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Ancient Greek Naval Combat For Ortus Novae

Several thousand years ago, the Trireme was the height of technology for naval warfare in the Aegean. These massive ships were built with rams on their prows and they would plow through the sea with the force of dozens upon dozens of oarsmen. These warships were fast and explosive in their power, and when they weren't rushing out to cleave each other in half, they were lashing themselves to their burning foes, closing enough distance that armored warriors could pour from one boat to another in desperate boarding actions that were as loud as they were bloody.

Ortus Novae: Trireme is a modification to the Ortus Novae rules that will allow you to conduct massive tabletop armada battles using ancient Greek warships you've assembled (or printed) yourself. Using the same quick and frantic rule set as the core game of Ortus Novae, you can simulate clashes between massive hordes of triremes, biremes, pentecounters and quadremes without getting bogged down by spreadsheets, arcane rule loopholes or unnecessary bookkeeping.

To show the versatility of the Ortus Novae system, you can use the basic rules without any modifications to simulate battles in the Aegean Sea, but the New Optional Special Rules below can also be used in addition to the basic rules in order to make the whole experience that much more fun and exciting. Some additional notes: many of the Optional Special Rules for the base game (carriers, lightning guns, HSU arrays, etc.) would be a little out of place in the ancient Aegean, so they aren't recommended for play. Elite units are certainly viable units in Ortus Novae: Trireme, though! Also, this variant of the game isn't really a 6mm scale game. It's more somewhere in the range of 1:500 to 1:1200 scale. Ultimately, the size of the miniatures and the scale you use is up to you.

If you want to get really wild with it, you can even listen to Bardcore music or some ancient Greek sea shanties.


All of the base units in Ortus Novae: Trireme are considered to have Boarding Parties and are considered to be fitted for Ramming, even the Pentecounters. Note: you may want to limit all units combat ranges to just six inches, accounting for the fact that the projectile weapons of the time are pretty much uniform across all units no matter how big a ship is. Certainly a massive Polyreme rated at d20 might be big enough to carry a catapult, but these ships were very rare.

Base units in Ortus Novae: Trireme fall into four categories ranked by die scale:

Pentecounters: (d4)
Bireme: (d6)
Trireme: (d8)
Quadreme: (d10)

These are all available for free as part of the Ortus Novae: Trireme set here on Thingiverse here.

Larger ships were certainly fielded in actual battles, but for now, I leave it up to players to build and field their own "Epic" units, such as the Quinqueremes or Hexaremes (d12), Septiremes or Octeres (d20), and Enneres or Deceres (d30). Ptolemy IV's Tessarakonteres might well have been a worthy of being a d100 die class unit per these rules, making for a crazy stompy boss that absolutely breaks all gameplay / makes for an awesome time (depending on your perspective.)

Boarding Parties
Instead of attacking, a ship with this ability may move to attach itself to any other ship within three inches. While attached, it uses its target as cover (see cover rules), but may detach at the beginning of its move any number of turns out. The target also counts as being in cover, and shots at either ship risk hitting the other. This includes if the target fires on the attached ship, meaning the target can fire on the ship attached to it, but risks damaging itself. The attached ship cannot fire as normal while attached.

Once attached (even on the initial turn) a ship with this ability may attack with its crew. Roll two dice against the target ship. If the Boarding Party ship wins the roll, the target takes no damage and is now under the control of the owner of the Boarding Party ship. If the target wins the roll, or if the roll results in a tie, there is no effect. When movement occurs, both players may move their vessels, but the attached vessels move as one regardless of who is moving them.

Note: If both ships are equipped with boarding parties, they may both make boarding party attacks while attached.

Ships equipped with a Boarding Party cost 1.5x to deploy.

Instead of moving or firing as normal, a ship designed to ram may ram-attack another ship no more than twice its move distance away. A ship must be facing its target in order to ram. Resolve this as an attack, but give the ramming ship two dice to roll and add the totals together. If the ramming ship rolls higher, its target takes one point of damage. If the ramming ship rolls lower, both ships take one point of damage. Either way, place the ramming ship (if it survives) on the other side of the target unit. Ships built to ram cost 2x the die value of the ship.

When calculating unit costs, you can use the base costs (if all units are the same and only from the initial list of four units) or calculate using PEMDAS.

Ortus Novae: Trireme takes place several thousand years before the post-apocalyptic setting of the main game. As such, there are different factions that should be fielded in place of the factions of the base game, as VNs and Moon Valkyries would probably outclass the warships of the ancient Aegean in battle.

Spartans gain +1 to all attack rolls.

Athenians gain +1 to attack range and move range.

Pirates gain +1 to rolls when boarding.

Corinthians get -1 to deploy costs, but cannot deploy anything heavier than a bireme.

Persians may roll a die at the end of their turn. If the result is equal, you may put one sunk Pentecounter or Bireme back into play again at your border.

Vikings: Vikings? In the Aegean? During the Peloponnesian War? Madness! (This faction is just for fun.) Vikings use special ships, which you can find for free on Thingiverse here. Unlike the Greek ships which are the mainstay of Ortus Novae: Trireme, Viking ships cannot ram. As a faction, Vikings get +1 to attack range and +1 to rolls when boarding. If they take over a Greek ship fitted for ramming, they can certainly use it for such, but the stock Viking vessels are not built for ramming.

Viking Variants: Playing with multiple fleets of Vikings? Consider using the factions of Norse Mythology. Icy ships of the dead following Naglfar, Fiery ships from Muspellheim and, of course, viking long ships crewed by the gods of Asgard and their Einherjar.

Ancient Philippine Navy: As if Vikings in the Aegean weren't anachronistic enough! (This faction is just for fun.) The Ancient Philippine Navy uses special ships, which you can find for free on Thingiverse here. Unlike the Greek ships which are the mainstay of Ortus Novae: Trireme, Philippine ships are not built to ram. As a faction, the Philippine Navy gains a +3 to move range for all ships. If they take over a Greek ship fitted for ramming, they can certainly use it for such, but the stock Philippine vessels are not built for ramming.

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