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Fixing Blood Tide


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This is NOT a post critical of the supplement. In most respects, I love it... a great world to plunder, the stunts system is genius and Voudou is a great magic system ripe for some rich roleplaying rather than the usual flash-bang effects. 

But as I run it for my group I am finding numerous issues, typos and stuff just plain missing from the rules. i.e. at a "rules on paper" level it is far from perfect!

Some endemic "typo like" issues are in there which I can ignore: The author indicated that it was a mash up of 2 background - one magical, one historical and it shows periodically. Sections of rules that need to be together are spread between chapters. The layout is "challenging" at times, but a proper read and judicious use of post-it tabs and some PDF printing helps gets around that :) Also there are a lot of  "See page XX" references and references to "Bokors and Broadsides" (the old name for Blood Tide!). Now I know it is teh oild name for the system I know the game is referring to itself and not some weird supplement I can't find.


So since this is the official "Chaosium" community and the author is on here I thought we could collectivity help to fix it in a hope of building a bit of an errata or help the author with a second edition with some more annoying problems resolved.

If anyone has any house rules, links, scenarios or useful tools relevant to Blood Tide - feel free to add them below.

I will post a couple below to get started...

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Ship, Crew & Cannon Costs

Yeah - the stuff in BRP has all the rules for an abstracted currency system, but I find pirate games suit REAL NUMBERS as you need to know how big that treasure you just dug up is! The entire fiction is around "Pieces of Eight"... not "Wealth Levels"

Crew costs are irrelevant - all crew just shared booty, with the "officers" getting a larger share - some a little, some more... a reason for mutiny! Some good examples of how each pirate allocated shares are at the bottom of the page here.

Shop costs are more tricky...

The fact that the character generation rules suggest you get 1000 PoE towards a ship & crew suggests the author is in the same mind set to use actual numbers. The only problem is that there are no costs under the equipment or ship section for this. Sure you know how much a cannon ball costs, but not the thing to fire it.

So I did some historical digging and there is actually not a lot out there, but I gathered enough to make some sweeping generalisations and provide a system with enough internal consistency to work with. 

In 1765 and 105 gun first-rate Ship of the line (HMS Victory) costs £63,176. According to "The Republic of Pirates" by Colin Woodard, in the early 18th C. a fully fitted, 350 ton, 36 gun frigate would cost £8,200. That book is a great read BTW! These costs include cannons. In the early half of the 1700's a bronze 24lb cannon would cost £156, it's iron counterpart £75.

Merchant shipping seems a good deal cheaper however - and they can be retrofit with cannons. A small sloop in the early 18th C. would cost around £40. And a Schooner in 1609 is around £100 - around £150 in Blood Tide times I would imagine once you faff with the inflation calculators :)


So drawing all this into a spreadsheet and making some VERY broad assumptions I can up with some relatively simple formula:

Hull cost = (Length in feet*Tonnage) / Hull Cost Factor

The Hull Cost Factor = 10.5 for Naval warships and 20 for Merchant ships.

Kind of makes sense. Naval ships would always be using the latest design in the best shipyards and have lots of ornamentation, thicker hulls and more crew quarters.

Then just add on the cannons. A bronze cannon is £156 for 24lb, so 156/24 = £6.5 per pound of "cannonage". Just add all the poundage together and multiply by the cost.

So using these figures the HMS Victory costs (£49,412 hull + £14,963 cannons) £64375 and the Frigate cost (£6,810 hull + £1,560 cannons) £8370 - close to actual. So close enough for the game.

Then I hit another problem in Colin Woodard's book he has a £1 = 4 PoE conversion rate, Whereas Blood Tide mas a £1=1PoE conversion (on a slightly broken conversion table on p66). I tried to get to the bottom of this - and it looks like Blood Tide is wrong... it should be 1 CROWN = 1PoE, not £1. A column in the spreadsheet multiplies the £ figure by 4 to get PoE... eeek... those 1st Rate Ships of the Line are VERY expensive!

I have popped all this in an Excel spreadsheet which I have attached which works out he cost of all ships in the Blood Tide book. It kinda works.


Edited by Frunk
Updated 2nd last paragraph with conversion rates
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Game Affecting Typos

p70 & p72 has a lot of weapons doing 1D60 damage!!!!

The author has clarified that these should be 1D10 on another post here


p87 under Crew Recovery the text in mangled. Not sure what it is meant to be but I have assumed that it is meant to read "Of the total crew lost, 2D10+5 percent are fatalities"


Will add more as they are clarified or I discover them.


Edited by Frunk
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Ship Boarding Rules

Has been a subject of a thread here, so have pulled together their findings here to have rules clarifications in 1 place. The key is to pull together the Ship Combat rules on p86-88 & the Rabble rules on p109-110.

So from these discussions I have pulled together the following Quick Reference based on this and my own assumptions.



Start - SHIP COMBAT TIME (5min):

Boarding starts when 2 section gets within 10 yds

Contested Seamanship Roll

Winner boards the other ship & takes initiative - allow 1 free Hit for boarding side


Each Round - COMBAT TIME (1min):

1st: PCs/NPC in DEX order

  • Choice: Attack Crew or PC/NPC
    • Crew - each HIT takes out 1 crewman
    • PC/NPC - resolve normally

2nd: Crew (Rabble) simultaneous

  • Section rolls to hit (average Combat + Section Leader [10% of PC highest combat])
  • Section rolls damage (assume same weapon)
  • Each DAMAGE POINT takes out 1 crewman

Morale Check (Section passes 25%, 50%, 75% casualties & others - see p88)

  • Fail (Rabble stuck for 1 round)
  • Fumble (Flee or cower)




Re-assign Crew (Command Roll by Section Leader/Captain)

 - SHIP TIME - i.e. takes 5 round with everyone moving in last combat round

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Ship Crew  GM/Player Aid

Managing a crew on a ship could become a tiresome and burdensome paperwork exercise. Especially if you want to add a bit of character to the crew and have everyone named, with a nationality and equipped with different skills which can be hired and fired.

I created a spreadsheet that allows you to quickly create random crew which you can drip feed to the party as they go. Each has a random set of stats (just Physical/Mental), an optional special skill and 1-3 wounds. All the players have to do is give them a Location on the ship and a Section to work in.

The spreadsheet then works out the effectiveness of each section and gives you all the numbers & rolls you need when you have some event on the ship or want to start ship combat.

To set it up and give you a fresh set of random crew read the "HowToUse" Tab, otherwise you can just use mine on the "Rabble" tab.

I have attached a "dumb version" of the spreadsheet so you can see it working. It will do 90% of the job. However if you want it to pull together the specialisms involved in each section then you need to use a Macro enabled version which I have popped on a Google Drive here.

Have fun.


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Corrected Currency Chart (with Raw Weights)

The Currencies charts on p66-67 looks like it got messed up in typesetting and is all over the shop. 

So did a little research :)

Since most early currency was based on weights and purity of gold & silver, it makes sense to include them here to allow you to know the exchanges (They are all approximated to make things easier).  Also missed off the smaller copper coins… who is interested in them. Also for some of the currencies there were larger gold currencies for trade – usually up to 2oz. gold. But I am avoiding them as they are generally just referred to as multiples of the lower value gold coins (indeed a Dubloon is a Double- Escudos and how it got its name).

It looks like the influx of gold and silver from South America at this time destabilised everything. French coinage seems to vary by decade – and an Écu was both a gold and silver coin about this period and fluctuated between 3-6 livres - it was not until 1726 they finally firmed stuff up (close enough to Blood Tide to be used: 1716). Indeed this is the time every nation pretty well aligned their coins to allow international trade. It looks like the Spanish got their act sorted pretty quickly and set the standards. The English currency remained pretty stable as well, but the French and Dutch are more problematic. So in a Blood Tide game I would stick to those 2 currencies and raw weights rather than complicate things with French and Dutch coinage. 

1 Doubloon (1 Doubloon = 0.25oz. Gold) =
2 Escudos (1 Escudo = 0.125oz. Gold) =
4 Pieces of Eight / Spanish Dollar (1 Piece of Eight = 1 oz. Silver) =
32 Reales (1 Real = 1/32nd oz. Silver)

A Guinea (British Gold Standard coin was meant to be £1 when minted, but the price of gold made this £1, 1 shilling by 1700’s and how it remained forever! But let’s assume 1 Guinea = £1 = 20 shillings for now – just makes things easier!)
1 Guinea (1 Guinea = 0.25oz. Gold) =
2 Half-Guineas (1 Half-Guinea = 0.125oz. Gold) =
4 Crowns (1 crown = 1 oz. Silver) = 
20 Shillings (1 Shilling = 1/20th oz. Silver)

FRENCH (1726)
1 Louis (1 Louis d'or = 0.25oz. Gold) [Actually “Louis d'or”] =
2 Half-Louis (2 Half-Loius = 0.125oz. Gold) =
4 Écu (1 Écu = 1 oz. Silver) = 
24 livres (1 livre = 1/6th oz. silver) [Actually “Livre Tournois”]

Ducats were the gold standard trade coins that were minted to imitate other gold standard coins at the time. Florins were also common. So I would just deal in weights and equivalents for Dutch coinage.
1 Guilder (slightly less than 0.5 oz. silver) = 
20 Stuivers


Approximate Values  & Currency Conversion (close enough for gaming!) 
1 oz Gold = 16 oz Silver
1 Dubloon = 1 Guinea (£1-ish) = 1 Louis
1 Half-Guinea = 1 Escudo = 1 Half-Louis
1 Piece of Eight = 1 Crown (not 1 Guinea as p66) = 1 Écu

This little bit of research also sorts out my issue above with Ship prices. Indeed the book was right - £1 = 4 Pieces of Eight - so all prices need to be multiplied like in the spreadsheet.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 30/03/2016 at 7:55 PM, jean said:

We are supposed to compute the sailing speed in function of the amount of sails deployed.

I have never found where it is explained.

Is it hidden in plain sight somewhere, or did I miss it ?

Hi Jean,

Glad this thread may be of use to some folks. Yeah I am just about to hit my first naval combat and spotted the same issue. The weather table hides some detail but there are some critical rules missing there. I am guessing there is a table missing that allows you to translate the 4 sail categories into the speed grid and has some additional rules on difficulty and danger to damaging the ship, as that is all suggested in the text. At no point does there seem to be a filled in speed grid to work backwards from

Perhaps if the author is reading this he can provide some help. Otherwise I guess we will have to improvise, It is what RPG's are all about :) 

So here is what I will try for my first encounter, Keep it simple & see if it works:

Canvas Spread      Speed Bonus    Notes
Light                 -1          +10% to all Pilot Rolls
Moderate (default)     0          Normal Sailing
Full                  +1          -10% to all Pilot Rolls
Reckless              +2          -20% to all Pilot Rolls
                                  & Double any Rigging Damage suffered (per day/fumble)

Edited by Frunk
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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought I would just pop in to say all this looks good and some of the ideas I wish I had thought of or expanded upon when writing Blood Tide. I wish I could be of more help, but my work at Cubicle 7 eats up a lot of my time (and I am contractually obligated to do all my game writing for them). Do keep going, there is nothing that makes a designer happier than seeing that people love their work so much they want to improve upon it. 

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For all the people who have poo-pooed epub format vs. PDF and say it's not viable for publishing etc, I've just bought the epub of Blood Tide and I'm happy to report it's easy to read, properly indexed and fast to load on my old (non-kindle) Sony e-reader. Good job Chaosium and thanks for supporting epub! :) I shall look forward to delving further into Blood Tide on my e-reader.


I'm really enjoying Blood Tide. I particularly like the Voodou magic system, the Stunts and the descriptions of shipboard positions and organisation and varieties of black powder weaponry (and I'm only part way through!) Although, while I'm enjoying the epub version, there are a few instances where tables have just been rendered as pictures (of the sidebar in the pdf, for example) instead of as, well, tables. 

Edited by Questbird
Read more of Blood Tide epub
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  • 2 years later...
On 4/29/2016 at 5:11 AM, Questbird said:

For all the people who have poo-pooed epub format vs. PDF and say it's not viable for publishing etc, I've just bought the epub of Blood Tide and I'm happy to report it's easy to read, properly indexed and fast to load on my old (non-kindle) Sony e-reader.

I got epub and PDF copies of some stuff from Pelgrane and ended up reading all of them in epub. The PDFs are great for printing off pages here and there and I wouldn't be without them, given a choice strictly between the two I'd get PDF, but I found actually reading through the rules dramatically easier with the epub, and I was highly skeptical after reading PDFs on my iPad for years.

Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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On 8/25/2018 at 3:58 AM, simonh said:

I got epub and PDF copies of some stuff from Pelgrane and ended up reading all of them in epub. The PDFs are great for printing off pages here and there and I wouldn't be without them, given a choice strictly between the two I'd get PDF, but I found actually reading through the rules dramatically easier with the epub, and I was highly skeptical after reading PDFs on my iPad for years.


PDF just doesn't cope with books well. It's fine for things like printable character sheets and reference tables.

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  • 1 month later...

It's an interesting settin but it's not exactly sword and sorcery. It would require some effort to make it so. There are black-powder guns, pirates, voudou. Classic swords and sorcery generally represents all sorcery as evil and profane. Voudou as described in this book is not entirely that.

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