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 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:14 pm 
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Daeruin wrote:
But this does bring up a question. Are you guys really interested in playing out a blow-by-blow (no pun intended) account of a sea voyage? Personally, I'd be happy figuring out how much time a voyage will take using a single roll, or maybe a few rolls depending on what challenges come up. I've never been very interested in man-vs-nature stories in RPGs. Now, naval battles and perhaps even races would be more interesting. So, I guess I'm wondering how detailed you really want to get with these rules? What kinds of situations are you interested in playing out?

For me, I would like to play in a campaign revolving around life at sea. However, I haven't found an RPG that does justice to the environment. This is because there is a whole body of knowledge that has to be acquired before life at sea is anything more than a wallpaper for the usual RPG scenes.

Add to this the "burden" of SA design. All of your players would have to want this type of game -- that is, allocate an SA to it -- or else life at sea would potentially slow down plot development for the non-seafaring players. So I think it is a one-in-all-in type of game.


Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:08 am 
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Hey Ian, have you had a good chance to go over Close Action yet? Perhaps you've got in a game or two?

Anyway, I'm really interested to know more about it and am thinking about getting my hands on a copy.

My brother collects Warhammer and has been trying to get me into it, but maybe I'll Shaghai him into get Close Action instead ;).

Anyway, let us know how it is. Cheers!

"It was hard-fought, a desperate affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal" (115) ~ Beowulf after defeating Grendle's Mother.

Last edited by Crow Caller on Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:37 am 
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Hey guys, I'm still looking around for good Rules, I found this and was wondering if anyone has played it?

I really want to develop a rules set for TRoS but I just don't know enough about Sailing.

Was there ever any Indie games made over at the Forge that dealt with sailing?

Also Higgins have you had anymore ideas about your ruleset? Damn I wish I could be more help, but like I said, I just don't know enough.


"It was hard-fought, a desperate affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal" (115) ~ Beowulf after defeating Grendle's Mother.

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 5:45 pm 
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Crow Caller wrote:
Hey guys, I'm still looking around for good Rules, I found this and was wondering if anyone has played it?
Well, I haven't played it, but I have Skull & Bones .pdf which should have overlapping materials with the book you refer to. The best part of that Skull & Bones book is info on the Caribbean islands... Small generic map, who owns them, what do the export/import, etc, 12 pages of that, about three islands on every page. Then it has the stuff all d20 books have, new classes, feats, monsters, etc. On the ships however, it has too the general (non-innovative) d20 stuff -- ships have hardness, speed, AC and whatnot.

Also, I'm not sure about how realistic those 400-500 people aboard is that the book claims... Even the smallest vessels have minimum crew about 50 (not including 10-20 passengers AND 80-100 tons of cargo). The numbers seem high (ships of Columbus when discovering America had crews of 40, 26 & 20), but I'm no expert either. Will wait for my Nelson's Navy before actually judging what the numbers should be.

However... I'm not too keen on playing sea games under d20... My latest D&D character was a captain and the only sea battle we had went like this: We were bombarded with True Striked catapults while being assaulted by vikings. So, most of the combat revolved around the boatswain trying to get hit by catapult as he had more hit points than the ship (and was far more easily curable). :?

Crow Caller wrote:
Was there ever any Indie games made over at the Forge that dealt with sailing?
All I know of is Poison'd. It has simplistic, yet cool system. Basically, every conflict has three levels of severity. Say, there's a duel with swords, it begins on severity 1 and there's a wound at stake, players make opposed rolls, the one who gets more successes is about to wound the other. The losing side however has the option to take a wound or "escalate", to drive the stake up at severity 2, where a major wound is at stake. He can now roll his non-success dice again. Whoever's losing the next round has the option to take a major wound or escalate again... and what's at stake here, is death. This is the final level and one cannot escalate beyond it. This roll decides all. There a some extra rules on how both can be wounded in a duel, etc, but this is how the whole resolution works and that applies to all.. ship chases, ship combat, etc. So, not something for TROS really, but it'll get you the picture.

Crow Caller wrote:
Also Higgins have you had anymore ideas about your ruleset? Damn I wish I could be more help, but like I said, I just don't know enough.
I'm still waiting for my Nelson's Navy to arrive and have postponed all speculative rules-creation until I've read it. 8-)

Did you give the French RPG to your fiancee, btw? :)

"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:52 am 
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Nope, I don't even have it anymore, my old computer met with an unfortunate accident :D so I had to go out and get a new one :P

I did try reading over it myself, and I pretty much assumed that most of the terms would be out of her ability, afterall when learning a new language one hardly dablles in Naval Terms :P

Cheers & God Bless!!

"It was hard-fought, a desperate affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal" (115) ~ Beowulf after defeating Grendle's Mother.

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:54 am 
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The book just arrived! :D
I wish I had a hardback for more comfortable read, but those were damn expensive! :|

"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:08 am 
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Crow Caller wrote:
Hey Ian, have you had a good chance to go over Close Action yet?

Ordered on the 18th of August (US$131.30 with postage) and it hasn't arrived yet.

I'll give a small review once it has made the journey to Oz.


Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:51 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Ordered on the 18th of August (US$131.30 with postage) and it hasn't arrived yet.

The game arrived today.

At first glance -- this is a wargame, not a boardgame. There is a lot of crunch in this box of goodies. The rules themselves are contained in one book of 40 pages while the scenarios cover three books. There is a lot of historical detail in the scenarios (and the game rules for that matter). I would say that this is the sort of game that is good to learn by playing with someone who already understands the rules.

I look forward to reading through the rules though.


Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:08 pm 
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Awesome, keep us posted :D and don't forget, continually ask yourself, how can this be done in TRoS!! :D

Cheers mate, God Bless!

"It was hard-fought, a desperate affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal" (115) ~ Beowulf after defeating Grendle's Mother.

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:08 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
At first glance -- this is a wargame, not a boardgame. There is a lot of crunch in this box of goodies. The rules themselves are contained in one book of 40 pages while the scenarios cover three books. There is a lot of historical detail in the scenarios (and the game rules for that matter). I would say that this is the sort of game that is good to learn by playing with someone who already understands the rules.

All true. Unfortunately, we don't always have that luxury. Personally, I enjoy reading game rules and figuring out how they work, so that wasn't really a problem for me. I would've learned the game faster, but oh well. Still, the sheer number and complexity of the rules means that even though I've played the game three or four times, and I still don't grasp every single rule.

My blog: fantasy fiction, gaming, and progressive metal

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:27 pm 
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As the old forum is down, I'll post Drifter Bob's viking rules here.

This is the fluff post.

Spoiler: show
Ok this is some material I have, mostly unfinished notes, the beginnings of some attempts to make some new rules, for a Viking supplement I was going to do for TROS. That isn't going to happen, so I thought some of this might be helpful to some of the fertile minds here, rather than letting the effort go to waste.

I make no claims that any of this is accurate or even makes sense, it's from the preliminary stages of research and all kind of half thought out. Plenty of holes in it I'm sure, none of it was ever even beta tested. That said, see if any of it can be of any use.

If you use any of this stuff in anything which gets published, I only ask that you include my name in the credits, Jean Henri Chandler, and notify me.

I'm going to make two threads, one of "fluff" (hate that term), background material and historical resources, and another of "crunch", rules and tables.


Notes on terminology

In the context of the 8th – 11th centuries, ther term “artillery” is used as it was during Roman times, i.e. to denote misile-hurling siege engines such as catapults, ballistae, trebuchets and the like. Firearms of any kind were not in use in this period

Massive permanent fortification in Jutland built by Danes to separate Danish and German zones, first built around 737 AD.

The Anglo-Saxon militia, either generally (meaning the entire militia system) or more specifically referring to an individual Fyrd or local militia unit.

Petty Chieftain / Armed Family Elder. A chieftain who served as a representative at the Thing, and also as a military leader. Could be anything from the leader of a single farmstead to the regional boss of 30 or 40 farms, or an entire Herred. Very powerful Hersir could become Jarls or even Kings. See Social Classes, chieftain, below for more info .

Means “Hundred”, an administrative district in Norse society, governed by a local Thing, with or without the participation of a chieftain, Jarl, or King.

Holy Roman Empire or Holy Roman Emperor (depending on the context)

A powerful chieftain, military commander or regional governor. Roughly analogous with the Anglo Saxon term ‘Earl’ or ‘Eorl’, also related to the position ‘Ealdorman’.

Amphibious landing fortification, longships are drawn up on land and surrounded by a levee and a palisade.

Migration Era
The period of great upheavals and tribal wandering through out Europe, roughly the time period between the fall of the Roman Empire (circa 450 AD) and the start of the Viking Age and the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire by Charlemagne (circa 780 AD).

Though this term was often used in period to describe Vikings or Norsemen, in this document it is meant specifically to refer to the descendents of the Vikings who settled in Normandy under Rolf the Ganger. They may be considered Norse / French.

Within this document, the word Norse refers to those peoples indigenous to the regions now called Denmark, Norway and Sweden from the early Iron Age through the Medieval period. Though recognized in ancient times, the national divisions now seen between modern Scandinavian states were borders of somewhat less significance in the early parts of the Viking Age, most importantly being one of idiom between the East (Swedish and Danish) and West (Norwegian) variations of the Norse language, which began to differentiate into dialects toward the end of the Viking period.

The Norse were conscious of their status as a separate ‘people’ who shared a similar pagan religious worldview and a common language, but did not have a very strong national identity as such. Foreigners were judged by their courage, honor, wealth, and cultural affinity (or lack therof) to Norse culture. The less they could be understood within this context, the more disliked they were. (This is why they were far more hostile to Monks for example than to lay Christians, the lifestyle of the Monks made them seem more culturally alien to the Pagan Norse.)

While ancient Norse people may have thought of themselves as Danes, Norwegians and Swedes these were only the largest demarcations of a complex network of sub-regional tribal groups: Jutes, Gottlanders, Goiings, Finveldings etc. etc. etc.. Loyalty remained primarily to the individual tribe or tribal group and to the extended family. This of course began to change later toward the end of the Viking age as powerful warlords (Jarls) gained power across wide regions, and became Kings who demanded direct fealty from all of their subjects on the Continental model.

This term was used by Russian chroniclers, and in letters by Byzantine and Muslim observers, generally the best source for contemporaneous information on Eastern Vikings, to describe both a specific Norse tribe called the Rus, and more generally all of the Norse operating in the East and the Slavs they settled among and ruled over. The term in this document refers to those Vikings of Norse (usually Swedish) and Norse / Slavic descent who lived in Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. For the most part they may be considered Swedish / Russian.

Roughly the Viking equivalent of a bard. Poet, musician, community historian.

Shield Maiden, a female warrior.

Within this text the term Viking refers first and foremost to those free Norse living within the Viking Age, which is loosely defined as the period from the late 8th century through the 11th century. Viking of course literally means ‘raider’, and the term is used here more specifically to mean members of the Norse culture who were directly or indirectly involved in the raiding culture (etymology may be from the Norse term Vik meaning a fjord). Over time, as the era progressed, most Norse were effected by the cultural, social and economic changes brought on by the raiding, until toward the end of the era almost all Norse were thought of as Vikings even after most had converted to Christianity and many were integrated into British, Russian, or French society.

Units of measure

Hide of land
A small unit of land area, measured by the lands productivity: a hide of land is a plot of land sufficient to support one family for a year. Depending on the productivity of the area and the climate it could mean from as little as 30 acres to as much as 120.

Ell (distance) roughly one foot four inches, or 42 centimeters. An Ell is often used as a unit of measure for cloth.

League three miles.


Pence / Penny
A term used by both Saxons and Norse to describe the smallest demarcation of (usually) silver coins by weight and / purity.

An Arab (usually silver) coin which began to appear in Eastern Europe in the late 8th century, and eventually became very popular with Vikings until the Central Asian silver mines where they were minted began to run out in the 11th. Hundreds of thousands have been found in Viking graves. The Dirham was called "the coin that helped fuel the Viking Age" by Viking Expert Thomas S. Noonan of the University of Minnesota.

Saxon monetary unit, also used by Norse living in England.

A German / Carolingian monetary unit, widely adopted by the Norse. Normally a Mark was equal to eight ounces of silver. The term was also used sometimes to refer to the equivalent value in barter items, most often homespun cloth. In Njals Saga six Ells of plain homespun cloth was considered worth one ounce of silver, a Mark therefore would be worth 48 Ells of homespun.

Refers to a pound of silver, becomes a unit of currency esp. in the British Isles.

For game purposes:

P = Silver Penny Just under 1 gram of silver or 240 to a mark
D = Dirham, Arabic silver coin, 3 grams of silver
O = Ore one eighth of a Mark, 30 grams of silver, or 30 pennies (close to one ounce)
M = Mark of Silver, 240 grams, 240 pennies (1/2 a pound)

Timeline of Viking History [ pages]
This timeline is not intended to constrain or limit play in any way, it is only presented to act as a tool for the Seneschal, to use in a variety of possible ways. It can serve as a rough guideline or a starting point for research for an historical campaign, or equally well as an exemplary series of archetypal events which can be used as starting points for campaigns set either in Wyerth, Earth with an alternate history, or some other fantasy realm.
More generally it can be used simply as inspiration to help get the ‘feel’ of the Viking Age.

Viking History Timeline

Year Location Event
61 AD England Rebellion of Boudicca and the Iceni against the Romans
100 AD Scandinavia Bjorke boat sinks, close to Stockholm
139 AD England Hadrians Wall completed by Romans
150 AD Scandinavia Scanii, indigenous tribe of Scandinavia, described by Romans as violent barbarians
208 AD England Christianity arrives in Britain
Gothic / Migration period begins
251 AD Europe Romans defeat Goths
268 AD Europe Romans defeat Goths
312 AD Britain First three Christian bishoprics established in Britain
367 AD Britain Picts, Irish, Scotts and Saxons invade Britain. Cannibalistic Attacotti raid coast.
378 AD Europe Visigoths Smash Roman Army at Adrianople and kill Roman Emperor Valens
388 AD Britain Last Roman coinage issued in Britain.
400 AD Scandinavia Nydam Boat sinks, off of Jutland
410 AD Europe Mixed barbarian forces under Gothic leader Alarik sack Rome / Romans abandon Britain.
429 AD Britain St Germainus, bishop sent by the Pope, helps rally Romanized Celts in Britain to fight off encroaching Saxons.
430 AD Britain British King Votingern settles Saxons on the Coast to act as a buffer against Pictish raids
436 AD Europe Huns fighting on behalf of Roman leader Ateius invade Rhineland in battle commemorated by Scandinavians in the Völsunga Saga and by Germans in the “Nibelungenlied”
447 AD Britain First major wave of settlement of Britain by Saxons, Angles, and Franks begins
451 AD Europe Allied army of Visigoths, Gauls and Romans defeat Huns at Ch?lons-sur-Marne
507 AD Europe Visigoths, having settled and formed an ‘empire’ in Gaul, are defeated by Germanic Franks under king Chlodovech, and flee Gaul to Spain
508 AD Britain Saxons Cerdic and Cynric slay British Celtic king Natanleod
527 AD Britain Second wave of Saxon settlers. Saxons found Essex. England divided into Celtic (in the North) and Saxon (West) districts
Vendel Period Begins
552 AD Europe Ostrogoths defeated by Byzantines (Eastern Roman Empire) in Italy
592 AD Britain St Augustine arrives in Britain, soon converts 10,000 Saxons to Christianity
621 AD Britain Sutton Hoo ship burial
700 AD Scandinavia Battle of Bravoll in Gottland, fought between ‘kings’ Harald Hilditonn (‘wartooth’) and Sigurd Hring
710 AD Europe Visigothic ‘kingdom’ in Spain defeated by rampaging Moors
731 AD Britain Bede completes his ‘History of England’
732 AD France Charles Martel leads the Franks to victory over the invading Saracens at the battle of Tours
737 AD Scandinavia First evidence of construction on Danevirke in Jutland
770 AD Germany Charlemagne begins conquering Saxons / East Saxons converted to Christianity
774 AD Britain Offa, King of Mercia, is agknolwedged as king of all England
778 AD France Charlemagne sends the hero Roland to lead invasion of Britanny.
786 AD Britain Possible Viking raid at Portland, Dorset
787 AD Britain Possible Viking raids in Wessex
Viking Period Begins / Awakening Begins
792 AD Britain Saxon Lords in Britain order coastal defenses prepared to repel invaders from the sea.
793 AD Britain English island monastery of Lindisfarne raided
795 AD Scotland First raids on Scottish Coast, island of Iona raided
795 AD Ireland Vikings raid monasteries of Rathlin, Inishmurray and Inishbofin
798 AD Ireland Vikings burn monastery at St Patrick’s Island
799 AD France Danish Vikings raid Frankish coast for the first time, using rivers to elude land based Frankish forces.
799 AD France 105 Vikings are killed by locals after their ship blows off course in Aquitaine
800 AD France Charlemagne organizes defenses against Viking raids
802 AD Britain Vikings raid northern Britain
806 AD Britain Vikings raid isle of Iona and burn monastery, 68 monks killed
808 AD Russia Godfred of Denmark sacks Slavic market town of Reric, moves merchants to Hedeby in Denmark. Godfred repairs and extends Danewerke.
810 AD Germany First Danish attacks into Carolingian Germany (Frisia)
811 AD Ireland Vikings defeated by Ulaid of Northeastern Ireland
814 AD Europe Death of Charlemagne
819 AD Ireland Vikings invade Wexford and set up a trading post
820 AD Ireland Vikings raid Abbey at Cork and set up a Longphort
826 AD Germany Vikings under a leader named Harald accept Land in Frisia in exchange for peace
835 AD Britain Large Viking fleet enters Thames estuary, sack island of Sheppey off of Kentish coast
835 AD Frisia Vikings sack trading center of Dorsetad four times and lay waste to the surrounding region
838 AD Denmark Large Viking fleet which had been raiding Frisia is wrecked in a storm
839 AD Ireland Vikings over-winter in Ireland for the first time
840 AD Ireland Armagh (center of the Irish church) is sacked three times
840 AD Europe Death of Louis the Pious (first heir to Charlemagne) / Vikings begin involvement in Carolingian civil wars (lasting until 877 AD)
841 AD France Viking raiders burn Frankish town of Rouen
841 AD Ireland Norwegian Vikings seize monastery at Dublin, build Longphort
842 AD France Britanny revolts and reasserts independence from HRE under Breton leader Nominoe
842 AD Ireland Vikings overwinter in Ireland / First recorded Irish - Viking alliance
842 AD Britain Vikings raid London, Rochester and Southampton
843 AD France Monastaries at Nantes, Indres, and Verdou sacked by Vikings
844 AD Spain Vikings raid Spain and Portugal. First clashes with Spanish Moors. Viking attack on Galicia repelled by “missile throwing war machines.”
845 AD France Viking Army under Ragnar Lodbrok recieves 7,000 lbs Danegeld from Charles II to spare Paris, proceeds to ravage other parts of France
845 AD Germany Viking Army sacks Hamburg
845 AD Ireland Vikings win victory at Dunamase
847 AD France First major raid against Brittany. After losing three battles, Bretons pay Danegeld and Vikings attack Aquitaine instead
849 AD Ireland 1200 Vikings killed by Cearbhall, ‘king’ of Ossory
850 AD Britain Vikings over-winter in English mainland for the first time, camping on Isle of Thanet in Thames Estuary.
851 AD Britain Kentish Saxon fleet defeats Danish fleet in Naval battle off of Sandwich, Kent
851 AD France Vikings over-winter in France, sack Paris in summer.
851 AD Ireland Battle between Norwegian and Danish Vikings at Dundalk bay / Danes take over Dublin
853 AD Ireland Norwegian army under Olaf the White defeats Danes in major sea battle / Kingdom of Dublin founded by Olaf and Ivar the Boneless
854 AD Spain Muslims capture two Norse ships off the coast of Cordoba
859 AD Med Bjorn Ironsides leads 62-ship raid into Mediterranean, successfully raiding Piza and Luna which is taken by a famous ruse. On return trip through Gibraltar battle with Moorish navy costs Vikings 40 vessels, many lost to “Greek Fire”.
859 AD Med Saracens complete conquest of Sicily
860 AD Russia Russian Vikings attack Constantinople, but retreat after being unable to breach that mighty cities formidable walls.
860 AD Iceland Discovery of Iceland
862 AD Russia Swedish Rus Vikings found dynasty in Russia led by Rurik, which will last until 1598. Russian Aristocratic families will claim descent from Rurik until 17th century.
865 AD Britain Massive Viking fleet invades Britain at East Anglia / Vikings receive Danegeld from Saxon lords for the first time / Ragnar Lodbrok (hairy breeks) is captured after being shipwrecked in Britain by Saxon King Aella of Northumbria, and thrown into a pit of adders. He is said to remark “how the little pigs would grunt if they knew the situation of the old boar.” .
865 AD France Vikings defeated at Poitiers by Robert the Strong.
Conquest Period Begins
866 AD Britain Vikings found permanent settlements in Britain. Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok, invades East Anglia, kills King Ella in ritual of “Red Blood Eagle” in revenge for his fathers own gruesome murder at Ella’s hands.
866 AD Med HRE Lous II leads third campaign against Saracens in Sicily
867 AD Britain Vikings appoint Egbert as a puppet king in Northumbria
869 AD Ireland Vikings defeated at Drogheda by Conar, King of Connaught
869 AD Britain Vikings kill Edmund, last king of East Anglia, for refusing to renounce Christianity.
870 AD Britain Ivar the Boneless conquers the kingdom of East Anglia at the Battle of Haegelisdun (probably Hellesden, in Bradfield St Clare, Suffolk).
871 AD Britain Alfred, Prince of Wessex, defeats Vikings at Ashdown, then pays Danegeld and makes treaty with Vikings, who retreat.
872 AD Scandinavia Harald I “Finehair defeats rivals in sea battle at Hafrsfjord to become king of all Norway. His forces include Ulfhednar Berserks
873 AD Russia Rurik departs Russia to claim land inherited in Freisland, turns Norse / Russian Rus dynasty over to Oleg.
874 AD Iceland First settlements in Iceland
875 AD Britain Last Monks abandon Lindisfarne, taking body of St Cuthbert with them. / Halfdan settles in Jorvik after successful campaigns in Northumbria and Scotland. Norse settlers begin to arrive in Yorkshire
877 AD Britain Vikings under Guthrun sack Exeter. Viking fleet is destroyed in a storm and King Alfred of Wessex surrounds Viking army. Alfred arranges treaty-allowing Vikings to withdraw.
878 AD Britain Guthrun defeats Alfred in lightning winter raid. Alfred seeks refuge in swamps. Alfred rallies Saxon forces and a second battle is fought in which Alfred defeats Viking Army.
878 AD Britain Alfred ‘The Great’ forces Guthrun’s conversion to Christianity, and partitions Britain. Viking kingdom of York established.
882 AD Britain Alfred ‘The Great’ reorganizes Anglo Saxon ‘Fyrd’ (militia)
882 AD Russia Oleg unites Novgorod and Kiev, moves seat of Rus dynasty to Kiev, extends domain to challenge Byzantine Empire.
894 AD France French pay Viking raiders Danegeld of 12,000 lbs silver
885 AD France Duke Ragnold is slain in battle vs Vikings at Rhiems / Paris Isle de La Citee is fortified by Bishop Gauzelin / Vikings attack Paris. Paris is defended by Count Odo and Bishop Gauzelin, and Vikings fail to storm the fortifications. Vikings begin a siege of Paris.
886 AD France Siege of Paris continues. Bishop Gauzelin and Abbot Hugo die. Odo leaves to get reinforcements then fights his way back into the city. Emperor Charles the Fat finally arrives with a large army and pays Danegeld to relieve the siege
888 AD France Norse army defeated by Count Odo of the Franks at battle of Montfaucon / Charles the Fat dies / Odo is elected King of France by Nobility
891 AD Britain Guthrun dies, voiding treaty between Saxons and Vikings.
892 AD Britain Alfred ‘the Great’ defeats Viking invasion force on Thames.
893 AD France King Odo is deposed (but not killed) and Charles ‘The Simple’ becomes King of France
895 AD Britain Alfred ‘the Great’ blockades the Danish Fleet by constructing a fortified barrier on the river Lea
897 AD France Count Odo regains the French crown, pardons deposed king Charles ‘The Simple’
898 AD France King Odo dies and Charles ‘The Simple’ is crowned King again
899 AD Britain Death of Alfred the Great of Wessex. He is succeeded by his son Edward ‘The Elder’.
902 AD Ireland Vikings at Dublin defeated by Irish forces from Brega and Leinster. / Norse are expelled from the city, flee to Wales.
910 AD Britain King Edward the Elder of Britain defeats Vikings at Tattenhall
910 AD Russia Sixteen Rus Ships attack and pillage Persian outposts on the Caspian sea
911 AD France Charles ‘the simple’ grants Normandy to Vikings under Rolf the ganger. Rolf founds the Duchy of Normandy
912 AD Russia Eastern Vikings sack and pillage Khazar lands around Baku on the Caspian, massacring thousands, are later in turn wiped out by joint force of Khazars and Christians.
913 AD Russia Rus fleet ambushed and destroyed by Khazars at battle of Itil
914 AD Ireland Second major Viking invasion of Ireland begins
917 AD Britain Athefleda, sister of Edward, becomes overlord of Mercia upon the death of her husband. Athefleda joins Edward in victory over Vikings at Tempsford. Guthrun II is killed.
918 AD Britain Irish - Norwegian Vikings from Dublin defeat Saxon / Danish army and capture York. Bishops lands divided among Viking leaders
927 AD Britain Saxon army under Athelstan of Wessex defeats Vikings at York
930 AD Iceland AllThing established in Iceland
937 AD Scotland Combined Viking - Scottish army under Olaf of Dublin is defeated by Saxon king Aethelstan at Brunanburh.
939 AD Britain King Aethelstan of Wessex dies. Dublin Norwegian Vikings retake York
943 AD Russia Swedish force reach Bardha'a on the Caspian's south shore with a large armada and take the city, killing 5,000 inhabitants. They soon retreat after an outbreak of Dysentery allegedly caused by a ‘cup of death’ offered to them by local women.
952 AD Britain People of York oust Dublin Viking ruler and reinstate Eric Bloodaxe as king of York
954 AD Britain Eric Bloodaxe murdered by a Saxon assassin Oswulf Ealdulfing. Norse Kingdom or York (Jorvik) in Britain falls to Saxon Army.
Assimilation Period Begins
971 AD Britain King Kenneth of Scotland captures Edinburgh
974 AD Denmark Invading Germans under HRE Otto II cross Danevirk, occupy Hedeby
991 AD Britain Vikings defeat Saxons at Maldon in Essex.
991 AD Britain Saxon King Aethelred II ‘the Unready’ pays largest ever Danegeld 10,000 lbs of silver.
994 AD Britain Aethelred II pays Danegeld again, for 16,000 lbs.
1000 AD France Vikings in Normandy now drink wine instead of mead. This does not seem to have made them any softer…
1002 AD Britain Aethelred II pays Danegeld, 24,000 lbs of silver
1002 AD Britain St Brice’s Day Saxon Massacre of Danes: On 13th November 1002 Saxon King Aethelread orders the execution of “all the Danish men who were among the English race”. One of the Victims is Gunnhild, sister of Sweyn Forkebeard of Denmark.
1004 AD Britain Sweyn Forkbeard burns English town of Thetford in revenge for St Brice’s day massacre.
1007 AD Britain Sweyn Forkbeard defeats Saxons at battle of East Kennet
1013 AD Britain Sweyn Forkbeard is declared “king” in Britain.
1014 AD Ireland Battle of Clontarf in Ireland. Brian Boru smashes Viking army in Ireland in one final battle, but is killed by the Viking Brodir of Man.
1015 AD Norway Norway captured by Olaf Harladson
1016 AD Britain Canute, son of Sweyn and already king of Denmark and Norway, defeats Edmund, (son of Aethelread) in Battle of Ashingdon in Essex. Canute is declared king of Britain.
1030 AD Scotland Jarl Thorfin of Orkney gains control of Northern Scotland at the battle of Tarbet
1035 AD Britain Canute ‘The Great’ dies / Scots defeated again by Jarl Thorfin.
1041 AD Russia Ingvar the Widefarer travels in Serkland, attempts to re-open trade routes; he is killed somewhere in central Asia.
1043 AD Russia Wends defeated by Magnus the Good at the battle of Lyrskov Heath.
1045 AD Russia Last attack on Constantinople by the Rus
1066 AD Britain Harald Hadrada killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
1066 AD Britain Battle of Hastings.
1075 AD Britain Last Danish invasion of Britain, Danes sack York
1085 AD Scandinavia First grant of land to Christian Church in Scandinavia

The three phases of Viking history:
By dividing the Viking Age into these three periods, it is possible to resolve many if not most of the major contradictions and form a better picture of what life was actually like in these ancient times.

Personages of the Awakening Period 780 – 866 AD
This selection of short bios, by no means complete, are meant to serve as examples of just a few of the often very colorful people who achieved fame or infamy in the Awakening Period of the Viking age. This list is included as a tool for the Seneschal either to serve as some basic groundwork for researching an historical campaign, as archetypes to form the basis for partly or completely fantasy NPC’s, or as more general inspiration to help get a feel of life in the Viking Age (or all three!).

Nationality: Norse Period: Awakening

A famous Skjaldmær and Viking pirate. As a girl, she was unsatisfied with her suitor Alf, having been warned against him by her mother. Rebelling against her father, she "changed into man's clothing and from being a highly virtuous maiden began to lead the life of a savage pirate. Many girls of the same persuasion had enrolled in her company by the time she chanced to arrive at a spot where a band of pirates were mourning the loss of their leader, who had been killed fighting. Because of her beauty she was elected the pirate chief and performed feats beyond a woman's courage." Alvid and Alf eventually met. After a fight, he persuaded her to marry him. She had a daughter by him named Gurith who also grew up to be a warrior.

Bjorn ‘Ironsides’
Nationality: Norse Period: Awakening Aka: Bjorn Jarnsida

A powerful Viking chieftain and naval commander, Bjorn and his brother Hastein conducted many (mostly successful) raids in France in a continuation of the tradition initiated by their (possibly adoptive) father Ragnar Lodbrock.. In 860 AD Bjorn led a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean. After raiding down the Spanish coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, Bjorn and Hastein pillaged the south of France, where his fleet over-wintered, before landing in Italy where they captured the coastal city of Piza. Proceeding inland to the town of Luna, which they believed to be Rome at the time, Bjorn found himself unable to breach the town walls.
To gain entry, he sent messengers to the Bishop that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened letting his army in.
Flush with this victory and others around the Med (including in Sicily and North Africa) he returned to the Straits of Gibraltar only to find the Saracen navy waiting. In the desperate battle which followed Bjorn lost 40 ships, largely to Greek fire launched from Saracen catapults. The remainder of his fleet managed to return to Scandinavia however, where he lived out his life as a rich man.

Nationality: Frank Period: Awakening Aka: Charles the Great

Great Frankish leader, one of the greatest figures in European History, he had a relatively small and largely indirect impact on the Vikings. Founder of the Holy Roman Empire which he ruled over in at its greatest height of power, controlling nearly all of Europe, Charlemagne fought a campaign to subdue the Saxons and solidified the power of the bishop of Rome as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Toward the end of his reign he organized defenses against the rising threat of the Vikings, and fought at least one major battle against them in 804 AD but ultimately died before he could face this new challenge to his Empire.

Charles ‘Martel’ (The Hammer)
Nationality: Frank Period: Awakening Aka: Charles ‘The Hammer’

Grandfather of Charlemagne. King of the Franks, Charles Martel led the Franks to victory over the invading Saracens at the battle of Tours in 732. He is credited with saving Europe by checking the Muslim invasion, leading a small force of veteran infantry against a Muslim army nearly ten times larger consisting mostly of cavalry. After the great victory in this battle he set out on a course of unification of France which was continued by his son Pepin the Short, and later by his Grandson Charlemagne who expanded the Empire to nearly all of Europe. Most historians believe that if Charles had lost the battle of Tours Europe would have fallen to Islam.

Harald ‘Wartooth’
Nationality: Norse (Danish) Period: Awakening Aka: Harald Hilditonn

A famous Danish ‘king’ from the Pre-Viking Age. Terrified of dying of old age, Harald instigated a war with his nephew Sigurd Hring, Jarl of West Gotland in Sweden, so that Harald could have a chance to die in combat like a good Norseman should. The resulting semi-mythical Battle of Bravoll took place as a result, probably around 700 AD. The Battle of Bravoll was a major event in Norse history, cited by many Skalds down the centuries as an epic example of what you might call the Norse version of Chivalry, the ideal values of the Norse warrior.
Heroes from all over Scandinavia and several neighboring regions joined the fight on either side. Notable among the many prominent champions were several shield maidens, including on the Danish side ‘Hetha’ or ‘Heid’, who was in charge of Haralds right flank, and ‘Visna’, his shield bearer, “whose female bodies Nature had endowed with manly courage”, as well as a certain ‘Vebjorg’ who was “installed with the same spirit.” Haralds army was defeated, and Visna and Vebjorg were killed in the battle, but Hetha survived, and was eventually given part of Denmark to rule as a jarl to the magnanimous victor, king Sigurd Hring, who had been impressed with her fighting skill.

"....With a measure of vitality at odds with her tender frame, roused the mettle of the faltering soldiery by a splendid exhibition of bravery. She flew round the rear of the unprepared enemy in a circling maneuver and carried the panic which had been felt by the allies into the camp of their adversaries".
Ragnar’s Saga

“Ladgerda, who had a matchless spirit though a delicate frame, covered by her splendid bravery the inclination of the soldiers to waver. For she made a sally about, and flew round to the rear of the enemy, taking them unawares, and thus turned the panic of her friends into the camp of the enemy.”
History of the Danes, Saxo Grammaticus
Nationality: Norwegian Period: Awakening Aka: Ladgerda

A notorious Skjaldmær (shield maiden) and one time wife of Ragnar Lodbrok, Lathgertha’s career as a warrior evidently started when Frey, ‘king’ of Sweden, invaded Norway and killed the local Jarl around 840 AD. Frey announced his intention to place the women of the former Jarls family into a brothel for public humiliation. Ragnar Lodbrok came to fight the Swedes with an army, and many of these women dressed themselves in men’s clothing and fled to his camp in order to avoid this humiliation, some choosing to fight among the men.
Lathgertha was one of these, and she joined Ragnar’s forces in the ensuing battle, leaving a strong impression upon Ragnar. "Ladgerda, a skilled Amazon, who, though a maiden, had the courage of a man, and fought in front among the bravest with her hair loose over her shoulders. All-marveled at her matchless deeds, for her locks flying down her back betrayed that she was a woman." (from the History of the Danes, Saxo Grammaticus). Impressed with her courage, Ragnar courted her from afar. Lathgertha feigned interest but when Ragnar arrived to seek her hand, he was set-upon by a bear and a great hound which she had guarding her home. He killed the bear with his spear and choked the hound to death, and thus won the hand of Lathgertha in marriage. They had at least four children, including Bjorn Ironsides and Ivar the Boneless.
After returning to Denmark to fight a civil war, Ragnar was allegedly still annoyed at having had beasts set against him, and divorced the ornery Lathgertha in favor of a young Swedish Princess named Thora. Ragnar journeyed to Sweden to win the hand of his new love, which he did after numerous adventures, but upon returning to Denmark was again faced with a civil war. He lacked a great deal of support at home, so he sent to Norway for reinforcements for his rag tag army of old men and boys. Lathgertha, who apparently had a soft spot for her two- timing ex husband, rushed to Denmark to assist him, bringing her new husband and her son, and allegedly 120 ships with her to fight!
The ensuing battle of Laneus was hard-fought. At the height of the battle, Ragnar’s son Siward was wounded and fell, causing the troops to waver. At this key moment Lathgertha counterattacked, rallying the troops, routing the enemy. Upon returning to Norway, she quarreled with her husband, and slew him with a spearhead she concealed in her gown, and usurped his power as Jarl, “…for this most presumptuous dame thought it pleasanter to rule without her husband than to share the throne with him.. “ (History of the Danes, Saxo Grammaticus)

Ragnar ‘Lodbrok’
'The little pigs would grunt now
if they knew how it fares with the old boar.'
Ragnars Saga

Nationality: Norse Period: Awakening Aka: Ragnar ‘Hairy Breeks’.

The namesake and subject of “Ragnar’s Saga”, and one of the most popular Viking heroes among the Norse themselves, Ragnar was a great Viking commander and the scourge of France. A perennial seeker after the Danish throne, he was briefly ‘king’ of both Denmark and a large part of Sweden, (possibly from around 860 AD until his death in 865 AD). A colorful figure, he claimed to be descended from Odin, married the famous shield-maiden Lathgertha, and told people he always sought greater adventures for fear that his sons (including Bjorn Ironsides and Ivar the Boneless) would eclipse him in fame and honor.
Ragnar raided France many times, using the rivers as highways for his fleets of longships. By remaining on the move, he cleverly avoided battles with large concentrations of heavy Frankish cavalry, while maximizing his advantages of mobility and the general climate of fear of Viking unpredictability. His most notable raid was probably the 845 AD raid upon sacked Paris in 845 AD, which was spared from burning only by the payment of 7,000 lbs of silver as Danegeld by Charles the Fat.
To court his second wife, the Swedish princess Thora, Ragnar traveled to Sweden and quelled an infestation of venomous snakes, famously wearing the hairy breeches whereby he gained his nickname. He continued the series of successful raids against France throughout the mid 9th century, and fought numerous civil wars in Denmark, until his luck ran out at last in Britain. After being shipwrecked on the English coast during a freak storm in 865, he was captured by Saxon king Aella and put to death in an infamous manner by being thrown into a pit of vipers.

Personages of the Conquest Period 866 - 960 AD

Aella of Northumbria
“They caused the bloody eagle to be carved on the back of Aella, and they cut away all of the ribs from the spine, and they then ripped out his lungs.”
Anglo Saxon Chronicle.
Nationality: Saxon Period: Conquest Aka: Ella

Saxon King of Northumbria from 866-867. Aella was not of royal blood but was elected by the Northumbrian Saxons after they deposed his predecessor Osbert in a revolt in 866. That same year, it is alleged in Viking Sagas that the Viking Ragnar Lodbrock, was accidentally shipwrecked on the English coast during a storm, and fell into Aellas hands through trickery. Aella had Lodbrock thrown into a pit, where he made his famous remark about ‘little pigs’, by which he was referring to his sons.
When the Danes, lead by Ragnar’s younger sons including Ivar the Boneless, attacked Northumbria in 867, Aella and his one time bitter rival Osbert joined forces and defeated them, driving them back into the Danish city of York. There the Danes rallied however and the Northumbrians were badly defeated. Both Aella and Osbert were killed in the rout, Aella was allegedly captured by the Vikings and tortured to death in the gruesome ritual of the ‘blood eagle’ referred to in the quote above.

Alfred ‘The Great’ of Wessex
Nationality: Saxon Period: Conquest Aka: Aelfred

King of Wessex 849 – 899 AD. Alfred was one of the more interesting figures of the Viking Age, particularly among the (arguably) somewhat less colorful Saxons. Thanks to his biographer, the Welshman Aser, we know more about Alfred than many other Kings and important figures of the period. Said to have unspecified physical and mental deformities, Alfred turned out to be extremely brave and Saxon Britain’s most highly capable military commander.
Though semi-literate himself, he was said to have an excellent memory and a great love for poetry. This extremely pious man, who was partially raised by a pope, was also considered a good and able leader who championed education, built schools and had many texts translated from Latin into English, in the belief that education should be more widely available in the English language.
After defeating the Danes at the battle of Ashdown in 871 AD, Alfred became King of the West Saxons upon the death of his brother Aethelred in that same year. He liberated London from Danish occupation in 886, and made a treaty with the Viking leader Guthrun which established the division of Britain into Saxon and Danish (Danelaw) districts.
Alfred improved coastal defenses, rebuilt fortresses (which were called “burhs”) for defense of the countryside, supervised the revival of the Saxon navy, and reorganized the Saxon fyrd (militia) all of which contributed to the lack of major Viking raids during the latter part of his reign. Made treaties with Mercia and Wales, and improved and modernized Saxon law. Generally considered to be one of the greatest early medieval monarchs.

Nationality: Saxon Period: Conquest Aka: Ethelfleda, Aethelfled

Daughter and eldest child of King Alfred ‘The Great’ of Wessex, wife of the Earl of Mercia in 886, had one daughter named Aelfwynn. She became overlord upon her husband’s death in 911 AD, receiving the title “Lady of the Mercians.” She was considered an able tactician and military leader, participating in at least one battle against the Vikings in conjunction with her brother Edward the Elder, conquering the Danelaw in a successful campaign in 917 AD. She died shortly after this in 918 AD and her brother Edward assumed joint control over Mercia and Wessex, forming the Nucleus of the Kingdom of united Saxon Britain.

Aud ‘The Deep Minded’
Nationality: Norse Period: Conquest Aka: Unnr

A famous and widely respected woman in her time. Aud was married to Olaf ‘The White’, ruler of Dublin around 850 AD, and was the mother of Thorstein the Red. When Olaf died, her family moved to the Hebreides islands, from which they gained control of much of Scotland. When Thorstein was unexpectedly killed by the Scots around 890 AD, Aud sailed to the Orkney islands in a knarr she had built in secret and crewed with her own picked men.
While in the Orkneys, Aud arranged a marriage for Thorstein’s daughter Groa. She then sailed to Iceland with her brother Bjorn and twenty freemen and a number of slaves. When she settled at Hvamm in Iceland, she freed her slaves, armed them, and gave each of them homes, thereby turning them into loyal supporters. Aud was considered one of the founders of Iceland and is mentioned in Erik saga, Njal's saga, Grettir's saga, Laxdaela saga, Eyrbyggja saga, and the Orkneyingers' sagas, as well as the Landnamabok.
Aud was widely praised for her independent spirit, her wisdom and her audacity, her skill as a navigator and a ships captain, and her resourcefulness and good judgment as a Hersir and Goddi in Iceland. She was a good example of the type of strong Viking woman who did not need a man to find her way in life, and yet also interesting as a person in that she was strong without being cruel or destructive.

Charles ‘the bald’
Nationality: Frank Period: Conquest Aka: Karl der Khale

King of the Franks 843-877 AD and Holy Roman Emperor 875-877 AD, Charles was the son of Louis the Pious. Originally given the kingdom of France after the division of Charlemagne’s kingdom, he eventually was crowned HRE after the death of most of his rivals, he was killed shortly afterward by the army of Carloman. Though popular with the Church, with whom he collaborated, he had a fairly lackluster record in combat, losing a major battle against the Bretons and paying Danegeld to the Vikings.
He infamously fled to the monastery of St Denis when Ragnar Lodbrok arrived to sack Paris with a fleet of 120 ships in 845 AD. He finally broke the siege by paying Ragnar Danegeld of 7,000 lbs of silver. Later he paid a similarly stupendous ransom to Bjorn Ironsides for the return of two royal Princes of the Carolingian line.

Charles III ‘the fat’
Nationality: Frank Period: Conquest Aka: Charles Le Gros

King of the Franks, and Holy roman Emperor 881-888 AD. After first defeating Vikings during a siege of Paris in 886 AD, he ultimately bought their withdrawal with a huge payment of Danegeld. Believed to have epilepsy, he was described as a weak leader. A rebellion started by his nephew Arnulf ultimately led to the breakup of the Holy Roman Empire into the separate kingdoms of France, Germany, Italy, Upper Burgundy, and Provence.

Charles III ‘the simple’
Nationality: Frank Period: Conquest Aka:

King of France 893- 923 AD. Son of Louis II ‘The Stammerer’. Became king of France upon the death of Odo, Count of Paris in 893, finally reaching sole-kingship in 898 AD, after being bypassed twice for succession to the crown. Charles main claim to fame was for reaching the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911 AD in which he gave the Province of Normandy to a Viking army under Rolf the Ganger. In the same year he acquired the district of Lorraine for France.
Charles III was deposed by several barons and defeated in civil strife at the battle at Soissons in 923 AD. Though his rival for the throne was killed in the battle, Raul of Burgundy was elected king and Charles was imprisoned. He died in prison.

St. Edmund
Nationality: Saxon Period: Conquest Aka: Edmund the martyr
“Hingwar” [Ivar the Boneless] “then arrogantly commanded his troops that they should, all of them, take the king alone, who had despised his command, and instantly bind him.”
Anglo Saxon Chronicle

Saxon King of East Anglia, Saint, and Martyr. Attacked by a Viking force under Ivar the Boneless (qv) in 870 AD, he threw down his weapons rather than fight, ‘desiring to imitate the example of Christ’, and began beseeching help of his Lord and savior. The Vikings tied him to a tree and threw ‘darts’ at him, and mocked him as he continued to call upon Christ. Ivar finally ordered that he be decapitated. His brother Edwold then fled to become a hermit in Dorset, dooming the Royal dynasty of East Anglia to disappear forever.
Local zealots recovered Edmund’s head however, who noted that it could heal the blind and sick. When his body was found, it was reported that it did not decay, and when his head was placed upon it, it became re-attached . These and other miracles quickly elevated Edmund from a martyr to the status of a Saint, and eventually he became the patron Saint of all of East Anglia. His remains were moved to a special shrine built there in 1198. At the beginning of the 13th century, these relics were stolen by French Knights. St Edmund’s symbol of three crowns can still be seen in flags and crests in East Anglia. The sy three crowns represent his kingship, his virginity, and his martyrdom.

Edward ‘The Elder’
Nationality: Saxon Period: Conquest

Son of Alfred the Great, Edward was king of Wessex from 899-924 AD, brother of Athefleda, the Lady of Mercia. Edward defeated the Viking army at Tattenhall, killing joint Viking leaders Halfdan II and Eowils Ragnarson in the battle. Edward fought a second major campaign, in conjunction with the kingdom of Mercia (led by his sister Athefleda) to reconquer the Danelaw in 920 AD.
The Danes in this region were for the most part were settled as farmers and willingly accepted Edward as overlord rather than fight, and the campaign was a success. After his sisters death in 918 AD he assumed joint control over Mercia, and by the end of his reign was considered the monarch of all of Saxon Britain.

Guthrun ‘The Dane’
Nationality: Norse Period: Conquest Aka: Guthrun

A powerful Viking leader, one of the chief antagonists of Saxon Britain in the late Conquest period. Guthrun arrived in Britain in the summer of 871 AD to join the so-called ‘Great Army’ of Vikings with a wave of reinforcements from Norway. He became one of the principle leaders of the ‘Great’ Army (the others being Oskytel and Anwend), replacing Ragnar Lodbroks sons Halfdan and Ivar when they retired to Ireland to make Dublin into their own private fiefdom.
Guthrun fought a series of successful battles against the Saxons, and in 878 nearly wiped out the last Saxon kingdom in a daring midwinter attack upon the last kingdom of Wessex. In a surprise assault the Vikings smashed the Saxon defenses and drove out most of the population, but King Alfred (soon to gain the title ‘the Great’) managed to escape into the swamps with a small retinue of followers.
Returning the next year Alfred gathered Saxon forces from Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire, and defeated Guthrun in a major battle, forcing Guthrun and the other Viking leaders to turn over hostages, convert to Christianity and retreat from Wessex. In 886 AD Alfred and Guthrun drew up a peace treaty which established the division of Britain into the southern Saxon zone, and the Norse zone which became the Danelaw, north of the Thames-Lea line.

Halfdan ‘of the Wide Embrace’
Nationality: Norse (Danish) Period: Conquest Aka: Halfdene

One of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, and Brother of Ivar the Boneless and Bjorn Ironsides. Joined Ivar in great invasion of Britain in 865, was with him one of the co-leaders of so-called Great Army of Vikings who ravaged Britain in the beginning of the Conquest period. Participated in the capture of Northumbria and East Anglia in 866 and 870, and less successful efforts against Wessex. Succeeded his brother Ivar as ruler of Dublin in 873, from where he conducted many successful military campaigns. Captured the Kingdom of Mercia in 874.

Harald I ‘Fair-haired’
Nationality: Norwegian Period: Conquest Aka: Harald Harfagri

First ‘king of Norway, reigning from 872-930 AD. Son of the powerful chieftain Halfdan the Black, Harald allegedly gained his cogonym when scorned by a local princess named Gyda, who refused to marry him until he was king. Harald swore a vow that he would never cut or comb his hair until he became king of Norway. In the period when his hair was uncombed he was known as Harald ‘Lufa’, i.e. ‘dreadlock’. In 866 AD he began a series of wars against rival chieftains, and finally achieved sole overlordship after a major victory at Hafrsfjord in 872.
The very idea of monarchy was unpopular in Norway however and many Norwegians fled to Iceland, Scotland and the smaller British isles (Orkneys, Shetlands, Faeroes, and Hebrides), from whence they conducted raids and attacks against Haralds forces. Harald launched expeditions against Scotland and the British isles, eventually placing them under Norwegian rule, but many of his enemies moved to Iceland, where they founded a unique decentralized farmers republic. The latter part of Haralds life was complicated by infighting between his many sons, of whom Eric Bloodaxe ultimately became his successor.

Ivar ‘the Boneless’
“Three nights together, but yet apart,
Shall we bide, nor worship the gods as yet;
From my son this would save a lasting harm,
For boneless is he thou wouldst now beget.”
Ragnars Saga
Nationality: Norse (Danish) Period: Conquest Aka: known as ‘Hingwar’ or
‘Ingwar’ to the Saxons

Son of Ragnar Lodbrok, Ivar was considered one of the greatest Viking leaders and military tacticians. The reason for his name has been debated, but he was allegedly crippled, probably from a genetic bone disease in his legs, and according to the Sagas had to be carried around on a shield or on poles by his followers. Considered one of the wisest and most cunning Viking military commanders, and also known by his remarkable upper body strength.
Ivar and several of his eleven brothers were among the leaders of the so-called ‘Great Army’ which launched a massive Viking invasion of Britain in 865 AD. Ivar conquered Northumbria and occupied the Northumbrian capital of York in 866, where he improved the defenses. Ivar then defeated Saxon Kings Aella (qv) and Osbert who make a joint effort to retake York in 867. King Aella, who had thrown Ivars father Ragnar in a pit of vipers, was allegedly put to death via the gruesome ritual of the ‘blood eagle’.
The Kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex then united against Ivar and called up a great army. Faced with defeat, he cleverly talked Saxon Kings Burghred of Mercia and Aethelred of Wessex into signing the treaty of Nottingham in 868. After a brief interval of peace, Ivar then conquered East Anglia, and carried out the martyrdom of King Edmond (qv) of East Anglia in 870. He then resumed his war against Wessex, fighting nine inconclusive engagements against the Kingdom before turning over control to his brothers Halfdan ‘Wide Embrace’ and Ubbi, who made peace.
Ivar then left Britain for Scotland where he joined Olaf ‘the White’ for a joint attack against the Scott’s. Together they captured the long impregnable Citadel at Dumbarton Rock and occupied Strathclyde, filling a fleet of 200 ships with booty and slaves. Ivar then allegedly seized power over the Viking city of Dublin, in Ireland. The Scottish King Arthgal was taken to Dublin to be ransomed, but later executed at the request of his son Rhun. Ivar remained in Dublin until his death there as a rich man in 873, (though some claim he actually drowned in 878).

Nationality: Saxon Period: Conquest Aka:

Saxon King, rival and then ally of Aella. He was elected in favor of Aella, then fought a civil war against him. When the Vikings Great Army arrived in 867 AD, Osbert joined forces with Aella to defeat them. Initiatlly successful, the combined army chased the Vikings back to their base at York, but they rallied there, killed Osbert and captured Aella who was later executed in infamous manner.

Rolf ‘the Ganger’ (Rolf the Walker)
Nationality: Norse Period: Conquest Aka: Rollo, Gongu-Hrolf,
Rolf Ragnvaldsson, (baptized
as ‘Robert’)
Considered a ne’er-do-well pirate and an outlaw by the Norse, Rolf rose to fame by his numerous victories in raids upon foreign lands across the North sea, especially France, where he was granted the town of Rouen and the nucleus of what became the province of Normandy by Charles the Simple and proved himself to be an able leader and administrator.
Rolf was said to be so stout that no horse could carry him, so that he had to walk everywhere. Outlawed in 900 AD by King Harald I Finehair of Norway for stealing cattle, he joined a Vikingeleg which plundered Northern Germany, Frisia, Britain, Scotland and France for many years. After a series of riverine raids up the Seine and the Loire, Rolf began to launch more ambitious expeditions in France. He was barely prevented from totally destroying Paris by King Charles III ‘The Simple’, and fought another major battle against him near Chartes.
Charles finally opened negotiations with Rolf, and they signed the treaty of St Claire Sur Epte in 911 AD, in which Rolf and his Vikingeleg were granted the City of Rouen and part of the district of Nuestria, which later became the powerful Duchy of Normandy.
Legend has it that when this treaty was nearly completed, Rollo was informed of the standard practice of the requirement of kissing the kings foot. At first refusing in disbelief, after being explained that the act was considered a vital gesture which could not be foregone, he finally ordered a henchman to perform the act. The henchman approached the King, but rather than stoop to kiss the royal foot, grabbed the Charles by his ankle and raised it so high that he fell off his throne.
Rolf made his son Robert ‘Longsword’ Duke of Normandy in 927 AD (before his death), thus founding the Norman Dynasty.

“The four tribes who had been forced to pay tribute to the Varangians drove them back beyond the sea, refused to pay further tribute, and set out to govern themselves. But there was no law among them, and tribe rose against tribe, and they began to war one against the other. They said to themselves “Let us seek a prince who may rule over us, and judge us according to custom.” They then went overseas to the Varangians, to the Rus. These particular Varangians were known as Rus, just as some are known as Swedes, or Normans and Angles, and still others Gotlanders, for thus they were named. The Chuds, the Slavs, the Kriviches and the Ves then said to the Rus, “Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it, come reign as princes, rule over us.” Three brothers, with their kinfolk, were selected. They brought with them all the Rus and migrated.”
Russian Primary Chronicle
Nationality: Norse (Swedish) Period: Conquest Aka: Rorik

Founder of a Russian ruling dynasty which lasted until the 16th century, Rurik is believed to be the individual most responsible for consolidating Norse power in Russia. He made Novgorod the citadel of the Varangians or Rus, and reportedly founded the town of Lagoda in 862 AD. After his death Ruriks heirs moved the Norse / Rus capital again, this time to Kiev which became the nucleus of a powerful mercantile state called the ‘Kieven Rus’.
There is some debate about the record of the Russian Primary Chronicle, some historians believe the legend of Rurik in particular is a self serving myth invented by the Rus themselves, some calling into question his ethnicity as Norse or even the very existence of Rurik as an historical figure. Yet there is archeological evidence of the foundation of a Norse settlement near Lagoda in the 9th century, which has tended to lend more credence to the traditional version of his saga. Nevertheless, even more so than the other infamous Vikings of his time, Rurik remains a figure largely shrouded in mystery.

Skoglar Toste
“But Ulf has taken three danegelds in England. The first with Toste, the second with Thorkel, the third with Canute the Great.”
Inscription on a runestone in Vallentuna, near Stockholm
Nationality: Swedish Period: Conquest Aka: Skagul, Skauglar

A famous Swedish Viking, he is mentioned in the Hemiskringla Saga and was said to be one of the first to claim Danegeld in 970 AD. Alleged by some sources to be father of Gunnhilda aka Sigrin the Haughty.

"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:28 pm 
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Viking Ships:
All Norse ships of the Viking Age had some common characteristics:

1) Their hulls were clinker-built, with overlapping strakes built up from a sturdy but shallow keel. As a result they were slightly flexible, making them generally sleek and fast in the water.

2) They had a steerboard, or sidemounted rudder, at the rear on the starboard side of the ship.

3) They were all open boats with high prows and sterns, and lacking cabins.

4) They all had oars, and could operate by sail, by sail and oars, or by oar-power alone.

5) They were all built with only one mast (which could be lowered) featuring a rectangular sail with a crossbeam at the top.

The term Drakkar or ‘Dragon ship’ was a general expresion which could be applied to all longships when fitted with a dragon head at the prow, but is most applicable in reference to the largest ship or ships of the fleet. The term ‘Orm’ meaning serpent was used more or less interchangeably with Drakkar for Dragon.

The very longest Viking longships, built in the 10th - 12th century. These were up to 150’ feet long and could accommodate as many as 35 pairs of rowers. With very large sails, the Drakkar or Busee could reach phenomenal speeds under sail with a following wind. Olaf Tryggvassons “Ormen Lange” (‘Long Serpent’) was a Drakkar. Some literary sources also use the term Busse for this largest class of longships. Few ships of this size existed during the Viking Age and only the most powerful kings ever built them, some historians question how efficient vessels of this size actually were, but a recent experiment with a very large longship seems to have proven them wrong. There also seems to be evidence that verly large ships of nearly identical type, called Sud, continued to be built in the Medieval period until Longships were finally abandoned as a class in the 15th century. 100’-150’ long

Skeid (Skeide)
The most common type of Longships normally in use from the late Awakening through the Conquest and Assimilation periods. A powerful warship with at least 20-30 pairs of oars, and with a length to width ratio approaching the ideal 7 to 1, and extremely fast and maneuverable ship. Primarily a coastal vessel, but capable of open sea travel. One recovered example at Roskilde had been built in Ireland before traveling to Denmark. 70’ –100’ long (16 – 20m) x 4-5 m broad. Cargo capacity 13-20 tons up to 38 tons for 25m Hedeby ship

Smaller, less glamorous type of Longship used both by Vikings and by peoples in the Baltic, probably primarily as a troop transport. Snorri Sturlason uses the term "Vendelsnekke" in one saga implying that the Wends may have used this type of vessel. 50’ long.

Intermediate Ships

Karfi (Karvi)
Gostadt and Oseborg ships were Karfi. 13 to 16 pairs of oars normally. xxx

A smaller, faster sailing vessel.

Cargo Ships ‘Kaupskip’
The term Kaupskip was a generic term for Cargo ships used in this period.

Heavy deep water, long range open ocean trading vessels. Partial deck, high gunwhale. 50-60 feet long. Knarr speed (based on replicas) 6-8 knots, 10 –12 knots in a very good wind. 1.5 –2 knots upwind while tacking. Denmark to England would take 36 hours in optimal conditions. Knarrs incapable of river traffic. 35 “rooms”

Byrding (Byrthing)
A smaller more coastal vessel which could also make long ranged deep-water trips (bringing herring from Norway to Iceland for example). “10-15 rooms”

13th-14th century development of the Knarr, basically with a cut back stern and a centerpole rudder instead of a steerboard.

Other Norse ships (River boats Dugout sailboat)

Asping or Esping

Easy to disassemble an asping since the boards on these boats was sewn together not riveted and it would be as easy to sew them back on. They could then be carried around rapids or between river systems.

The aspings are of very light construction the bottom part being made of shaped dugout aspen logs with stretched sides as thin as 4mm.

A small 20’ boat with two pairs of oars and a tiller. Normally carries four people, the steersman, two rowers, and one extra passenger, or a small amount of cargo. Faering (a saxon term) cost about half as much as a good horse. This type of boat was used for coastal use in fair weather, primarily in rivers, fjords, lakes, harbors and other protected waters. The fearing has a tiller and high sides, and though it is primarily a rowboat, it also has a small sail but no keel. Lacking a keel means it is prone to slip or give leeway and can fairly easily capsize without a steady hand on the tiller, and functionally can only sail downwind.

Two fearings were found at the gosktad ship burial along with the big ship.

Ships boat ‘afterboat’, usually towed behind a larger ship.

European, Arab and Byzantine ships

Byzantine & Arab ships

Public domain image, a Dromon from a Byzantine Fresco

127’ long x 18’ wide, 20’ fore and aft castle plus mid-castle, 200 rowers, 30 crew, 60 soldiers, 2 banks of oars, 100 oars, 2 masts, 10 knots. Dromon means ‘runner’ in Greek. Originally used with Greek Fire projectors (like primitive flame throwers) they had oars as well as two sails, the forward sail allowed the ship to sail cross wind. The center ‘castle’ was built near the main mast.


European ships

Hanseatic Cog (Kogge)
A cog was a short, tubby vessel suitable for short mercantile trips or as platform for missiles and later artillery. Had a sterpost rudder centered in the back of the ship rather than a steer board (steering oar). Forcastle, Stern Castle, Top castle (fortified crows nest). Hanseatic League (sidebar?)

Small Cog 45-75’ long, 18’-25’ wide, 8’ fore and aft ‘castles’, 8-30 crew, 30-70 ton cargo capacity,

Large Cog 80-100’ long, 25’-30’ wide, 12’-15’ fore and aft ‘castles’, 40-80 crew, 100-300 tons cargo capacity

Frisian Hulk Early example (Utrecht ship) from 800 AD. Early versions similar to Cog, later version had two and more masts.

Hebridian Brilin ... galley.php

Nef (aka ‘Roundship’) type of ship used in England and German Europe. Similar to Knarr or Karvi. Side rudder, later a sternpost.

Coracle Irish ship made with wooden frame, wicker structure, and hide covering.

Info on some ships and ship warfare from another game ... _guide.htm

Ship Navigation and Sailing
Related Skills: Rowing, Ship Piloting, Sailing, Astronomy, Navigation

Maritime Navigation Turn (detail)

Seneschals Phase
To conduct a Navigation turn, the Seneschal must first determine the district in which the players are traveling. Based on the district, the Seneschal then rolls dice to determine the weather conditions (including weather, visibility, and wind direction, and then secretly, a check for hazards). The Seneschal must roll for weather conditions each Navigation turn.

The duration of a Navigation turn depends on the districts regional weather class, eight hours for Mild or Calm districts, six hours for Moderate, four hours for Stormy, and only two hours for Wild.

The Seneschal may then roll for a possible random encounter.

Navigators Phase
The player designated as Navigator then rolls to determine position and bearing. On a night turn the Navigator may also make an Astronomy roll to gain a bonus in this attempt. Next, the Navigator and any designated lookouts make visibility checks, including rolls to find enemy ships (if any) Hazards (if any) and to find a Harbor (if desired).

Pilots Phase
The player designated as Pilot determines an intended course and sets sails (deciding if sails are to be set, and if so how much). The Pilot then makes a piloting or sailing roll (depending if the sail is up or if the ship is traveling under oar power). The TN is based on the Weather Table. If a Hazard is indicated, an extra sailing or piloting roll is made in order to avoid the hazard.

Movement Phase
The Seneschal determines the ship speed based on Sails set, and current weather conditions. Travel distance is computed by taking the speed in knots and multiplying it by the number of hours in the turn. A new position is plotted using this travel distance and the course bearing, and the Seneschal determines if the ship or fleet has remained in the current district or moved into a new one.

Maritime Navigation Turn (summary):

Seneschals phase:
Seneschal announces time of day
Seneschal rolls for weather, visibility, and wind direction
Seneschal (secretly) rolls for Hazards
Navigators phase:
Navigator rolls for Position and Bearing
Navigator rolls visibility checks:
Navigator rolls for Hazards
Navigator rolls for Harbor (if desired)
Pilots phase:
Ship Pilot determines course and sets sails
Ship Pilot makes a Piloting or Sailing roll
(Seneschal determines ship damage and / or catastrophic events, if any)
Movement phase:
Ship speed is determined based on current weather
Travel distance computed (speed in knots times number of hours)
New position is plotted using distance and bearing

Table 1.1 Districts
District Regional Weather Class Prevailing Winds Range of Tides Hazards Coast / Harbors Rivers Size Culture
North Brittany Stormy North 21 feet
Normandy Moderate East 10 feet
English Channel Wild West 5 feet
Irish Sea Moderate
Baltic Moderate
East Jutland Moderate


Placid: Much of the Med, Black Sea, Caspian Sea check every 8 hours
Mild: Parts of the Atlantic, Parts of the Med check every 8 hours
Moderate: Most of the Atlantic check every 6 hours
Stormy: North Atlantic, Baltic Sea, North Sea check every 4 hours
Wild: Cape of Good Hope check every 2 hours

Weather Table table 1.2
Regional Weather Class (add +1 to die roll in Spring or Fall, +2 in Winter, add +1 to die roll in open seas, -1 in harbors, bays, fjords and protected areas)
Placid Mild Moderate Stormy Wild Weather Sailing Speed Multiplier Piloting DC Sailing DC*
Die - - - - - - - -
1 Die - - Becalmed 0 3 -
2 1 Die - - Becalmed 0 3 -
3 2 1 Die - Becalmed 0 3 -
4 3 2 1 Die Becalmed 0 3 -
5 4 3 2 1 Calm ½ 4 5
6 5 4 3 2 Calm ½ 4 5
7 6 5 4 3 Light 1 5 6
8 7 6 5 4 Light 1 5 6
9 8 7 6 5 Moderate 2 6 7
10 9 8 7 6 Moderate 2 6 7
11 10 9 8 7 Heavy 3 7 8
12 11 10 9 8 Heavy 3 7 8
- 12 11 10 9 Gale 4 8 9
- - 12 11 10 Gale 4 8 9
- - - 12 11+ Gale 4 8 9
* Assumes full sail. Half the multiplier at half sail, quarter at quarter sail etc. Round all fractions down.

Visibility Table Table 1.3
Weather conditions…
Die Roll Becalmed Calm Light Moderate Heavy Gale
1 DC 3 DC 4 DC 4 DC 5 DC 6 DC 7
2 DC 4 DC 4 DC 5 DC 5 DC 6 DC 7
3 DC 4 DC 5 DC 5 DC 6 DC 7 DC 7
4 DC 5 DC 5 DC 5 DC 6 DC 7 DC 8
5 DC 5 DC 5 DC 6 DC 7 DC 7 DC 8
6 DC 6 DC 6 DC 6 DC 7 DC 8 DC 8
7 DC 6 DC 6 DC 6 DC 8 DC 8 DC 9
8 DC 7 Haze DC 6 DC 7 DC 8 DC 8 DC 9
9 DC 8 Haze DC 7 Haze DC 8 DC 9 DC 9 DC 9
10 DC 9 Fog DC 9 Haze DC 9 DC 9 DC 9 DC 9
11 DC 10 Fog DC 10 Fog DC 10 DC 10 DC 10 DC 10
+2 to die roll for evening or morning, +2 / +4 / +8 for night time (full moon / half moon / no moon)

Wind direction
Wind direction is described by the direction it comes from. Thus a North wind means wind coming from the North blowing toward the South.

Wind Direction table

Prevailing Wind, Current Wind direction, Weather

Navigation is essentially the art of knowing where you are, where you have come from, and where you are heading. At least it is now days with GPS systems, compasses, computers, radar and sonar and a wide variety of other modern gadgets. In the Viking Age it was more about guessing where you were and where you were heading, something they were surprisingly good at.

Astronomy Check: depending on visibility, finding stars will aid in navigation. Establish tidal stage, predict high and low tide.

Navigation failure: Head in wrong bearing, Hit Hazards (rocks, reefs, shore)

Navigation aid: Periplus

+2 to Navigation roll if within sight of coast

Sidebar : Compass in Viking times?

Navigation skill tests: Finding Position, Finding Bearing, Finding Hazards, Finding a Harbor

Damage / Disasters table: Ship / Sail damage / directional control damage, Ship capsize

Sailing and Piloting

Rowing and Sailing Table Table 2.1
Speed multiplier by ship type and sailing direction
Assumes full sail. Half the multiplier at half sail, quarter at quarter sail etc. Round all fractions down.
Ship type Size Rowing Speed* Tacking / Sailing into wind** Sailing a beam of the wind** Sailing three quarters Sailing Downwind
Drekar longship Large 8 / 4 kts 1 x 1 x*** 1 x 6 x
Skeid longship Large 7 / 3 kts 1 x 1 x*** 1 x 5 x
Snekkja longship Small 6 / 3 kts 1 x 1 x*** 1 x 5 x
Karfi Large 5 / 3 kts 1 x 1 x 2 x 4 x
Skuta Small
Knarr Kaupskip Large 3 / 2 kts 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x
Byrding Kaupskip Small 2 / 1 kts 2 x 2 x 2 x 4 x
Saxon Nef Small 4 / 2 kts 1 x 1 x 1 x 4 x
Mediterranean Galley Large 6 / 2 kts 1 x 1 x 1 x 4 x
Arab Dhow Small 1 knot 2 x 3 x 3 x 3 x
Irish Curraugh Small
Byzantine Dromon Large 5 / 2 kts 2 x 2 x 3 x 3 x
Large Cog Large - 2 x 4 x 3 x 3 x
Small Cog Small - 2 x 3 x 3 x 2 x
Frisian Hulk Large -

* Sprint rowing speed / sustainable rowing speed, assuming fully manned ship, adjust speed according to crew.
** Assumes a full keel. Ships without a full keel cannot tack (sail upwind) or sail crosswind
*** Longships are three times as vulnerable to capsizing when running a beam of the wind under moderate, heavy, or gale wind conditions.

Large Ship Speed Table Table 2.2
Ship Speed by wind and speed multiplier

Speed multiplier…
Weather 1x 2x 3x 4x 5x 6x
Becalmed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Calm ½ 0 1 knots 1 knot 2 knots 2 knots 3 knots
Light 1 1 knots 2 knots 3 knots 4 knots 5 knots 6 knots
Moderate 2 2 knots 4 knots 6 knots 8 knots 10 knots 12 knots
Heavy 3 3 knots 6 knots 9 knots 12 knots 15 knots 18 knots
Gale 4 4 knots 8 knots 12 knots 16 knots 20 knots 24 knots

Small Ship Speed Table Table 2.3
Ship Speed by wind and speed multiplier

Speed multiplier…
Weather 1x 2x 3x 4x 5x 6x
Becalmed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Calm ½ 1 knot 1 knot 1 knot 2 knots 2 knots 3 knots
Light 1 2 knots 3 knots 4 knots 5 knots 6 knots 8 knots
Moderate 2 3 knots 6 knots 9 knots 12 knots 15 knots 18 knots
Heavy 3 3 knots 4 knots 6 knots 8 knots 10 knots 12 knots
Gale 4 1 knots 2 knots 3 knots 4 knots 5 knots 6 knots

Crew and Cargo table Table 2.4
Ship Cargo and Passenger capacity
Ship type Crew Soldiers, passengers or Marines Draught Ballast Cargo capacity
Drakaar giant longship 80 120 3 feet 8 ton 8 tons
Skeid longship 60 100 3 feet 4 tons 4 tons
Snekkja small longship 40 80 2 feet 2 tons 2 tons
Skuta Yacht: 35 30 4 feet X tons X tons
Karfi Yacht
Knarr kaupskip: 12 24 5 feet 10 tons 10 tons
Byrding (coastal trader) 6 12 4 feet 5 tons 5 tons
Saxon or German Nef 6 feet
Frisian Hulk
Mediterranean Galley 120 (80 rowers) 30 5 feet
Arab Dhow 6 feet
Irish Curraugh
Byzantine Dromon 230 60 6 feet - 5 tons
Small Cog 10 25 6 feet 30 tons 30 tons
Large Cog 40 40 8 feet 50 tons 50 tons

Provisions (amount (in fractions of a tons) of water and food per day per crewman, minimal and normal, (how much is a ton?),

Travel Distances:
Denmark to England 1.5 - 3 days,
Stad Norway to Horn, Iceland (1,000 nautical miles) 7 –14 days.

Nautical terms

Beating: Going toward the direction of the wind by alternate tacks, sailing crosswind

Heeling: when a vessel leans over to one side from the pressure of the wind when under sail. Longships were very vulnerable to being capsized when wind is from abeam, and have to avoid this condition.

Leeway: Being blowin in the direction of the wind while trying to sail crosswind.

Tacking: maneuver by which the ship beats to windward, usually by running up and down cross wind, perpendicular to the intended direction.

Hogging: When the pressure of the sea causes the bow and stern to droop and the ship is in danger of breaking its back (particular threat to longships)

Bailing: Removing water that has seeped in or washed over the edges of the ship. Routine in all Norse ships which were leaky, critical in storms and foul weather..

Diekplou: Greek (byzantine) term, ramming maneuver traditionally used by rowed galleys (and related vessels) in the Med going back to ancient Greek times, whereby the attacking ship shears off the oars of the enemy ship without losing their own, thus leaving the enemy dead in the water.

Hudfat Leather sleeping bag during night, storage bag during day, for use on boats.

Havskip (knarr)

Langskip (longship)

Ship Combat
Until the invention of the multi-masted, multi-sailed ships of the late Renaissance, (and to a large extent even afterward) ancient ships of war were always rowed by oars. From the Greeks and Phoenicians with their Biremes and Triremes, through the Pax-Romana when Legionnaires rowed into battle in the mighty Quinquireme, through the Medieval period and even the Renaissance, the dominant warship of the Mediterranean was the one form or other of the basic war galley .
Though sailing ships had existed for eons, and sails were in fact the preferred means of locomotion over long distances, sail power alone was simply not efficient enough to provide the acceleration or agility needed in combat, especially in this period where most sails could not effectively beat across the wind, meaning that they were dependent on the wind direction. The war galley was the ‘sports car’ of maritime travel. Its essential form was basically established well before the birth of Christ, and remained in many ways functionally unchanged for nearly 1700 years.
Generally smaller and lacking some of the military features of Mediterranean galleys, (such as artillery, forecastles, and rams) Norse ships were among the fastest rowed boats in the world during the Viking Age. Like most ocean going vessels of this period, Viking ships did also have sails for long distance travel, but these were basic square rigged sails hanging from a single mast, and were ineffective at any kind of quick maneuvering and relatively inefficient for sailing into the wind.
The Vikings built a variety of different types of ships, but the most important weapon in the entire Viking arsenal was the Viking longship. This was simply one of the most efficient amphibious naval vessels in the world in its time: capable of very high speeds, highly stable, and perhaps most importantly shallow drafted enough to be eminently suitable for entry into bays, inlets, and rivers inaccessible to other ships. They were easy to beach maneuverable in the shallows, and smaller examples could even be portaged, despite being equally competent in the open ocean.

Gaming naval actions, part 1: Gaming the pursuit
Naval encounters in the Viking Age were often unevenly matched, and thus frequently involved a chase with one ship or group of ships attempting to overtake another. This can be simulated in an abstract manner by a simple dice pool contest between pursuer and pursued. This is a simple system which can add considerable drama and immersion to a campaign, without getting either the players or the Seneschal bogged down into details.
The pursuit is handled in an abstract manner rather than plotting out ship positions on a map. The pool for each ship (or group of ships) is determined by ship type and the number of rowers. The TN is set by the Seneschal based on the situation, though guidelines for the most standard circumstances are listed in a table below. Each maritime action turn represents 10 minutes, and each success of a pursuer means the pursuing vessel has encroached by one bowshot per success margin.

1 Roll initial Pursuit Distance (first turn only)
2 Roll Escape Distance (first turn only)
3 (Optional: Check for wind, weather and tide)
4 Apply all pool modifiers including crew fatigue and wind if applicable
5 Determine Pools (first turn only)
6 Roll for escape and pursuit.
7 Combat: Conduct missile fire, artillery, ramming and boarding attempts (if in range)
8 Mark a completed turn
9 Check time and adjust Escape Distance for twilight or nightfall if necessary

Gaming Escape Distance
Escape Distance is basically a function of visibility and /or accessibility. Once a ship or group of ships is out of sight and / or unreachable it may be considered at least temporarily safe from attack. Escape Distance can mean a lot of different things depending on the circumstances. Before conducting any kind of ship pursuit or ship combat, the Seneschal should carefully consider the types of the ships involved, (both pursuing and pursed), the time of day, the nature of the surrounding terrain, if any, and the weather and sea conditions (regardless of whether these are actually being gamed or not).
The first general method of escaping pursuit is to reach an area which is inaccessible to pursuers. A sailing ship fleeing from a galley or drakaar might make for deeper water and rougher seas, or even for a distant storm cloud, to escape less seaworthy rowed vessels which are more likely to flounder in a heavy chop. A ship with a shallow draught, like most Viking ships, may head for an inlet, an estuary (or up a river), for a sand bar, or through reefs, or other navigational hazards (in the latter case the captain(s) must make navigational rolls, see the Navigational TN table above). Fleeing into shallower water was actually a classic tactic of Vikings in many historical battles.
The changing tide, again whether gamed or not, can transform a given area into a dangerous shallows where one ship or group of ships might run aground while another can still make-way. Galleys from Classical times onward would even beach themselves backward (ideally on friendly shores where reinforcements are available) to avoid being rammed and boarded. Many ships were saved from destruction by numerically superior fleets in this manner.

The other primary way to escape pursuit, and therefore the second general method of reaching Escape Distance, is to get out of sight. In open seas this can simply mean getting beyond a certain distance in conditions of limited visibility, or in more desperate circumstances, reaching a solid fog - bank (which is dangerous!). Closer to the coast, escaping by getting out of sight can simply mean disappearing around the next bend in the coastline. Changing light conditions brought on by nightfall or the onset of heavy cloud-cover can also dramatically reduce effective visibility.

The Seneschal should weigh all relevant factors and decide upon what constitutes Escape Distance for any and all ships involved in a pursuit before actually beginning any naval action. Also note, a ship must be at least three bowshots away from a pursuer in order to escape, except under conditions of near zero visibility (night time, heavy fog etc.)

Example of Starting a Naval Pursuit:
At two o-clock in the afternoon, a Byzantine trireme with 120 rowers surprises a 28 bench Viking Drakaar (56 rowers) sitting at anchor in a broad Bay. The opening distance is determined by rolling D10 x 3, the result is a 5 for a total of 15. The initial distance is therefore 15 bowshots. The escape distance is rolled (D10 x 6), the result coming up a 4 for 24 bowshots .

The Byzantine ship gets 8 dice in their pool (1 per 15 rowers), the Drakaar gets 7 (1 per , the TN is a standard six. The Viking ship also had to weigh anchor and get underway, so the Viking captain loses 2 pool from his first die roll. His initial roll is 5 dice. The Byzantine captain rolls 5 successes, the Viking captain gets 2 successes. The success margin is 3, so Byzantine Galley has closed the distance from 15 to 12 bowshots in the first turn as the Viking longship is frantically launched and brought about. The two successes also means the Viking ship has reduced the Escape distance from 24 to 22 bowshots.

It’s now 2:30 in the afternoon, a weather roll is made (this is optional, see below), and then the next turn is played. The real chase can now begin, as the Viking ship heads for a turn in the coastline before being overtaken by the larger pursuing warship.

A pursuit will continue until the ships come within bow range (see below) and finally ramming and / or boarding takes place, or until one ship escapes the other(s) by reaching Escape Distance*, or when the rowers of the pursuing vessel become exhausted, or weather or nightfall reduces the Escape Distance to zero and makes further pursuit impossible. (For more on Escape Distance see Gaming Escape Distance above). The Escape Distance is rolled by the defender (or Seneschal) at the same time that the initial Pursuit Distance (or Starting Distance) is rolled by the attacker (or Seneschal).
In a more narrow bay or estuary, the Seneschal may rule that the inland ship or ships are at a disadvantage to escape, because of the limits on maneuvering due to the confines of their position. This penalty remains in effect until the disadvantaged vessel reaches the escape distance. When gaming a pursuit, it can help to use graph paper or even a ruled sheet of paper to track the relative distances (pursuit and escape).

Setting Sail
Setting sail can help increase speed for a long chase where direction change is infrequent, but is risky in combat.

Advanced pursuit rules
Elements such as Wind Direction and Tides can come into play

Common Strategies
If using the optional Artillery and Bowfire rules, a ship with heavy artillery and a lot of archers may attempt to stay within bow range without boarding for as long as possible, to inflict the maximum possible damage from it’s ranged weapons before finishing off the enemy in a boarding action. A ship with Greek fire or a ram will usually attempt to get within close range for a crippling attack, after which an immobile enemy vessel can be destroyed at leisure. A ship which lacks a great deal of artillery or ramming equipment, like a Viking ship, will either flee, (if outnumbered) or attempt to grapple and board as quickly as possible to get the most advantage of any potential advantage in heavy infantry.

Gaming naval actions, part 2: Gaming the fight
Once pursuit has been successful, the fight begins.
Naval combat starts with artillery (siege engine) and bow-fire, and proceeds to ramming and finally boarding actions. Boarding actions are handled by a modified version of the mass combat system (see below).

Ship Strength Pool
A ships strength is determined by its base size plus its rowing pool, see the table “Sailing Pool and Ship Strength Pool” below.

Artillery (optional)
Artillery can be handled as part of combat once boarding has taken place, or separately before combat as described here.

Some types of heavy artillery can fire from beyond bow range. These special attacks are conducted separately at the appropriate range distance. Otherwise artillery attacks are done in conjunction with bowfire (below).

Bowfire (optional)
Like artillery, bowfire can be handled as part of shipboard combat once boarding has taken place, or separately before combat as described here.

While artillery can affect both crew and ship structure, bow-fire affects only the crew of a ship and not the structure of the ship itself. “Bow fire” actually includes bows, crossbows, and even javelins, thrown axes, rocks, and other thrown weapons. Volleys are done by type in order of maximum range, the total number of each weapon type in range is counted, and the attack dice are rolled, and any damage to the enemy ships crew is calculated.

Historically, bows have the greatest range but the increasingly powerful crossbows eclipsed them in popularity because they were more accurate, easier to aim and did more damage.

One ratio of archers in Viking crews given in an historical document was one archer for every six crew.

Ramming Maneuver
Once in ramming range, the attacker may makes a contested maneuver roll to Ram, while the defender has the option of attempting an evasion maneuver. As with all maneuvers, both captains may apply their ship piloting skill bonus. If the attacker wins the contest, the defenders ship has been rammed. If the defender wins, they have evaded the attack and may apply all successes toward increasing the distance between the two ships, and toward reaching their own Escape Distance.

In the event of a tie, the attacker has rammed and ramming damage is calculated as normal, but the ships are locked together and must now share their fate.

Ramming Damage
The total number of successes from the ramming roll are now added to the structural strength for the attacking vessel, plus 2 points if the attacking ship has a ramming spur, 3 points if the for an (underwater) wooden ram, or 5 points for a bronze or copper ram. The attacker then subtracts the structural strength of the defender, and the result is the ramming damage.

This damage is applied to the structural strength of the defending ship, to the crew (and the maneuvering pool), and to the marines and archers. If the defending ship is at zero or below structural strength, it is now sinking. If the defending ship is at zero or below maneuvering pool it is dead in the water.

Boarding Actions
When all was said and done, most naval combat in this era ultimately came down to a brutal hand-to-hand fight. Artillery might take out some vessels, archers could kill and maim many defenders, ramming could cripple a ship or leave it dead in the water, but most often, the task still had to be finished the hard way, sword to sword. Shipboard combat is conducted using the mass combat rules. The total number of fighting crew and the fighting TN are determined (see the tables Fighting Crew Quality and Fighting Crew Type, below) and the fight is conducted as a normal mass combat, with the following exceptions:

Turns are ten minutes, as during the navigation phase, instead of one hour like normal land combat turns.

Conditions of the ship(s) must be monitored. A sinking ship will change the battle dramatically (and it is also possible to intentionally scuttle a ship)
Sea conditions including tides must be monitored.

If the alternate bow and artillery rules are being used, archers are not counted the same way (see Fighting Crew Type table)

Medical corps are not a factor in most cases of marine warfare.

The Honor of all player characters or NPC’s acting as leaders on either side is automatically added to the combat pool. As each player or major NPC dies, their Honor must be reduced from the pool.

Manuevering TN Table Table 3.1
Maneuver or Condition: Rowing TN Sail only TN
Basic Maneuvering 6 8
Attempted Ramming 7 9
Attempted Evasion Maneuver 7 9
Attempted Oar-Ramming 8 10
Attempting to close for grapple 8 9
Avoid Navigational Hazard (favorable conditions) 7 8
Avoid Navigational Hazard (difficult conditions) 8 9
Attempting to close for Greek Fire 9 9
Trapped in an inlet, estuary, or bay +1 +1
Sail up with favorable breeze * +1
Favorable / Unfavorable light breeze -1 / +1 -2 / +1
Favorable / Unfavorable strong wind -2 / +2 -3 / +1
Favorable / Unfavorable Current -1 / +1 +2 / -2
Favorable / Unfavorable Tide -1 / +1 +2 / -2
Heavy Seas +1 -
Rough Seas +3 +1
* see sailing table below)

Rowing endurance Table Table 3.2
Galleys and Warships may be rowed at full speed up to the number of turns listed below, after which they begin to suffer a loss of pool at the rate of exhaustion listed, per turn. Ships may be rowed at half speed (half rowing pool) indefinitely.

Type of Rowers No of Turns Rate of Exhaustion
Viking Professionals 4 2 pool per turn
Viking crew 3 2 pool per turn
Saxon or Frankish Professionals 2 2 pool per turn
Saxon or Frankish Slaves 1 2 pool per turn
Pirate crew 3 2 pool per turn
Other crew 1 2 pool per turn
Venetian professional crew 3 1 pool per turn
Byzantine or Moorish Professional crew (War Galley) 2 2 pool per turn
Byzantine or Moorish Professional Slaves 2 1 pool per turn
Byzantine or Moorish Slaves 1 2 pool per turn

Fully manned Viking ships often included enough extra crew and can have two complete sets of rowers. In this case, each crew can row until reaching exhaustion before the ships rowing pool begins to degrade.

Special actions Table 3.3
Maneuvering Pool penalties or Time Penalties
Action Penalty
Get underway -1 Pool
Weigh anchor and get underway -2 Pool
Launch Beached ship 1 Turn
Rescue sailor or recover object from water -2 Pool
Unfurl sails (small, square rig) -1 Pool
Unfurl sails (medium or large, square rig) -2 Pool
Unfurl sails (small, lateen rig) -3 Pool
Unfurl sails (medium, lateen rig) -4 Pool 1 Turn
Unfurl sails (large, lateen rig) -4 Pool 2 Turns

Ship Rowing Pools, by type Table 3.4
Viking Ship type Rowing Pool
Drekar (Snekkja, skeid), Viking warship: 1 pool per 8 rowers
Skuta (karfi), Viking intermediate ship: 1 pool per 10 rowers
A Viking knar (kaupskip) trading ship: 1 pool + 1 pool per 10 rowers

Enemy ship types Rowing Pool
German (Frankish, Frisian or Saxon warship 1 pool per 12 rowers
Mediterranean War Galley (Italian, Byzantine, Arabic): 1 pool per 15 rowers

Distance Table Table 3.5
(minimum Starting Distance is 3, minimum Escape Distance is 6)
Circumstances: Starting Distance: Escape Distance:
Open ocean D10 x 6 (6-60) D10 x 12 (12-120)
Coastline D10 x 4 (4- 40) D10 x 10 (10-100)
Fjords or Bays D10 x 2 (3-30) D10 x 6 (6-60)
Light Fog / Mist - (x1) - (x1)
Medium Fog - (x1) - (x2)
Heavy Fog - (x2) - (x3)
Twilight - (x1) - (x1)
Moonlit night - (x2) - (x2)
Moonless night - (x3) - (x3)

For Fog or Night Time conditions reduce the multiplier. If the multiplier is reduced to zero or below then interception is impossible, the ships will “pass in the night”.

Sailing Speed Pool and Strength Pool, by ship type Table 3.6
Ship Type Downwind Cross Wind Structural Strength Pool
Small boat, square sailed 3 Pool 2 Pool 1-2
Small boat, lateen sailed 2 Pool 3 Pool 1-2
Small Arab Dhow 4 Pool 5 Pool 3
Medium Arab Dhow 4 Pool 6 Pool 4
Large Arab Dhow (boom): 3 Pool 4 Pool 5
Irish Curraugh
Small Longship +4 Pool - 5
Small Karfi +3 Pool +2 Pool 4
Medium Longship +5 Pool - 6
Large Longship +6 Pool - 7
Medium Karfi +3 Pool +1 Pool 5
Large Karfi +4 Pool +1 Pool 6
Medium Knarr +3 Pool +2 Pool 3
Large Knarr +2 Pool +2 Pool 4
Small Mediterranean Galley +2 Pool +1 Pool 6
Medium Galley +2 Pool +1 Pool 7
Large Galley +1 Pool - 8
Cog 2 Pool 5 pool 10
Small Dromon +3 Pool +2 Pool 8
Large Dromon +4 Pool +2 Pool 12

"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones

 Post subject: Re: Rules for Ships, and Ship to Ship Combat ??
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:05 pm
Posts: 2035
Location: Estonia
On a second thought, these last two post should have been a new thread. Would have made a lot more sense.

"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones

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