Sail ho! But how far? Here's a spreadsheet to help


Skull & Shackles


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So, a sail's been spotted, but how far away is the ship?
Can you see the whole ship or is it still hull down with just the sails showing?
What about that island the treasure map is pointing to?

Does it really matter? ;)

If it does, then I hope this spreadsheet will turn out helpful.

I've done it a bit hurriedly during boring parts of training, so it's a bit rough.

It does both simple and "complex" calculations for spotting land and ships. I've assumed Golarion has the same radius as Earth. I also assume the weather's fine and the lookout is eagle-eyed and sober.

An example: assuming a ship with a deck 10 feet above sea level and a lookout at the crosstrees 70 feet up. The ship is heading towards the White Cliffs of Dover (UK, not Golarion), they reach upwards of 350 feet above sea level.

That means that the lookout will be able to spot them at just over 33 miles. People on deck have an effective horizon of just under 4 miles. But since the cliffs are 350 feet tall, they'll be able to spot them when the ship gets to just under 27 miles.

They happen to be attempting to run the English Blockade. Unbeknownst to them, a British frigate is ahead. It's under full sail; it has somewhere to go, but won't mind turning to snatch up a blockade runner. Assuming the top of the frigate's sails are 120 feet above sea level, our blockade runner's lookout can spot the sails 23 miles out and it'll be hull up at 10 miles (the lookout's horizon).

If our lookout is hungover and is not paying attention, then the officer of the watch could spot the sails 17 miles out and it'd be hull up at under 4 miles.

Now the island. You might think you could spot it's location first from the vegetation or mountain peak (if it was a volcanic island). But no, you'd get a much earlier indication because of clouds that form above islands. An astute sailor could determine that there's something "thataway" due to a cloud bank on the horizon in an otherwise clear sky. So the ship might be able to spot it over 100 miles away.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Cool tool, thanks for putting it together.

Not sure if or when I'll get to play or run the AP, but it will be a good tool to have when it happens.

JD

The Exchange

nah. the -2 per 10 feet will make the perception check a little harder than that.


LOL.

"There's a huge white cliff right in front of us! We're going to hit it!"
"Where?"
"Dead ahead!"
"I don't see anything."
"It's a huge freaking cliff!"
"How far away?"
"500 feet!"
"You can see that far? Man, that -50 kills my chances."


JDragon_ITTS wrote:

Cool tool, thanks for putting it together.

Not sure if or when I'll get to play or run the AP, but it will be a good tool to have when it happens.

JD

Yeah, surprisingly I'm having trouble finding people that want to play pirates. So who knows when I'll be able to either. :(


This is a fantastic resource, thank you so much!

I've never really engaged an online community before today in regards to GMing, and after getting this and the NPC spreadsheet from all you guys, I had to toss in a link to the ambient sound generator I use for this campaign - it's in this thread about ambient sound for S&S


Awesome, thanks Zaranorth


It does matter, and that spreadsheet was perfectly awesome.


Glad people are finding it useful!

I've made a small tweak - moved the observer's input up to its own area. There's also a quick reference tab that shows distance to horizon at 10 foot intervals.


I like it! Needs weather and lighting factors so that you get the thrill of noticing that ship that's only a mile away as the sun rises. And sighting of non-ship things (icebergs, critters) - even whales under the surface. GET TO WORK! :-)


Interesting ideas. :)

A few times in the Aubrey-Maturin series the protagonists' ship is still cloaked by night while the rising sun is illuminating another ship's sails. I plan on having that occur at least once. (Although there's no guarantee that it'll be the PCs that benefit.)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ernest Mueller wrote:
I like it! Needs weather and lighting factors so that you get the thrill of noticing that ship that's only a mile away as the sun rises. And sighting of non-ship things (icebergs, critters) - even whales under the surface. GET TO WORK! :-)

Agreed, these other elements would be great. Hopefully not too many icebergs in this part of the world.


Zaranorth wrote:

Interesting ideas. :)

A few times in the Aubrey-Maturin series the protagonists' ship is still cloaked by night while the rising sun is illuminating another ship's sails. I plan on having that occur at least once. (Although there's no guarantee that it'll be the PCs that benefit.)

Yep, I read all of Hornblower and am 75% of the way through Aubrey-Maturin now (The Nutmeg of Consolation). I want to be able to simulate all of that!!!

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