At this point the player characters have fled their city, with a ship filled with provisions and servants.
The Sea Battle
As the player characters flee north, their ship comes within sight of a small pirate fleet from one of the Muslim states that dominates the mouth of the Mediterranean. The player characters can confront the enemy fleet in many ways.
- Combat: the player characters can try standard ship-to-ship combat, but since one of the ships is stuffed with men, rather than cargo, it’s clear that this isn’t a great strategy. Niether set of ships carries powerful weapons. Niether set is designed to ram. At this stage of history, naval battles are just meele battles that happen to be on water. The enemy shower the player characters with thrown rocks and knives, and then try to board, Magi can mitihate each of these problems.
- Diplomacy: the player characters can bribe the pirates by offering them anything worth 50 pounds or more. If the player characters think to make a Bargain roll, then for every point its total exceeds 6, this price is reduced by a pound.
- Outsailing: a player character can try to outsail the other fleet, by making an opposed Profession (Sailor) roll. To escape the player character must make a roll that exceeds the other capitan’s roll. The other captain has an Ability of 8. Magi altering the wind or waves can give a captain bonuses (or the rival captain penalties) for the roll.
- Sabotage: the magi are able to slow or disable the enemy ships with many simple spells. This scene allows the storyguide to demonstrate the difference in scale between Ars and some other roleplaying games, where young magi have more limited powers.
These sailors have inexpensive weapons, and have no armor, because people who fall in water in armor, lacking magical assistance, sink unless they make Swim rolls of 7+ each round. The pirates are, for the most part, fishermen and traders who raid their neighbors during the quiet season. The other 104 are led by a dozen trained warriors.
The enemy have three small ships, each 20 tons in displacement. Each has 12 crew, which do not take up cargo space. One has no cargo, and is packed with 80 additional men, as is common with pirate vessels. The other two have empty cargo holds, to provide space for booty if their raids are successful. Storyguides may reward clever play by suggesting that the pirates have already taken some vessels, so they have some useful cargo.
What If The Player Characters Force The Pirates To Surrender?
If the pirates are going to die, they are perfectly willing to surrender under any reasonable conditions. The player characters can, with sufficent Charm, convince some of the pirates to enter the service of the magi. They can also take the pirates hostage, and send demands to the villages from which they come, although the amount of money their relatives posess might not be worth the effort.