Monday, 21 January 2013

Pew Pew Pew flying ship combat

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So redlands has all this flying ship malarkey and here is my attempt to make some useable rules for it.

I'm doing this pretty modular , like there is a basic framework and then a bunch of complicated options which I feel compelled to make because.

There is also is few different styles of flying ship powpow which have different expectations.

The star wars style big ships and little fighters wizzing around and a lot of the battle hinging on them. Which makes small ships needing to be some what mechanically relevant.

Or the Pirates of the Caribbean ships of similar sizes blasting away at each other , with only medium and larger ships being relevant for the battle.

Also if you wanting a Spelljammer style thing were you hand pick your crew and give them all jobs and stuff and upgrade various doodads and bile-throwers, that's a thing.

This is a slightly different thing than if you occasionally think there might be a flying ship happening and you want your players to be able to be in charge of it and yelling at people to pull levers and fire cannons and shit.

I hopefully will cover this all with my dire thinks.

I'm also posting this to get feed back on it, as while the Math has had a chunk of crunching , as yet, extensive playing testing has not happened for it. So I'm opening it open to the blogverse to see what people think and can do with it.

Princess thanks to Ian Johnston, Humza Kazmi, Jason Kieblasa , Richard G, and Reynaldos absurdly long eyelashes for their input.

BASIC STRUCTURE:(additional complications in purple)
Armour class of ship + captains level (see end of post for notes on this) = agility

Your hit bonus is the the average level of the crew.
Or , if you prefer rules that allow Joe or Joeina P.C to be immediately vital to the whole operation, use the p.cs lowest modifier of charisma , intelligence or wisdom unless they are a fighter then they can choose which one. Or just pick one. Look at me making it all options bloat :D
you could also use the exact level of the gunning crew if this ship is being used on goingly and it's fun to hire different people for different things
otherwise here is a guide to crew level

0 pressed ganged
1 trained
2 seasoned
3 veteran
4 elite

Assume 1d6 hit dice, 1d4 for level 0

your initiative bonus is the average of the captain and the crews level

3 ranges , long (lasers, rockets) , medium (catapults, cannons), close (small arms fire, ramming)Or 5 ranges extreme (just visible) , long, medium, close , and ramming/boarding

If a ship is big it takes 1 round to change a distance (from medium to close for example)
For a medium ship it takes 2 rounds to change a distance

And for a small ship it takes 3 rounds to change a distance

Since shit is 3 dimensional there is high , low and middle.

It takes a big ship 3 rounds to maneuver into a new position , medium 2 and small one round.
You can change both position and distance at the same time as part of your move. This does not increase the time it takes to change because this is the simple version.

Tiny ships can change 2 altitudes in a round but take 4 to change a distance, and huge having 4 to change altitude but can change 2 distances in a round

You can try and block a ship from moving, you declare that as your move , and then roll agility vs their agility.
Which is you roll a d20 add your agility and compare it to a d20 plus their agility.
If they win they get to do what they want. If you win they can abort to the maneuver or you get double all the attacks you would normally get this round on them.

ANy other situation like strafing (resolving your attack before your move), playing chicken, lap of the land flying , etc, do contested agility checks. In the situation where there is no opposing person (like lap of the land) , use a roll under agility check.


it is resolved as an attack, in which case both ships take damage = the other ships hit point total.

A successful agility check allows that ship to take half damage. Ramming prows give double or triple your damage resistance when ramming.

In addition to that moving stuff you can dog tail another ship. This is where you stay move behind them ( or another position where not so many of their guns are) and stay there shooting them. As long as you are dog tailing them, they can attack you only with weapons that are facing you. If you are not bothering recording the specific directions of the weapons , assume an 3rd less attacks , round down

This is again is an agility check vs the other ship. Fighters can do this every round, medium ships take 2 rounds, and big take 3.

Here are some example stats of ships, included is a typical armament (T.A) for them and also the hard points this uses. A hard point is a "slot" for a weapon. There are small, medium, large and huge slots.

A more complicated version would be a mechwarrior style slot system, but making balanced numbers for such a system is beyond me.

The amount of weapons fitted on to ships is leaning more towards spelljammers approach , than pirate ships with even the smaller ships having about 12 cannons. Because math and wrangling number bloat and having fairly homogenous mechanics still, and dealing with ships having 30 cannons each did my head in.


This seems a good place to put some ideas speeding up making a bunch of rolls real quick, for like a pitched ship battle or something.

Don't roll damage, just have weapons do the average damage

If you had like 12 attacks to resolve , get the average damage, subtract the damage resistance from it, multiply it by the amount of attacks. Then work out the percentage chance the attacks have of hitting. Multiply the sum damage by that percentage.

I feel like that is both obvious, redundant and complicated . But hey it's an option for when somethings happening that matters to the action enough to resolve it more or less mechanically but not centre stage enough to make it interesting to roll each one of those cannon shots

(about the size of an ambitious rowboat)
4 rounds to change a distance , change 2 altitudes in one round
hitpoints 10 damage resistance 4 armour class 12
hard points:
1 small
attacks 1 2d8 siege cross bow

(about the size of a small yacht)
3 rounds to change a distance , 1 round to change an altitude
hitpoints 30 damage resistance 8 armour class 8
hard points:
2 small or one medium
T.Aattacks 2
damage 1d20 (small cannon)

 (size of a sailing ship)
2 rounds to change a distance 2 rounds to change an altitude
Hitpoints 60 Damage resistance 8 armour class 4
Hard points 3 small 1 medium
attacks 4
dmg 1d20 /1d20/1d20/ 6d6 (3 cannons and a catapult)

 (size of the biggest sailing ships)
1 round to change a distance , 3 rounds to change an altitude
120 hitpoints damage resistance 10 armour class 2
Hard points:
3 small , 3 medium , 2 large / or 1 huge
attacks 8
(2 heavy cannons (2d20 +5), 3 ballista (heavy) (3d10) 3 small cannons

Dreadnaught (about the size of a modern destroyer)

Can change 2 distances in a round , but takes 4 rounds to change an altitude
has 240 hitpoints, d.r 12 and an a.c of 0
Hard Points:
6 medium 4 large 2 huge
attacks 12
1 outrageous cannon (4d20), one trebuchet (10d6) , 4 heavy ballista (4d10), 6 medium cannons (1d20 +5)

Brief weapon listing
Small weapons: (close range)
arbalest 1d12
siege cross bow 2d8
onager 4d6
small cannon 1d20

Medium size : (medium range)
ballista (light) 2d10
medium cannon 1d20+5
lightning gun 2d20
buzz saw launcher 2d12

Large: (long range)
heavy cannon 2d20+5
Ballista (heavy) 4d10
Catapult 6d6

Huge: (long range)
outrageous cannon 4d20
trebuchet 10d6

Weapon facing and hard points:
If a enemy ship is behind you (dog tailing) or otherwise where your weapons are not facing, no shooty.  You can attack enemies below you as long as they are not in close range (and the weapon is subject to gravity), in that case you will need a hardpoint specifically facing down.
If you can be assed these will be specific to the ship ,
will assume tiny , and small have their hard points facing forward, and are agile enough that they can also cover above and below
Medium: evenly divide between front and back (and assume front and back also includes a 180 arc from the middle of the ship), and all hard points but one cover above but not below
Big: assume 1 on the front , 3 on each side and one at the back. Assume 2 also cover below, the rest above.
Huge: 2 on the front, 4 each side, 2 on the rear, assume 2 also cover below.


Roll a 20? roll on tables to see what gets destroyed!

Optional rule

while your ship has over half its health it gets criticals on a 20.

When it’s at below have health , it gets criticals on a 19,20

When it’s at 10% , 18,19,20

This should really start to hurt when dreadnaught are shooting like 6 or 7 times at each other. Will speed up combat and make fighters be able to do something.

Critical tables

if a critical result refers to a part a ship does not have, wahey that ship gets off scott-free.

Parts are propulsion/power source , steering,, ammo store, mounted weapons. SOme ships will have these labelled as “diffuse” ie as long as the ship exists it can do this. Others will have one part do multiply jobs. THe eagle winged ships of the Beastlands for example have wings count as both propulsion and steering.

Parts take one hit if they are not labelled sturdy or fortified. Sturdy means they can take 2 hits, and fortified means they can take 3.

Parts can also have the “volatile” tag. That means they have a 1 in 4 chance of exploding per hit they take. In the case of ammo it inflicts twice the weapon damage and an auto crit. In the case of part, umm.. say a 1d20 per size class or something. So a fighter takes a d20 and a dreadnaught would take 5d20.

1. 10% of the crew take the weapons damage to their own hitpoints
4.Mounted Weapon
5.Ammo store
6.Misc goods
7.Take the maximum result for this weapons damage roll, ship is now on fire if made of wood and weapon damage type was fire
8 Roll on the next table

OH SHI....
(parts listed in this table take 2 hits)
1. 25% of the crew take the weapons damage
4.MOunted weapon
5.Ammo store
6.Take the maximum result for this weapons damage roll, ship is now on fire if wood, meat, or live wood and the weapon damage type was fire or lightning
7. Half this ships damage resistance
8. Roll on the next table


(parts listed in this table take 3 hits)
1. 50 % of the crew take the weapons damage
4.Ammo store
5.mounted weapons
6.Take the maximum result for this weapons damage roll, ship is now on fire if wood, meat, , or live wood and the weapon damage type was fire or lightning
7.Captain takes weapon damage
8.Roll twice (starting on first table)


Being on fire

being on fire does increasing dice size damage per round

It starts at 1d4, 1d6, 1d8,1d10,1d12,1d20, 1d20+ a free crit rolled each round.

once you are on fire any additional criticals (regardless of the result), move you up a dice size (and if at max inflict that damage of a d20 + auto crit, no that crit does not trigger another fire escalation)

To put out a fire uses a number of crew members depending on the size of the ship:

1/2/4/8/16 fighter-> dreadnaught

Each round crew spending finding a fire reduces the fire a dice size and prevents it from growing.You can reduce it quicker by assigning the same amount of crew again, each time you do this , it goes down one more dice size each round. So if your dreadnaught is taking a d20+crit each round, to reduce it to nothing would require 96 assigned crew members.
Different ships have different numbers of crew required to run them.
Roughly it would be 1/4/8/16/32 but it’s gonna vary a lot depending on the ship

Ships can also have marines, which are people standing around ready to board enemy ships or make themselves useful.

If a ship has half as much crew as it needs, it takes -4 on any action that the crew do (because some ships will have their weapons fired by the captain or inserted brains or whatever). When the crew is at 10% -8. 0 crew 0 activity. This means 3 people could technically pilot a dreadnaught. I’m okay with this.

Other thoughts:
Captains levels: if it is an npc class that a player could take a level in (which is great if you have standardized level advancement but maybe a bit messy if you don't) it should prob count as +2 to agility per level.

You might just want to have captains level being whatever level the character is, or half that level for non-fighting classes.

Adding the captains level on to armour class and/or to hit bonus is also an option, especially if you want a star wars like feel where the p.cs are all X-winging it up. In this case allowing stat modifiers to be used as well, or giving them a number of "near miss" points per level might be the go.

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