What should the impact be of "trained oarsmen"?

Oared galleys are a big deal in my game, being historical and set in antiquity. One of the major distinctions in crews is between the untrained (often slaves chained to their benches) and trained (often either citizen-rowers like that of Athens or professional rowers hired for their talents). The latter are capable of much neater handling of the vessel, and are usually fitter, more motivated and better looked after.

To reflect the skill part, I’ve added a category to the Labour Proficiency, Labour (oarsman). We’ve got two NPC henchmen with the Proficiency, and one of those might be about to take Manual of Arms, which would mean they could train rowers.

So what does it do? You only really need one trained oarsman per oar (the guy on the end co-ordinating the others in a multi-rower-per-oar setup), so perhaps if you can get that many there’s a boost to ship maneuverability and “sprint” speed? Perhaps a reduction in the likelihood of being sunk in bad weather too?


I think the first thing you need to decide is whether the default stats for ships in ACKS represent trained or untrained oarsmen.

What you might do is have 3 classes of oarsmen:

Unskilled do not have Labour (oarsmen). They cost almost nothing but penalize the ship.
Semi-skilled have one rank of Labour (oarsmen). They cost the standard rate and work at default rate.
Skilled have one rank of Labour (oarsmen) and, say, one rank of Endurance. They cost more but can maintain speed for longer, etc.

That’s a neat approach, I think three classes is the right amount - giving some detail without getting overly complicated.

Instinctively, I want to say the middle should be the assumed default; thus there’s a penalty for rounding up some slaves and chaining them to the benches (but also saving a lot of money), and a benefit in paying a premium price for the best.

I’m thinking, though, of complicating it a little. Requiring an entire crew of the best would not only be expensive, it might also start to stretch credibility a little that you could find hundreds (even thousands) of men at that level of skill if you were trying to crew a fleet.

Maybe it should be a crew status thing. If you just have a bunch of bodies holding an oar, you have an Untrained/Unskilled crew. You have a Trained/Semi-skilled crew if you can manage someone with Labour (oarsmen) for every oar (ie not requiring the entire crew to be). You have an Expert/Skilled crew if you can not only manage that, but every other oarsman has either Endurance or Labour (oarsman).

Or is that too low a standard? Both are General Proficiencies after all, would it be a big ask for a Normal Man who’s a professional rower to have both Labour (oarsman) and Endurance out of their four?

I wonder about adding a specialist to the Mariners collection, an oar-master (12gp/month?) who does…something to do with co-ordination of the rowers.

I’m also thinking there should be a “sprint” speed for rowing (ie a faster speed than the default - which assumes a normal, long-term, paced speed). Unskilled crews can’t do it at all. Semi-skilled ones can for a short time. Skilled ones can for much longer.