"When commanding" ship effects - always apply?


Rules Questions and Gameplay Discussion


A question came up in our current Tapestry's Tides game: Does a ship's "When Commanding" effect only apply to the Commander, or does it apply to everyone - even if there is no Commander?

An example:

- An anchored ship is wrecked
- The wrecked ship has a nasty "When Commanding" power
- The active player is not at the ship's anchor location, so at the moment there is no Commander
- Is the wrecked ship's "When Commanding" power in effect, or is it ignored because there is no Commander?

The question is whether "When Commanding" is shorthand for "the party is using this ship" - or whether it really is a power that only applies to the Commander.

If "When Commanding" effects only apply to the Commander, strange things can start to happen. Which is another reason for clarifying the intent.

Note: We're playing scenario 5-5E, which starts with a wrecked anchored ship and SOT random movement. So this is a real question, not just hypothetical. :)


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Well that is a bit of a pickle. I would have assumed this was a quick "No, when commanding powers only apply when you are the one commanding the ship." However, the rulebook says...

S&S Rulebook p22 wrote:
When Commanding This Ship: If the ship belongs to your party, this power is in effect during your turn (see Ships and Plunder on page 17).

That gives me some pause. It does however include a citation back to page 17, where the rules about how to know if you are commanding ship are listed. Which makes me think maybe it still is meant to be taken at face value. And if I was playing a game right now and had to choose, that is still what I'd choose, that they only apply when you are the commander. But there is some doubt in my mind.

While we wonder, I'll add that the relevant powers for 5-5E are:

5-5E wrote:

Your ship is the Apparatus of the Octopus, which is anchored at Raker Shoals. You cannot command any other ship. At the start of the scenario, your ship is wrecked.

At the start of your turn, succeed at a Strength, Melee, Constitution, or Fortitude 11 check or move to a random other location then roll 1d4:
1. Your ship is dealt 1d4 Structural damage.
2. You are dealt 1d4 Combat damage.
3. Discard a random card.
4. Bury a random card from your discard pile.
Apparatus of the Octopus wrecked side wrote:
When Commanding This Ship When you discard cards for structural damage, they must be either spells or discarded at random.

So, I assume the specific question is: If you fail the start of turn check and move randomly to another location, and then roll a 1 so your ship is dealt 1d4 structural damage, do you have to discard spells or random cards for the damage?


Exactly. :)


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

So, I think I'd still play it at as only the power only applies to the commander.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The heading is quite literally “When Commanding This Ship.” Just because it’s bold doesn’t mean you get to ignore that bit of text—it clearly states the following power only applies if you’re actually commanding the ship.


skizzerz wrote:
... it clearly states the following power only applies if you’re actually commanding the ship.

I guess. :)

I'm fairly certain that 100% of the groups I've played in (OP or otherwise) applied the "When Commanding This Ship" text even if the ship was anchored and the active player was somewhere else. I've never had it pointed out that it might be otherwise - until now, anyway.

I think it's a detail that many players have misunderstood, skimmed, missed, or never fully realized what it meant.

And to be sure I fully understand:

The "When Commanding" text applies to all players, or only to the Commander?

E.g., if a ship isn't anchored and a wrecked ship causes structural damage cards to be discarded randomly, is it only the commander who discards randomly - or is it everyone?

I'm assuming it applies to everyone, but I'm often wrong about these things.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Only the commander, which also means if the ship is anchored and the character whose turn it is isn’t on the ship, it doesn’t apply to them either (because they aren’t commanding it).


Great, thanks for the response.

Given that I've played 6 campaigns based on S&S (S&S x2, SotS x2, TT x2), it's funny that this hasn't come up before.

Though there's some general funny business in TT anyway, such as non-commanding players encountering ships - which isn't supposed to happen per the S&S rules. So I'll just blame TT. :)


Oddly enough this question came up in my S&S campaigns almost every campaign more than once.

wkover wrote:
Though there's some general funny business in TT anyway, such as non-commanding players encountering ships - which isn't supposed to happen per the S&S rules. So I'll just blame TT. :)

Although I guess one could come up with interesting locations (like forts) or barriers (infiltrating an enemy ship with rowboats at night) that could work pretty well.

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