1781 was the CRESCENDO of the American War of Independence.

It was "make it or break it time" as the war entered it's seventh year of fighting since Bunker Hill in 1775.

It was now a truly global conflict. All the major players were now involved and on every continent and every major ocean and sea of the world. Britain was at risk of not only losing North America, but India as well. More importantly The British Royal Navy could no longer exercise its supremacy of the waters around Great Britain itself.  Until the British regained this supremacy England is at risk of invasion.

For the Americans, controlling the waters around their coast line was crucial if they were going to defeat King George's armies on land. This job fell to America's tiny new navy, the navies of its allies, and it's fleet of  privateers.

House Rules:

1781 will use all advanced and Optional rules from "Wooden Ships and Iron Men" for naval battles. All role-playing will be conducted with a simplified version of Privateers and Gentlemen.

Copper Bottoming; by January 1781 the British had completed sheathing their entire fleet.

The Americans, Dutch, French, and Spanish were working on it too; Before a battle roll a dice for each ship to see if the ship is coppered, or at least has been careened and cleaned recently.

Dice Roll Americans


French Spanish
1 Fouled Fouled Fouled Fouled
2 Fouled Clean Clean Fouled
3 Clean Coppered Clean Clean
4 Clean Coppered Coppered Clean
5 Coppered Coppered Coppered Clean
6 Coppered Coppered Coppered Coppered

Once a ship is coppered, make note of it. That ship will not have to make this roll again on later battles.

Communications: Captains can speak to other ships by speaking trumpet if they are 1 or 0 hexes between ships. If not, communication is limited to signal flags. Players may not speak to each other about strategy and can only discus maneuvers on one sheet of paper with 8 words of less each turn.

Firing BOTH Broadsides: This is possible and did occur, but rarely. If a captain decides to fire both broadsides in a turn he can not fire AT ALL  the next turn.



This will be done using a simplified version of  "Privateers and Gentlemen". Players characters will only have three attributes: Gunnery Skill, Sailing Skill, and Swordsmanship. These characters are considered "Heroic Commanders" and the players may pick one of the three attributes to specialize in.

Players will get ONE Heroic commander for each nationality in the campaign for a total of 5. If they lose these characters (by being captured or killed) they will be replaced with an "Ordinary Commander". Ordinary Commanders get no bonuses to their attributes. 

All Commanders may improve their skills. After winning 100 victory points in the campaign A Commander may spend these points to improve himself. An "Ordinary Commander" can then become a "Heroic Commander" with a bonus to ONE attribute.  Heroic Commanders"  can become "Legendary Commanders"  and get a bonus to TWO attributes. "Legendary Commanders"  is the best a character can advance in the campaign.

Attributes Bonuses
Gunnery Skill, Improves your gunnery by ONE table
Sailing Skill Increases your ships speed in all aspects by +1. Also grants your commander a +1 on setup initiative dice roll at the start of the naval battle engagement.
Swordsmanship Improves your crew's melee factor by ONE table


Win a battle, get promoted! The five Ranks in the campaign are as follows:

Senior Captain


Rear Admiral

Vice Admiral



Naval Battle Generation:

Each session will start will the players choosing their sides, then a dice roll using the encounter tables in "Privateers and Gentlemen" to determine the type of engagement.

Next the players will decide on a points spread.

Pick their ships

Roll for copper bottoming (As needed)

Roll for wind ( 1 dice for direction, 1 dice for stability (1-3 changes on a 6, 4-6 changes on a 5 and 6))

Roll for initiative

Setup and Play

Campaign Objectives:

Have the Commander with the most Victory Points. And of course have fun!

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