Resources / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 23

Resources / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 23

Now, last week I ended the article by saying we were going to tackle my Moby Dick this week… Resource Management… and I’m sure you were super excited to manage the minutea of resources for hours and hours on end, and find the best ways to maximize cargo and really, do you need all those humans eating all your supplies? Maybe get rid of some of the crew and make the stronger ones work a bit more, that should open up more bunking room for more cannons and pack in a bit more sugar!

But, no. We aren’t going to be tracking the tiny little resources for the best effect on the ship as there is more than just us at the table. Most people, as far as I can tell, aren’t really up to counting every grain of rice or ensuring that they are getting every inch of their hold fill to the brim with precious resources or booty. But, that’s fine. My goal for this is to create a resource management system that will have enough depth that the resource minded players will have something to keep track of and the other players can intermittently interact with it… or maybe the GM just hand waves the resource management rules. It’s their table, they’ll know if their players are into tracking rations and other things.

Nom Nom Nom

The problem with going out to sea is that there is very little land out there (citation needed) for needed food supplies. Also, very little fresh, non-salty water for you to drink out there (citation needed).

This means we are going to have to think about food resources and how we can replenish food stuff on board… luckily, there are a lot of fish out in the ocean just waiting to be caught!

When you go out to sea, you need a lot of food for your sailors, according to this record of a sailing ship in the 1600s, you’d need a little less than 7 lbs of food per sailor per day… and I assume those in charge got a bit more as those things tend to happen plus there was always food that spoiled or rats got into and many other horrible things could happen to the food. The 7lbs of food includes 2.2 pounds (1 liter) of fresh water and 2.2 pounds (1 liter) of wine, remember we have to make sure there is room on our ship for our huge amounts of fresh water we will need.

Now, the warship our players will have access to has a capacity for 40 crew members, this does not include any passengers and we can assume that the party will make up part of the crew. This means we are going to need about 280 pounds of food per day for our crew to eat so that their morale stays at somewhat approving, and don’t worry… one day we are going to talk morale!

280 lbs of food is going to be a lot, but our warship has a cargo capacity of 200 tons! That’s a lot of weight it can carry around! If all we have is 40 crew members and fill the cargo with just food, we are looking at 1,428 days of food rations!

Small Problem With That

Our cargo isn’t going to be just food supplies. We need ammo, we need weapons, we need the spoils of war, we need supplies for the ship and we need to think about how much weight the crew adds to the ship. See, 40 men times 200 lbs gets us to 4 tons of weight. People weigh a lot, and that is something to be concerned by, there have been reports of ships sinking when there are too many people on board.

But I think we are going to get bogged down in the seaweeds if start calculating the weight of the crew plus any personal items they have on them and how much of this or that we have on board. See, I’d like this resource management thing to be fun, not homework. Let’s go ahead and assume that when WotC refers to carry capacity, they truly mean that the ship’s supplies and crew are accounted for how much it can carry… otherwise, we are never going to leave port!


So, now lets assume that our warship can carry 200 tons of cargo which is just for treasure, food, supplies, special weapons, trade goods and other miscellany. We are going to simplify things into just tons and we are going to abstract out resources into 4 main categories:

Food, Trade Goods, Treasure and Weapons/Equipment

Food is everything you need to keep your crew happy(ish) and full(ish). If you have no food, things are going to go bad for you.
Trade Goods can be anything that is of value to someone. Might be lumber, might be farm animals, could be anything. We are going to have a few subcategories for this that will be in a future post.
Treasure is the main reason someone might be interested in journeying out into the ocean where the likelihood of drowning is way higher than if you just stayed on solid ground. Treasure is anything that has little practical use, but is probably shiny and highly valued.
Weapons/Equipment is our final catch all category that will take into account siege/warfare machines, along with anything that doesn’t really fit well with the rest of the categories. I haven’t decided yet if passengers should fit in this category as people are heavy.

Now that we have our 4 categories, let’s talk about those categories will work. Food is an obvious starting point, so let’s start there.


We need food to live (citation needed), and you are going to want to make sure you carry a good portion of food with you, plus a bit extra in case the voyage is longer than you thought. For that purpose, most ships had more food than they actually needed in case the journey was longer than anticipated. Futhermore, they would stop at known islands to restock on fresh water, fresh food and to help raise the morale of the crew. Your table is going to have to figure out how they are going to afford all this food, and let’s figure out how much food might cost.

According to page 158 of the Player’s Handbook, a modest lifestyle will spend about 3 sp per day on all their meals. I think that that is a good starting point for us, now let’s times that by our crew: 120 sp or 12 gp per day.

And honestly, I was expecting a lot worse. Sure, it is going to be expensive to buy a lot of food, but it isn’t something completely unattainable. Now, that is only for 280 lbs of food and I’m not going to make players do math by the day. Instead, let’s figure out something real quick. A ton is 2,000 pounds, 2,000 divided by 280 equals about 7.14… which is really close to 7, and that is a beautiful number!

That means, in 1 week, we will need a ton of food to feed our sailors! That’s pretty good that the math somewhat worked out in our favor, and that gives us a general idea of how much food is going to cost us. 12 gp * 7 days = 84 gp per week for a ton of food. So 1 ton of food costs 84 gp. That means, our party will need to cough up 84 gp every week they are out at sea and give up a ton of cargo space for a weeks worth of food. If their journey is going to be a month long, they’ll pry want an extra week in case they get lost or a storm slows them down, which means they’ll need 5 tons of food and will need to pay 420 gp to buy it. For mid-tier adventurers, that’s nothing to sneeze at and is a good way to get them spending their gold instead of it just accumulating in their bag of holding.

Trade Goods

Next up on our list is trade goods. Trade Goods is going to be a fairly large category that encompasses a bunch of different things and in here we are going to introduce subcategories. See, Trade Goods could be food, wood, livestock, metal ore or really anything you can think of that someone wants to buy.

To keep things simple, I am going to make a few subcategories:

Food, Livestock, Metal, Wood, Spices, Finished Goods, Special

Now most of those are self explanatory, but here are a few explanations:
Spices are food flavoring and traditionally very expensive by the ton.
Finished Goods this could be rugs, finished tables, weapons, armor, etc. Anything that has been processed and turned into something else.
Special this is anything that doesn’t readily fit the other categories. This might be a the king ordering you to bring a statue or the carcass of the Kraken that was getting uppity.


While there might be very little difference at first blush between Trade Goods and Treasure, this will more likely be precious minerals, that 100,000 copper pieces (1 ton, also translates to 1,000 gp) that the dragon had in its hoard or that beautiful statue of yourself you had commissioned. Treasure is going to be a bit of weird category that could encapsulate really anything so long as you value it I suppose.


This is going to include the mangonels, ballista and even cannons that the party wants on their ship. Those weapons are heavy, and will take up a huge chunk of weight… or if the party wants to just use their wizard to cast fireball at the other ships, they could just shove them overboard and have more room for treasure!

According to this totally accurate site, a Mangonel would weigh 3 tons. That seems fairly reasonable as you can’t have too heavy of a siege weapon on the ship or you risk capsizing. So let’s go with 3 tons for the Mangonel and some ammo to go along with it.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information about just how much a ballista or a mangonel weigh. They obviously came in many different forms, and each ship had different sized weapons of each, so let’s go ahead and assume that a ballista weighs only 1 ton as it deals a little bit less damage in the UA. Which feels scientific enough!

So if our warship wants to have its two ballista and two mangonels that the stat block gives it, it will have to sacrifice 8 tons of cargo space to carry the siege engines and their respective ammo. That’s not too bad all things considered… though uh, that does mean our poor little Keelboat is over encumbered when it comes to having a ballista mounted on it as its cargo capacity is only .5 tons! And the airship is probably going to crash as it has 4 ballista and only a carrying capacity of 4 tons! That’s pretty rough, but we can work on those guys later.

Now, let’s talk cannons! According to wikipedia, the lower line cannons weighed 1.7 tons each and fired cannonballs that weighed 32 pounds. If you give the cannons just 15 shots with a cannonball and blackpowder, they are sitting nicely at 2 tons. I don’t think it is too unreasonable to have these cannons weigh in at 2 tons each.

Finally, let’s talk about the ‘equipment’ part of Weapons/Equipment. In Ghosts of Saltmarsh, there are magical upgrades you can add to your ship and I think those will count against the cargo capacity of the ship. By getting these extra things for your ship, its going to pack on some weight and we will stat those up at a later date.

In the mean time, let’s close out on this article and next week we will continue talking about resources on the high seas!


You hear a shout from the side of the ship, and looking over you see a strange blue creature, glistening in the ocean’s waves. Long fins go down their back, and pointy ears that look to be covered in scales. They wave a webbed hand, and you can see that they appear to have some sort of scaled tail instead of legs.

1. The merfolk below you waves, and holds up a large woven bag. They wish to trade with you and have brought up treasures from a ship wreck on the ocean floor. They are looking for any good strong weapons or any weird gadgets of the land. If the players wish to trade with them, they have 1d4 golden and gem encrusted cups (25 gp each), 2d4 silver plates (10 gp each) and a pair of platinum candlebras (75 gp each). If asked about the shipwreck, they just shrug and say that it is an old wreck.
2. The merfolk in the water is yelling at the ship to stop. They are close to the reefs, and the home of the merfolk. If they heed the warnings of the merfolk, they lose 2 hours of progress for the day as they are forced to take the long way around. If they dismiss the warnings of the merfolk, they slam into the coral reef an hour later and take 8d10 bludgeoning damage to their ship’s hull. DC 15 Constitution to take half on a successful save. The Merfolk with be angry with the party and refuse to conduct in any trade.
3. There are several merfolk in the water and they are wishing to trade with the ship, and have 2d4 tons of fresh fish that they are willing to trade for Trade Goods, Treasure and anything else the party has that is useful or magical.
4. The merfolk is offering a warning that there have been sightings of Merrow in the area and to be careful. Though, if the party is willing, they are offering a reward if the party is able to kill off at least 10 merrow in the surrounding ocean. If the party decides to take them up on the offer, they can lose a half day of progress as they begin searching the ocean for the merrow. The party must succeed on a DC 12 Perception check to catch sight of the merrow off in the distance, and turn their ship in that direction. Upon reaching that location, they can find a small group of Merrow have marked their territory with strands of kelp tied around dead merfolk, dolphins and other marine animals. Beneath the waves is a cave network where the Merrow have set up their own. If the party is successful in killing off 10 of the merrow, the rest will flee and the merfolk with reward them with a treasure they found on a sunken ship. Roll 1d2 times on the Magic Item Table C

Resources 2 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 24

Resources 2 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 24

Navigation 3 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 22

Navigation 3 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 22