Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

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Dalillama
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Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by Dalillama » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:23 am

Not the adventure path so much, but I need some pirates to come attack the PCs' ship next session (well, the ship they're on), and I'm trying to gauge the relative toughness of the crews from there. (Also, they seem kinda small, and oddly homogenous, but that's anther story).

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Big Mac
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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:46 pm

Dalillama wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:23 am
I'm trying to gauge the relative toughness of the crews from there.
You need Jaid mathematics for that! :P

He once took on the entire Spelljammer community with a debate about the effectiveness of various ship's weapons, based on rates of fire, weapon THAC0 and range.

Pretty much everyone said he was wrong. But he countered those opinions with facts™ and stuff and beat all of us into submission.

It was an amazing site to behold.

Anyhoo, how could we use mathematics on SJA2 Skull & Crossbows?

How about if you got the NPCs crews of each pirate ship and got them to fight against each other in test hand-to-hand combats? A comparison of the THAC0 of one crew against the AC of the other crew, would give you the chance that crew could hit the other crew. And the weapon that crew is equipped with would let you know how much average damage the crew would do if they do hit.

You could work out how many times the crew of the first ship need to hit the crew of the second ship in order to kill them.

And you could then do the mathematics in reverse.

And of course, if one crew has more crewmen than another crew, they get to do more attacks, and the natural 20s that come up might help there. So it's not a simple case of working out two average damage numbers.

But I think some examination of the stats could help you work out how good each crew might be at hand-to-hand combat.

That would not apply to the ships though.

It's down to looking at the MC of the ships and the SR each helmsman generates, along with the effectiveness of the weapons each ship has.

However, if we are talking of pirates...and not just attack ships, I think we can assume that they are going to want to weaken a ship only enough to allow them to board, raid and flee with treasure.

Good luck working this lot out. I'll be very interested to see what numbers you come up with.
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Halvor
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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by Halvor » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:12 pm

Historically most pirate encounters did not end in a fight. Merchant ships would flee or surrender at the sight of the black (black flag). By convention and tradition those that surrendered to pirates sailing under the black would get quarter and keep their lives, ships, and often some of their cargo. The red (red flag) was rarely used by pirates, but its usage indicated that they would not offer quarter to their foes.

In consequence, it would not be an unreasonable expectation for a spelljamming pirate crew to be very inexperienced at combat and possibly not that prepared for a fight, perhaps some of their catapults are for show and dont actually work, etc. If you feel you need to scale down the pirates there are plenty of reasonable ways to do that.

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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by GMWestermeyer » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:39 pm

I've used Skull & Crossbows quite a bit for the Jammers campaign, but heavily modified, for example, I ran Fire & ice but without the giant ship, it was replaced by a scro scorpionship.

I don't get the 'mathematics' deal, nor do i recall that argument being compelling or factual

Old school DMs balanced adventures through feel and experience. The math is irrelevant, the single most important factor in any fight is how the DM runs the foes.

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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by Jaid » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:25 pm

GMWestermeyer wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:39 pm
I've used Skull & Crossbows quite a bit for the Jammers campaign, but heavily modified, for example, I ran Fire & ice but without the giant ship, it was replaced by a scro scorpionship.

I don't get the 'mathematics' deal, nor do i recall that argument being compelling or factual

Old school DMs balanced adventures through feel and experience. The math is irrelevant, the single most important factor in any fight is how the DM runs the foes.
yeah, i was gonna say... pretty sure i didn't convince everyone, or at least, not completely. i seem to recall you in particular, Paul, saying you disagreed with my conclusion that light catapults were by far the most compelling choice (provided sufficient crew space is available, and provided the DM follows the rules regardless of questions like "is there really enough deck space to cram 30 light catapults onto a hammership?"). at one point, i think you were planning on running some sort of test where the objective was to attack a crown of corellon station or something like that and you invited me to bring a ship armed exclusively with light catapults, but i don't think that scenario ever went anywhere...

though i do think i at least partially convinced *some* people (i think aulddragon makes reference to that thread in his spelljammer campaign, and had even tweaked the ship weapon rules somewhat to address the issue... though i have no idea if i can take credit for him noticing the issue or not, since it's entirely possible he figured it out all by himself :P )

i do still think that of the "standard" ship weapons (catapults and ballistas), light catapults are pretty much the strongest option when viewed from a rules perspective (again, a decision that you can't just handwave where all those light catapults are placed would certainly help) with their combination of superior range (with the exception of light ballistas, which are horrible against ships), superior THAC0, versatility (they can be anti-ship, anti-crew, and can also place rock fields) and greatest benefit from bonuses (like superior quality weapons if the DM rules that applies to hull damage, or magical pluses otherwise)... and i still think the solution i presented (giving better THAC0 and range to the heavier weapons instead of the light weapons) makes for a better overall system where there is a mechanical reason to use a variety of ship weapons... but that's not the same as having convinced everyone that my system is better or even that the original system is flawed :P

anyways, to the main point: balancing encounters depends on a lot of factors. you can get away with a lot more at level 5 than you can at level 1; 4 goblins that get lucky can wipe a level 1 party fairly easily. 4 enemies appropriate for a level 5 group need to get so ridiculously lucky to kill a level 5 party it just isn't really even plausible.

so really, to answer the question, we probably need to know more about the party. how many are in it, what level are they, how lucky did they get in chargen/level-up (did they roll well or poorly on hit dice?), what additional resources do they have available (are they in a squidship or a dragonfly, do they have a crew of 10 sailors or 20 sailors plus 15 weapon operators and 20 marines?), and so forth.

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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by AuldDragon » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:46 am

Dalillama wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:23 am
Not the adventure path so much, but I need some pirates to come attack the PCs' ship next session (well, the ship they're on), and I'm trying to gauge the relative toughness of the crews from there. (Also, they seem kinda small, and oddly homogenous, but that's anther story).
I haven't run any of the mini-adventures recently, but I found that if the recommended levels and ship type were used, they were pretty good.

If you're worried about the power level, why not create something roughly appropriate to the party? I always have a couple such pirate ships on my random encounter chart (and only replace them when the party has dealt with it), and I would definitely pull one out if I just needed them to have a pirate encounter.
Jaid wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:25 pm
though i do think i at least partially convinced *some* people (i think aulddragon makes reference to that thread in his spelljammer campaign, and had even tweaked the ship weapon rules somewhat to address the issue... though i have no idea if i can take credit for him noticing the issue or not, since it's entirely possible he figured it out all by himself :P )
Naw, you can take credit for that. :) All I've done so far was set the ranges to be the same for all weapons of a type; I figure that will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the smaller weapons over the larger, but we haven't had enough space combat to have a rigorous test.

It would help if there were some ship-sized monsters with ranged ability...

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Dalillama
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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by Dalillama » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:46 am

Wound up using entirely different pirates that I made up on the spot because I couldn't find my copy of the book when I needed it. They had a squiship and a Dragonborn who the PCs believe was the captain. When they left the enemy was busy dealing with their ship being on fire and didn't chase.
On which topic, I feel like there's some canon way to follow someone through Wildspace, if they went to Spelljamming speeds where you could see/were close to them, but I might be thinking of some other space opera. Anyone recall that?

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Re: Anyone actually used Skulls and Crossbows?

Post by Lord Torath » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:54 pm

I think you can make a Navigation check, or an Intelligence check to get the correct heading, but only if you see them leave. If you fail your test, your course ends up off by a degree or so, which ends up being thousands of miles off after just a few minutes. I think it was in the Concordance of Arcane Space, but it might have been Lorebook of the Void.

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