Fragged Seas: Skull & Shackles
Roles Aboard a Ship
Boatswain – The boatswain, or bosun (pronounced "bosun" either way), is responsible for the upper deck of the vessel and above. This makes the boatswain accountable for all rope, rigging, anchors, and sails. At the start of the day, the boatswain and those under her weigh anchor, raise the sails, and report on the general condition of the ship's deck to the captain. As she oversees many of the ship's basic daily labors, the boatswain is often responsible for keeping discipline and dispensing punishment. A boatswain is usually right under the quartermaster in the hierarchy of command.
Cabin Boy/Girl – Servant to the captain and other officers, this low-ranking and typically young crew member assists other sailors in their duties and runs various errands across the ship, requiring him or her to gain a measure of understanding of almost all the ship's roles.
Captain – The ultimate authority on any ship, his word is law to all on board. The captain chooses where to sail, what to plunder, and who fills the other stations aboard the vessel, among many other command decisions. Leadership often proves perilous, however, as a captain is, above all, meant to secure success for his ship and crew. Failing to do so increases the threat of mutiny.
Carpenter/Surgeon – No matter what enchantments or alchemical unguents augment a ship, its heart and bones are still wood. This simple fact makes the carpenter one of the most important positions aboard any vessel. Carpenters are chiefly responsible for maintaining the ship below the deck, finding and plugging leaks, repairing damage, and replacing masts and yards. As the crew member most skilled with the saw, the carpenter typically serves as a ship's surgeon as well—bones cut just as easily as timbers.
Cook – While the quartermaster normally allocates the rations, the cook and his apprentices make and distribute meals to the crew. Although some better-outfitted vessels employ skilled cooks to attend to the captain and the officers, many cooks are drawn from crew members who have suffered crippling injuries, allowing them to still serve even after such trauma.
Master-at-Arms – Concerned with the security of the ship, the fitness of the crew, and the dispensing of justice, the master-at-arms typically is one of the most feared and dreaded of a ship's officers.
Master Gunner – The master gunner is in charge of all shipboard artillery, ensuring moisture and rust don't ruin the weapons and that the crew knows how to use them and maintaining the vessel's cannons, firearms, and powder supplies.
Master Pilot – The helmsman, the pilot is in charge of steering the ship. He needs to intimately know such aspects as the ship's draught, how wide she is, and how sharply she can turn. It is up to the pilot to make sure the ship never enters waters she can't sail.
Quartermaster – The quartermaster oversees the supplies and items aboard the ship. She maintains the supplies of food and weaponry, oversees the disbursement of food to the cook, and doles out rum ration to the crew. On some ships, it is the quartermaster who decides what is worth looting. She makes the decision based on how much room the ship had, and if the ship was already cramped, spices and exotic materials may be burned rather than stolen.
Rigger – Riggers work the rigging and unfurl the sails. In battle, next to that of a boarding party, the rigger's job is one of the most dangerous, as they pull enemy vessels near enough to board.
Sea Artist - This sea artist refers to the ship's navigator. She is an expert at reading and correcting charts with the proper navigational tools. She should also be expert at reckoning position using the sun, moon, and stars. No less importantly, the sea artist reads the ocean, ably telling shallows and hidden reefs from deep waters and able to determine if storms were approaching.
Striker – Often overlooked, the Striker was often a native of the local islands. Expert hunters, she traps sea turtles and fishes for sharks and other large fish, and she is an expert at hunting game when the crew goes ashore. The striker has a deep knowledge of local plants, allowing her to collect edible fruits and vegetables as well as medicinal plants and herbs. Finally, some strikers were intimately familiar with the dangerous beasts and horrors that lurked on land and sea.
Swab – Any sailor who mops the deck. Also used as slang for any low-ranking or unskilled crew member.