This is the first version of my house rules for Dreadfleet. It’s not a complete rewrite, but a cutting away of what I think of as dead wood that hides the worthwhile game underneath. Or, put another way, murdering some darlings that should have long since been safely hidden away under the turf.
This is only the first cut of these house rules and needs a load more playtesting to call finished. I just thought you might like to have a peek at where it is now, and perhaps play some games yourselves and let me know what you think. That is, after all, why I have comments section 😉
I’ll be saying “I decided this”, and “I came up with that” because I’m writing it (and because I can’t recall who actually thought of every little bit), but this is really a collaborative effort. I particularly have to thank the Jolly Old Tar known as GloatingSwine who did indeed come up with many of the following thoughts – even if I’ve subsequently put them through the mangle…
The aim of these changes is to make the game less random and much faster to play. In order to do this I’ve had to make it considerably more brutal, so don’t be surprised at the level of carnage. Having said that, I didn’t want to rewrite any of the background as that’s fun already. The rules I left as they were as much as possible, and where I did feel I had to do something I have tended to stick to merging or ignoring things rather than making new stuff up wholesale. Unless there’s a change mentioned then use the rules as writ. So, let the party begin…
Cards and Stuff
You don’t need the damage deck or the injured cards for captains. You’ll still need the occasional Set Ablaze card.
Ship stats stay as they are with one crucial change. A ship has a new stat called Damage. This is simply the Hull + Crew stats added together, so you don’t need to write anything down. Damage is simply how much punishment a ship can take before it glugs.
Each time a ship is hit and the armour does not save it then it loses a point of damage. In boarding actions the damage is taken directly, without a save (as normal).
Each point of Damage on a ship has the following effects:
- -1 Speed.
- -1 crew dice in boarding actions (up to a maximum of the crew stat).
When something says that a ship “takes a Damage card” then it loses a point of Damage. Many cards/effects ask you to sift through the deck to find a specific type of Damage card. As we no longer care what type of Damage you’re supposed to be suffering you just take the number of Damage off the total as usual. We used glass beads on the ship card to mark Damage taken.
Only the player that won the initiative takes a Fate card in a turn.
You’ll be able to plan better as the wind is only moved by 1 Fate card per turn. Other than that it’s as written.
In the test game we played the following rule wasn’t used. However, we felt that shooting wasn’t good enough compared to the modified boarding. So…
A ship has two gun crews: one for each side of the vessel. This means that a ship can fire a broadside as described in the book from each side in each turn.
If you choose to fire from only one side in a turn then the other crew can help. With extra hands to run powder and shot to the guns the firing is more intense. Double crewed broadsides like this get to re-roll any dice that miss on the first attempt. Watch out for the Heldenhammer!
Shooting at Targets in Contact
If you are in contact with your target then the shot will always be partial (half dice). The rules for whether an “imaginary line” traced along the join between two vessels is obscured or not is unclear, and this is a nice, simple way to deal with it. Of course, your target must still be at least partly in arc to make any kind of shot.
These now include duels. Instead of Captains fighting each other separately, I’ve assumed that they lead their crews in heroic combat and will be the last to die, going down with their ships (unlike Italian cruise liner captains).
The way you work out the number of dice for a boarding action is different (and duels don’t happen). The rest stays the same.
In a Boarding Action you always get a number of dice equal to the Captain’s Swashbuckling stat. This is not reduced by Damage. In addition to this you also get one dice per crew. However, this number is reduced by Damage taken. Note that you can’t go negative here. For example, if the Swordfysh has 4 Damage on it then it will still fight with 3 dice (the Swashbuckling stat of captain Saltspite). The 3 crew dice are reduced to nothing, but the Captain’s dice are never reduced, so the fourth point of damage doesn’t matter. At least, not for this.
Ignore these for now. I need to play the rules before I post them.
Specific Cards and Abilities
There will be more of these as I haven’t done a thorough sift yet. However, to start with:
- Will of Steel (Roth)/Blessed of Manaan (Saltspite): in a Boarding Action you need to roll separate colours for the captain’s dice and the crew’s. Only the Captain’s dice dice get re-rolls.
- The Sword of Fiery Curses (Magus): +1 victory in a Boarding Action.
- Control Sea Monster: ignore this for now.
- Bitter Tenacity (Hackhart): if you lose a Boarding Action you get a 5+ save against the first point of Damage.
- My Will Be Done (Amanhotep): the addition to the crew also adds to the Damage for this turn. The Zandri may sink immediately when this wears off.
- Sigmar’s Wrath (Heldenhammer): D3 Damage.
- Ram Attack (Swordfysh): D3 Damage.
- Bolt Throwers (Seadrake): ignore.
- Sea Nymphs (Scimitar): one Damage is repaired.
- Regenerating Hulk (Reaver): heals one point of Damage on a 4+.
Basically, all the random monster attacks are doubled in strength. If a D3 they become a D6.
- Mer-Fiends/Hellfish Swarm: D6 crew.
- Curse of the Undead Mariner: just randomly select a ship from the biggest fleet.
- Plug it with the Cabin Boy: Damage, not Hull Damage.
- Hurricane of Blades: D3 Damage.
- Old Rope/Stop Malingering/Tis But a Scratch: a random ship from those that are damaged repairs one Damage.
- Shimmerlings: Crew 4.
- Rain of Snakes: Crew 2.
- The Sands of Time: declare the use of this spell at the start of a Boarding Action involving the Zandri. Re-roll any dice that fail to gain a victory on their first attempt.
Back in the box for now
Mostly this is because I need to check the auxiliary rules. Half of these will come back when that’s done. The “loaded” cards all change the Damage type, and as we no longer care about that they’re irrelevant.
- Chainshot Loaded
- Blessed Shot Loaded
- Cursed Shot Loaded
- Grapeshot Loaded
- Incendiaries Loaded
- Leech Worm Attack
- Wrath of the Sea Giant
- Bone Hydra Rises
- Assassin Ship Ready
- Boarding Ship Ready
- Powder Ship Ready
- Fire Ship Ready