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A Practical Guide to Ship-Stuff
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:08 pm
A Practical Guide to Ship-Stuff
What are the positions on a ship?
According to Judith, the positions available in the Imperial Navy are "bent over" and "missionary" depending on how many buttons are on your sleeves: missionary is more comfortable but you're still getting screwed. Judith is a bitter, bitter woman who hit the glass ceiling fifteen years ago and hasn't quite gotten over it.
Moving along, the positions on a ship tend to vary based on the size of the crew and the ship's commission. In smaller companies, a single person might hold more than one official capacity, such as Knocks being quartermaster and carpenter and smith (because Knocks is a type-A personality). Certain positions that are interdependent might also be combine into a single office (the carpenter might also be a cooper; a smith might also be a weaponsmaster).
Officers in the Navy are generally commissioned, not enlisted. In non-Navy vessels, however, it's quite possible that someone hard-working (or ruthless) enough could work--by which I of course mean kill--their way to an officer's rank.
Captain: Owns your ass and the asses of everyone else on this ship.
Lieutenant(s): Most lieutenants are commissioned for their posts in order to prepare them to become captains. They answer solely to the Captain, and they likewise own your ass.
Quartermaster: Sometimes the Master and Quartermaster are separate positions, sometimes not. In any case, the Master deals with the physical course of directing the ship, deciding how and where the ship will actually go, and so may also serve as a navigator. May also be in charge of keeping the ship's books.
Bosun: Deals with the actual workaday running of the ship. Most specialists on a ship will report directly to the Bosun. Is also in charge of handling discipline amongst the crew. Usually the Bosun is selected from the most senior and reliable of enlisted men aboard a ship, which in practical terms means it’s possible to “work one’s way up” to Bosun. Anyone caught calling the bosun a boatswain will receive thirty lashes. Bosuns may also have a mate of their own, who delivers the Bosun’s orders to the crew and who may also function as a snitch. Feel free to call the bosun's mate any name that comes to mind.
Cabin Boy: Usually a very young low-ranking crew member who acts as a personal servant to an officer.
Carpenter: Does all the carpentry aboard the ship, including the hull itself, which is not so easy to handle when you’re in the water. Like the gunner, the carpenter may have a small crew at his/her command.
Caulker: Caulks seams for the ship, and is required to constantly monitor all seams for soundness.
Cook: Prepares meals for the crew. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it?
Cooper: Builds and repairs crates and barrels for storage of ship’s supplies. May be part of the Carpenter’s crew.
Deckhand: A sailor that works on the decks. Supervised by a Deckmaster, who has mastered the decks. Those decks can't do diddly without his say-so.
Gunner (and his/her mates, if any): The gunner is in charge of ship’s artillery and usually answers to the Quartermaster rather than the Captain. S/he will likely have a small crew of his/her own.
Helmsman: The person who, um, mans the helm, obviously. It is the dude who steers the ship. Your ship is going to have more than one of these, some of whom are called upon for different tasks, such as steering through shallow water or getting a ship to dock.
Purser: In charge of managing ship’s provisions such as food and clothes. These are the guys who will be docking your pay if you need anything from the ship’s stores.
Sailmaker: Repairs and maintains the sails. In the Aquitainean Navy, this position is referred to informally as “the ship’s spider” and many sailmakers are nicknamed “spider.” This fact provided by the Superfluous Council.
Ship’s Boy: A very young non-ranking crewman, usually on his first voyage, who functions as a gofer for any of the other crew members. They’re the ones who’ll be fetching your tea on the Middle Watch.
Smith: Like your life isn't in enough danger, there's some dude with a forge on board. A smith in this capacity would repair chains and other metal odds and ends on the ship; he would also repair weapons, including the ship's cannons.
Surgeon (and his/her mates, if any): The surgeon of a ship is normally hired, rather than enlisted, and he’s usually kept out of combat circumstances and doesn’t work regular watches, for obvious reasons.
Topsman: A sailor that works in the riggings. This position is usually reserved for experienced hands only, because you can fall and hit your head and die and your brains would splatter all over. And then they'd have to swab the deck again.
Weaponsmaster: Handles small arms (pistols, swords, etc) as opposed to artillery (which would be the gunner's job) and keeps a log of who has what weapon at any given time. Keeps the key to the weapon's locker and makes sure the weapons are in good condition.
What do you mean by a rank?
Non-commissioned, enlisted men gain rank with experience. There’s no set age or number of years after which you climb the ranks; it’s all to do with how good you are and (more than partially) how well you take orders and assimilate yourself with your fellow crewmen--although there is a sort of unofficial point after which you are considered hopeless and will be asked to leave the crew if you haven't proven yourself worthy of promotion. The ranks are:
Mariner: A sailor with experience at every station of a ship. It’s hard to find a mariner seaman still working on deck, as usually they get promoted to specialist positions.
Able Seaman: Experienced seamen, and also likely to be men who have proven themselves handy with specialised work. Lang, though she is called the ship’s gunner, would be ranked Able due to lack of experience outside of the gun deck.
Ordinary Seaman: Your average seaman. Most members of a crew would be considered “ordinary” after one year at sea. Starling is ranked Ordinary.
Junior Seaman: Consists mostly of the youngest members of the crew or men who have never sailed before. Jochy, to Starling’s everlasting amusement, is a Junior.
Are ranks in the Navy different from ranks on a ship?
Yes. Some of the names of Naval ranks in Aquitaine reflect this difference. For example, Judith and Renaud are captains aboard their individual ships, but in the hierarchy of the Imperial Navy, Renaud is a Grand Commandeur, while Judith is merely a Commandeur.
The Naval Ranks for the Empire of Aquitaine are as follows:
Amiral: Your orders come direct from the Emperor himself. It is your duty to determine how to best designate manpower and ships to serve the Empire’s purposes. You generally have a great deal of practical ship experience, including combat experience. You are a very, very big deal and have a lot of tassels and things on your jacket. Rock out with your bad self.
Vice-Amiral: Generally, you disseminated the Amiral's orders and settle disputes between all officers who rank below you. Which is practically everyone.
Grand Commandeur: You get to tell all the Commandeurs in your jurisdiction what they’re doing wrong. When an Imperial order comes down from the admiralty, the Grand Commandeur determines how best to implement it amongst the other acting officers under his command. Grand Commandeurs tend to be assigned by geographical location, meaning that the men they command will frequently change.
Commandeur: You have both an idea of how a ship is run and the ability to tell people how to run it. The difference between you and a Lieutenant Commandeur is combat experience: you have commanded a ship during times of war and/or a direct attack. From this description it may seem that the commandeur serves the only practical purpose in the whole Navy. Commandeur ni Dowd assures me that they do.
Lieutenant Commandeur: Actual sailors resent your presence, since usually the only purpose you serve is to observe and enforce Imperial protocol that may or may not have any bearing on practical seamanship.
Lieutenant du mérite: So you’ve graduated from Académie. Congratulations! You can actually go on a boat and order people around! You may have no idea how a ship is actually run, but you know everything in the rulebook and people still have to call you “sir.”
Enseigne Premiere: Ensign First-Class. Enseignes who have passed their Académie exams. Their actual job? To tutor the Enseignes Deuxieme through their courses. Seriously. It’s on the books. For more practical purposes, they're learning largely refining their knowledge of naval rules and protocol.
Enseigne Deuxième: Ensign Second-Class. What you are when you’re no longer a midshipman but you still haven’t passed your classes at Académie. Essentially, this is a title that gets the older midshipmen out of the way to make room for new ones.
Aspirant (Midshipman): A midshipman is a very young officer, usually under the age of twenty (but older than thirteen) who is in training to become an officer. This is the position into which rich Imperial families with a Naval background generally push their second sons. They wield no real power, but enlisted men still have to call them “Mister,” even if the midshipman is thirty years younger than they are.
What do you do with a drunken sailor?
What can’t you do with a drunken sailor?
|Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:21 am
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:08 pm
Re: A Practical Guide to Ship-Stuff
What the hell is a watch?
A watch is a four-hour period in which a sailor will be on deck performing actual prescribed duties.
Wait, does that mean my character only works four hours a day?
You wish. The watches rotate. Your character will work a four-hour watch, have eight hours off, then be back on deck for another four hours. In theory, one third of the crew is on deck at all times. Several times in game, a reduced number of crew has meant that the watches go to one-in-twos, meaning that everyone works two watches in a row. In emergency situations, there might be a call for all-hands, which means everyone’s on deck and ready for action for however long it takes until the crisis passes.
When are the watches?
Middle Watch: Midnight to 4 AM
Morning: 4 AM to 8 AM
Forenoon Watch: 8 AM to noon
Afternoon Watch: Noon to 4 PM
First Dog Watch: 4 PM to 6 PM
Second Dog Watch: 6 PM to 8 PM
First Watch: 8 PM to Midnight
So, let’s say your character has the first watch. He’ll work his four hours from 8 to midnight. When the Middle Watch relieves him, he’ll probably go back to bed for a few hours, maybe grab a bite to eat, then be back to work the Afternoon Watch.
What if my character has a dog-watch?
Same thing applies, except that he’ll be back to work in six hours rather than eight.
Why are the dog-watches only two hours long?
The dog-watches are arranged so that the crew has time for an evening meal, and also so that no one ends up working the same watch twice in a row.
Why is it called a dog-watch?
Don’t ask me, I didn’t name it.
How do I know what watch my character’s on?
It’s probably significant that we have never played a change-of-the-watch a single time in the history of this game. Your character’s watch is whenever you play a scene where your character states he is on watch. One day when I hate you all, I’ll make you learn your character’s fictional watch-schedule.
People show up early for a change of watch. This is to allow the previous watch to update the incoming watch of any situation that might have gone on. Showing up late for a watch without a damn good reason will result in disciplinary action. Updating the incoming watch is called the pass-down. The watch-master or master of a station will inform the next watch of any changes in the usual orders, special duties, or newly reported threats that they need to keep an eye out for. The correct procedure for assuming the watch is to actually state “I assume the duties of [whatever the station is].” The Navy would insist upon this statement; other ships, like Brotherhood ships or, well, Judith, might let it slide. Likewise, once you are on watch, you do not leave your station without another damn good reason.
So what is my character supposed to be doing on this watch again?
In this game, it is very, very rare that your character will actually be assigned to any particular station and/or duty. Essentially, your character’s station is wherever the narrative needs him. But a lot of PCs want to know what their character is supposed to be doing just so they’ll have some sort of background business or motivation for being there; after all, you can’t just swab a deck forever.
Some random things for your character to do whilst on a watch:
Make pegs: splitting bits of wood to serve as makeshift nails.
Small repairs: your character’s on the carpenter’s station. The master carpenter himself would be in charge of major repairs like storm or battle damage, but he’ll call in people to help with the daily stuff.
Swabbing the deck: Because it didn't become the most stereotypical generic command in nautical literature for no reason.
Tarring rope: Messing, sticky, stinking work used to keep the ropes from rotting.
Caulking: Grab a brush and some tar, squat in the bilge and caulk your hearts out, me buckos. There may be days when you actually have caulk some of the outside seams as well. While the ship is still travelling. Lucky you.
Sanding decks: Down on your knees on the deck for reasons other than getting in good odour with the boson's mate, wielding a big block of sandstone to scrub away the brains of all those topsmen falling out of the riggings in the last section.
Manning pumps: If you are manning the pumps, something has gone seriously wrong. Either you've just had a hole blown in the ship, or you have a crap ship that keeps taking on water. Either way, it's a great upper body work-out.
Cook's mate: Helping the cook by scouring pots or by sorting out spoiled food from good. The farther out to sea you get, the more loosely "good" food is defined.
WATCHING, DUH: For anything mysterious or out of the ordinary, like storms or four-armed cannibal pirate queens.
|Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:25 am
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:08 pm
Re: A Practical Guide to Ship-Stuff
What is considered a punishable offence on a ship?
Short answer: anything.
Longer answer: Anything that the captain or commanding officer deems to be disruptive or counterproductive to the ship's mission, i.e. anything.
Could you be a bit more specific?
The following acts will get you flogged, canned, imprisoned, or hanged:
1) Conspiracy, considered to be any two persons working in collusion to undermine the authority of any officer or officers aboard the ship. This includes complaining that an officer is too strict, that a rule is unfair, or that an order doesn't make sense.
2) Demoralisation, considered to be any act that undermines the cohesion of the crew and/or their ability to work as a team. So yes, technically you can be punished for being a Debbie Downer.
3) Mutiny, considered to be any unauthorised organisation of crew and/or officers working together with the intent of defying the captain's authority. In laymen's terms, this means that mutiny does not necessarily mean that the crew rises up and takes command of the ship; it can be as simple as the crew banding together and refusing a specific order. Remember, kids: on an Imperial ship, it's not just mutiny--it's treason.
4) Insubordination, considered to be any overt or covert display of resistance against the authority of a superior officer. The Navy loves to holler insubordination. If an officer tells you to clean his chamber-pot with your bare hands, and you use a rag instead, that is insubordination. If an officer rears back to hit you, and you raise your hand to protect your face, it's insubordination. (Fortunately, and in spite of popular belief, most officers are not complete assholes and do not, as a rule, use their authority carelessly. Unfortunately, the Navy is a bit like the Catholic church, in that they tend not to fire troublesome officers, but to ship them to out-of-the-way places where they become someone else's problem.)
Then there's the stuff you could probably guess on your own: poor performance of duty, not appearing (or turning up late) for a watch, fighting, public drunkenness, stealing, endangering your fellow crewmates, general stupidity, and so forth.
What punishment goes along with each infraction?
Somewhere there's probably a book where each infraction of the rules is punished by a set number of lashes, or whatever, but I highly doubt even the Navy goes by that rulebook most of the time.
For a relatively minor infraction--although your commanding officer will assure that there are no "minor" infractions--the punishment is flogging. This means you go up on deck, the entire crew is called out, you strip off your shirt, bend over, and the bosun (or whoever is judged to have the meanest swing) lays into you a set number of times. If you pass out before this is over, the ship's doctor will be on hand to judge if you are capable of sustaining any more lashes. If you're assigned ten, and you pass out at seven, you do not get out of those last three; they'll just wait until you're stronger, be it minutes or days, and then lead you out again for the last few.
Five lashes is a lot. Ten lashes will likely take a grown man out of action for a couple of days. Upwards of twenty can permanently disable or kill. This is not for-fun consenting-adult S&M-type lashing we're talking about.
For an infraction for which you are judged to be a danger to the ship or its crew, you'll probably be imprisoned. This means you will be set up in the ship's jail under twenty-four-hour guard. Imprisonment is bad. Imprisonment will only lead up to one of the following:
Discharge: You are no longer a part of the Imperial Navy. You will likely never work a legitimate ship again.
Execution: You're hanged. That simple. The captain has the authority to sentence you to death. The only possibly exception to this is if you are found guilty of an act of treason, in which case the only real change is that instead of hanging you aboard the ship, the captain will turn you over to the jurisdiction of the Grand Commandeur. Who will have you hanged. Either way, you're gettin' hanged.
What if my character does something that's not that bad?
Technically, it's all that bad, and anything you do can be considered a punishable offense. However, most decent captains and officers realise that shit happens, that people screw up and have tempers and forget things. For very minor offences, your character might simply get assigned to the worst watches, the most unsavoury duties, or have his daily rum ration reduced (or all three) until such time as the officers feel that the lesson has been learned.
Another thing to bear in mind: on most ships, only the officers will interact directly with the captain. Ordinary crewmen will be lucky to have the captain direct any statement to them. The captain lives largely apart from his crew. Judith is an extreme exception, as she not only interacts with her crew a great deal but also frequently lends a hand in the daily running of her ship. Real captains do not do this. Therefore, if your character is punished, it will likely be through the officer directly above him (a deckhand could be expected to be punished by the deckmaster, for example), acting through the captain's authority.
|Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:48 pm
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