Sailing Tables

I have used a product called the Pilot Almanac. It various rules on ships and trading for the Harn Campaign Setting. As Harn is a low fantasy medieval world that try to be realistic in many areas, the Pilot Almanac usable in just about any fantasy campaign. So I been using it in my Majestic Wilderlands fantasy setting since the late 80s when it came. In terms of rules it covers roughly the same type of stuff as the seafaring stuff does in ACKS.
(I was going to post a link but it appears that Columbia Game hasn’t posted a PDF yet. It is out print currently)
Pilot Almanac also has wind table for sailing ships. And while great for when players fight ship to ship combat. For general campaign movement, it doesn’t work so go.
What I suggested is to keep the Wind table for ship combat. But have another table for general movement. The primary focus of the table is not in the wind direction but whether the weather was favorable, unfavorable, calm or disastrous. Favorable weather means you get max movement out of the sailing ship, calm means you didn’t move all much. Disastrous is some type of event like storm, unmarked shoal, wind blowing the ship to the nearest shore, etc that has a detrimental effect.
It simple and give exactly what the referee needs at the level of the game. A wind direction table is just too detailed. I talked some with Tavis and Alexander over on email but I thought to post it here and see what everybody thought of it.

I like this idea, and wonder whether it could be linked to a rule for sighting other ships i.e. crew are less likely to spot ships in a storm/middle until they’re nearer, so a greater chance of surprise.

I didn’t think of that and I like that addition.

actually maybe not increased ‘surprise’ - as both vessels are in the storm - maybe more like decreased ‘encounter distance’?

I think it depends on how much you want the sea travel to be, using another rule as a metaphor, a hijink or an adventure. If your game is really about the sea travel, you might want a points of sail spinner with travel speed modifiers listed on the different directions; if not, the intermediate dice-rolling is just an impediment to your game.
In the latter case, I just make a reaction roll for the weather, and peg the conditions you bring up to the the friendliness/hostility of the reaction. In the former, the planning of routes around wind direction and choice of ships is (presumably) part of the joy of the game.

I suppose I’d want the best of both worlds:

  • a more immersive routine of rolls and throws for the PCs for their own voyages.
  • as a merchant, a montage overview to see how my ‘off-screen’ trading fared, with my other crews sailing the trade routes.