[Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

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[Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby AxesnOrcs » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:42 am

I've been digging at this for a long while. In PC2, the airplanes have hit points, and not an inconsequential amounts, the lowest is 85 and the highest is 135. For comparison, several of the sample skyships in Champions of Mystara have hull points within that range. Yes, I know hull points and hit points are different, but they aren't that much different. The big differences is things using hull points take no damage from personal weapons; 1/5 damage from magic and monsters; and full damage from siege weapons (except ballistas?). But, siege weapons don't appear to do more or less damage to hit points, or have any extra difficulty in hitting such things.

Is this an inconsistency, like many things in products written by different people, an intentional placing of gnomish airplanes on the same 'scale' as flying monsters, and did CoM ignore this despite including the fantasy engineering/physics rules from PC2. Were the airplanes and skyships not intended to cross paths, which seems weird? Or is this something that should just be ignored? Do the gnomish aircraft weapons do hit point damage or do they count, or are intended to count, as siege weapons for purposes of damaging other aircraft/skyships?

An extreme example is the swanship, with 3 hull points, vs the cloud clipper with 135 hit points. Even the fighter planes have several times the hp of the swanship while probably being the same size.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby Big Mac » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:31 am

In Spelljammer ships had hull points, which gives me a bias towards them (over hit points). Spelljammer also said that anything that does 10 hit points of damage in one go does one hull point of damage. So it would be possible to damage things with personal weapons using SJ rules.

3rd Edition D&D moved to giving some things hardness (which reduced damage). That's another way to do things.

I do agree with you. There is a big inconsistency with sailing ships, flying craft and Spelljamming ships across multiple editions of D&D. Like mass-combat rules, vehicles seem to be something tacked onto the core of D&D and there has never been one popular mechanic that has been folded into the core.

I would personally suggest that you pick whichever system you think works best for you and convert the ships from the other product over. (You might need to convert siege weapons over too, depending on what way you decide to go.) I'm not sure what the ratio is in Mystara, but I'm pretty sure that 1 hull point in Spelljammer was worth 10 hit points.

I wouldn't personally want to use both systems together. That seems a bit nuts to me. I think it might make it hard to have aircraft vs skyship battles. But I might be wrong, as this is way outside my area of interest. Maybe the airplanes are supposed to bounce off of the skyships, without doing much damage.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby AxesnOrcs » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:03 am

I was working my over to using this to do some conversions from Spelljammer. But my problem is that PC2 and CoM are for the same version of D&D, so the way damage vs objects is the same, which is different from SJ, even though SJ is cleaner in many respects. That PC2 and CoM (and Dawn of the Emperors) were all published in the same era for the same edition. They have the same aerial combat rules, almost exactly I think. I really do wonder if the gnomish airplanes are supposed to bounce of skyships, being intended to fight off flying monsters and harassing deckside personnel.

And how could anyone resist competent, if still goofy, Gnomes in WWI fighters zooming around the Princess Ark?
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby Sturm » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:36 am

Probably airplanes should not do full damages to airships. To destroy a XVII century galleon with a IWW biplane would be quite hard and time consuming. Maybe 1/5 damage could be a good compromise. The point of an airplane anyway should be hitting the people on the airship or maybe the sails, not the much more resistant hull.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby AxesnOrcs » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:45 pm

Yeah, and I think I'll accept the weirdness of BD&D siege weapons doing the same damage regardless of the target giving the airplanes effectively similar hull points larger sea-/aircraft. I'll just say it's secret Gnomish magitech. Serraine is built around part of that starship that crashed. And they do have generally better AC and are several times faster, so it's likely it doesn't really matter.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby Robin » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:51 pm

according Canon each 5 hp of damage (Rounded down to even 0) was 1 damage given to structures.
I assumed always siege weapons, airplanes, and such fall in this category.
If you want to do it cannonically further, you could include armor value as per Dawn of the Emperors boxed set Rulebook (somewhere in the end).

and maybe even include full immunity to arrows, bolts and such to structures with an armor value of 6 (Steel), or 9 (rock).
Objects with a bouncing surface (balls of leather/rubber,or inflated balloons) possible as per Princess of Ark construction rules would have two Armor values (one for the intergral structure (bearings, quarters, etc) and another for the bouncing surface. This last one could thus best have a negative AV vs piercing weapons, and positive to all others. an AV of 1 to 4 deems best fitting for these structures. (note; these bouncing surfaces also include magical shields like forcefields, which thus could be breached by massive damage.)

It is understood that siege weapons are the only weapons able to damage structures, (magic not included) and normal weapons have only a minimal effect after prolonged specialized use (axes vs wood, hammers vs stone, etc)

Hope this helps
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby Havard » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:16 pm

Interesting,
I had never noticed this inconsistency. I suppose the Airplanes very well might be fragile vehicles. Only Gnomes would be mad enough to fly in them. (And Gremlins of course! :lol: )

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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby AxesnOrcs » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:25 pm

Havard wrote:Interesting,
I had never noticed this inconsistency. I suppose the Airplanes very well might be fragile vehicles. Only Gnomes would be mad enough to fly in them. (And Gremlins of course! :lol: )

-Havard


I only noticed this when I started doing my conversion from SJ to CoM and the Elven Flitter, and other smaller vessels, just made me scratch my head. The flitter is supposed to be a fighter, but is vastly inferior in every respect. This also made me take a second look at the Swanship in CoM.

I have a more substantive reply trapped on a word doc, but my 2mo old is just relentless.

EDIT:

Robin wrote:according Canon each 5 hp of damage (Rounded down to even 0) was 1 damage given to structures.
I assumed always siege weapons, airplanes, and such fall in this category.
If you want to do it cannonically further, you could include armor value as per Dawn of the Emperors boxed set Rulebook (somewhere in the end).

and maybe even include full immunity to arrows, bolts and such to structures with an armor value of 6 (Steel), or 9 (rock).
Objects with a bouncing surface (balls of leather/rubber,or inflated balloons) possible as per Princess of Ark construction rules would have two Armor values (one for the intergral structure (bearings, quarters, etc) and another for the bouncing surface. This last one could thus best have a negative AV vs piercing weapons, and positive to all others. an AV of 1 to 4 deems best fitting for these structures. (note; these bouncing surfaces also include magical shields like forcefields, which thus could be breached by massive damage.)

It is understood that siege weapons are the only weapons able to damage structures, (magic not included) and normal weapons have only a minimal effect after prolonged specialized use (axes vs wood, hammers vs stone, etc)

Hope this helps


I don't think that the airplanes are supposed to be considered structures. They have hit points and not hull points listed. Hull points first showed up in the two Expert rulebooks, although the specific details on dealing damage to structures doesn't show up until the Master set, reiterated in the Cyclopedia and CoM, I'd think that any product published after core rules would reference the damaging structure rules if they were relevant to new rule subsystems, like the aerial combat and airplane rules in PC2. Even though PC2 predated CoM, and therefore can only reference DoE, I assume that airplanes are supposed to be engaging in flying monsters and not skyships, especially since CoM contains the hull points rules, minus the damaging to wooden/stone structure rules.

Short of any of the people who worked on DoE, PC2, or CoM, or Bruce Heard, materializing to share their intentions for the different things, it's got to be houseruled, which is why I floated this discussion. I was also hoping that someone would drag out some core rules that I managed to miss because my Rule Cyclopedia is that wonderful WotC scan and I'm missing the Master DM book.

The options as I see it so far are: ignore the weirdness accept that the airplanes have effectively more "health" than several larger skyships because siege weapons do the same damage regardless of target, and keeping the vulnerability to personal weapons; switch over to the AD&D scaling keeping hp for airplanes the same; or recalculate the hitpoints into hull points based on the ship building rules in CoM and treat them as ships with the immunity to personal weapons.

I'm not a big fan of armor as a damage reduction in D&D variations. It runs counter to the way I see the combat rules operate, also I've never had positive experiences doing that in D&D.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby Lord Sheriff Takari » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:08 am

for small craft such as Airplanes or really small Ships = I use Hit points based off the ruggedness of the design and what it's made of

a lightly built vehicle made of pine and fabric will not take much to put it out of action while a craft made of metal and sturdy construction will be a tough nut to crack

for the most part, 1 Hull Point equals 10 hit points so things can be damaged by personal scale weapons while weapons designed to cause Hull Point Damage will do great harm to a PC or NPC <weapon deals 1D6 Hull damage will cause 10-60 Hit points of damage to a person.>
IE = you really do NOT want to get hit by a Siege Engine without having a few Stoneskins on you.

however, there is a limit to what a personal weapon can do when swung at a ship.
for vessels made of wood, Carapace, or Bone. these vessels CAN be damaged by personal weapons so long as the weapon is capable of delivering more than 10 hit points
in that swing including strength modifiers
any vessel made of Metal will NOT be harmed by personal weaponry no matter how hard it is swung

want proof = take a Sword and go hit a Tank with it! the best you'll do is chip the paint on that Tank and knock a big ole ding into your sword
I don't care if you have a +5 Holy Avenger and 18/00 Strength augmented by a Girdle of Storm Giant Strength
you are not going to hurt a Ship made of 2" Steel Plate!

Skyships are considered non-Spelljamming capable vessels but are treated in the same class as Spelljammers for construction purposes
since there is little solid canon regarding these vessels and how they impact play when battling it out overhead, it boils down to House Rules to make a functional System that works and is simple enough to employ at your table

I use the rule that craft weighing less than 10 tons under the SJ rules are considered shuttles or Starfighters as they are too small to really be a viable long distance ship
aka Goblin Arrow, Mosquito, Elven Flitter for example
these small units make worthy examples of Starfighters one could employ in game since these craft are rarely given Helms thus needing to "Hitch-a-ride" on a larger ship
all manner of other designs could be made at DM discretion such as giant bugs converted into fighters using their carapaces forming the bulk of the craft's structure
while lightweight and reasonably sturdy, these crafts can be damaged by swords or axes while a skilled archer can pepper it with arrows
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby Khedrac » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:56 am

Lord Sheriff Takari wrote:any vessel made of Metal will NOT be harmed by personal weaponry no matter how hard it is swung

I appreciate that you are basing it on a lot more than just "metal or not metal" (and earlier in your post you said "metal and sturdy construction" but I think this should be emphasised for anyone thinking of using your approach as posted.
Just because something is made of metal does not mean it will have a sturdy construction - many early aeroplanes (WW2 era) had metal skins (usually sheet aluminum) - any such flying machines will be almost as easy to damage with personal weapons as those with cloth skins.
They are also much harder to repair...During the Battle of Britain the hurricane fighters had a number of significant advantages over the spitfires (reverse also true).
Probably the most notable of these was that, having a cloth skin, when they got shot full of holes a new layer of cloth could be applied and the aircrft returned to the fight. Spitfires with an aluminium skin had to go off for repair.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby AxesnOrcs » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:35 pm

Lord Sheriff Takari wrote:for small craft such as Airplanes or really small Ships = I use Hit points based off the ruggedness of the design and what it's made of

a lightly built vehicle made of pine and fabric will not take much to put it out of action while a craft made of metal and sturdy construction will be a tough nut to crack

for the most part, 1 Hull Point equals 10 hit points so things can be damaged by personal scale weapons while weapons designed to cause Hull Point Damage will do great harm to a PC or NPC <weapon deals 1D6 Hull damage will cause 10-60 Hit points of damage to a person.>
IE = you really do NOT want to get hit by a Siege Engine without having a few Stoneskins on you.

however, there is a limit to what a personal weapon can do when swung at a ship.
for vessels made of wood, Carapace, or Bone. these vessels CAN be damaged by personal weapons so long as the weapon is capable of delivering more than 10 hit points
in that swing including strength modifiers
any vessel made of Metal will NOT be harmed by personal weaponry no matter how hard it is swung

want proof = take a Sword and go hit a Tank with it! the best you'll do is chip the paint on that Tank and knock a big ole ding into your sword
I don't care if you have a +5 Holy Avenger and 18/00 Strength augmented by a Girdle of Storm Giant Strength
you are not going to hurt a Ship made of 2" Steel Plate!

Skyships are considered non-Spelljamming capable vessels but are treated in the same class as Spelljammers for construction purposes
since there is little solid canon regarding these vessels and how they impact play when battling it out overhead, it boils down to House Rules to make a functional System that works and is simple enough to employ at your table

I use the rule that craft weighing less than 10 tons under the SJ rules are considered shuttles or Starfighters as they are too small to really be a viable long distance ship
aka Goblin Arrow, Mosquito, Elven Flitter for example
these small units make worthy examples of Starfighters one could employ in game since these craft are rarely given Helms thus needing to "Hitch-a-ride" on a larger ship
all manner of other designs could be made at DM discretion such as giant bugs converted into fighters using their carapaces forming the bulk of the craft's structure
while lightweight and reasonably sturdy, these crafts can be damaged by swords or axes while a skilled archer can pepper it with arrows


Aside from me mentioning my conversion work FROM SJ TO CoM, and Big Mac sharing how SJ does things differently, I am totally unsure as to what else SJ has to do with this. Especially considering that Champions of Mystara primarily deals with aerial combat between skyships within the atmosphere, provides an outline for extending those rules beyond the Skyshield, and a conversion guide from Spelljammer to CoM.

Khedrac wrote:
Lord Sheriff Takari wrote:any vessel made of Metal will NOT be harmed by personal weaponry no matter how hard it is swung

I appreciate that you are basing it on a lot more than just "metal or not metal" (and earlier in your post you said "metal and sturdy construction" but I think this should be emphasised for anyone thinking of using your approach as posted.
Just because something is made of metal does not mean it will have a sturdy construction - many early aeroplanes (WW2 era) had metal skins (usually sheet aluminum) - any such flying machines will be almost as easy to damage with personal weapons as those with cloth skins.
They are also much harder to repair...During the Battle of Britain the hurricane fighters had a number of significant advantages over the spitfires (reverse also true).
Probably the most notable of these was that, having a cloth skin, when they got shot full of holes a new layer of cloth could be applied and the aircrft returned to the fight. Spitfires with an aluminium skin had to go off for repair.


Yeah, there is a hug difference between the armor on a tank and the skin of a early/mid 20th century airplane, which is what the planes in PC2 are emulating. It's probably also worth reemphasizing that the planes in PC2 are bi-/triplanes stylistically similar to WWI and not the monoplanes of WWII. It is flavorful that small-arms fire, which ironically includes things like .50cal rifles/machine guns in the real world, are capable of taking down the Gnomish airplanes.

It is probably fine that, once again for emphasis within BECMI/CoM and not 2e AD&D/SJ, siege weapons deal the same damage to hit point objects (creatures and Gnomish Airplanes) and hull point objects (boats and the like). But it's still weird that the swanship (similar size to the planes), and the Light Heldannic Warbird (a ship designed for war) have less effective health than the planes.
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Re: [Top Ballista] Airplane vs Skyship Inconsistencies?

Postby AxesnOrcs » Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:50 pm

In any case, I decided to go with a loose conversion based on the stated functions of the Flitter rather a direct stat block conversion.

I've done a conversion based on what I feel the Flitter would be if the scale of the game was adjusted to make small fighter craft more interesting. Consequentially, I am now fleshing out the Earth-Moon system for my campaign, which includes the remnants of an Imperial Elven Naval Fleet.

Depowered Flitters have a non-magical, tactical speed only engine with SR2. Tactical Elven Engines are used primarily in Flitters, storing and converting sunlight into tactical movement, occasionally showing up as backups in Man-o-Wars. Larger Elven ships are too large for TEEs to move. The standard TEE stores 360,000 yards of movement, and takes 24 hours of sunlight to fully refill.

Thorn Launchers (1d6) launch arrow sized thorns. Each launcher has 10 thorns ready. It takes a full turn for the launcher to grown another set of 10.

The remnants of the IEN through the Earth-Moon Lagrange points have decayed into various tribes clustered around the L4 and L5 points, known locally as the Wilds and Forest, respectively. There are very few minor and major helms amongst the tribes making travel between the Lagrange Points to be rare. The conventional engines can take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to make an inter-point trip, and the various tribes rarely use their few helm equipped ships to travel to the other points.

Elven Flitter
Type: Imperial Elven Navy Single-Seat Multi-Purpose Light Spelljammer
Weaponry (typical):
Wings: Synchronized Thorn Launchers (1d6)
Performance Specifications
Armor Class: 6 (14)
Forward Airspeed:
240' (80') with Tactical Elven Engine
120' (40') times SR with a helm
Maneuverability Factor: MF 3
Tank capacity: 360,000 yards
Hit Points: 90
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