View Full Version : Age of sail questions for RPGs

2009-12-09, 01:37 AM
My title is exactly what it says on the tin. I'm trying to compile a list of all potentially useful skills for 17th century life (specifically the sailing aspect, but also more generally), and adventuring therein.

What I have so far, is:
Artifice (skilled crafts).
Armor (limited, but useful against swords).
Blades (heavier swords).
Fencing (lighter swords).
First Aid.
Mercantile (also includes accounting/quartermastery).
Seamanship (knots, rigging, and general tasks for keeping a ship in ship shape)
Social Status.
Wilderness (skills for surviving in the wild).

What all am I missing?

2009-12-09, 01:42 AM
Surgery. Nothing like having a lead shot splinter in your leg and the only thing saving you from the doctor's hack saw is a knife sterilized by a candle flame, a bottle of rum, and the wooden peg you're biting down on.

2009-12-09, 01:45 AM
Surgery. Nothing like having a lead shot splinter in your leg and the only thing saving you from the doctor's hack saw is a knife sterilized by a candle flame, a bottle of rum, and the wooden peg you're biting down on.

Rolled into medicine. Since surgeon is less than doctor in those days, I'm assuming that that's low level and "internal medicine" and such are only learned at more advanced levels of the skill.

2009-12-09, 02:01 AM
I don't know. I don't think you should include surgery, medicine, and basic first aid knowledge into a single skill as they were vastly different back then. A skilled surgeon could cut a limb without severing an artery, apply a tourniquet, splint broken bone, and remove bullets from a wound. Sure, an untrained person could do this, but they would likely cause more harm than good.

This is entirely different from, say, applying pressure to stop a wound, cleaning it, and dressing it with simple cloth. A deck hand would know at least that much.

Medicine should apply to the internal stuff. The causes, effects, and symptoms of scurvy and how to cure it. The diseases fleas spread. The proper application of drugs and medicine.

If I were you, I'd make those three things distinct.

Surgery/Doctor - the act of physically working on the human body (actually healing the body)
First Aid - the act of preventing further wounds (so a trained medical expert can do the actual healing)
Medicine - the act of treating internal injuries (removing poisons and diseases and the like)

2009-12-09, 02:09 AM
Fair enough. Changing it now.

2009-12-09, 01:01 PM
So, anything else? Or is that a fairly comprehensive list?

2009-12-09, 02:38 PM
Skill synergies. The different medical skills should have this.

2009-12-09, 02:44 PM
Skill synergies. The different medical skills should have this.

I'm including that in the system. I've got synergies and "bleedthrough" for complimentary and similar skills respectively.

2009-12-09, 07:33 PM
Okay, I now have a different question. Could someone in the know identify for me the prices of the following, in Francs, Pounds, Doubloons, Raw Gold, or anything else from at some point in the seventeenth century (google search turns up some interesting commentary on food, but not much else).

1 ton of Pig iron.
1 ton sugar.
1 ton molasses.
1 ton rum.
1 ton of Pepper.
1 ton of Poppy.
1 musket.
100 yards of silk.
100 yards of cotton or linen.
1 cannon (12 pounder).
1 ton gunpowder.
1 month's labor for an unskilled worker.
1 month's labor for a skilled worker.
1 month's labor for an officer or educated man.
1 dhow, 150 tons, unrigged and unmanned.
1 Galleon, Oaken, 500 tons, unrigged and unmanned.
1 Carrack, Oaken, 1000 tons, unrigged and unmanned. (I'm looking solely for the cost of construction and materials for the ships)

Fortunately, I've found a site citing prices for a number of household implements and foodstuffs, and can do some of the volume/weight conversions.

In addition, I wish to mention I'll be opening up a beta playtest on this inside of a month. If you wish to get involved in the Beta when it's ready, or if you are an artist and would like to have your airship related work featured and credited (and maybe even compensated if this doesn't turn out to be a black hole money pit) please PM me.

Brother Oni
2009-12-10, 07:45 AM
Try looking up cost of living and wages - you may get some more useful numbers.

Looking through google gives me the following numbers:

12 pence/day for carpenters (skilled labour)
8-10 pence/day for labourers (unskilled labour)
4 pence/day for a milkmaid

A soldier's daily wage was slightly more than a labourer (just use as equivalent for marines).
Officer's pay is directly proportional to their rank (see below)

The Sovereign of the Seas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Sovereign_of_the_Seas) cost 65,586 pounds and was a 1522 ton, 102 cannon Ship of the line.

The gilding cost for her was 6,691 pounds, which was the price of the average warship back then.

This website gives good values, although it's for the 18th century: http://footguards.tripod.com/08HISTORY/08_costofliving.htm

Note that all values are in the old British pounds/shillings/pence system, which is NOT comparable to the decimalised money system we use these days.

I've found some more items on your list:

The prices seem to be accurate from other sources I've looked at.

2009-12-10, 08:54 AM
Your skill list doesn't list cartography (drawing maps), though you could just class that under navigation.

Brother Oni
2009-12-10, 12:12 PM
I see no mention of dance or etiquette, both highly important for the social circles that officers and higher classes will be moving in (unless it's in Entertainment).

I'd question shields and bows as gunpowder has pretty much rendered them obsolete.

2009-12-10, 02:18 PM
Shields and bows are listed for purpose of completeness, and for non-european powers (longbows were even discussed as standard armament for the american revolution: In skilled hands they were more accurate and faster firing than muskets and rifles, and since gunpowder had rendered armor obsolete...), and as we are still in the days of Flintlock ship to ship combat featured a fair volume of swordplay, allowing Bucklers to be of use.

Dance is rolled into entertainment. Etiquette can be accomplished through high skill in Diplomacy and/or Conversation. Cartography is covered by navigation, yes.

Those links are all sheer loveliness for their utility, thank you. I'll look at Living and Wages, most certainly.

Storm Bringer
2009-12-10, 02:50 PM
is climbing rolled into athlethics? being good at manuvering in the rigging was a key skill for the topmen.

also, due to thier perishable nature, spices and some imports like tea or coffee would vary in price depending on availability by a considerable margin. thier were serious economic races between fast sailing ships, as the frist ship into port would be selling the freshest goods, have lost the least to rot/other wastage, and to a market that was really short of tea (as they'd drunk all of last years tea), so they would make considerably more than the second ship, who'd make more than the third, and so on.

2009-12-10, 03:42 PM
Rigging is rolled into Seamanship, other climbing is rolled into Acrobatics. Not losing your footing is if anything more important in this game.

For the price of pepper and spices I'm looking at the average price, if possible. I'm working up a supply and demand system.

2009-12-10, 04:03 PM
You might want to check out AD&D 2E player's handbook and DMG both of which delved into the more mundane aspects of fantasy worlds than 3E. The PHB had the price of rare, exotic, and uncommon spices (pepper is something like 2gp a pound) and the DMG gave wages for workers and other hirelings. A skilled worker made something like 5sp a week. This is all from memorization so don't quote me on it.