The Mediterranean Galley
A throwback to the days of ancient Greece and Rome, this vessel combines rudimentary sailing ability with the propulsion by rowing, making it a versatile craft when used close to shore. Although it is slowly being replaced by European-styled sailing ships, it still sees some use among the Mediterranean corsairs—especially those who have access to prisoners or slaves for manning it.
Outside of the banks of oars, perhaps the most striking feature of the galley is the reinforced beak at the prow, using for ramming enemy vessels. In addition to its impact damage, this ram often lets the galley become stuck to its foe and thus provides a boarding ramp for a ship's soldiers.
The galley also boasts a pair of masts, each normally fitted with a large lateen sail. It is designed with a shallow draft, allowing it to move in much closer to the shore than other ships can manage.
Draft: 2 fathoms
Structure Dice: 6d8 (27 sp)
Maneuverability: -2 (-2 size)
Speed: 70 ft./7 knots (sails), or 50 ft./5 knots (rowed)
Turn Rate: 2 (sails) or 10 (rowed)
AC: 8 (-2 size)
Weapons Fore: Varies; often five cannon
Weapons Aft: Varies
Weapons Broadside: None
Damage: 4d4 (cannon); 4d6 (ram)
Special Qualities: Can be propelled by oars
Crew: 15 sailors and/or 75 rowers
Cargo: 15 tons
Refer to the appropriate map for the following location descriptions.
1. Lower Aft Deck
This area, covered by the upper aft deck, is some of the rare space for cargo and passengers aboard the galley. Given its size, it is often divided into smaller areas, including quarters for the captain, officers and passengers.
2. Rowing Pit
Given that rowers are often kept chained to the long benches in this area, this area often stinks of sweat and excrement. Indeed, sometimes it becomes so bad that a crew will intentionally breach the ship's hull and sink it in shallow water, allowing the crew members to wash out the area, before repairing the holes and re-floating the vessel.
The chains and ankle shackles have hardness 10 and 10 hit points; it takes a DC 25 Disable Device check to pick the lock, a DC 30 Escape Artist check to slip out the manacles, or a DC 26 Strength check to break a chain.
3. Lower Foredeck
More space for cargo and crew quarters is found here, sheltered by the foredeck above. Because the ship often carries cannon on the upper foredeck, material such as powder, shot and other equipment is often stored in this area.
4. Upper Aft Deck
Although open on the sides, this area is covered by a roof structure. It is from here that the ship is steered, and the captain and other members of the crew usually gather here while the vessel is under way. Following a raid, this area can be pressed into service for storing spoils. Additionally, galleys sometimes carry rearward-firing chase guns on this deck.
5. Raised Walkway
This long, narrow platform runs the length of the rowing pit, allowing crew members—often sporting whips—to move among the rowers without having to descend into the sweating mass of bodies.
6. Raised Foredeck
There is a roof above this section, just as with the aft deck. When a galley carries cannon, they are most often arranged here in a group of five pointing forward. This allows them to deal an extra punch during a ramming attack, sometimes being loaded with shot in order to clear a deck of enemies before the corsairs and janissaries storm across in a boarding action.
Just ahead of this area is the ship's beak-like ram, which also serves as a boarding ramp during close-combat actions.