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Upgrading Ships Crews - Possible?

Skull & Shackles

I'm a player, not a DM, so first off, don't give away anything I shouldn't know as a player about the campaign.

Secondly, we've already figured out that we are getting press-ganged onto the Wormwood to start (the traits kind of give it away), and our DM has informed us that we will eventually get our own ship.

I'm planning a 5th man character who wants to be the "Master Gunner" or person in charge of the cannons. I like the Siege Engineer/Gunner series of feats and have talked to my DM about how to get these feats for a potential crew.

Currently, he has stated that I can make a Profession(siege engineer) check each round to direct the crew to grant them the benefits of any such feats that I have. This is a house rule of his that he came up with.

I was wondering if there is a more formal process for doing such a thing?

Is there a way to get crew members with specific feats/abilities? Is there an offical way to grant them to someone?

Just trying to figure out the best way to "man the cannons" other than pick one cannon crew for me to lead.

If it helps, the character I'm planning is going to be a Human Wizard (Spellslinger) 8/Gunslinger (Mechanist) 1/Fighter 1/Eldritch Knight 10

This brings his BAB just high enough to make a full complement of attacks with his dual-wielding pistols (using Rapid Reload, Alchemical Cartridges, Quick Draw, and Weapon Juggle), it will also bring his spellcasting just high enough for 9th level spells.

He will mainly fill a "Glass Cannon" role for the party, when not directing the cannon crews.

RaizielDragon wrote:
I was wondering if there is a more formal process for doing such a thing?

Unfortunately, no. The crew aspect of the AP is VERY abstracted, to the point that experience, equipment, and even size of the crew is irrelevant (assuming you have the bare minimum, of course). It is just as easy to capture a ship with a crew of 5 as a crew of 500. Customizing crew feats is way outside the scope of the rules on this, so I think your GM's house rule is about as good as you are going to get. Alternatively, perhaps he could treat everyone manning the weapons as part of your "crew," and give them the benefits of your feats that reference that. When firing, you could use the broadside option, and thus impart your attack bonus and proficiency to the entire crew (as the broadside is handled by a single attack, namely yours).

However, I feel compelled to bring up something. The Siege Engineer feats are... pretty unbelievably awful. Siege Engineer is passable, if only to open up the style. But half the benefit of Siege Gunner is replicated with a single rank of Knowledge (Engineering), and the other half really shouldn't come up (as hitting with an indirect-fire weapon is shockingly easy as-is). Siege Commander is a small, circumstantial bonus that pales in comparison to a simple telekinetic assembly. Master Siege Engineer would be okay, but it comes at a point far after the damage of siege engines has become meaningless and you will have access to spells with far more debilitating effects on ships.

Overall, the feats add little to a style that is already very, very weak. Unfortunately, it would likely be more effective for you to simply use your actions casting spells than trying to make use of siege weapons. Even if you have your heart set on physical gunning, I would honestly recommend skipping most of the siege feats and just taking ranged combat feats instead. Many of them can be applied to siege engines, and if you are using the broadside option they would arguably apply to every weapon fired during it. Plus they will have value when you are adventuring away from your ballistas and catapults.

I wasn't too worried about getting Siege Commander, so that's not a big issue.

I missed the part about being trained in Know(Eng) allowed you to ignore the size penalty, so you're right: Siege Gunner isn't so great anymore.

As for Master Siege Engineer: I had mainly wanted this one, in order to allow all cannons to fire every round, rather than having to spend one round loading/aiming, and another to attack. However, after re-reading the siege weapon rules, I noticed that if the crews have extra people, they can still fire every round. So, if a Cannon has 5 crew members, 3 can load it, 1 can aim it, and the last one can fire it, all in one round. I had not thought about this before.

As for the damage comparison, the way I had been thinking, I'd more or less be getting 1/2 the number of shots per round without Master Siege Engineer. With only 1/2 the cannons pointed toward an enemy ship (since they are split between sides), that works out to 10 Cannons a 1.5 Fiends Mouth Cannons firing per round, which comes out to 72d6 damager per round. If I were to spend my action to speed them up, using Master Siege Engineer, that would double to 144d6 per round, for an increase of another 72d6. Doing a potential 72d6 damage per round is a marked increase for one action, I would say.

However, like I said, if I just overstock crew members, the extras can help the cannon fire every round without me.

With 46 cannons total, each requiring 5 members in order to fire every round, that's a total of 230 cannon crew members, which will take up most of the passenger space on the Galley I designed, which is ok, because what else was I going to use it for?

And if I don't need Master Siege Engineer, then I don't need Siege Engineer either.

Guess that solves my dilemma. Thanks Mort

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You could take the leadership feat at level 7 if your GM allows it in his games, and then you could get a cohort, and some followers to be part of your crew.

In the game itself there is not much specified about gaining crew, it is kind of a vague part of the AP. However if the Players wanted to make it something they wanted to invest time and energy into, then as a GM I do not see any reason to reward them for that investment. That is sort of up to the GM though. There is plenty of room for that type of thing to be worked in however, and the AP is rather open to allowing the players sort of develop their ships/fleets ect as they see fit.

RaizielDragon wrote:

If it helps, the character I'm planning is going to be a Human Wizard (Spellslinger) 8/Gunslinger (Mechanist) 1/Fighter 1/Eldritch Knight 10

This brings his BAB just high enough to make a full complement of attacks with his dual-wielding pistols (using Rapid Reload, Alchemical Cartridges, Quick Draw, and Weapon Juggle), it will also bring his spellcasting just high enough for 9th level spells.

I don't want to spoil anything about the campaign, but the bulk of your time aboard your own ship acting like a pirate will be from levels 4-9. Also, it would seem that you'll be reaching the climax of the AP at 14th level, so with that build, you're only going to get to EK4 (maybe 5).

In general, if your character needs more than 6 or 7 levels to "feel" right to you, you'll probably be disappointed playing them through the first half of the AP.

Just my 2 cents.


From a GM perspective to a player:
Don't worry about the "little guys" in a large battle. Its generally assumed that enemies are of the appropriate levels and the mass rolls will take care of themselves.

ju-juing the crew has been up for discussion & accompaning possibilities of turning the ship into a necromancers fortress of utter doom and destruction.
Unhallows of fear, permanent symbols of death, pain, insanity etc.

Absolute slaughter for any enemy crew just on those upgrades.
Meanwhile ju-ju crew slaughter enemies at 1:20+

Even more of a boost with some actually controlled wraiths & other fun insane evil undeads.

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