Dead Men Tell No Tales
The ship’s Mates command its crewmen in any number of roles. Each commands up to 20 crewmen in whatever tasks are required. On larger ships these tasks can be specialized, but on smaller ships the Mates are expected to lead their crewmen in completing different tasks. There is no limit to the number of Mates on one ship; however, the GM should ensure all PCs have a role before assigning NPCs into these roles, and shouldn’t make an NPC a Mate unless it’s truly necessary. It’s also possible — and sometimes necessary — for two Mates to fill the same role. For example, on a ship with multiple gun decks, it probably makes sense to have two (or more) gunnery sergeants, each commanding 20 crewmen as necessary to enact the Captain’s wishes in naval combat.
Away Team: A Mate leading crewmen on a boarding mission grants his crewmen benefits while aboard the enemy ship. All away team crewmen (not officers or PCs) gain a +3 bonus when flanking an enemy, instead of the standard +2. In addition, they all receive a +2 morale bonus to saving throws.
Combat: If a Mate commanding crewmen in hand-to-hand combat aboard his own ship has the Improved Initiative feat, all his crewmen gain a +2 feat bonus to initiative. This bonus does not stack with Improved Initiative; that is, if the crewman has Improved Initiative on her own, she does not also gain this +2 bonus. In addition, all his crewmen (not officers or PCs) fighting to repel a boarding party gain a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls.
Fire Master: A Mate specializing in dealing with onboard fires gains a +2 bonus to Reflex saves to extinguish these fires. In addition, only a roll of a natural 1 inflicts damage on the crewmen for an unsuccessful check. Normally, crewmen are affected by a failure of more than 5 on the Reflex save to extinguish fires.
Gunnery: A Mate applies any of his cannon-specific feats to crewmen (not officers or PCs) under his command. These include Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization,Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Naval Gunnery, and Storm-Tossed Gunnery.
Rowing: A Mate can increase the maneuverability of a ship under oars manned by his crewmen by one category with a successful DC 20 Profession (sailor) check. For ships that require more than 20 crewmen to row, each mate must successfully make this check to achieve the maneuverability bonus. The bonus lasts for one round, and can only be acquired three times/day.
Sailing: A Mate can direct five crewmen to raise or lower sails in 1 round, rather than the standard 2 rounds, with a successful DC 20 Profession (sailor) check.
Temporary Captain: Should the Captain fall in battle, a Mate, Navigator, or Chaplain may attempt to step into the leadership void. The Mate must take a ship-based action as well as his own as a full-round action, during which time he makes an impassioned plea to the crew to rally in spite of the loss of their Captain. The Mate then makes a Profession(sailor) check opposed by the ship’s Loyalty score. If the Mate is successful, he becomes the ship’s Captain in the eyes of the crew; all crewmen who heard the new Captain’s rallying speech gain a +2 morale bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, damage rolls, and skill checks for a number of rounds equal to the new Captain’s Charisma modifier (minimum 1).
Vacancy Penalty: An untrained or leaderless crew is inefficient, and twice as many crewmen are needed to complete crew actions other than firing cannon. This includes bailing water, extinguishing fires, grappling, and managing sails.
Ship Initiative Modifier: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma
Special: A Mate must be in the same or an adjacent Location to command his crewmen. However, a Mate can give standing orders for a crewman (or part of a crew); those orders remain in effect until a Mate (the same or different) gives new orders to the crewmen. For example, a Mate can command 10 crewmen of his 20-man crew to go below deck and bail water, and then command the other 10 to follow him to the brig. The partial crew that follows him to the brig can receive new orders at any time, but the 10 who went to bail water will need to continue at their task until told otherwise.