Rivers and Boats

Rivers represent an important method of travel and movement of goods in Eradain.  In particular in Angtiria with its many long rivers and limited access to ocean ports.  Below is a collection of information related to river travel, mostly based on historical information about Mississippi River travel from Wikipedia and other sources.

How Big Is My River?

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.

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.

River Boats & Travel

The primary boat used on the rivers of Eradain is the Keelboat.

Keelboats

KeelboatAs 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.

Eradain Keelboat

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.

  • Common is 30’x10’ and has 12 oars. It has a carrying capacity of about 10 tons.
  • Medium is 50’x15 and has 20 oars. It has a carrying capacity of about 15 tons.
  • Large is 80’x20’ and has 30 oars. It has a carrying capacity of about 20 tons.
Ship Type AC HP* Base Save Maximum Speed Arms Ram Squares Size Crew
Keelboat Common
(large)
8 60 +4 30 feet* 1 2d6+6 2
30’x10′
4/15+25
12 oars
10 tons
Keelboat Medium
(huge)
8 65 +4 30 feet* 1 2d6+8 2
50’x15′
6/25+50
20 oars
15 tons
Keelboat Large (gargantuan) 6 75 +5 30 feet* 1 3d6+12 3
80’x20′
10/40+75
30 oars
20 tons
Longship (gargantuan) 6 75 +5 60 feet* 1 4d6+18 3
60’x10′
40/75+100
40 oars
? tons

*Wood has 5 hardness

Average Sailor Captain = Profession Sailor Expert2 = 2ranks+3class+1wis+3skill focus = +9

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.

Longship
Longship

Crossing Rivers

Experimental rules system for handling crossing rivers at a location where there is no bridge or designated fording.

PROCEDURE
STREAMLINE PROCEDURE = SIMPLY ROLL TO DETERMINE IF THERE IS A SAFE FORDING.  USE FORD % WITH MODIFIERS. ANY RESULT HIGHER THAN “DIFFICULT” = NO FORDING POSSIBLE, OTHERWISE AUTOMATIC SUCCESS FOR CROSSING.
SWIM RULES APPLY TO ANY LOCATION WHERE FORDING IS NOT POSSIBLE AND PC’S CHOOSE TO SWIM.

DM determines if the river will be automatically crossable.
A percentage is rolled and modified to determine crossing difficulty.
If the river is impossible to cross at this point, the party must travel 1d4 hours along the river to find another suitable location.
Failure by 4 or less indicates that a second check must be made to complete the crossing.
If a second check is required, a successful check or failure by 4 or less indicates that the crossing has been successfully completed.
Characters may Take 10 if their modified total is 10 or higher.

RIVER CROSSING FORD % ACROBATICS DC*
+1D6-1
AUTOMATIC LESS THAN 0% N/A
EASY 01-40% 5
DIFFICULT 41-65% 10
DANGEROUS 66-75% 15
IMPOSSIBLE** 75-100% N/A

* Armor Check Penalty applies to the roll.
** The party must travel another 1d4 hours to attempt to locate another suitable crossing location.

SEASONAL MOD FORD % EVENT MOD
SPRING +10% +2
SUMMER/FALL +0% +0
WINTER -10% *
STREAM -10% TO -20% -3
RIVER, SMALL +0% -2
RIVER, MEDIUM +10% +0
RIVER, LARGE +20% +2
SIZE SMALL +10% +2
SIZE LARGE +0%
MODIFIERS
ASSISTANCE (AID ANOTHER) +2 TO CHECK
ROPE ASSISTANCE +4 TO CHECK
SWIM BASE DC
SPRING/WINTER 15
SUMMER/FALL/WINTER 10
STORMY 20
FLOATATION ASSIST +2 TO ROLL
EVENTS (FAILED DC by 5 or more) D12
LESS THAN 1 DUNKING
1-2 SLIPPPAGE
3-4 BASHED
5-6 SLIPPAGE & BASHED
7-8 SWEPT AWAY
9-10 SWEPT AWAY & BATTERED
11-12+ SWEPT AWAY & BATTERED & GEAR LOSS

DUNKING
You unexpectedly go under for a moment getting soaked.
1d4 random items carried are exposed to possible water damage (streamline = loss of rations or torches)
SLIPPAGE
You suffer the effects of DUNKING, plus you are swept 30′ downstream.  Roll Acrobatics DC again at +2 to recover.
BASHED
You are swept into a rock or are struck by flotsam for 1d4 damage.
SWEPT AWAY
You suffer the effects of DUNKING, plus you are swept away downstream for 1d10 rounds (at 30-120′ per round?).
You must swim for that duration before attempting a new check, Acrobatics DC at -2.
BATTERED
You are bashed against rocks or struck by flotsam every round while SWEPT AWAY for 1d6 damage.
You suffer the effects of DUNKING, except 2d4 items are exposed to possible water damage.
GEAR LOSS
One random item of gear is lost.

QUESTION:  Use Reflex Save Mechanic instead of Acrobatics to make success easier at higher levels?

EXAMPLE OF PLAY (using random numbers generated by excel)
During summertime a party encounters a stream it wishes to cross.
The DM determines that it is not automatically crossable (such as may be the case for a very small size or a designated fording location on the map)
The DM determines that there is a -10% mod for the stream size and no other modifiers apply.  The random result is:  24% which makes it an easy crossing with a DC of 9 (Base DC of 5 plus 4 from a result of a roll of 5 on 1d6-1).
Most players makes the crossing with a simple Take 10, with the exception of the fighter in medium armor (-3 total check penalty)  and the heavily armored cleric who has a low dex and an armor check penalty of for a total of -6.
The fighter rolls a 14 and makes it safely to the other side.
The cleric rolls a 12(-6)=6 and fails the DC by 3.  He makes it half way across the stream.  A second roll is made.
The cleric rolls a 13(-6)=7 and fails the DC by 2.  He has trouble, but manages to cross the stream without mishap.

During spring, the same party wishes to cross a small river.
The DM determines that it is not automatically crossable.
The DM determines that there is a +10% mod due to season and no other mods apply.  The random result is:
86+10=96% and the river is not crossable at that location.
The party must travel another 2 hours along the river before finding another suitable location and trying again.

The second try is:
62+10=72 and indicates a dangerous crossing, with a DC of 20 (15+5)
Rather than risk it, the players travel another 4 hours before finding another possible crossing.

The third try is:
32+10=42 and is a difficult crossing, with a DC of 11 (10+1)
This time many party members cannot simply Take 10 on their checks and succeed.
Party member 1 (+4 reflex) takes 10 and crosses easily.
Party member 2 (+0 reflex) rolls a 9 and fails by less than 5.  The second check is an 11 and he crosses the river.
Party member 3 (+0 reflex) rolls a 6 and fails by 5 or more resulting in an Event at +2
Event roll = 5+2=7 and he is SWEPT AWAY for 3 rounds.  He manages to swim or hold his breath for the 3 rounds and makes
another reflex save at -2, this time rolling a 10 for a total of 8 and he manages to catch himself about 100′ downstream.
After taking a dunking, the party member finds out that some of his rations have been ruined, but otherwise his gear is ok.
Another reflex save at +0 = 15 and the character manages to drag himself out of the river.
Seeing the difficulty facing the fighter and the cleric, the party decides to have the rogue stretch a rope across the water, which he
does easily with take 10 (including use rope for tying a sturdy knot which can be pulled loose from the other side).
Using the rope, the fighter (-3 total check) gains a +4 bonus and is able to Take 10 and cross easily (10-3+4=11).
The rogue then assists the cleric  and they both use the rope.  The rogue successfully Takes 10 for his own crossing and succeeds in aid another to assist.  The cleric Rolls a 14 and easily makes the crossing (14-6+2+4)=14 this time.