21 Gun Salute
Card-Based Ship Combat for High Seas Adventure
Ships have one player who acts as captain and four stats rated from 0-5.
Hearts (?) for sail and speed.
Diamonds (?) for maneuvers and turning about.
Clubs (?) for boarding and ramming.
Spades (?) for canon.
At the beginning of combat, remove all face cards from a deck of cards and divide it into four piles by suit. Shuffle each pile and place them face down on the table.
The captains of each ship in combat take turns drawing one card from each pile, up to the maximum of their ship’s stat in each suit. For example, a captain whose ship has a rating of ?? would draw a total of two cards from the ? pile. Captains may look at cards as they draw them, before placing them in a single pile, face down. This forms the captain’s command deck for the combat.
Each captain shuffles the other captain’s command deck and returns it to its owner face down.
Each captain draws up to four cards from their deck into their hand, and places three of them face down in a row in front of them. These are their maneuver cards. The captains may place these cards in any order they choose. Each captain discards all remaining cards face down.
The first contest begins when one captain draws a card from their command deck and places it face up on the pile to their left. Then the next captain does the same. Captains continue drawing and revealing in this way until one of them calls “hold.” When one captain holds, both reveal their maneuver card and count the total value of cards in each pile. The captain who scores closest to 21 without going over wins the round and narrates the result. Each captain’s maneuver card gives the result narrative direction. Consult the table below.
After resolving the narration, discard both piles. The losing captain also discards the top card of their command deck face down. Lastly, the losing captain marks down their ship’s stat the corresponds to the maneuver they attempted. For example, a captain who attempted a ? maneuver would mark their ship’s ? stat down by one point.
The losing captain begins the next contest by drawing into the next pile to the right. When all three contests are complete, the captain who won the most contests picks a victory condition: board by force, chase to port, run aground, parlay.
Table: Victory and Defeat
? bests ? The winning captain outruns the enemy giving chase.
? bests ? The enemy captain fails to cut off the winning captain’s ship.
? bests ? The winning captain outruns the enemy’s attempt to ram.
? bests ? The winning captain outruns the enemy’s guns.
? bests ? The winning captain cuts off the enemy before they can flee.
? bests ? The enemy captain attempts to break away, but fails.
? bests ? The winning captain dodges the enemy’s ram.
? bests ? The winning captain avoids the enemy’s cannon fire.
? bests ? The winning captain rams the fleeing enemy.
? bests ? The enemy tries to break away, but is clipped by the winning captain’s ram.
? bests ?Both ships collide, but the winning captain deals the better blow.
? bests ?The winning captain’s ram deals more damage than the
? bests ?The winning captain’s cannon damage the enemy’s sails.
? bests ?The winning captain’s cannon catches the enemy as they try to break away.
? bests ?The winning captain’s cannon turn back the enemy’s ram.
? bests ?The winning captain outguns the enemy.
Special Conditions and Actions
Surrender. Before drawing a card, a captain may choose to surrender. They submit to the consequences of the vi
ctor, but their ship takes no further damage.
Pushing too Hard. A captain who scores 22 or over in a contest automatically loses that contest. It is possible for both captains to lose a contest in this way.
Outrunning. A captain who succeeds on two ? maneuvers in a row has outrun the enemy. End combat.
Locking. A captain who succeeds at two ? maneuvers in a row has locked the two ships together. End combat.
Limping. A ship whose ? is reduced to zero can no longer make good speed. All ? cards drawn count for zero. All ? maneuvers automatically lose.
Rudderless. A ship whose ? is reduced to zero can no longer steer well. All ? cards drawn count for zero. All ? maneuvers automatically lose.
Frail. A ship whose ? is reduced to zero is barely holding together. All ? cards drawn count for zero. All ? maneuvers automatically lose.
Toothless. A ship whose ? is reduced to zero is out of cannon, black powder or shot. All ? cards drawn count for zero. All ? maneuvers automatically lose.