To make running naval combat easier, I’m thinking of writing in these roles as tips for player and GM. I liked the way the new Star Trek RPG tries to give every player something to do in ship to ship battles. Hari Ragat of course has very different technological paradigms, but the principle that every player’s character must have something important to do still stands.
The captain is responsible for calling the tactics to the pilot and crew, and is stationed on the highest deck, sometimes near the pilot at the stern, sometimes near the prow. The captain can roll contests against the enemy captains to out-think them and figure out which maneuver will work better in the given situation; victory gives Advantage to the pilot's next contest roll. Often the captain and pilot are the same character.
The pilot is responsible for maneuvering and positioning your ship, and is stationed at the steering oar at the stern. Contests of speed and maneuvering are rolled by the pilot; victories can be used to optimize the range to the enemy, or to gain Advantage for the combatants.
Most PCs will be in this role, stationed on the decks. Combatants attack enemy crewmen and combatants with ranged weapons, and make boarding attacks or repel boarders when boarding combat has begun. PCs may also attempt Heroic Displays to gain Ancestral Favor.
If there is a Baylan on board, she can perform Prayers for Ancestral Favor -- always a good tactic because it can aid any of the other PCs -- or work other forms of magic, or defend against the magic of enemy shamans. It's entirely appropriate for the Baylan to spend a whole battle chanting and dancing in Prayer for Ancestral Favor, despite the attempts of the enemy to interupt her.
If there is a chanter on board, she can perform inspiring epic songs that gain Ancestral Favor, which in turn can be spent to inspire the warriors. Only one shaman or chanter can perform at a time -- you cannot have both at once. As with the Baylan, it's appropriate for a chanter to spend the whole battle singing for Ancestral Favor, again despite the enemy's efforts to interrupt her.
If lantakas are available in your campaign, the gunner is in command of the gun crews, and makes the rolls to attack with the guns. A ship usually has only one or two cannon, if at all. Hm - this could be the avenue for a Panday class.
Sailors are usually NPCs, whose job is to work the rigging, bail and make emergency repairs, and drag the wounded to safety. Since most available men are assigned either to paddling or to fighting during battle, there are usually only a few free sailors on hand during a fight.
Paddlers are usually sailor NPCs, whose paddling propels and helps steer the ship. Theirs is a difficult task in battle, for while they paddle they are exposed and defenseless; only the efforts of the combatants on deck can keep the enemy busy enough not to target them. If a PC joins the paddlers, they gain Advantage to resist efforts to dislodge them from their stations.
Some nobles and wealthy men take NPC manservants with them to battle. Those not assigned to paddling may aid in battle by holding shields for their masters and bearing spare weapons and ammunition. A combatant with a shieldbearer gains Advantage to avoid missile attacks.
Noncombatants without any vital supporting roles like chanter or shaman stay out of the way as much as they can, below the fighting deck if on a karakoa where they’re safer from missile attack.