[SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by night_druid » Fri Oct 10, 2008 1:05 pm

Big Mac wrote:Where are you getting your catapult from? Is it from WotC or from another conversion?
The 3e DMG is where I got the damage. The 2e numbers are for hull damage, the 3e numbers are for actual HP. IIRC, 3e had light catapults doing 3d6, heavies 5d6, and ballista doing 4d6. I could be off slightly, but I remember the HP damage was stupid-low.

Why can't we either have:
A catapult that does damage that is more like (2d4) x 10? (20d4 would do the job, although that is a lot of caltrops) or
That might be a bit high, but it is what Hackmaster had for artillery damage. I certainly recommend upping the damage on ship weapons; they're stupid-low.

Keep the 3e damage lower than the 2e damage (and maybe even cut it more), but allow more big weapons per ship to get the "broadside" attack feel you see in Age of Sail films and TV shows.
The downside to this is it requires a radical redesign of every SJ ship. Also changes the feel, requiring many more men than previously. Age of Sail ship usually carried a couple of hundred men. Nevermind the bucket-of-dice you'd need to roll for attacks...at that point, you're better off doing what the Heroes of Battle (IIRC) book did, just make combat narrative and let PCs handle commanders and such. :P

If people can run faster and fire a crossbow faster, what is the justification for it taking longer to load a siege weapon? It seems like this one element of SJ combat is being unfairly slowed down.
The simple fact that it takes X-number of seconds/minutes to reload a catapult :lol: 1-minute rounds were silly long for personal combat, but fairly accurate for siege weapons. Might do some research to see how long it takes to reload catapults & cannons (and by catapults, I'd go with the smaller ones, not the huge treboche ;) ). I have a feeling 2-5 minutes is a bit long on reload time; it may be closer to 30 seconds or so for a good canon, 1 minute for a catapult.
Your input is highly useful. Even if we don't go with all the HackJammer ideas (or even if we go with one, realise it is a dead end for us, and then abandon it) it is still really useful to be able to build on the R&D that you put into that system.
Heh, I'll help where I can. :)

Some ideas to consider:
Start with just the ships from SJ boxed ships. Some products, particularly Lost Ships & WCC, added some bizarre ships that have a completely different feel (clipper) &/or broke the rules (viper).

Come up with what role you think each ship should fulfill. Some examples below.

Tradesman: Scale it down to 60' (& redo the interior, putting in-line with coasters. A full-sized tradesman would be like a galleon.
Dragonfly: Scaled down to 50', it becomes "a good ship's boat". The 100' version would be more a cog.
Hammership: I don't think one scales well, so I'd leave the size alone, but make it the dreadnaught of wildspace.
Squidship: Another ship that doesn't scale well, but its a bit "overtonned" for its interior. It makes a good war galley/frigate.
Nautiloid: leave the size alone, just make it a dreadnaught ;)

Anyways, just a couple of ideas.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Ashtagon » Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:04 pm

One issue with making ships "killable" for use in ship vs monster fights, is whether a won battle against a ship leaves nothing but debris, or leaves a salvageable hull. Personally, I favour giving ships insane amounts of hp, but noting that at half hp, it is crippled. Or, for more detail, divide the ship into a number of locations, and as each location is "killed", any major systems in that location (weapons, mostly) are crippled.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:30 pm

night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Where are you getting your catapult from? Is it from WotC or from another conversion?
The 3e DMG is where I got the damage. The 2e numbers are for hull damage, the 3e numbers are for actual HP. IIRC, 3e had light catapults doing 3d6, heavies 5d6, and ballista doing 4d6. I could be off slightly, but I remember the HP damage was stupid-low.
Hmm. Considering what Ashtagon has said in his reply to you, I do wonder about the usefulness of destroying a ship. Destroy a ship and (it seems that) its air envelope breaks up. Not only are the crew stuck in the middle of wildspace, they also have a much reduced time for a rescue.

If you kill an orc you get a dead orc. You can search the orc for treasure, and then leave or bury the body. Shouldn't the same thing happen with a dead SJ ship? You can behead an orc, so you should probably be able to cut the masts of a ship down or break its keel, but I think there should be a "body" left at the end of the fight.

We are probably getting into the territory of conversion vs adaption here, so this suggestion might be something that is more useful for a "Pathfinder SJ conversion" than a "3e conversion", but I think it is worth discussing.
night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Why can't we either have:
A catapult that does damage that is more like (2d4) x 10? (20d4 would do the job, although that is a lot of caltrops) or
That might be a bit high, but it is what Hackmaster had for artillery damage. I certainly recommend upping the damage on ship weapons; they're stupid-low.
We haven't touched on stuff like ship hardness or ship damage reduction yet. If wimpy 3e seige weapons could bypass hardness, but normal weapons couldn't, maybe that would bring back a little bit of damage.
night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Keep the 3e damage lower than the 2e damage (and maybe even cut it more), but allow more big weapons per ship to get the "broadside" attack feel you see in Age of Sail films and TV shows.
The downside to this is it requires a radical redesign of every SJ ship. Also changes the feel, requiring many more men than previously. Age of Sail ship usually carried a couple of hundred men. Nevermind the bucket-of-dice you'd need to roll for attacks...at that point, you're better off doing what the Heroes of Battle (IIRC) book did, just make combat narrative and let PCs handle commanders and such. :P
Well, the biggest problem with upping weapon numbers, would be that it would up weapon crew numbers and burn up air faster.

I wouldn't mind a simplified (i.e. for the GM) system that gave us the adjusted modifier for an average weapon crew using each type of weapon. But what I would really love to see, would be a system where an individual PC could step in to replace a weaponeer and make attack rolls on behalf of the ship. (It would also be good if the PC could pull a few ropes on the rigging and make an "aid action" roll to help the ship turn further than its MC would normally allow. And d20 checks to attempt enhanced jamming skills is another thing I'd like to investigate.)
night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:If people can run faster and fire a crossbow faster, what is the justification for it taking longer to load a siege weapon? It seems like this one element of SJ combat is being unfairly slowed down.
The simple fact that it takes X-number of seconds/minutes to reload a catapult :lol: 1-minute rounds were silly long for personal combat, but fairly accurate for siege weapons. Might do some research to see how long it takes to reload catapults & cannons (and by catapults, I'd go with the smaller ones, not the huge treboche ;) ). I have a feeling 2-5 minutes is a bit long on reload time; it may be closer to 30 seconds or so for a good canon, 1 minute for a catapult.
According to Wikipeida, someone built an early bombard that took 3 hours to load up!

The issue I have with long reload times, is that SJ "combat" could turn into an exercise of running off of the hex map (or square map) before another ship can shoot them.

Then again, SJ combat might refocus more on ramming attacks or grappling. Ramming and grappling allow for boarding actions and that is where PCs can really get involved in the adventure.
night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Your input is highly useful. Even if we don't go with all the HackJammer ideas (or even if we go with one, realise it is a dead end for us, and then abandon it) it is still really useful to be able to build on the R&D that you put into that system.
Heh, I'll help where I can. :)
night_druid wrote:Some ideas to consider:
Start with just the ships from SJ boxed ships. Some products, particularly Lost Ships & WCC, added some bizarre ships that have a completely different feel (clipper) &/or broke the rules (viper).

Come up with what role you think each ship should fulfill. Some examples below.

Tradesman: Scale it down to 60' (& redo the interior, putting in-line with coasters. A full-sized tradesman would be like a galleon.
Dragonfly: Scaled down to 50', it becomes "a good ship's boat". The 100' version would be more a cog.
Hammership: I don't think one scales well, so I'd leave the size alone, but make it the dreadnaught of wildspace.
Squidship: Another ship that doesn't scale well, but its a bit "overtonned" for its interior. It makes a good war galley/frigate.
Nautiloid: leave the size alone, just make it a dreadnaught ;)

Anyways, just a couple of ideas.
From what you are saying here, we might as well ask Silverblade to redesign the ships (in 3D) and rebuild the rules around what he does.

My major concern with rescaling ships is that it obviously changes the size of their air envelopes. And that will alter the maximum crew capacity. So that would be a fair bit of recalculation for each ship, with the casual observer failing to see anything "new". Then again, rebuilt hull designs could work with any edition of D&D, so wouldn't need to be tied into this.

On a less in-your-face level, ship redesign seems more like adjustment than conversion, so again this feels like more of a Pathfinder SJ thing. But SotSM rebooted the ships, so perhaps they could work better with a more subtle reboot. (I certainly think that Steven has proved that you can do a redesign that usually looks very close to the original.)
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:00 pm

Ashtagon wrote:One issue with making ships "killable" for use in ship vs monster fights, is whether a won battle against a ship leaves nothing but debris, or leaves a salvageable hull. Personally, I favour giving ships insane amounts of hp, but noting that at half hp, it is crippled. Or, for more detail, divide the ship into a number of locations, and as each location is "killed", any major systems in that location (weapons, mostly) are crippled.
This is a very good point. If a ship always breaks up, that isn't good for the adventure.

There are rules for disabled, dying and dead characters that we could use for SJ combat. There are also variant rules for death and dying that could inspire us to create a system for ships that have zero hit points or negative hit points.

I think I would prefer to have a ship get crippled at zero hit points (rather than have a 20 hit point flitter that is crippled at 10 hp and a 1200 hit point Man-O-War that is crippled at 600 hp).

Some races/classes are able to carry on fighting with negative hit points, so I think it should be possible for a ship hull to be designed to carry on working until it falls to bits. Or for a helmsman to keep pushing the helm while the deck planks start to rip off.

Finally, we need to have some sort of limit (not necessarily 10 points, but that could be a minimum) where the ship just does not work as a ship and is basically a bunch of useless timber. Below that limit, it should be possible for the ship's carpenters to "stabilise the damage" and prevent the ship from falling to bits, but after that limit the ship's back should break, the decks should rip apart, the masts should collapse or something else major should happen.

I wouldn't be against allowing a Man-O-War to drop all the way down to -600 hp before it starts to break up, but if you enforced the disabled/dying penalties (that apply to characters) the ship could take 1 hp of damage from firing its own catapults (or other weapons) and would also loose 1 hp of damage per round until a temporary repair was carried out. This could give us a system, where a Man-O-War could be "dead in the water", but could choose to fight on while people tried to patch it up enough for the helmsman to be able to get the ship moving again.

If we are going to do anything like this, I think we need to seriously rethink Spelljammer Shock. I'm not too attached to the random critical hit table from 2e, but love a lot of its results. I would argue that Spelljammer Shock (for 3e) could be something a helmsman suffers from when his ship hits zero hp. The helmsman has linked his mind into this artificial body and that body is disabled or dying. He should mentally have to fight off the shock of feeling like he is disabled or dying himself. (I wouldn't want helmsman to die, but if their ship dies it should knock them out.)

I would be tempted to force all helmsmen to save against SJ shock when a ship drops to or below zero hp and then make the "pain of the ship" so distracting that helmsmen need to make a concentration check (vs ship damage) to be able to concentrate on spelljamming. (For artificial helms, I wouldn't give them the chance to make saving throws. That would give living helmsmen an advantage that they should have.)

I think that big ships (like the Man-O-War) should be unaffected by massive damage, but I wouldn't apply that to their helmsmen. I'd say that helmsmen on a ship that takes 50 hp of damage in one round* should save against Spelljammer Shock. This would allow pirates to hit a ship with enough fire power to knock out its helmsman and then cease an intact ship.

* = I'd be willing to consider shifting that 50 hp higher (say 100hp) if people felt that was too low, but the default rule would be easier to remember.

EDIT: Thinking of this again, I suppose you could relaunch the 2e "critical hit table" as a "massive damage table". (Although if Night Druid is correct, a ship would rarely get hit with 50hp of damage.)

As for crippling individual parts of the ship, that is more like the rules for sundering a weapon. So I think we would want to have a system that allows people to take out sails, ship weapons and other important ship features with precision attacks.

I also think that the Helpless Defenders rules would apply whenever a ship has the helm down. A Coup de Grace attack probably wouldn't be totally appropriate as I think ships should be immune to any rule that says "save or die". But perhaps a modified Coup de Grace attack could force a helmsman to save vs Spelljammer Shock if he is trying to start up the helm while his ship is being targeted.

I think I've said elsewhere that someone actually on a SJ ship should be able to get free attacks on the ship they are on. So they would continue to gain the helpless defender benifits even if the ship was moving.

I think that if you put these basic concepts together, you can get a system with high hit point ships that can be stopped dead by 50hp attacks (that knock out the helm or helmsman). That means that an Old Black Dragon could (just) cause enough damage with its breath weapon to make the helmsman pass out from Spelljammer Shock.

The ship becomes harder to destroy, but the helmsman becomes the weak link that enemies can attack. Effectively our 3e dragon would be fighting against our 3e helmsman - not the ship itself. And that helmsmen would be using his or her talents to push the ship beyond its capabilities so that they could get one up on the dragon.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Bidmaron » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:24 am

I am leaving for sea trials on a submarine tomorrow, and I'll be gone for a week, but I just wanted to drop my .02. First, I really like a lot of the discussion that has taken place. A couple of points:
1) To be consistent with 3e, we should have the move and attacks on the same initiative. This is no more bogus than the simplification that moves and attacks occur on the same initiative. I see no reason to change this 3e mechanic since there is no 2e violation.
2) I'm not against making tactical speed higher, but the problem is that personal ranged weapons would become almost useless, as whatever the ratio of SJ squares to normal squares is, the ship would move so fast as to make the only time a character could shoot (or cast a spell) the round that the ramming or grappling occurred. Maybe that's okay, but I kind of like the idea that, in the last couple of rounds as ships close, the PCs can try to make ranged attacks against, oh, say the helmsman (if he's unprotected) or a weapon crew. I say we should make the tactical speeds and the square ratios whatever they need to be so that the average speed ship gets some number of combat rounds where personal ranged weapons could be used before the ram/grapple.
3) I see no problem with increasing siege weapon damage to whatever value we want that would work with the conversion that 1 hull point=10 hit points. The rationalization would be that siege weapons outside an air envelope have both longer range and do more damage due to retaining more momentum.
4) The negative hit points a ship can have until it breaks up should be fixed. This is just like in 3e where a gargantuan dragon dies at -10 hp just like a halfling dies at -10 hp. This number should not vary by ship size/hull type. I do very much like the idea that a ship can stabilize without breaking up at negative hit points. Perhaps the rule would be that if the helmsman stays conscious after the automatic spelljammer shock at 0 hp, and if he continues to attempt to maneuver the ship (perhaps at some reduced rate/MC), then the ship continues to lose 1 (or some number of hp) until it reaches the disentegrate number of hp.
5) I like the discussion of the kits. Some great ideas there!

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Ashtagon » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:46 am

Without gravity to interfere, there isn't any particular reason why personal ranged weapons that don't really on swinging arcs (basically, I'm excluding slings here) from having extended ranges. Maybe by default, anyone could have x2 range increment size after a month of acclimatisation and training, and with a feat, that x2 could become x5.

(I'm pulling numbers out of my hat here btw, exact multipliers need playtesting).

A similar thng should work with spelljamer ship mounted weapons; outside a gravity well, ballistae should have a greater range anyway, and catapults that are designed to adjust for the no-gravity portion of the flight arc by loosing the ammunition in a non-parabolic arc could have a similar bonus. Groundling catapults typically won't be so designed, and I'm not entirely sure it is possible to design such a catapult, but I'm keeping the option open in the interests of verisimilitude.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:14 am

Bidmaron wrote:I am leaving for sea trials on a submarine tomorrow, and I'll be gone for a week, but I just wanted to drop my .02. First, I really like a lot of the discussion that has taken place. A couple of points:
Good luck with that.
Bidmaron wrote:1) To be consistent with 3e, we should have the move and attacks on the same initiative. This is no more bogus than the simplification that moves and attacks occur on the same initiative. I see no reason to change this 3e mechanic since there is no 2e violation.
This is one of the biggest things that has been bugging me about creating a system that allows a ship to be "several people working as a team". You effectively need them to have a "shared initiative". Where we get that initiative from, I'm not quite sure. The helmsman is probably going to decide the initiative of movement, but then not all helms are controlled by people. Are we going to give helms like a Furnace an initiative score? Will we give them no initiative (and count that as a +0 modifier - like an undead's constitution)?

A character can make an attack and then move (on their initiative) or move and then make an attack. So I suggest that weaponeers can either make their attack before the ship moves or after the ship moves (but not during the move). (I might even go with allowing one weaponeer to attack before the move and a second weaponeer to attack after the move.)

A fighter can take the Spring Attack feat or Ride-By Attack feat to allow them to make a move before and after an attack. There needs to be something like this (that allows a ship to move, attack and move again). I'd argue that it should be the helmsman taking this feat (even though the weaponeers would benifit from it) because it relates to the way that the ship performs in combat more than it relates to the way that the ship weapon performs in combat.
Bidmaron wrote:2) I'm not against making tactical speed higher, but the problem is that personal ranged weapons would become almost useless, as whatever the ratio of SJ squares to normal squares is, the ship would move so fast as to make the only time a character could shoot (or cast a spell) the round that the ramming or grappling occurred. Maybe that's okay, but I kind of like the idea that, in the last couple of rounds as ships close, the PCs can try to make ranged attacks against, oh, say the helmsman (if he's unprotected) or a weapon crew. I say we should make the tactical speeds and the square ratios whatever they need to be so that the average speed ship gets some number of combat rounds where personal ranged weapons could be used before the ram/grapple.
I believe that the maximum range was 1 hex in 2e. But in 3e you get a -2 to hit for every extra Range Increment. The SRD gives weapons a maximum range of 10x the increment and I belive there are feats that boost that. A heavy crossbow already has a maximum range (-20 to hit) of 1,200 feet without that boost. That is more than one hex.

Ships can occupy the same hex in 2e, so in 3e I'd say that if a ship enters another ship's square that all crew on the "stationary ship" get a free attack of opportunity. I would say the same for ship's passing through the square of another ship and maybe (depending on what the SRD says about personal combat) add attacks of opportunity if ships travel through squares that a ship "threatens".
Bidmaron wrote:3) I see no problem with increasing siege weapon damage to whatever value we want that would work with the conversion that 1 hull point=10 hit points. The rationalization would be that siege weapons outside an air envelope have both longer range and do more damage due to retaining more momentum.
Hmm. Don't forget that SJ ships need to be able to have combat while flying through the atmosphere of a planet. We need one system that works in space, in the air and on the ground.
Bidmaron wrote:4) The negative hit points a ship can have until it breaks up should be fixed. This is just like in 3e where a gargantuan dragon dies at -10 hp just like a halfling dies at -10 hp. This number should not vary by ship size/hull type. I do very much like the idea that a ship can stabilize without breaking up at negative hit points. Perhaps the rule would be that if the helmsman stays conscious after the automatic spelljammer shock at 0 hp, and if he continues to attempt to maneuver the ship (perhaps at some reduced rate/MC), then the ship continues to lose 1 (or some number of hp) until it reaches the disentegrate number of hp.
OK then. A ship that drops below 0 hp would be "breaking up" (just as a character/monster would be dying) and would need to be "stabilised" by something like a carpentry check. I would even go for the ship being "broken up" (being dead) at -10 hp, because that works out as -1 2e hull points and is therefore kind-of poetic.

The -10 rule, really just gives each ship one extra "hull point" to play with.

<snip - nothing specific about the kits mentioned, other than they were interesting>
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:17 am

Ashtagon wrote:Without gravity to interfere, there isn't any particular reason why personal ranged weapons that don't really on swinging arcs (basically, I'm excluding slings here) from having extended ranges. Maybe by default, anyone could have x2 range increment size after a month of acclimatisation and training, and with a feat, that x2 could become x5.
Sounds like you want to give people the Far Shot feat for free. But if you want to do that, then I think your ranges should tie into that feat description.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Ashtagon » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:25 am

Big Mac wrote:
Ashtagon wrote:Without gravity to interfere, there isn't any particular reason why personal ranged weapons that don't really on swinging arcs (basically, I'm excluding slings here) from having extended ranges. Maybe by default, anyone could have x2 range increment size after a month of acclimatisation and training, and with a feat, that x2 could become x5.
Sounds like you want to give people the Far Shot feat for free. But if you want to do that, then I think your ranges should tie into that feat description.
Just be to clear, I think any such "no gravity" range bonus for personal missile weapons should stack with Far Shot. The intention is to have ships moving fast, and still have personal weapons of a range suitable to have some kind of playable effect in ship-to-ship combat.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:24 am

Ashtagon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Ashtagon wrote:Without gravity to interfere, there isn't any particular reason why personal ranged weapons that don't really on swinging arcs (basically, I'm excluding slings here) from having extended ranges. Maybe by default, anyone could have x2 range increment size after a month of acclimatisation and training, and with a feat, that x2 could become x5.
Sounds like you want to give people the Far Shot feat for free. But if you want to do that, then I think your ranges should tie into that feat description.
Just be to clear, I think any such "no gravity" range bonus for personal missile weapons should stack with Far Shot. The intention is to have ships moving fast, and still have personal weapons of a range suitable to have some kind of playable effect in ship-to-ship combat.
Hmm. My real reservations are with this part of the sentence: "Maybe by default, anyone could have x2 range increment size after a month of acclimatisation and training...". To me, "training" implies taking a feat or spending points in a skill. So I like your idea (as a concept) but am not convinced it should be a "wildspace freebie". (I also like the second bit "...and with a feat, that x2 could become x5.", but think that that would be a second feat and that the range would need looking at.)

I wonder if Improved Far Shot (from the Netbook of Feats) (which cuts down range penalties) would be a more appropriate way to go with this sort of thing. (And even if it isn't, it sounds like that feat is something that would be more useful to spacefarers than groundlings.)

I've also seen something in a forum (but lost the link) suggesting that Dragonstar had their own "Improved Far Shot" that changed the -2 per range increment penalty to a -1 per range increment penalty (but don't know if they tried to PI the name). That sounds like it might be a lot more powerful than the Netbook of Feats version (at extreme range) so if someone has the book it comes from perhaps they could check out the OGC/PI definition.

One thing I'm thinking is that we should look at the text of Far Shot:
Far Shot from the SRD wrote:Far Shot [General]
Prerequisite
Point Blank Shot.

Benefit
When you use a projectile weapon, such as a bow, its range increment increases by one-half (multiply by 1½). When you use a thrown weapon, its range increment is doubled.

Special
A fighter may select Far Shot as one of his fighter bonus feats.
Looking at that you can see that Far Shot is something that stacks on top of something else, so giving a similar benifit as a freebie really feels like it could unbalance the game. I think you have definately highlighted something where we should add in something, but sidestepping two feats (Far Shot and Point Blank Shot) seems wrong. I think we should look at the Writing Guidelines of Netbook of Feats and make sure anything we come up with isn't more powerful than their feats.

I think that wildspace archery should be something that would require knowledge of ranged weapons and knowledge of the "mechanics" of the void. My feel, is that things like arrows would (in theory) travel forever in wildspace, but that an archer would not (by default) be able to aim that far ahead of the target to be able to take advange of infinate range.

As for ranged weapons with swinging arcs, I've argued elsewhere that you could fire a catapult forward instead of in a parabolic arc, so think that a person could learn to sling a stone in a straight line. So I don't think we should limit this to specific weapons. (Although a feat that only provides the bonus on one specific ranged weapon, and has to be taken again for other weapons, would be OK, if it looks like this is overpowered.)

Now given that we are talking about something that will be useless in on a planet (or even on an asteroid), I'd be inclined to go with something that applies to all ranged weapons that a PC/NPC has proficiency in (but no thrown weapons) and then look at the SRD rules to see the maximum range for weapons (and for targets as large as a spelljamming ship). What we really want is a feat that turns a personal weapon into a weapon that can be used at "Tactical Range".

I don't have the time to do the number crunching today, but think that if we can spread out all the existing modifiers, we can see how far the SRD rules fall short of what we "need" to give to people.

One way to go would be to have a basic feat that allows ranged combat against ships at Tactical Range, and have an improved feat that allows people to target crew at Tactical Range. But I'd probably be inclined to make this sort of thing a specialist job - we might even want to design a Wildspace Archer Prestige Class, who gets this sort of thing as a class ability (and who also gets a stack of ranged combat feats that fit in with this).

I'm onboard with the general idea, but think I need to think more about this before working out where I think the benchmark should be.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Ashtagon » Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:28 am

Ok, by "acclimatisation and training", I meant that the person must be in a place where they could actually practice the necessary techniques, and has the free time to practice them. Basically, I envision it happening in down time between adventuring, but in a place where zero-gravity environments are common enough to practice in. I don't see any reason for a feat to exist to gain this bonus.

This bonus does stack with the various "extended range" feats and talents.

Also, this bonus only works where there is a significant amount of zero-gravity air/vacuum space to be crossed by the missile weapon. That effectively limits it to ship-to-ship wildspace combat, the Elemental Plane of Air, and certain regions of the Plane of Limbo. The range bonus would not apply on comabt within an asteroid base, since the combat would take place entirely within a gravity field in that case.

Basically, I imagine the situations in which the bonus could come into play are so specialised that it would not be worth investing a feat for those limited situations, and that without the bonus, non-shipboard weapons are completely useless due to the ranges at which ship-to-ship combat takes place.

I specifically excluded slings from the bonus because there is a large amount of muscle memory inherent in aiming a sling correctly, but aiming a bow or crossbow correctly is a matter of body posture, and it's something you can use higher cognitive functions to think on before loosing your missile. No other slung missile weapons spring to mind, but I imagine a similar muscle memory vs. cognitive aiming issue would apply.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:13 pm

Ashtagon wrote:Ok, by "acclimatisation and training", I meant that the person must be in a place where they could actually practice the necessary techniques, and has the free time to practice them. Basically, I envision it happening in down time between adventuring, but in a place where zero-gravity environments are common enough to practice in. I don't see any reason for a feat to exist to gain this bonus.
I've been thinking about this and I think the logical alternative to a feat is to build it into the basic rules and allow people to do this instantly (i.e. without needing to be trained). To me training implies feat, and no training implies that you can "get the concept". I think an archer would be able to see their arrows going high (instead of in a parabolic arc) and would be able to adjust their aim after one or two missed shots. And I think that a spacefaring crew would advise any groundling archers to take a few practice shots when they came onboard a ship. Even if the crew were of the "arrogant spacefarer" variety, they would still realise that a groundling archer could help defend them from a pirate attack (or whatever) and would grudgingly pass on the information about arrows not curving in wildspace.
Ashtagon wrote:This bonus does stack with the various "extended range" feats and talents.
Out of interest, I would like to max out an archer just to make sure we don't make the distance too long. Conversly, if this doesn't allow an archer to shoot more than "one hex", I think we should bump it up.
Ashtagon wrote:Also, this bonus only works where there is a significant amount of zero-gravity air/vacuum space to be crossed by the missile weapon. That effectively limits it to ship-to-ship wildspace combat, the Elemental Plane of Air, and certain regions of the Plane of Limbo. The range bonus would not apply on comabt within an asteroid base, since the combat would take place entirely within a gravity field in that case.
Good point. I think we should check Planewalker.com's conversions in case they have any similar rules.
Ashtagon wrote:Basically, I imagine the situations in which the bonus could come into play are so specialised that it would not be worth investing a feat for those limited situations, and that without the bonus, non-shipboard weapons are completely useless due to the ranges at which ship-to-ship combat takes place.
Even though this is of limited use, I do think we should have a feat that sits on top of it. After all an elven flitter fighter pilot is going to need to take everything they can get to help. So even if this only just gets used by NPCs, we should definately create a feat to augment any natural wildspace range extension we create.
Ashtagon wrote:I specifically excluded slings from the bonus because there is a large amount of muscle memory inherent in aiming a sling correctly, but aiming a bow or crossbow correctly is a matter of body posture, and it's something you can use higher cognitive functions to think on before loosing your missile. No other slung missile weapons spring to mind, but I imagine a similar muscle memory vs. cognitive aiming issue would apply.
If an archer can learn to do this (effectively shooting in a straight line instead of a parabolic arc) then anyone with a sling can learn it too IMHO.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Ashtagon » Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:55 pm

Ok, if it is a choice between "instant" (after a five-minute lecture and a couple of practice shots in a worst-case scenario), or a feat, I'll take instant for this ability. I think it is important that NPC squads of archers be able to loose a volley of arrows, which would be impossible if it required a feat. I would want at the very least though, a five minute practice session in the environment, which can only be done after they have either been made aware of the gravity situation by someone already familiar with it, or have seen their missiles fall off-course in their first fight.

I agree we need to max out the archer abilities to see how extreme things can get. ideally, our intrepid heroes (PCs) should max out at a range roughly equivalent to a small ship-mounted weapon, and NPC squads of archers at about half that.

regarding slings, I still don't think they should be able to take advantage of this feature of zero-gravity, but in the interests of verisimilitude (rather than realism (but hey, we are talking about magical flying galleons that carry an air bubble with odd gravity physics and crystal spheres)), I'm willing to go along with granting this to all missile weapons*.

* Except chips. You should not be able to toss chips at orbital velocities. That's just gross.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:20 pm

Ashtagon wrote:Ok, if it is a choice between "instant" (after a five-minute lecture and a couple of practice shots in a worst-case scenario), or a feat, I'll take instant for this ability. I think it is important that NPC squads of archers be able to loose a volley of arrows, which would be impossible if it required a feat. I would want at the very least though, a five minute practice session in the environment, which can only be done after they have either been made aware of the gravity situation by someone already familiar with it, or have seen their missiles fall off-course in their first fight.
I actually think it would be fun to get anyone who makes a ranged combat attack to roll an Intellegence check! If they fail the check, you tell them "your shot misses", but if they pass the check you tell them "rather than travelling up and then down in a parabolic arc, you notice that your arrow continues to travel up in a straight line and goes far above the target". I think that is enough of a clue to let people know they should fire arrows in a straight line.
Ashtagon wrote:I agree we need to max out the archer abilities to see how extreme things can get. ideally, our intrepid heroes (PCs) should max out at a range roughly equivalent to a small ship-mounted weapon, and NPC squads of archers at about half that.
Hmm. Lets have a look. Ranged combat can either be done with Thrown Weapons or Projectile Weapons. Each ranged weapon has a Range Increment. Within the range increment a ranged weapon suffers no penalties, but for every full range increment imposes a penalty of -2 on the attack roll. A thrown weapon has a maximum range of five range increments and a projectile weapon has a maximum range of 10 range increments.

A hex is 500 yards (1,500 ft) across. An archer can fire an arrow from a longbow 1,000 ft, but they suffer a -20 penalty. The Far Shot feat would increase that to 1,500 ft (1 hex) but the -20 penalty would still apply. The Improved Far Shot feat would knock that -20 penalty down to -18, but wouldn't increase the range.

EDIT: I'm thinking that we are not getting enough range out of your suggestion. A fighting flitter (with a low to mid level archer) is effectivly going to have to fight from the same square it is actually in. I think we need to bump the range up, but need to think about how much.
Ashtagon wrote:regarding slings, I still don't think they should be able to take advantage of this feature of zero-gravity, but in the interests of verisimilitude (rather than realism (but hey, we are talking about magical flying galleons that carry an air bubble with odd gravity physics and crystal spheres)), I'm willing to go along with granting this to all missile weapons*.
The SRD divides ranged weapons into thrown weapons and projectile weapons. I can't see a reason to subdivide projectile weapons up further. But with a range increment of just 50 ft, I can't see a sling getting too much use in spacefaring combat. But it might be a weapon that gnomes might use.
Ashtagon wrote:* Except chips. You should not be able to toss chips at orbital velocities. That's just gross.
Chips in space does sound a little gross.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters? - the hull/hit point problem

Post by Big Mac » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:26 pm

Birdmaron said this in the [SJ3e] Spelljammer Conversion Notes Discussion thread:
Bidmaron wrote:Mac, have we already reached a conclusion to the hull/hit points problem for 3.5 conversion? That would seem to be a good place to start, as it is fundamental to making combat work. I think our seige weapon thread reached some important conclusions, but we need to decide how damage to ships work.
I dropped the ball a bit (as I got snowwed under at work) but I've come back to this now.

I'm inclined to treat a ship as a single object, rather than a collection of areas that can be destroyed individually. So I do want to see it get a single set of hit points.

My initial thought was to multiply all Hull Points by 10 and be done with it. But I realise that 3rd edition has slightly different mechanics, so that is too simplistic.

Some ships are built out of different materials. In 2nd edition that seems to just change their saving throws, but in 3rd edition, that seems to give things a hardness that converts over to working the same way as damage reduction. IMO, if someone makes a ship from iron, it should be harder to smash it to bits than a ship made from wood.

Night Druid says the object rules make the ship have too many hit points and the seige engine rules make it take too long to destroy a ship.

I actually like the idea of spelljamming ships that don't break up and get destroyed easily. In game terms a ship that is broken up is fairly useless. It can't be taken over and repaired. And with the air envelope rules, it turns into a death trap.

But we need to find a way to disable ships fairly quickly.

Even though I prefer the single set of hit points, I wonder if allowing called shots on masts, sails, rudders and wings (to reduce the MC) would be the way to go.

Surely SJ combat should be about disabling the other ship and boarding it? That, to me, seems to have more potential for piracy, slavery and the sort of combat where all the characters get to roll attack and damage dice.

Night Druid says that the weapons don't do enough damage. And Jaid's weapon rant seems to support that, too. Maybe we can up the damage (as well as up the hit points) but treat some of the extra damage as non-leathal damage. If the ship had a solid hull that was very hard to break up, as well as an outer structure that needed to be "healed" by carpentry to restore the ship's MC it would allow people to "knock out ships".

Ashtagon wanted to disable ships when they lost half their hull points. However, that doesn't have the same sort of feel as the damage done to characters. But if we could disable the helmsman, that wouldn't actually disable the ship itself. I wonder if we need to create a replacement for the critical hit system that allows people to try to force a "Spelljammer Shock" result that knocks out the helmsman (or the helm - on a ship without a Minor or Major Helm).

If we had something more like this, we could get weaponeers to attack the helmsman's "virtual hit points" and make the attacks knock him/her out. A backup helmsman could jump onto the helm to restart it. And the non-standards helms (like a furnace) would then have a big disadvantage built into them (that would encourage the use of spelljamming helms).

Pirates would be able to capture ships that were mostly intact.

I hope that would be enough to make a more balanced combat system. If people think it is, then maybe we could start to make a first draft. But if I've left any problems unsolved, now would be a good time to think about them.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by xorial » Thu May 28, 2009 3:23 pm

This thread hasn't had a comment in awhile, but I decided to throw my 2 coppers in anyway :P.

I am working on my own conversion right now (who isn't?). Mine is mainly adapting existing game materials to use with a possible SJ campaign I want to run.

I am looking to use Bastion Press' Airships for general construction rules. Modifications to that is to maybe divide the hit points into different sections, but not too small. Say, forward port, aft port, forward starboard, aft starboard. Destroying a given section disables the ship. Air tons in this book are 10'x10'x10'. This size corresponds nicely to core 3e vehicle section. Will be ignoring any & all max tonnage rules.

I like some of the stuff I read in Green Ronin's Skull & Bones, especially the ship weapons section. They use a x10 multiplier to the weapon damage. They also have a couple of core classes that my be appropriate.

I am stealing the 3d distances chart from the Aerial Campaigns: Sky Captain's Handbook from Goodman Games, lol.

I have a couple of ideas concerning the helms. Shadow of the Spider Moon never got into how the helm worked (btw, I am using part of SotSM). I was thinking that instead of the 2e way of draining spells, that you basically spent your spell slots. Spell slots gave you one hour and one TR (Tactical Rating) per level of slot spent. The only differences between major & minor helms would be size of the vessel moved. The TR would work more like the wind multipliers out of 3e vehicle movement rules. That way some vessels would be faster by design, rather than just by the helmsman. Maybe allowing a major helm to give a +1 TR when used on ships smaller that Gargantuan size.

I am leaning to giving ships some sort of creature style stats, kinda like in Star Wars Saga Edition. May take 1/2 tonnage as effective HD for the ship to determine saves and other stats.

Oh, and one more thing. I am using the Pathfinder RPG rules. Even though I didn't like the Fly skill they use, at first, that skill would be rather useful in a Spelljammer campaign. :mrgreen: :ugeek:
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sun May 31, 2009 7:35 pm

xorial wrote:This thread hasn't had a comment in awhile, but I decided to throw my 2 coppers in anyway :P.
Well, there is no such offence as "thread necromancy" at the 3e Conversion Project - if we all decide a thread is finished with it will be locked. I'm pretty sure that the same policy applies to the rest of The Piazza (although other Community Projects may have their own etiquette).

Anyhoo, thanks for posting here and getting this project back into action. I really must hunt down some of my part-done conversions and get them thrown up here.
xorial wrote:I am working on my own conversion right now (who isn't?). Mine is mainly adapting existing game materials to use with a possible SJ campaign I want to run.
That is a good way to do things logistically, but a lot of the d20 System publishers that used the OGL, claimed a few really useful things as Product Identity (or didn't declare them as OGC), so it makes it a little bit hard to redistribute their work as a Spelljammer conversion. Having said that, I think that you could probably still put your outline rules up on Beyond the Moons (as an alternative to their official conversion project).
xorial wrote:I am looking to use Bastion Press' Airships for general construction rules. Modifications to that is to maybe divide the hit points into different sections, but not too small. Say, forward port, aft port, forward starboard, aft starboard. Destroying a given section disables the ship. Air tons in this book are 10'x10'x10'. This size corresponds nicely to core 3e vehicle section. Will be ignoring any & all max tonnage rules.
IIRC there is something in the 3e rules about walls being divided into sections. So I suppose that makes sense. I'm not sure I'd say that destroying a section of a spelljamming ship should stop the entire ship from working. If you have a 200 ton ship and a small part gets destroyed, that should make it unable to land on water (or whatever), but I would have thought that there would still be enough mass for the SJ helm to lock onto and drag along.

Are you any good with the OGL? If so, do you know if these rules are OGC or PI? Bastian Press have not put anything from Airships up on ENWiki's OGC Compilation page.
xorial wrote:I like some of the stuff I read in Green Ronin's Skull & Bones, especially the ship weapons section. They use a x10 multiplier to the weapon damage. They also have a couple of core classes that my be appropriate.
This sounds interesting. Are the new core classes OGC or PI? Green Ronin have not put anything from Skull & Bones up on ENWiki's OGC Compilation page.
xorial wrote:I am stealing the 3d distances chart from the Aerial Campaigns: Sky Captain's Handbook from Goodman Games, lol.
This is yet another d20 System product I don't know about. The only thing I've got that is like this is the Cloud Warriors hardback from Fast Forward (which I think is great source material for campaigns involving air worlds). The book is by Skip Williams and has two sexy winged babes on the front (as well as a picture of a suspiciously sexy looking which on a broom on page 25 - ironically the picture is drawn by Dyson!).
xorial wrote:I have a couple of ideas concerning the helms. Shadow of the Spider Moon never got into how the helm worked (btw, I am using part of SotSM). I was thinking that instead of the 2e way of draining spells, that you basically spent your spell slots. Spell slots gave you one hour and one TR (Tactical Rating) per level of slot spent. The only differences between major & minor helms would be size of the vessel moved. The TR would work more like the wind multipliers out of 3e vehicle movement rules. That way some vessels would be faster by design, rather than just by the helmsman. Maybe allowing a major helm to give a +1 TR when used on ships smaller that Gargantuan size.
I saw something recently that said that spelljamming helms do not actually drain spells - they just make it impossible to cast the spells for 24 hours. I'll have to hunt that down, read it several times and then make sure the Spelljammer Wiki gives the correct picture of how this works.

For Shadows of the Spider Moon, this is not an important issue, but if you are using a cleric in a sphere where their deity does not make contact, it is important to know if the PC's 6th level spells will come back (until they finally get cast).
xorial wrote:I am leaning to giving ships some sort of creature style stats, kinda like in Star Wars Saga Edition. May take 1/2 tonnage as effective HD for the ship to determine saves and other stats.
Ironically, while I like the idea of some aspects being "like a monster" I'm also like the idea of things like reflex saves being rolled by the helmsman.
xorial wrote:Oh, and one more thing. I am using the Pathfinder RPG rules. Even though I didn't like the Fly skill they use, at first, that skill would be rather useful in a Spelljammer campaign. :mrgreen: :ugeek:
I'm liking what I see of Pathfinder RPG. But, I want to get this 3.5 conversion done before I look at a PRPG conversion. Have you seen Pathfinder Wiki? I'm hoping that they might be able to host a Pathfinder conversion of whatever I churn out here.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by xorial » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:16 am

All the things I was looking at are OGC in those books. Wouldn't matter with the chart, it is just Pythagorean Theorem already done out in a convenient chart.

As for the issue of monster style stat. You can just have the Ref rolled by the pilot, with the ship's 'Dex' adding a handling bonus to the roll. Also the crew adds a bonus based on experience level.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:09 pm

xorial wrote:All the things I was looking at are OGC in those books. Wouldn't matter with the chart, it is just Pythagorean Theorem already done out in a convenient chart.
The dodgy thing with OGL books has always been the PI definition, rather than the OGC definition. Sometimes a publisher will declare an entire chapter as OGC, but then PI all the names or half of the content in the bit that you would like to reuse.

For homebrew SJ campaigns, you can pretty much use anything you like, but if you want to republish you need to be a little bit more careful (especially if you want Beyond the Moons to put stuff up).
xorial wrote:As for the issue of monster style stat. You can just have the Ref rolled by the pilot, with the ship's 'Dex' adding a handling bonus to the roll. Also the crew adds a bonus based on experience level.
I said something fairly similar upthread, so am happy that other people seem to like the general idea.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by wtrmute » Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:38 pm

Gentlemen:

Siege engines in the SRD.

That gives us some numbers to work with. That coupled with another variable (which should by all rights be the "expected number of shots to disable") to get the last variable, which is the amount of hitpoints per ton of a ship (let us say a wooden one, since most spelljammers are thin or thick wood; a bone ship has the same hardness, incidentally).

Let's start working with the hypothesis that what the SRD call "light" and "heavy" catapults are, in 2e SJ terms, "light" and "medium" catapults. Thus we'll create a larger one (with a 250 ft. range increment, crew 6 and 8d8 damage) and call it a "Trebuchet", to use as a Heavy Catapult. Later on we'll try to fit the SRD ballista into the framework of 2e SJ ballistae.

Ok, a light catapult does 4d6 damage, or on average 14 (-5 for wooden hardness = 9) points of damage to a hull. That has to equate to 1.5 hull point for the light catapult to remain at the same destructive level.

A heavy catapult does 6d6 damage, or on average 21 (or 16) points of damage to a hull, equating 3 hull points for the medium catapult to remain at the same destructive level.

A trebuchet does 8d6 damage, or on average 28 (or 23) points of damage to a hull, and that has to equate 5 hull points of damage to maintain the destructiveness.

So, for a wooden ship, 9/1.5 = 6, 16/3 = 5.333, 23/5 = 4.6. Setting a hull point to 5 hit points gives us MSE = 0.42; setting it to 5.5 hit points (average of the construct's 1d10 hit die, as it happens) gives us MSE = 0.36; the minimum for that function is 5.311111... points of damage per hull point. So, I guess that we can look into having a 5.5 hit points per ton guideline; if we say also that siege weaponry trebles the effective range outside of a gravity well, we also get the same updated ranges Jaid offered for his at Ship Weapon Rant. Convenient!

By the way, if we're worried that ceramic or stone ships (with a larger Hardness) become too powerful, we can set a different conversion rate of hit points per ton for different materials; the same weapons against a ceramic or stone hull (hardness 8) minimise their MSE at 4.11111..., so 4 or 4.25 hp per ton for ceramic, crystal, masonry or stoney hulls should be fine. Iron or steel (hardness 10) lies at 3.311111... hp/ton.

Using that guideline, a ballista should do about 1.5 hull damage vs. a wooden hull (or 1.33 for a stone hull, if we set those apart); that is probably the province of a SJ Medium Ballista (the range in space would be 1200 yards, or nearly 3 SJ hexes; worse than a medium ballista, but we can fudge that). So the light ballista would be a Large heavy crossbow and the heavy ballista would be a Gargantuan heavy crossbow (same damage performance as a Bastard Sword in the Weapon Size table). Their damages would be 2d8 and 4d8 (although that would probably make the heavy crossbow a lot weaker than the 2e SJ one).

So, for now, I'm thinking of using the following scheme: ships have hit points, just as characters; and the siege weapons are the same as in the SRD (with a souped-up super-heavy catapult, the Trebuchet). The hit points are calculated as 5.5 (or some sufficiently-round number near 5.311111...) hit points per ton, or, if we go with different bases for different hardnesses, 4 (or some sufficiently-round number near 4.11111...) for stone/ceramic/crystal/masonry hulls, etc.

Comments?

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by blackdaggr » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:08 pm

I've read through the SRD document. There are a couple of things which stand out to me:

It seems like with enough crew, you can reload and fire a catapult every round with sufficient crew. It's not clear though.

The attack role targets a particular square, not an entire ship. On a miss, you figure out where it does hit. Of course, this might still hit the ship, even if the initial roll was off. While this might be good for added realism ("I'm aiming at the hammership's forward ballista"), it would definitely make the combat more complicated. And it doesn't work quite right if you're shooting at the hammership but don't care where it hits.

As far as fire rates, I've noticed that the 3.5 fire rates with bows (e.g., an arrow every 6 seconds) is very fast. Coupled with multiple shots per round, it becomes superhuman. I've watched archery competitions which included a speed-shoot, where the archers fire off arrows as fast as possible and just try to hit the target. 6 arrows in a 30 second shoot was typical. Aimed shots (trying to hit the bullseye) were much slower.

Therefore, I think we can definitely rethink the catapult fire rates in the context of 3.5. While I don't think we need to have a catapult firing every round (which is ridiculous), we could approach the fire rates we had in 2E.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by wtrmute » Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:07 pm

blackdaggr wrote:It seems like with enough crew, you can reload and fire a catapult every round with sufficient crew. It's not clear though.

The attack role targets a particular square, not an entire ship. On a miss, you figure out where it does hit. Of course, this might still hit the ship, even if the initial roll was off. While this might be good for added realism ("I'm aiming at the hammership's forward ballista"), it would definitely make the combat more complicated. And it doesn't work quite right if you're shooting at the hammership but don't care where it hits.
My understanding is that there are two processes involved in reloading a catapult: the set of Strength / Profession: Siege Engineer / Profession: Siege Engineer checks to rewinch / lock / reload the throwing arm, and the four full-round actions to reaim. My understanding is that the four full-round actions can be done concomitantly, but I'm not sure you can operate a winch at the same time you're moving the catapult's frame about; so I would expect that it would take two or three rounds (I'm not sure which) even with a full complement crew.

As for aiming for a square, that is most likely just a byproduct of the indirect / ballistic / parabolic firing régime catapults are subject to in a gravity well. In wildspace, they are probably fired with a regular attack roll, just like the ballistae.
blackdaggr wrote:As far as fire rates, I've noticed that the 3.5 fire rates with bows (e.g., an arrow every 6 seconds) is very fast. Coupled with multiple shots per round, it becomes superhuman. I've watched archery competitions which included a speed-shoot, where the archers fire off arrows as fast as possible and just try to hit the target. 6 arrows in a 30 second shoot was typical. Aimed shots (trying to hit the bullseye) were much slower.
I seem to remember reading an article about that kind of thing; but here is a post on the Gleemax forum which references and expands upon the article I read. Basically, in our world, the highest level anyone ever got was fifth level; and 3e is calibrated so that the peak of real-world human ability lies in the 5th level "tuned" specialist characters (i.e., full ranks, appropriate feat choices, max base attribute, etc). Anything beyond that is superhuman, and purposefully so. After all, Cu Chulainn once hacked the top off a mountain with his sword, so we can afford a ranger to fire an arrow a second, I think.

Where does that leave us with the catapult's ROF? I guess we can check a 5th-level specialist weaponeer with a set of 1st to 3rd level assistants to check whether that remains within the "real-world" parameters for catapult fire, if we get any.

Actually, the biggest problem I've seen with using the SRD rules to model SpellJammer are the ballistae. The trouble is, they're just size-increased heavy crossbows, which is a good model, except that there is no mechanism to increase the range increment of a ranged weapon as you increase its size, so oversized heavy crossbow-ballistae will always have the same increment of 120ft. That will cause trouble for the heavier ballistae, since they will probably be underpowered unless their range is increased compared to their smaller counterparts...

EDIT: I've managed to borrow Stormwrack from a friend, and it has a description of a light catapult (which matches the one on the SRD and the DMG) and it goes into more detail into the reloading process: two full-round actions (FRA) and DC 10 STR checks to wind the throwing arm, FRA and DC 15 Profession: siege engineer check to load ammunition and two FRAs to load the catapult. That makes a RoF of 1/6 or 1/5 if the aim catapult actions can be used concommitantly; though that part is in contradiction to the SRD, which takes a single DC 10 STR check and two Profession: Siege Engineer checks to wind, lock and load and two full-round aiming actions. Still, that tends to reinforce the notion that a fully-crewed catapult needs three or four rounds of setup (RoF 1/4 or 1/5) for each round of shooting (three if one crewmember can latch the arm while the other loads the ammo).

By the way, there's a lot of interesting material in this book; too bad it's got no OGC in it at all. I guess that Hasbro had already given up on the OGL completely by that time (August 2005, actually. Earlier than I'd figured). No matter; I'm thinking of other ways to dimension those bombards and Greek Alchemical Fire projectors... I think I'll whip something up and post it to the SJML in a few days.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:33 pm

wtrmute wrote:Gentlemen:

Siege engines in the SRD.
Well spotted wtrmute. That is going to need to be the thing we start out with.

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.
wtrmute wrote:That gives us some numbers to work with. That coupled with another variable (which should by all rights be the "expected number of shots to disable") to get the last variable, which is the amount of hitpoints per ton of a ship (let us say a wooden one, since most spelljammers are thin or thick wood; a bone ship has the same hardness, incidentally).

Let's start working with the hypothesis that what the SRD call "light" and "heavy" catapults are, in 2e SJ terms, "light" and "medium" catapults. Thus we'll create a larger one (with a 250 ft. range increment, crew 6 and 8d8 damage) and call it a "Trebuchet", to use as a Heavy Catapult. Later on we'll try to fit the SRD ballista into the framework of 2e SJ ballistae.
This sounds fairly logical, although I would have expected the "trebuchet" to do 8d6 damage. You have put down all your other working out, so I'm wondering if it was a typo. A 'trebuchet" looks different to a catapult, so it would be OK to have it cause different hit die if you want it to be more powerful.

I find it interesting that you didn't put in a medium catapult with a crew of three that does 5d6 damage. :D

I would like to see the SJCS have more weapons built into it, so if you create a "trebuchet" with a crew of 6, I would probably suggest that it was a "medium trebuchet" and that there was a "light trebuchet" that had a crew of 5 and 7d6 damage (or 7d8 if your damage above was not a typo). You could even add a "heavy trebuchet" with a crew of 7 and 8d6 damage! :D

(One advantage of adding more weapon sizes, is that a GM could probably allow PCs to see the types of weapons on an enemy ship, but not see the exact size. That might add a bit of uncertainty to the early stages of combat.)
wtrmute wrote:Ok, a light catapult does 4d6 damage, or on average 14 (-5 for wooden hardness = 9) points of damage to a hull. That has to equate to 1.5 hull point for the light catapult to remain at the same destructive level.

A heavy catapult does 6d6 damage, or on average 21 (or 16) points of damage to a hull, equating 3 hull points for the medium catapult to remain at the same destructive level.

A trebuchet does 8d6 damage, or on average 28 (or 23) points of damage to a hull, and that has to equate 5 hull points of damage to maintain the destructiveness.
The only slight concern I have is that you are working with averages and not maximums. Jaid would be better at this than me, but I'm a bit worried that a few "lucky shots" could knock out a ship. Don't forget that 3e has critical hits. Jaid was looking at those and trying to factor them in.
wtrmute wrote:So, for a wooden ship, 9/1.5 = 6, 16/3 = 5.333, 23/5 = 4.6. Setting a hull point to 5 hit points gives us MSE = 0.42; setting it to 5.5 hit points (average of the construct's 1d10 hit die, as it happens) gives us MSE = 0.36; the minimum for that function is 5.311111... points of damage per hull point. So, I guess that we can look into having a 5.5 hit points per ton guideline; if we say also that siege weaponry trebles the effective range outside of a gravity well, we also get the same updated ranges Jaid offered for his at Ship Weapon Rant. Convenient!
Well, if your numbers come out the same as Jaid's that sounds like they are good.

Don't forget that we need to be able to put down ship miniatures (from Maldin). A switch from the hex to the square has been suggested (along with the 3e system of being able to move and attack diagonally).

I've actually thought about gravity. I think it would be worth giving weapons two ranges - a "void range" and an "atmosphere range". We could (and probably should) cut down the performance of weapons (and even the ships themeleves) inside a planet's atmosphere. However, I would suggest we get things right for space first and then nerf them down to groundling levels afterwards.
wtrmute wrote:By the way, if we're worried that ceramic or stone ships (with a larger Hardness) become too powerful, we can set a different conversion rate of hit points per ton for different materials; the same weapons against a ceramic or stone hull (hardness 8) minimise their MSE at 4.11111..., so 4 or 4.25 hp per ton for ceramic, crystal, masonry or stoney hulls should be fine. Iron or steel (hardness 10) lies at 3.311111... hp/ton.
I'm not actually overly worried about strong ships being too hard to destroy. If 3e makes a material harder to destroy than 2e then that should really be reflected in the ships.

One thing that isn't made enough of in SJ is getting ships to land. If someone wants to make an iron hammership, then good luck to them, but the thing should sit lower in the water in the sea and be easier to capsise. It should also take a degree of rust damage everytime it is set down in a sea. And if it does spring a leak it should possibly go down a lot faster.

Again, this is something that I think I would like to see more options for. :D
wtrmute wrote:Using that guideline, a ballista should do about 1.5 hull damage vs. a wooden hull (or 1.33 for a stone hull, if we set those apart); that is probably the province of a SJ Medium Ballista (the range in space would be 1200 yards, or nearly 3 SJ hexes; worse than a medium ballista, but we can fudge that). So the light ballista would be a Large heavy crossbow and the heavy ballista would be a Gargantuan heavy crossbow (same damage performance as a Bastard Sword in the Weapon Size table). Their damages would be 2d8 and 4d8 (although that would probably make the heavy crossbow a lot weaker than the 2e SJ one).
Don't forget that the weakest balista was incapable of hull point damage under 2e. You could possibly set your hardness level above the damage of that to try to replicate that part of the system.
wtrmute wrote:So, for now, I'm thinking of using the following scheme: ships have hit points, just as characters; and the siege weapons are the same as in the SRD (with a souped-up super-heavy catapult, the Trebuchet). The hit points are calculated as 5.5 (or some sufficiently-round number near 5.311111...) hit points per ton, or, if we go with different bases for different hardnesses, 4 (or some sufficiently-round number near 4.11111...) for stone/ceramic/crystal/masonry hulls, etc.
This sounds pretty similar to what I was thinking (although - as I said - I would go for more weapons once the basic system was worked out).
wtrmute wrote:Comments?
I've got a couple of concerns with the SRD system, but I'll finish up this post and and quote the specific parts of the SRD in another post. But apart from that, I think this is fairly workable. It won't feel exactly the same as 2e, but I'm not too bothered about that. This is another game set in the same universe and things will change a bit.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:50 pm

wtrmute wrote:
blackdaggr wrote:It seems like with enough crew, you can reload and fire a catapult every round with sufficient crew. It's not clear though.

The attack role targets a particular square, not an entire ship. On a miss, you figure out where it does hit. Of course, this might still hit the ship, even if the initial roll was off. While this might be good for added realism ("I'm aiming at the hammership's forward ballista"), it would definitely make the combat more complicated. And it doesn't work quite right if you're shooting at the hammership but don't care where it hits.
My understanding is that there are two processes involved in reloading a catapult: the set of Strength / Profession: Siege Engineer / Profession: Siege Engineer checks to rewinch / lock / reload the throwing arm, and the four full-round actions to reaim. My understanding is that the four full-round actions can be done concomitantly, but I'm not sure you can operate a winch at the same time you're moving the catapult's frame about; so I would expect that it would take two or three rounds (I'm not sure which) even with a full complement crew.

As for aiming for a square, that is most likely just a byproduct of the indirect / ballistic / parabolic firing régime catapults are subject to in a gravity well. In wildspace, they are probably fired with a regular attack roll, just like the ballistae.
This is where I had my concerns. Lets look at the SRD text:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:Catapult, Heavy

A heavy catapult is a massive engine capable of throwing rocks or heavy objects with great force. Because the catapult throws its payload in a high arc, it can hit squares out of its line of sight.
I don't think that catapults use high arcs in wildspace. With no gravity to pull things down you would just end up firing shots up into the nadir region of the sphere. I think that ships adjust their weapons in space, just as as a ship like a hammership drops its SJ sails and puts up a temporary sea mast and sea sail. So I think the "line of sight" rules should specifically be dropped in wildspace.
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:To fire a heavy catapult, the crew chief makes a special check against DC 15 using only his base attack bonus, Intelligence modifier, range increment penalty, and the appropriate modifiers from the lower section of Table 3-26. If the check succeeds, the catapult stone hits the square the catapult was aimed at, dealing the indicated damage to any object or character in the square.
Hmm. This does sound dangerously like "called shots in spaaace" when you are doing SJ combat. I think we have two things going on that change this from groundling use:
  1. Ships are larger than one square (as you have already pointed out) and
  2. Ships are moving targets (unlike castles)
I think that (for normal ship combat) we should assume that people are trying to hit the ship and just factor in some sort of bonus to hit larger ships (probably based on the standard size categories). But I wouldn't write off the "targeted square" thing entirely. In person to person combat you can try to "sunder" someone's weapons and it should be possible to try to cut the weapons off of a SJ ship.

(I would even go further than this and say that it should be possible for people to learn how to do something similar to "subjual damage" to a ship, so that people can disable a ship without causing it to break up. In the Cloakmaster novels, people set light to sails to take out a ship's MC, but there should perhaps be a way to bash a ship with "sap-shot" and cause the helmsman to suffer Spelljammer Shock.)
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:Characters who succeed on a DC 15 Reflex save take half damage. Once a catapult stone hits a square, subsequent shots hit the same square unless the catapult is reaimed or the wind changes direction or speed.

If a catapult stone misses, roll 1d8 to determine where it lands. This determines the misdirection of the throw, with 1 being back toward the catapult and 2 through 8 counting clockwise around the target square. Then, count 3 squares away from the target square for every range increment of the attack.
Here we have that problem that the target is moving (rather than the air between the weapon and its target). It seems like an unsolvable problem, but what actually would be happening is that the artillerist who was in charge of the weapon (regardless of what the weapon was) would be looking at the relative movement of the target ship and guessing where it would be when the shot (or bolt) arrives.

But I do think that things like firing a catapult off of the back of a horse could be checked to see if any rules goven fire during movement.

2e Spelljammer gave us turrets and I think that we need to penalise 3e weapons that are mounted without them. So even though we are not going to be using parabolic arcs, it might be worth making the weapon's aim at a square and take time to turn left or right of that square.
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:Loading a catapult requires a series of full-round actions. It takes a DC 15 Strength check to winch the throwing arm down; most catapults have wheels to allow up to two crew members to use the aid another action, assisting the main winch operator. A DC 15 Profession (siege engineer) check latches the arm into place, and then another DC 15 Profession (siege engineer) check loads the catapult ammunition. It takes four full-round actions to reaim a heavy catapult (multiple crew members can perform these full-round actions in the same round, so it would take a crew of four only 1 round to reaim the catapult).
I actually have no problem with people loading a ship weapon faster...

...provided the baseline crew is designed from the 2e stats and providing that there is a physical way for the extra people to get in there and help. It should theoretically be possible to even get a "tug-o-war" team to heave on a rope attached to a pulley system to "winch" down the weapons arm in a single round, but I'd be inclined to hem people in and make it harder to do this*.

* = This is where your big crewman (like giff) should be able to have some sort of size advantage over small crewman (like gnomes).

As for the requirement to "latch" the arm, I think that is something that spacefaring technology could take care of. I see no reason why you couldn't give spacefarers "self-latching" weapons. I think they should cost a bit more, but the could checks down and make it possible for one person to load a weapon by themself.

As for the check for loading the catapult, I'm assuming that someone really strong could pick up a shot and have it ready to go straight into a catapult cup. So I do think that it should be possible to load these weapons quickly. I'm not sure I would go with a speed that is faster than handheld ranged weapons, but the team should be able to catch up a lot.
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:A heavy catapult takes up a space 15 feet across.
Off the top of my head that doesn't seem too disimilar to 2e, but I would like to see how many weapons could be packed onto a SJ ship under 3e rules.
wtrmute wrote:
blackdaggr wrote:As far as fire rates, I've noticed that the 3.5 fire rates with bows (e.g., an arrow every 6 seconds) is very fast. Coupled with multiple shots per round, it becomes superhuman. I've watched archery competitions which included a speed-shoot, where the archers fire off arrows as fast as possible and just try to hit the target. 6 arrows in a 30 second shoot was typical. Aimed shots (trying to hit the bullseye) were much slower.
I seem to remember reading an article about that kind of thing; but here is a post on the Gleemax forum which references and expands upon the article I read. Basically, in our world, the highest level anyone ever got was fifth level; and 3e is calibrated so that the peak of real-world human ability lies in the 5th level "tuned" specialist characters (i.e., full ranks, appropriate feat choices, max base attribute, etc). Anything beyond that is superhuman, and purposefully so. After all, Cu Chulainn once hacked the top off a mountain with his sword, so we can afford a ranger to fire an arrow a second, I think.

Where does that leave us with the catapult's ROF? I guess we can check a 5th-level specialist weaponeer with a set of 1st to 3rd level assistants to check whether that remains within the "real-world" parameters for catapult fire, if we get any.
I'm more interested in it having a Spelljammer feel to it than having "realism". For example a real-life galleon could have a lot more canons than a SJ one. If something works and allows for bording action to take place it will probably make me happy.
wtrmute wrote:Actually, the biggest problem I've seen with using the SRD rules to model SpellJammer are the ballistae. The trouble is, they're just size-increased heavy crossbows, which is a good model, except that there is no mechanism to increase the range increment of a ranged weapon as you increase its size, so oversized heavy crossbow-ballistae will always have the same increment of 120ft. That will cause trouble for the heavier ballistae, since they will probably be underpowered unless their range is increased compared to their smaller counterparts...
I think this is another case where we can use the void as an excuse for a bit of hand-waving. Let these weapons have short ranges inside air envelopes, but give them longer ranges in space. But I did notice something in the SRD that I'd like to comment on:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:Ballista

A ballista is essentially a Huge heavy crossbow fixed in place. Its size makes it hard for most creatures to aim it. Thus, a Medium creature takes a -4 penalty on attack rolls when using a ballista, and a Small creature takes a -6 penalty. It takes a creature smaller than Large two full-round actions to reload the ballista after firing.
There you go..."its size makes it hard for most creatures to aim it". I think that is something that can get fixed by "spacefarer technology". Spacefarers should be able to make balista on gearing mechanisms that can be turned in place and then raisted or lowered in elevation.

I would argue that the mounting mechanism on a spelljamming ship could be part of the reason for it to have a better range than a groundling weapon that just "sits on the deck and flops about when you try to pull the trigger".
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#siegeEngines wrote:A ballista takes up a space 5 feet across.
Again this needs checking.
wtrmute wrote:EDIT: I've managed to borrow Stormwrack from a friend, and it has a description of a light catapult (which matches the one on the SRD and the DMG) and it goes into more detail into the reloading process: two full-round actions (FRA) and DC 10 STR checks to wind the throwing arm, FRA and DC 15 Profession: siege engineer check to load ammunition and two FRAs to load the catapult. That makes a RoF of 1/6 or 1/5 if the aim catapult actions can be used concommitantly; though that part is in contradiction to the SRD, which takes a single DC 10 STR check and two Profession: Siege Engineer checks to wind, lock and load and two full-round aiming actions. Still, that tends to reinforce the notion that a fully-crewed catapult needs three or four rounds of setup (RoF 1/4 or 1/5) for each round of shooting (three if one crewmember can latch the arm while the other loads the ammo).

By the way, there's a lot of interesting material in this book; too bad it's got no OGC in it at all. I guess that Hasbro had already given up on the OGL completely by that time (August 2005, actually. Earlier than I'd figured). No matter; I'm thinking of other ways to dimension those bombards and Greek Alchemical Fire projectors... I think I'll whip something up and post it to the SJML in a few days.
Stormwrack is a good book (from what I hear) but we need to put it away and create new stuff to replace what is missing in the SRD.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Azaghal » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:37 am

Regarding weapon reload time.

Quoted from Wiki Naval artillery in the Age of Sail.
A typical broadside of a Royal Navy ship of the late 18th century could be fired 2-3 times in approximately 5 minutes, depending on the training of the crew, a well trained one being essential to the simple yet detailed process of preparing to fire.

It would seem realistic to me that catapults and balista would be similar.
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