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Old 02-14-2010, 04:39 AM   #1
Dangerious P. Cats
 
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Default Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

What crew would be required for an age of sail ship and what skills would they need?
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Old 02-14-2010, 04:49 AM   #2
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

I had a whole Age of Sail campaign planned, with ship stats and everything.

My computer got formated though, and my notes are burried in my mess...

I recall something though. And if I recall correctly, a "skeleton crew" (minimum possible to make a ship move), the kind pirates would assign to a captured vessel until you were able to crew it properly, was around 8 depending on the size of the ship it could be up to 15.

That's just to get the ship moving and tagging along with your main vessel, it won't fire cannons, and you'll run into problems if you hit a storm.

Shiphandling is for whoever is commanding/guiding the ship and Professional Skill (Sailor) for everyone else.

This is all off my memory, and I'm not even at home now, so I can't check what little I have. When I get back home (Wednesday) I'll give you a better answer.

IDHMBWM either, but 3e books like Swashbucklers and Low-Tech can give a little insight.
Edit: 3e Vehicles may generate some aproximations, although I never had it and if I recall correctly it's very poor in the "build your own sailboat" department.

Last edited by Gudiomen; 02-14-2010 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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What crew would be required for an age of sail ship and what skills would they need?
What kind of Age of Sail ship?

Frigate?
Line of Battle Ship?
Sloop?
Merchant ship of some sort?
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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What crew would be required for an age of sail ship and what skills would they need?
What sort of ship and how far a voyage?

A merchant ship would have a minimum crew to safely reach their destination. A warship would have a deck crew (to work the sails), a gun crew and probably marines. Longer voyages would have more crew in case some die, especially if they don't plan on going to any port that may have trained replacements for hire.
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Old 02-14-2010, 02:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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What sort of ship and how far a voyage?

A merchant ship would have a minimum crew to safely reach their destination. A warship would have a deck crew (to work the sails), a gun crew and probably marines. Longer voyages would have more crew in case some die, especially if they don't plan on going to any port that may have trained replacements for hire.
Note that deck crew and gun crew were the same thing - you had people that specialised in work aloft (which was regarded as the most important and prestigious) and operating the guns varied from highly skilled work (a good gun captain) to brute labour. Mostly handling the gun was teamwork rather than any specialised skill.
All of the non-officer crew were expected to turn to to handle ropes and such unless they were disabled to some degree (the Afterguard, the ships boys and such).
In combat each gun had a core crew, plus men who could be detached to assist the sail teams, frequently a marine assigned to help handle the gun until he was needed somewhere else and what have you.
Other key specialists in the crew would be the carpenter, the ships master (navigator) and his mates, the gunner (essentially the ship's armourer), the boatswain (responsible for the rigging) and the sailmaker.
The purser (who would be called a quartermaster in modern terms) and the cook did not get their positions on merit.
In game terms the gun captains probably have Gunner (artillery) but a lot of people are mainly there as manual labour. Climbing is a key skill for anyone who might find themselves aloft (most of the crew) as is the ability to use ropes.
In the Royal Navy at least, alcohol tolerance was virtually compulsary.
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Old 02-14-2010, 02:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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Other key specialists in the crew would be the carpenter, the ships master (navigator) and his mates, the gunner (essentially the ship's armourer), the boatswain (responsible for the rigging) and the sailmaker.
Also the coxswain, who steered the ship during battle.
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Old 02-14-2010, 03:17 PM   #7
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What crew would be required for an age of sail ship and what skills would they need?
A merchant ship, or a warship? Merchant ships got by with a handfull of crew. Warships had several times as many in the same space, partly for replacements, partly as a fighting force, and partly for prize crews.

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Old 02-14-2010, 03:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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The purser (who would be called a quartermaster in modern terms) and the cook did not get their positions on merit.

In the Royal Navy at least, alcohol tolerance was virtually compulsary.
As GURPS Swashbucklers observed, on a typical pirate ship, the two imost mportant posts were Captain & Quartermaster. The Pirate Captain's word was law, in battle. Otherwise pirates were about as concerned with ranks about as much as power gamer PCs. Oh, he could choose destination and see which sails were to be used, but he was first among equals. The quartermaster decided what was issued. In transit or at port. he was likely the most important crew member aboard.

In naval vessels, the post was civil rather than military. Like a ship's surgeon, he was supposed to be a trained expert in his field.
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Old 02-14-2010, 05:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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What kind of Age of Sail ship?

Frigate?
Line of Battle Ship?
Sloop?
Merchant ship of some sort?
All of the above
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Old 02-14-2010, 05:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Crewing a ship in the Age of Sail

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All of the above
Updated for modern times, your question reads like this "In the latter half of the 20th Century how many people were required to crew a ship?" You are, in my opinion, completely ignoring the fact that there are and were many different types of ship and each type had a different crew requirement.
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