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Cetric de Cornusiac

A new *personal* approach to NAVAL ACTION: Crews, heart and soul of your ships!

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I am convinced the game would greatly increase in gameplay attraction if we would feel our ships being manned by PEOPLE and profiting from their personal talents, as they come or can get developed. This is a major suggestion with a great deal of changes, but with little expectation this gets accepted, it still should get heard, for some inspiration, parts of it or just a single idea for the minds of our developers. And it's all for free. :)

Let's start dreaming:

I wish I would find taverns in ports where to find and valuate seamen for my ships. Not a single mass of sailors, but categories of different abilities and some specialists alike. The idea mainly is, you are hiring crews with different qualities for different pay for different tasks on board and in buildings - which allows you to further shift priorities, in addition to the static ones your upgraded ship provides.

Your ship will get influenced in performance in the known categories

 - sail handling (speed of increase, decrease of sails, turning speed)

- cannon loading speed and accuracy of shooting

- boarding efficiency in various tactics

On land you get engineers who influence your production in buildings, add some more warehouse space or add quality in your merchandise crafting (maybe needs grades of quality - like standard/high/deluxe of anything which is fabricated and has effect on prices). Your purser maximizes your hold as storeroom because of his organization talent and finds for you better profit margins when dealing in ports with merchants.


You hire ordinary sailors in groups in a tavern in every port you visit. Seamen groups are generated by game engine in qualification types, for a specialization field they provide a boost in. The better the group, the more you need to pay them. The lowest quality sort is crew which is pressed into service and thus the cheapest. This method of using press gangs you may have only in your own national ports, not neutral ones, and it is not available to Pirates. No wonder the pressed seamen are worst because you catch unskilled people and who resent to what is done to them. You may still forge them to something better during the trip, in crew training.


Which brings me to the next point of my suggestion, the possibility of training crews during the trip in various disciplines so they gain in value. As a side effect, individual specialists may origin from those trainings (or ordinary service, battle instances) and you may promote them into your leadership group on board your ship. Training, drills and practising on board cost you silver coins.

Losses in battle reduce your skilled crew just like the unskilled, so you will be more careful not to lose the professional ones. Generic losses come from illness and accidents during work on the ship, but not very often.

As I already mentioned, above the crew groups of certain capabilities are a class of experts which are generated with names and individual statistics about what they have to offer to you. You may hire them as boatswains, mates, midshipmen, pursers, officers for battery decks, boarding commanders, master carpenders etc.

They can get killed (will get removed finally from game) or injured (temporarily become unavailable or suffer from drawbacks in their skills for some time) in battle - or rarely during accidents on board - so you may want to order them to abstain from battle while the rest goes into boarding.

Hiring those individual specialists and officers costs gold coins. So does promotion from lower ranks if a talent shows up (you are given a choice to accept or decline). Needless to say: top notch talents would be very rare.

Another type of those specialists can serve you on land, to boost the fabrication of goods and get higher output for your mines, plantations, forests.


The game would have a distribution system of crew groups and individuals which show up in ports and move on to another after some time, making it impossible for you to predict where you find whom (fun to search the port taverns for talent, therefore). I think it does not need great graphics to depict the taverns, just show crew rosters for each place who is actually there and what his specification is, the price and any conditions. From that roster you pick your men. Maybe 100 to 200 personalities would be created for the game and given generic names, who keep wandering from port to port until you or another captain finds them.

A similar roster you will have for the ship you command and where you distribute men according to their talents. So you see where you can concentrate the benefits as you see fit, where the vacancies are and need replacements. A ship will still 'function' if you don't look at the roster at all and just hire standard sailors as you do now, but this way you miss fine-tuning your crew and their perks for the ship. Because a ship can only be as good as the crew on it.

To give another personal touch to the whole thing, let some specialists need certain requirements for exposing their full quality (visible in same crew roster). For example, they may hate certain other guys and refuse to work if the other is on the same ship. Or they ask more money because they don't like the company. Or quarrels between sworn enemies reduce their qualities, or increase risk of one of them getting injured when they fight it out. - In fact all this what produces vivid scenery in our heads would just be mathematics in the background to determine what will occur.

Maybe a morale system (outside boarding situations) would make sense in the context, as a more general performance factor. You increase morale by your successes in your voyage and by giving out grants to your crew altogether, or sending them to whores in ports (which lets me think of different whore qualities, but that is another topic and goes too far here ;)).


Here some ideas for how to give a feeling of having human beings under your command. Make them as individual as personal, for instance:

- person will only accept jobs on ship of certain size (he is thinking a small craft is below his honor)

- artisans will only join you if you have a workshop or a shipyard (of certain size = equipment) where to employ them

- person will only accept job if you sail to certain region of the Caribbean where he plans to leave you again

- person has great luck in fishing and brings for you the best catches out of the sea

- person is very skilled in finding hiding places in captured ships and thus reveals to you booty you would otherwise not find - especially blueprints, books, coins, permits.

- carpenters work much better if you provide them with the best tools (by existing upgrade), same goes for engineers taking care of your production buildings. Hired specialists on land get installed like an upgrade with an outpost

- any of your specialists may leave you again after a period due to personal reasons. Others may require another investment of silver coins to convince them to stay

- some specialists may get killed during battle or (lesser risk) by accidents in the service. When wounded they are disabled while recovering and may still have a handicap after returning into service. Think of a lost leg or something like that. You have the choice of commanding them to stay away from fight to reduce such risks - but still they may object to that

- you may find crew and specialists among surviving crews of captured ships and offer them to join your ranks. This could be a privilege for the Pirate faction.


Not necessarily connected with the concept above, but added as an extra:

[Finally, the system I just proposed could use a 'headquarters' or 'Mansion' building in your home port where you can keep personnel currently not assigned to ships and train them meanwhile there. If we take into account a headquarter would be the place where all your wealth is stored (instead of carrying it around all the time in your pockets and even staying at all times in your posession even when you lose your ship and everything), the people you station there provide protection to your belongings. If I develop this idea one step further, it becomes an interesting factor in the PvP world of port battles and taking over ports, because the personnel stationed in mansions of captains could get involved in the defense of the port and add resistance potential. You would be interested to serve the protection of your home port (via manning your mansion) because once it fell into the hands of the enemy, your wealth will also fall prey to the looters.]



Edited by Cetric de Cornusiac
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I like this but I think we cross a line of fun and personalization into tedious when you have to sail around different ports and taverns looking for the right or the best crew.

I'd like to see a return of the officer system, not as the regular perk system but each officer you hire (and you can hire multiple depending on rank) have their own skill trees and development, and make them their own entity than you can remove, sell, hire and whatnot. Make a living of training officers and sell them off. Then when you sink or maybe even an officer gets wounded/killed then you actually feel like "maan I'm gonna miss that guy,  he had x bonus to y that I may not find again for a while"

Like a subsection of ships upgrades. You don't absolutely need an officer, but they offer small but neat bonuses to certain things. I like how the old total wars did their generals, based on the actions that you take as that general you receive character traits that reflect your generals experience. That would be a really cool and not pure rng luck like normal upgrades or ship books drops are.


Edited by Slim Jimmerson
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56 minutes ago, Slim Jimmerson said:

I like this but I think we cross a line of fun and personalization into tedious when you have to sail around different ports and taverns looking for the right or the best crew.

Think of it as an extra. You would still be able to work as before with standard crews. You would just be missing the top people on your ship. Some Captains could develop a desire to assemble the best crew possible, others could neglect the aspect. Some get the impression to live among individuals on ships (this always has been a roleplay factor in games, to identify with your character and other characters around him in interaction), some others can ignore and concentrate on ships alone as before. I don't say there has to be tedious work for everyone, and unavoidable...

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I love this. Beyond giving life to your ships and making the game feel more personal, it would better represent the historical duties of a captain. Managing a crew was one of the primary roles of a Ship's Captain, and has heretofore been missing from the game. I always thought of Naval Captains more as strategists than cannon snipers, and would love to see this game move more toward strategy, and less toward arcade shooter.

For implementation in the game, there could be a muster book accessible by hotkey in which the names of each crewman appear, with a ranking of their skills in the following stats:

Reload efficiency

Cannon accuracy


Combat Offense

Combat Defense

The Muster book would also be where you would assign duties, so when manning the cannons, you would have to decide whether to prioritize reload time or accuracy. If someone was the best sailor and the best boarder, do you put them in the boarding party at the expense of speed? Do you fill your boarding crew with heavy damage dealers for a quick victory, or with good defenders more likely to survive the encounter?

A little more Total War and a little less Call of Duty would make the game feel more like captaining a ship, and less like playing a sniper to my mind.

Edited by Juan Navarre
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Another fun potential aspect of crews would be balancing crew morale with discipline.

In addition to their skill stats, crew would also have attitude stats. These would include:



Sadistic disciplinarian captains would have more homogenous crews with stats in every skill category moving closer to the average as everyone keeps their head down and avoids notice from their lash-happy tyrant-captain. This would reduce the detrimental effects of complacency at the expense of morale.

Whenever average morale reached a certain threshold, the crew with morale below that threshold would mutiny, initiating a boarding minigame. All the crew with morale higher than the mutiny threshold would side with the captain.

When average complacency of the crew for a given duty reached a certain threshold, they would make mistakes.

For example, if the crew assigned to sailing reached a certain average complacency, pressing q would periodically turn the foreward yards to starboard instead of port. Or the crew assigned to guns might load chain instead of grape. Or the boarding party might defend instead of attacking. 

Edited by Juan Navarre

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6 hours ago, CaptainSparckles said:

Download Assassin's Creed Black Flag . 

I disagree. i'm behind this suggestion. however crew in AC is a bad burn. Sid Meiers pirates has far more depth and character to the crew.

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Some more ideas for crew:

Ship's master- Can take the helm to autonavigate to a selected destination port. Better Master's would be more efficient and less likely to take storm damage.

Lookout- Calls "sail ho" and "land ho." Better lookouts would spot land and sails further away.

Superiors would provide a bonus to their inferiors in proportion to their own skills. For example, a gunner with high reload skill would provide a bonus to the reload skill of the gunner's mates, who would in turn provide a bonus to their respective gunnery teams.

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Yet more ideas for crew!

If all the metagame info is really necessary for gameplay,  the holographic HOD projected onto the visor of your space helmet could at least be replaced with chat-style crew dialogue.


Lieutenant Marks: Direct hit sir! Half the planking of her larboard hull is in shambles!

Captain Navarre: Reef sails lads!

Boatswain Michaels: Sail's at half reef cap'n!

Quartermaster Kipp: They hit our rudder sir! It's in bad shape!

Captain Navarre: Mr. Sloane! Take some men down and get that rudder ruddy working again!

Carpenter Sloane: Aye Cap'n!

Captain Navarre: Mr. Judd! Aim your cannon 0.4 meters below the main topgallant, 2.3 meters abaft of the mast! A little lower! A little higher! Split the difference! Right there! Fire!

Lieutenant Marks: Direct hit sir! Her sails are reduced to 63% now!

You get the idea...


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