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Sails Full of Stars

Ships as Characters

Ships have aspects, skills, and stunts, just like regular characters. If the players start the game in command of—or serving aboard—their own ship, take some time to discuss the ship’s origins and history so you can decide what statistics to assign it.

Ships come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. A ship with no stunts is considered small, which means that it carries 20 guns and 100 crew, and up to 300 tons of cargo. To increase a ship’s size, take the Medium Ship and Large Ship stunts. For every step in size difference between two ships, the larger ship receives +1 to attack and defend against the smaller ship in combat.

Ship Aspects

Every ship has a high concept and a crew aspect. The high concept is a brief description of the ship as a whole, such as Poorly Repaired Merchantman or Intimidating French Warship. The crew aspect describes the makeup and personality of the crew, such as Merciless Pirate Scum or Patriotic but Inexperienced.

A vessel controlled by the players starts with 3 additional aspects, for a total of 5. Important NPC vessels may also have additional aspects in proportion to the significance of the vessel to the story.

Ship Skills

Skills associated with a ship represent the proficiencies of its crew. Choose these skills only from the following list:

  • Athletics
  • Craft
  • Fight
  • Notice
  • Provoke
  • Sail
  • Shoot
  • Stealth
  • Will

For an NPC vessel, use the guidelines in Fate Core (page 214) for giving skills to nameless NPCs. Don’t use the guidelines for supporting and main NPCs; only use those guidelines when making important non-ship NPCs.

For the starting PC ship, give it the skill levels for an Average, Fair, or Good nameless NPC, depending on what makes sense for your story.

When the ship’s crew performs a task, use the crew’s skill rank. However, if a character takes direct command of the crew while they’re performing the task, use the character’s skill rank instead. In this case, the character must participate in the task alongside the crew, and the character cannot contribute to any other tasks simultaneously. Only one character can take command of a given task at once, and other characters cannot provide teamwork bonuses.

Ship Stunts

Stunts represent special equipment aboard ship or innate features of the ship itself. A ship controlled by the players gets 1 free stunt. Ships do not have fate points or refresh.

Medium Ship: This is a frigate-sized ship, carrying 40 guns, with a capacity of 250 crew members and 750 tons of cargo.

Large Ship: This is a ship of the line, carrying 80 guns, with a capacity of 600 crew members and 1800 tons of cargo. This ship is also large enough to carry two phlogiston-jet cutter boats. To purchase this stunt, the ship must already have the Medium Ship stunt.

Fine Sails: High-quality materials provide better resistance to the winds, which produces higher maximum speed. The ship’s navigator gains +2 to Sail when determining travel times or racing other vessels.

Maneuverable: The mechanisms operating the ship’s sails have been improved. The crew gains +2 to Sail rolls to gain or remove positional aspects during combat.

Long Guns: Lengthened barrels and expanded prometheum chambers extend the range of the ship’s guns. As long as the ship can maintain an At Long Range aspect between itself and its opponent, it gains an ongoing +2 to defend against attacks from that opponent. The At Long Range aspect can still be invoked as normal.

Chain Shot: Firing lengths of chain from the ship’s guns gives a better chance of inflicting serious damage to enemy sails. The ship gains +2 to Shoot when attempting to create a negative aspect on a target representing damaged sails.

False Hull: Cleverly built into the ship’s structure, this hidden space can store a small amount of cargo, less than 5% of the ship’s total cargo tonnage. Add +2 to the opposition to any attempts to find the hidden cargo.

Ramming Prow: A reinforced, sharply pointed prow allows the ship to deliver a ramming attack while minimizing harm to itself. When delivering a ramming attack, the ship receives +2 to defend itself against the damage from this attack. See Ship Combat for more information on this.

Ship Milestones

If your characters own or serve aboard a ship, the ship gets a milestone when the characters do. The ship milesone is like a character milestone, with two exceptions:

First, ships do not have refresh. At any major milestone, one player may spend a point of refresh to buy a single stunt for the ship.

Second, the skill cap for the ship’s crew is always one rank below the skill cap for the characters.