Morale 3 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 28
I go into this article with my head hung low in shame. See, I tried all week to think of something for this article. Day in, day out I tried and I tried… And still, it never came to me! Like a sailor lost at sea, desperate for fresh water but all around me is the ocean… I hang my head low because I couldn’t think of another pun for morale… and for that, I’m sorry…
I guess we can get started now, but what’s the point?
Last week we talked a good bit about what can raise and lower morale, and it was all pretty helpful and beyond a few grammar mistakes I’m pleased with what we have. I think it’s easy enough to deal with, and if a DM doesn’t want to deal with it… well its optional, so that’s fine too.
As we have talked about, morale is kind of a big deal on a ship. Without a good morale, a crew is likely to mutiny… which can be understandable. How many people are willing to listen to their captain tell them to go to their certain death when they could just turn the sails around and go home. Which leads us to our topic for today.
Mutiny is bad. If you are the captain its very bad. If you are the crew, its probably been bad for a while and its an attempt to make it less bad. For a refresher, let’s see what WotC has to say:
A poorly led or mistreated crew might turn against its officers. Once per day, if a crew’s quality score is lower than 0, the captain must make a Charisma (Intimidation or Persuasion) check modified by the crew’s quality score.
If the check total is between 1 and 9, the crew’s quality score decreases by 1.
If the check total is 0 or lower, the crew mutinies. They become hostile to the officers and might attempt to kill them, imprison them, or throw them overboard. The crew can be cowed into obedience through violence, combat, or offers of treasure and other rewards.
When the DM ends the mutiny, the crew’s quality score increases by 1d4.
The two main problems I see are:
A check that can easily be passed without much difficulty, and really there are no negatives to the party if they keep the crew’s morale extremely low.
No real information about how to have a mutiny and live to tell the tale.
We are going to fix the first one by there being a mutiny whenever the Morale Score is -10. If the crew isn’t doing anything to fix the Morale at that point… well, I’d hate to be on that ship cause I’m not that strong of a swimmer.
The second one is something we can easily do and allow us to stretch those creative muscles I keep telling my group I have. But… what information can we provide that is generic enough to cover a lot of situations but still have enough specificity to help out our GMs that may not be comfortable coming up with entire mechanics in the blink of an eye?
I think we can grab inspiration from our last article as well as what WotC has written. They mention that a crew becomes hostile to officers and may “kill them, imprison them, or throw them overboard.” The crew can then be worked with via “violence, combat, or offers of treasure and other rewards”. Somehow, I imagine most tables are going to go the violence route and just kill the mutineers. But let’s get to the beginning of a mutiny.
How To Start A Mutiny
A mutiny, loosely defined, is a series of hostile actions against a ranking authority by those under them. Mutinies are caused by hostile officers, poor conditions on the ship, no pay, constantly getting lost at sea, and unfair punishments. Many ships from ye olden times, like the HMS Hermione had mutinies on them due to captains who were abusive to the crew and even some of the junior officers.
Now, depending on how the Morale Score drops, the GM will have to decide how this affects a mutiny, which the UA sort of touches on by listing out a few wants that a mutinous crew might call for like killing/imprisoning officers, treasure or other rewards. But let’s get a bit deeper into it.
Last week we listed out things that can affect the Morale Score, those are: Food, Weather, Schedule, Pay, Officers and Shore Leave.
If the crew is on half ration and they mutiny, we can easily see that translating to them demanding more food, that the ship stops at a closer island than the original destination to pick up food or something similar.
If the ship is dealing with horrible weather and the crew mutinies, this can easily be translated into them refusing to work.
If the ship is lost, the crew might decide it is the navigator/captains fault and try to have them replaced. They may call for the Captain or Navigator to step down and may even ask for a vote to be held for a new Captain or Navigator. This might result in violence if the current officers refuse to listen to them and adjust accordingly. The problem that the crew will face is that typically there were only a few people on a ship who actually knew how to navigate so there may only be one other choice of a navigator (we will create generic NPCs for junior officers that can fulfill this role at a later date).
If the crew lands on shore and aren’t paid accordingly, many will try to steal merchandise, food supplies and anything else on the ship they might be able to sell. Furthermore, many of them may refuse to sign back on with the ship and the officers will have to hire a new crew, which may take time and a lot of money.
Officers have a lot on their shoulders, and are often times forced to deal with disciplinary actions. While disciplinary actions were common(ish) we are going to make them special events for any disciplinary actions that might affect the crew’s Morale Score. This will be special events that the officers will have to deal with, and failing will affect the Morale Score.
Shore Leave doesn’t affect the Morale Score in a negative way, and such does not cause a Mutiny… though, not having shore leave may cause a mutiny by not allowing the crew time off the ship.
A poorly led or mistreated crew might turn against its officers. At the end of the day, if the crew’s Morale Score is at -10, the crew mutinies. Not all mutinies are violent, and many have a specific cause that has led to the mutiny. After a mutiny has ended, the crew’s Morale Score increases by 1d4.
A Morale Score that hits -10 due to a shortage of food rations will experience a mutiny as the crew members begin yelling and demanding more food from the Captain. Many will stop working if it continues for more than one day, as if your ship was only half-crewed, and rations will be stolen by many of the crew. If the rations aren’t increased, or an adjustment to the ship’s journey to a closer island isn’t made, the crew may become violent towards the crew.
At the end of each day of the mutiny, and the officers have done nothing towards the crew’s grievances, the captain must make a Charisma (Persuasion or Intimidation) check to keep the crew in check. The DC is equal to 15 + 1 for each day that the crew is mutinous. On a fail, the crew becomes violent.
A Morale Score that hits -10 due to bad weather will experience a mutiny as the crew refuses to work in unsafe conditions on the deck. While the crew is experiencing foul weather, they will refuse to go on deck and the ship will lose all progress for that day. Once the foul weather breaks, the Morale Score will stay at -10 and the crew will act as if their spirits were broken by the storm and the ship will only move as if half-crewed.
The spirits of the crew will remain broken, and the ship will remain to act as if half-crewed, until something increases the Morale Score by 1 to -9 or higher. Furthermore, at the end of each day, the Captain or First Mate can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check to encourage the crew. The DC is equal to 10 + 1 for each day that the ship experienced foul weather. On a fail, the crew remains listless and the ship acts as if it is half-crewed.
A Morale Score that hits -10 due to being lost will experience a mutiny as the crew demands a new Quartermaster. During this mutiny, the crew will refuse to work until they are heard and changes are made to the officers, with the ship losing all progress for that day. A junior officer, see the Quartermaster stats in Appendix D, will be demanded to take over the Quartermaster position, with the crew demanding a vote.
The Quartermaster can then spend a day ‘campaigning’ among the crew in an effort to persuade the crew to keep them as Quartermaster. At the end of the day, the Quartermaster must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check, this sets the DC for the election.
The crew will then vote and the GM will roll a d20. If the result is equal to or less than the Quartermaster’s Charisma (Persuasion) check, than the Quartermaster stays in their current position. If the result is higher than the Quartermaster’s check, than the crew votes for the junior officer to take the Quartermaster’s place. The Captain may refuse the results of the vote, in which case the Captain must make a Charisma (Persuasion or Intimidation) check. The DC equal to 10 + (20 - the Quartermaster’s Charisma check), on a fail the crew will get back to work, but the ship will act as if it is half-crewed until their Morale Score increases to -9 or higher. On a success, the crew will get back to work like normal, and the Morale Score will increase to -9.
A Morale Score that hits -10 due to the crew not being paid their proper amount will experience a mutiny as the crew demands the rest of their pay. During this mutiny, and at an island/docks when a crew is normally paid, the crew will begin stealing from the ship. The First Mate must make a Wisdom (Perception) check to notice the crew stealing from the ship, with a DC 13.
On a success, the First Mate ensures that supplies aren’t stolen, though the responsible party may become violent if the First Mate tries to bring them in for justice, use the stats of a Bandit Captain for the leader and the stats for a Bandit for the others stealing from the ship. On a failed check, the First Mate doesn’t notice the crew stealing from the ship, and the ship loses 5d20 gold pieces in supplies.
A Morale Score that hits -10 due to its officers will experience a mutiny and a violent crew demanding reparations. The crew will rise up against the officers and attack them, trying to kill them, throw them overboard or imprison them below decks. The crew is lead by a leader, use the stats of a Bandit Captain, and the leader is accompanied by 1d10 crew, use the stats of a Bandit.
If the leader is killed or incapacitated, the rest of the supporters will surrender. The Captain must then make a Charisma (Persuasion or Intimidation) check to cow the rest of the crew to prevent any other mutinies with a DC equal to 10 + the number of crewmen killed in the mutiny. On a success, the crew will quiet down and return to duties, their Morale Score increases to -9. On a fail, the crew will return to their duties and the ship will act as if it is half-crewed. Every day after that, while the Morale Score remains at -10, there is a 50% chance that another uprising will occur on the ship.
And that is our mutinies! The GM may have to change a few things around, but this gives them a system to work with to help the crew express their dissatisfaction with the officers and the situations in place. This week I am going to be skipping writing up an encounter just due to running out of time, but I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive and not mutiny against me!
As a side note, some of the DCs may be a little confusing, let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll clarify where I can! While it all makes perfect sense to me, I want to make sure that this is understandable by more than just myself.
Also, to get you excited for next week… reading up on mutinies gave me a great idea for our island we discovered 3 weeks ago… Muhahahahhaha!