Extended travel over the ocean is an adventure in and of itself, especially in uncharted and dangerous waters. A party of heroes might encounter terrible monsters of the deep, mysterious islands haunted by sinister perils, fearsome storms, shipwreck, or disaster in a dozen different forms.
During each day of a voyage, four things are checked for: weather, navigation, encounters, and theday’s progress. Duties aboard are often delegated to an expert in that area. Thus navigation check might be made by the PC with the highest Knowledge (geography), weather by someone with Knowledge (nature), and so on. Other things are also tracked, supplies and consumables such as water and food.

Wind and Weather

Of all the factors that play a role in determining success or failure of a voyage, weather is the most important. A fair wind and clear skies can make a voyage swift and pleasant but doldrums or storms can frustrate even the most skillful of sailors.
Wind Strength and direction is determined each day and plays an important role in course planning. Light to strong winds are ideal for sailing. Moderate winds give a x2 multiplier to sailing speed, and Strong winds a x3 multiplier.
Strong winds bring heavy seas, drive poorly handled vessels into danger, and can batter or sink even expertly handled ships. High winds expose ships to dangerous seas, depending on the size of the ship and the strength of the wind. Ships can roll violently, take heavy sea wash over the deck, or even risk foundering


Ships in strange waters can become as hopelessly lost as travelers in a featureless desert or deep forest. Keeping track of where you are and how to get to where you’re going are difficult challenges for many mariners.
Setting Out: The difficulty of setting an accurate course depends on the quality of information you have about where you’re going. See Knowledge (geography) in Chapter 4 for a list of DCs and modifiers for course setting.
The DM makes this check for you, since you don’t know for certain if you have planned an accurate course. If you don’t have any particular destination in mind, you don’t need to set a course. As long as you keep a record of course changes and distances sailed, you won’t have trouble retracing your steps or setting a new course.
Daily Piloting: Each day of your voyage, you make a piloting check to establish your position and make the routine corrections necessary to hold to your intended course. Refer to Knowledge (geography) in Chapter 4 for DCs and modifiers.
Failing your piloting check once is not a problem; you simply failed to establish your location for the day, but you can go back to your previous day’s established position and estimate your current position given the course and speed you think you’ve followed since. You do not become lost until you fail your piloting check on three consecutive days.

Lost at Sea

A ship’s chance to get lost depends on the navigational skills of its master, the weather, and his familiarity with the waters through which it sails. Getting lost at sea works much like getting lost on land (see page 86 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide), with a few exceptions.
First, you check to see if you become lost only once per day during extended voyages. (You might need to check once per hour in confined or confusing waters, such as mazelike river delta). A ship at sea is not lost until you fail your piloting check three days in a row.
Setting a new course once you’ve recognized that you have become lost requires a new Knowledge (geography) course-setting check, as described in Chapter 4. The DC is determined normally, although you should apply the modifier for guessed at an unknown starting point as appropriate. Generally, a ship has an unknown starting point only if it has been driven by a storm or similarly deprived of any method to gauge its direction and distance of travel.


The seas are home to bloodthirsty pirates, vigilant warships, hungry sea monsters, and marauding bands of aquatic warriors. Sooner or later, a seafarer will encounter something she would rather not meet.

The Day’s Progress

Assuming that a ship at sea doesn’t become lost, doesn’t encounter deadly weather, and doesn’t meet with some ship-devouring monster, it travels some distance along its course each day.
In 1 hour, a ship travels a distance in nautical miles equal to its speed in feet per round divided by 10. For example, a ship sailing at a speed of 30 feet per round is making 3 knots, and covers 3 nautical miles in an hour.
In one day of travel, assuming the ship stops for the night (the common practice along coastlines), a ship travels a number of nautical miles equal to its speed in feet per round. A ship sailing at 30 feet per round covers 30 nautical miles in a day of sailing.
Captains in open waters, or captains sailing under bright moonlight (or otherwise not concerned with being able to see well in the dark) often sail around the clock. Sailing a full 24 hours doubles the normal distance traveled in a day of sailing, so the ship with a speed of 30 feet per round sails 60 nautical miles over a full day.
Sometimes contrary winds or strong currents can prevent a ship from making progress toward its intended destination or force it to sail in a direction other than its intended course.


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