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D&D 3.5 Naval Combat #1 Cheat Sheet by

Quick Ref for d&d 3.5 naval combat

Flow of Combat By Round

Determine Initiative if start of combat
A Check for advantage, if necessary
B Opposing ship declares heading & speed
C Advantage ship declares heading & speed
D Ships Move. Adjust the ships’ range based on the declared headings
E Opposing ship resolves special maneuvers, if any.
F Advantaged ship resolves special maneuvers, if any.
G Round ends.

Adva­ntage (ADV)

Determ­ining ADV:
At start of combat each captain makes an opposed ADV check to determine who has ADV (the captain with the best check modifier wins ties). An advantage check is a Profession (sailor) check, modified by the vessel’s shipha­ndling bonus.
Keeping ADV:
Once advantage has been establ­ished, it remains with the winner until one of the following events takes place, at which point a new advantage check is made.
—The commander with advantage does not spend a standard action to actively command his vessel.
—The vessel with the advantage is holed.
—The vessel with the advantage has a rigging section destroyed.
—The vessel without the advantage succes­sfully performs the come about special maneuver.
—The vessel with the advantage fails on an attempt to perform the grapple, ram, or shear special maneuver.


Your ship’s position relative to the enemy vessel has only five signif­icant compon­ents: the range between your ships, your heading, your speed, the enemy’s heading, and the enemy’s speed.
RANGE: At the end of each round of combat, update the range based on each ship’s heading and speed. Two ships closing on each other at a combined speed of 60 feet per round will naturally reduce the range by 60 feet each round until they collide or pass each other, at which point they’ll open the range by 60 feet per round unless one or the other decides to come about. Opening Range: If you don’t know what range to set for the beginning of the battle based on the circum­stances of the encounter, you can assume that a typical battle begins at a range of (2d6+2) × 100 feet.
Heading: There are three directions a ship can be facing relative to the enemy vessel: closing, holding, or opening. CLOSING: The ship is generally pointed at the enemy and is trying to get closer. Weapons that bear forward can be fired at the enemy. Enemy attacks target the bow of the ship. HOLDING: The ship is mainta­ining its position. It your bow, stern, pmight be drifting in the water or sailing along some course that doesn’t really close or open the range, simply maneuv­ering at a relatively constant distance from the enemy ship. You can choose whether ort side, or starboard side faces the other vessel. Weapons that bear in that direction can fire at the enemy, and enemy attacks target that part of your ship. OPENING: The ship is pointed away from the enemy and is trying to open the range between the two vessels. Weapons that bear aft can fire at the enemy. Enemy attacks target your ship’s stern.


SPEED: You can set your ship’s speed at any value up to your ship’s maximum speed based on the current condit­ions. Oared vessels can assume any speed they like from round to round, limited only by their maximum speed, provided there are sufficient rowers to move the vessel. Sailing ships do not accelerate or decelerate with the same ease. A sailing vessel can only change its speed by 10 feet per turn (up to its maximum current speed based on the wind and current). It must have a sufficient number of sailors on watch who use actions to help adjust rigging, raise or furl sails, and attend to other such tasks. A sailing ship’s maximum speed is based on its movement rate and the strength of the wind and current. Sprinting: The rowers of an oared vessel can pick up the pace for a quick sprint but risk exhaustion soon afterward. An oared vessel can add +50% to its speed for up to 10 rounds, but after such a sprint the rowers are fatigued and the ship reduced to half speed for as long as the rowers are fatigued.
MOVEMENT: Ship movement is simply a set of declar­ations at the end of each combat round: Do you want to get closer to the enemy, and which way to you want to be facing? If you hold the advantage, your opponent must declare his heading first (closing, holding, or opening). You then declare your heading after you have observed your opponent’s heading. After both ships have declared their heading, adjust the current range between ships accord­ingly.

The Watch

If the minimum number of crew needed on watch do not use standard actions to attend to the ship, the vessel cannot make speed changes in the movement step following the current round. This includes Captain, helmsman, oarsmen, gunners.

Special Maneuv­ers

You can order your ship to attempt a special maneuver in the movement step. You can attempt to come about, grapple, escape a grapple, ram, or shear. A ship can attempt only one special maneuver per round.
Come About: You put the helm hard over and try to change your course quickly. Reduce your speed by 10 feet and choose a new heading. If you do not currently hold the advantage, you can attempt a DC 15 Profession (sailor) check to force an immediate advantage check against your opponent
Grapple: If you have the advantage and close to within 20 feet of your adversary (or have actually gone past your adversary but are still within 20 feet) you can attempt to grapple. If the opposing captain accepts the grapple, the attempt is automa­tically succes­sful. If the opposing captain does not want to be grappled, you make an opposed Profession (sailor) check modified by your ship’s shipha­ndling bonus. If you equal or beat your opponent’s check, the two ships are grappled. Grappled ships fall to zero speed. During the next movement step, your ships will be adjacent to each other (enthu­siastic boarders can try to swing, swim, or jump the gap between the vessels in the round before the ships are adjacent)
Escape a Grapple: You can attempt to free your ship of a grappling ship and get underway again. You must succeed on an opposed Profession (sailor) check against the opposing captain, but the captain attempting to maintain the grapple gains a +4 bonus on her check, and the captain trying to escape takes a –4 penalty on his check. If the escape attempt succeeds, the escaping ship’s speed increases by 10 feet, assumes the heading the captain has chosen, and is no longer grappled.


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