Skull & Shackles
Throughout much of the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, the PCs come into conflict with other ships on the high seas—whether these conflicts arise as the PCs seek to seize plunder or are forced to defend themselves from attack, the ship-to-ship rules are meant only to suffice for small-scale naval battles between just a handful of ships at most. But in “The Price of Infamy,” and then again in the final adventure, “From Hell’s Heart,” the PCs are destined to find themselves involved in some much larger naval conf licts involving dozens of ships at once. Rather than playing out such large, complex battles ship by ship, you can use the following rules for fleet battles to determine the results of these mass conflicts. Note that while the rules presented here are specifically tailored for individual naval battles that occur in the last third of the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, they can serve to resolve large-scale naval battles in other campaigns as well.
A fleet consists of multiple ships organized under a single admiral. Each individual ship in a fleet is crewed by a captain and her crew. Technically, it only takes two ships to constitute a fleet for the purposes of these rules, but in the battles that occur in the last two installments of Skull & Shackles, the number of ships involved will always be quite a bit higher (if you’re just doing a battle between a couple of ships, it’s generally better to simply use the ship combat rules).
Fleets consist of a number of squadrons of ships. All of the ships in a squadron must be of the same type of ship (longship, junk, sailing ship, warship, etc.). Each squadron involved in a fleet battle is commanded by a single commodore. A squadron consists of at least one ship, and can consist of a maximum number of ships equal to 3 + the commodore’s Charisma modifier. A character whose Charisma modifier is –3 or worse cannot serve as a commodore.
The fleet as a whole is commanded by a single admiral. An NPC fleet consists of a number of squadrons equal to 3 + the admiral’s Charisma modifier. A PC fleet can have a number of squadrons equal to the party’s Infamy score divided by 10 (round down)—this base number is then increased by the admiral’s Charisma modifier. A character whose Charisma modifier is –3 or worse cannot serve as an admiral.