of Sicily, the encountered ships are Spanish, and if the encounter takes place east of Sicily, the encountered ships are Ottoman
  • "Treasure Fleet" refers to either Spanish ships carrying specie to Genoa or Naples or Ottoman ships carrying tribute from Alexandria to Constantinople


  1. I can't help but think, rereading this post and your addendum, that some kind of "visual guide" or "gazeteer" to the historical Europe of cape-and-sword adventures might be in order.

    Something that covers both the real, historical setting (people, places, trade relationships, tensions, etc.), the fantastic ones (Ruritania, Graustark, etc.), and offers some adventure seeds.

    It would, alas, be a massive undertaking with no commercial upside. Which means that, were it to be done, it would be a labor of love. Of course, such a product (if well done and impeccably researched) could have some life in the homeschool market. But it's still an almost overwhelming project.

    1. When I was planning out my campaign wiki, that's kinda of what I imagined. Having worked on it for awhile, I have a better idea of just how dauntingly difficult that would be.

    2. Just looking at your campaign wiki and having done a similar project in high school on the Soviet Union I have a sense of how daunting it would be. :)

      But it would be cool once done. LOL!
      Oh well, maybe once I've retired as a propertied gentleman with the King's favor. Oh...right...real world. *sigh*

    3. I think the next great wave of rpg development will occur when we all move into the home . . .

    4. I don't know...I have a 9 year old with several younger brothers who all need to learn how to do research projects. :D

    5. As a friend of mine pointed out, this is why professors have grad students!

  2. That's yet another great piece of work I will steal from you if I can get a game going. Musketeers versus Corsican Brothers and Berbers and what have you on the Mediterranean. What larks!

    1. It was REH's "The Shadow of the Vulture" and the idea of musketeers versus Turks that inspired me to run FB.


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