The Boatman’s skill is centered on poling punts or gondolas or barges of freight, or paddling canoes, or handling oar-driven boats (typical dory or small whaleboat, nothing so large as a galley, however), or small local sailing craft, as well. These will usually be even smaller than the coastal craft described above, those with sails taking no more than 2 or 3 hands to manage, and mostly found on the larger rivers and lakes. Those Boatmen who ply fresh water canals and rivers, especially those that meander or cut through wetlands and fens will often be referred to as “river rats”, sometimes affectionately, sometimes disparagingly, depending on the context and who is speaking.

The player must decide if the character’s skill is oar-based, pole-based, or sail-based, for each of these types of boats requires a different set of skills to manage.

The character must have either a port town or home with a dock or quay to receive his vessel on the river, canal or lake on which he primarily plies his craft and is assumed to know the features of those waters within (AWA + SL) furlongs intimately, and those within (AWA + SL) miles in great detail. Should the character be located on a canal or river, those distances is measured from his home or home port in both directions, following any other canals or rivers it may flow into, continuing to measure in both directions at every juncture, until that distance is exhausted.

Sailing craft speeds will depend on the size of the vessel and the prevailing winds, rowing will depend on the size of the boat, the number of rowers and the least of the STR scores between them (for the stronger must hold back for the craft to be rowed in a straight path), while pole-boats and barges may be poled at speeds of up to [SL +(STA ÷ 3)] ÷ 4 in mph, to a maximum of [(STA ÷ 3) + (STR)] ÷ 4, or the boat’s maximum according to its length and beam (GM’s discretion).

Rowing and Poling is charged in WND according to the fraction of the maximum speed they can attain which is being used (“zero”, 1/4th, 1/2, 3/4th’s, or Full), normally, according to the rules for Movement presented in Chapter 2. of Part II. of this book (cf.).

The Boatman character will also have the opportunity to learn the Forage skill for use while plying the waters, but this is primarily for use on the shore and in bank-side waters, although it does include the character’s facility with fishing and a knowledge of the different fish that frequent those waters and the specific types of waters they prefer.

The att. mod. for the use of this skill is based upon the character’s STR and AGL.

The maximum speed of a typical dory (14-16ft. long) under oar would be roughly 3-4 knots, with the resistance rising dramatically between 3 & 4 knots. i.e. the amount of power required to make the boat travel at 4 knots would be roughly twice that required for travel at 3 knots.

IF the boat was more like a small whaleboat (eg., as seen in the pictures of Washington crossing the Potomac) then with two people, the cruising speed could have been more in the range of 4-5 knots. 

A ship’s “jolly boat”, c. 16ft. long, can be rowed by one man alone but it has 3 rowing positions so it can take up to 6 people rowing. Rowing alone on still water, average speed 3 knots (3.5 mph, or 2.5 cm Pulse Move) to 4 knots (4.5 mph, or 3.4 cm Pulse Move) is possible, with a compliment of 6 rowers, c. 4-5 knots.

Waterline length (ft.)

Max. Hull Speed (mph)

Pulse Move



3.2 cm



3.8 cm



4.4 cm



5.1 cm



5.8 cm



6.6 cm


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