[SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

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[SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:18 pm

I've had a few conversations about spelljammer ships in various places. I love Spelljammer, but one of the things that I don't love is that the 2nd edition combat system is removed from the context of AD&D and turned into something that feels more like a wargame.

There are already a couple of good conversions of SJ combat (you can see the links at the top of the [SJ3e] Spelljammer Conversion Notes thread) but I would like to try to make a system that is 100 percent compatible with conventional D&D combat.

The plus side of this is that conventional combat and ship combat could be run at the same time. PCs or NPCs could take over the roles (and the rolls) previously made by the ship. The players could feel part of the combat instead of people watching the combat*.

* = I am not against also having a mass battle system that can be used for large scale battle. If someone wanted to create a wargame system that would take care of that sort of thing. I'm after a system that can work before, during and after a ramming attack and bording action.

The negative side of this is that 2nd edition ship combat runs on a different timescale, has a different damage system and doesn't have proper D&D rules for running the weapons. All of this stuff needs to be inferred from the original rules and the 3rd edition rules. But I think it is possible and I think that people have previously done very useful work that takes us a lot of the way there.

I picked the title of this thread ("[SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?") because I think that it would be a lot easier to run a combat between a dragon and a spelljamming ship if we could (in some way) treat the ship as if it was a monster. That might seem to conflict with what I said above, but I've realised that on a ship, specific people control specific parts of the ships actions. Most importantly:
  • A helmsman controlls on the movement of the ship and
  • A weaponeer controlls the attacks from a specific weapon.
I don't think it would be too hard to add to those roles and have new roles, like a rigger who adjusts the sails to give the Tactical Raiting (TR)** a boost.

[*]** 3rd edition has used the initials SR for Spell Resistance, and Beyond the Moons has decided to use the term Tactical Raiting instead of Ship's Raiting. Please stick to the new term, so that we can copy and paste text straight into the BtM conversions when we get stuff done.[/i]

Here are my early thoughts:
  • The Helmsman - The character acting as ship's helmsman is the "mind of the ship" and as such should make all saving throws for the ships, while he is on the helm. He should also make ramming attack rolls.
  • The Weaponeer - Ships weapons are crewed by a number of people, but one should be the weaponeer. They should make all the attack rolls for that weapon. Characters assisting the weaponeer should be deemed to be using the aid action. We can back-calculate to work out how each type of weapon performs when a weaponeer does not get aid.
  • The Lookout - Whoever is on lookout duty can be deemed to be making the ship's spot checks. Listen checks are not normally applicable in wildspace. (Other people might spot things too, but the lookout should be deemed to be trying to spot things.)
  • The Rigger - On any ship with sails and ropes, riggers would be adjusting the sails to assist the person controlling the ship's wheel. This concept should be adopted into the rules to give the crew something to do and to allow a ship with a great crew to get an advantage over a ship with a poor crew. (I'm not sure what to do with ships without rigging yet, but that is no reason not to discuss this.)
  • The Ship's Doctor - This can be anyone with a healing skill or a cleric (or someone from another class with healing) who has not been on the helm yet. They don't need special ship rules.
  • Marines - The fighting forces of a ship (military or otherwise) can work exactly as in standard D&D rules. We might want to think of some new skills or feats, but they don't need special ship rules.
  • Firefighting - This is something that anyone could (and would) be involved in, but we might want to consider if we need some skills or feats to help people deal with fire onboard ship. With nowhere to retreat to people would be more keen to fight fire instead of running away.
That is all I have for the moment. I'll throw this open, so that others can come in with their opinions.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships Saving Throws

Post by Big Mac » Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:21 pm

I said before that a helmsman should make the ship's saving throws, but I am aware that they are not using their own body. So should they make a roll using some sort of stat adjustment from the ship instead?

If a ship was a monster, it could perhaps count as an animated object or a construct.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Jaid » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:59 am

i would have to say that if you're going to treat the ship as a monster, treating it as an animated monster seems to be the way to go. it's already a cross between monster and object, and the hardness will make ship weapons more appealing.

for your 'rigger' i would personally prefer just calling them sailors, or the sail master if you're going to have someone in charge of a group. (i think that name is used in someone's rule set for SJ combat).

for the helmsman, consider that on some ships there will be multiple helmsmen; series helms and the orbus in particular (though in the case or orbus, i suppose you would just use the hive mother). some means of determining the primary helmsman would be needed.

ships should have their own dexterity attribute, but no constitution; so a ship would make saves based on it's own dex and either it's own saving throw or the (primary) helmsman, whichever is greater, provided the ship uses a helm (let's not forget those nonmagical engines, which won't have any mystic connection to the 'helmsman' or more likely, pilot. reflex saves might still be appropriate, but you would definitely have to go with the ship's fortitude save in such a case, if needed).


incidentally, while i'm pretty sure the SJ system had a terrible habit of calling rounds turns, it was in fact on the same time scale as combat between individuals. of course, in second edition, rounds were 1 minute long, so if you're just talking about the fact that a 4 minute reload time is not going to work for a 3.x edition ship weapon, then i can certainly agree with that ;)

if we were to stat up the ship as a monster, then i suppose we could treat it as having perfect multiattack or something like that in it's stat bar. it would of course have attack bonus based on the crew, but once you've calculated that you could relatively easily turn it into a stat block, i think.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:59 pm

Jaid wrote:i would have to say that if you're going to treat the ship as a monster, treating it as an animated monster seems to be the way to go. it's already a cross between monster and object, and the hardness will make ship weapons more appealing.
I'm not totally sure where to go with the weapons yet. I may have taken the ship as monster analogy a bit too far.

It could be that a weapon works best when you treat the weaponeer as if they are riding on the ship (which in fact they are).
Jaid wrote:for your 'rigger' i would personally prefer just calling them sailors, or the sail master if you're going to have someone in charge of a group. (i think that name is used in someone's rule set for SJ combat).
I have no emotional attachement to any of the names I used. They are just placeholders. Sailors is a better name for a generic crew position, but I believe it is a groundling name. I believe the SJ term is "spacehand". Sail master would be a better name. (Especially if we were going to do a Prestige Class or NPC Class. "Sail Master" looks pretty cool.)

From a dice rolling point of view, I want to put one PC or NPC in charge of every different thing the ship might do. So while I want the ship to function in 3rd edition combat rounds (as if it was a monster), I want to set up a system where the GM can* give each player a different job on the ship. I'm hoping from a game point of view, that will make SJ combat something that everyone can get involved in.

* = Note that I mean "could" and not "should". If a GM wants the PCs to be passengers that is fine with me. I just want a system where any PC can take over a post when a crewman gets killed or incapacitated.

I'm also hoping that giving everyone a role will add to the tension when ship level combat and melee combat come into conflict. For example if you have a weaponeer and two crewman stationed at a weapon and a small group of enemy NPCs get teleported onto the deck of their ship. The three crewman can stay at their post and try to do ship level damage, or abandon their post and fight hand to hand. (Or split up and try to do both.) I want to be able to do that sort of thing without parallel running of two systems. I want everything to get adapted to the d20 System.
Jaid wrote:for the helmsman, consider that on some ships there will be multiple helmsmen; series helms and the orbus in particular (though in the case or orbus, i suppose you would just use the hive mother). some means of determining the primary helmsman would be needed.
I've thought about multiple helmsmen before and it is another issue that can be very complex. I'd like to debate that separately some time. (Especially the concept of several helmsmen on series helms that want the ship to do different things.) And psionic characters using series helms is another thing I'd like to cover sometime.

The main thing is (however we explain the mechanic) I would like one person to be the primary helmsman and the rest of the people to be assisting the primary helmsman (or fighting the primary helmsman if we allow that sort of thing).

I'm looking for one PC or NPC to be responsible for the saving throws of the ship.
Jaid wrote:ships should have their own dexterity attribute, but no constitution; so a ship would make saves based on it's own dex and either it's own saving throw or the (primary) helmsman, whichever is greater, provided the ship uses a helm (let's not forget those nonmagical engines, which won't have any mystic connection to the 'helmsman' or more likely, pilot. reflex saves might still be appropriate, but you would definitely have to go with the ship's fortitude save in such a case, if needed).
Constructs don't have a constitution score, so I'd agree with that.

I like the "whatever is the greater" idea, but think that maybe adding everything up could be fun (if it wasn't too complex).

So if a galeon was -2 dex, a major helm was +2 dex and a helmsman had a +3 dex score, they would all add up to give you +5 when that helmsman was using that helm on that ship.

We could also give bonuses for things like "rigging" and "stripping" a ship. In fact MC in general could possibly feed into the dex of the ship. Ships that can turn better should be able to dodge things better.

If the abilities of ships stacked in with the rest it would mean that we could "reward" the good hulls and "punish" the bad hulls.

And if the abilities of helmsmen stacked with the stats from the helm it would helm make the types of helms that don't use helmsmen have lower saving throws. That would make those sorts of helms perform worse in combat.

Without actually going as far as hobbling any ship hulls or helm types, we could help justify why magical helms and spacefaring hull designs are best. Saving throws don't come into play all the time, but they could make a difference in the long term. (And we can make stats - bad stats - for those flying rocks you wrote about a while ago. ;) )
Jaid wrote:incidentally, while i'm pretty sure the SJ system had a terrible habit of calling rounds turns, it was in fact on the same time scale as combat between individuals. of course, in second edition, rounds were 1 minute long, so if you're just talking about the fact that a 4 minute reload time is not going to work for a 3.x edition ship weapon, then i can certainly agree with that ;)
You are correct on that. Other SJ conversions have tried to separate the ship time and character time, but I would like to keep them both on the round basis.

Earlier people have argued that making SJ ships move in 3rd edition combat rounds makes them move too fast. We might need to address that. But I would like to convert all ship activity to 3rd edition speeds (even if that means adjusting the "hex" size).

I would boost a 2nd edition 4 minute reload time to 24 seconds (keeping it at 4 rounds).

And I'd convert any turn based time by using the rules in the Conversion Manual. But I'll watch out for turns that are really rounds.
Jaid wrote:if we were to stat up the ship as a monster, then i suppose we could treat it as having perfect multiattack or something like that in it's stat bar. it would of course have attack bonus based on the crew, but once you've calculated that you could relatively easily turn it into a stat block, i think.
Ships could actually involve a bit of crunching. For the attacks, I'd say that it could have up to 1 attack per weapon. I'd say that each attack would be based on the weaponeer (with bonuses for mastercrafted or magic ship weapons added on top).

The crunching involved could seem a bit scarey, but we could easily knock up a generic crew (a standard crew) or a couple of crews (a green crew, experience crew, etc) and create a cheatsheet for GMs that want to do random encounters with other ships.

But for the ship the PCs themselves are on, I think I'd like to see the GM handbuild a crew with NPCs and work out how those NPCs work the ship.

I'm also looking to see a "character sheet" for ships that helps a GM record all the important abilities of the crew and quickly work out things like the amount of Tactical Raiting a specific crewman can generate.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Elvith Jars » Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:39 pm

Personally I like the way d20 Modern treats starships. In some ways they're treated like creatures. With some work, the existing rules could be expanded upon and refined. That's what I'm doing for my custom fantasy space game that makes use of 20 OGL rules.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:26 pm

Elvith Jars wrote:Personally I like the way d20 Modern treats starships. In some ways they're treated like creatures. With some work, the existing rules could be expanded upon and refined. That's what I'm doing for my custom fantasy space game that makes use of 20 OGL rules.
Thanks for the heads-up Mike. Here is a link to the appropriate page of the Modern SRD:
d20 Modern System Reference Document - d20 FUTURE - STARSHIPS
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Jaid » Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:25 pm

i remember looking through the d20future rules for starships and thinking they were terrible. i'd have to look through again i suppose, it has been a while. but there's a reason i didn't suggest adapting the d20future rules.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:48 pm

Jaid wrote:i remember looking through the d20future rules for starships and thinking they were terrible. i'd have to look through again i suppose, it has been a while. but there's a reason i didn't suggest adapting the d20future rules.
Having a quick skim through them I see stuff I like and other stuff I dislike. I think for me the best thing is the structure of the rules. Counting the pages in the MSRD that are connected with space travel, gives me an idea of how detailed we need to make the SJ stuff.

Things like the condition summary would probably not get used in the same way at the MSRD rules, as a spelljammer ship wouldn't have a condition in the same way as a character does, but it reminds me in many ways of the Critical Hits rules on page 59 of CoaS.

Actually condition would probably be a good way to define things like a Foul Atmosphere.

I wouldn't want to do exactly the same thing as d20 Future did, but I would love to see an enemy ship/creature be able to do X to a ship and have it cause Spelljammer Shock the the ship and have that affect the helmsman. I might (when we have converted the core rules) even think about creating a Spelljammer Shock spell, that causes no damage to a ship, but makes its helmsman make a saving throw to avoid suffering spelljammer shock.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Ashtagon » Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:37 pm

Back when WotC used to have a d20 Future forum, the general consensus there was that the rules in that book in general, and starships in particular, were badly broken and probably not playtested before publication.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Elvith Jars » Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:44 pm

i remember looking through the d20future rules for starships and thinking they were terrible. i'd have to look through again i suppose, it has been a while. but there's a reason i didn't suggest adapting the d20future rules.
For me, the d20 Future starship rules serve as a good basis to start from. There are definitely things that need to be fleshed out, such as how different materials affect the ship's hit points, and what to do when characters attack starships. One thing I thought of was that the hit points a ship has is really a small fraction of the total; it's just the amout of damage a ship can take before breaking up. If characters start, say, cutting through the hull/bulkheads/decks/overheads then the rules for cutting through similar objects in a dungeon apply. Another area to expand upon is what's inside of the ship. That isn't really covered except for hangar bays and cargo bays. You should be able to take a version of the existing rules and define basic ships for combat, then go into more detail for RP purposes if needed. Finally, I think the weapons need more oomph compared to the hit points a ship gets or you'll spend hours in ship to ship combat and they should have firing arcs. Something like armament points and weapon caliber from the Overwhelming Firepower supplement comes to mind for increased firepower. Sure there are physical limitations when building ballistae and catapults, but you can resolve that by having multiple weapon batteries and delivering broadside attacks.

One of the things I did like about d20 Future starships was the realistic space travel rules. The space travel mechanics in Spelljammer bugged me, but I felt that "realistic" travel in a fantasy setting could be had with a lot of magic. Perhaps a powerful artifact, for instance, could transform an asteroid into a "mini Earth" by using an artificial gravity spell effective to the edge of the asteroid's newly formed atmosphere. Artifacts like that would definitely be expensive though.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:03 am

Elvith Jars wrote:One of the things I did like about d20 Future starships was the realistic space travel rules. The space travel mechanics in Spelljammer bugged me, but I felt that "realistic" travel in a fantasy setting could be had with a lot of magic. Perhaps a powerful artifact, for instance, could transform an asteroid into a "mini Earth" by using an artificial gravity spell effective to the edge of the asteroid's newly formed atmosphere. Artifacts like that would definitely be expensive though.
If we do a Spelljammer conversion, we will use things like d20 Future for inspiration, but SJ fans are generally fans of fantasy space. "Realistic rules" (if that means real-life physics) are not desired by fans of SJ.

Grubbian gravity, the phlogiston and all that other fantasy stuff is staying in my game. It might get a 3e makeover, but I'm not going to reinvent it.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Jaid » Sat Jul 05, 2008 4:38 am

Ashtagon wrote:Back when WotC used to have a d20 Future forum, the general consensus there was that the rules in that book in general, and starships in particular, were badly broken and probably not playtested before publication.
well then, good to know my impression of the book was generally not exclusive to me =P

i don't mind the possibility of stealing *ideas* from d20future, but i don't think the system really even had that many good, solid ideas.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jul 05, 2008 11:03 am

Jaid wrote:well then, good to know my impression of the book was generally not exclusive to me =P

i don't mind the possibility of stealing *ideas* from d20future, but i don't think the system really even had that many good, solid ideas.
My roleplaying group used d20 Modern for some futuristic roleplaying (in our own homebrew universe) and we didn't really enjoy the rules as much as traditional D&D. Some of the rules of d20 Modern seem pretty emotionless to me. (For example a Strong Hero who is good at...having a high Strength score. That to me, is not a character class - it is a system that benifits power-players, but doesn't add any useful context to role-players.)

I think the problems with d20 Modern in general are down to the fact that it has had a much shorter development than D&D. WotC came along and built on several generations of previous rules. And even then they felt they got it wrong and needed a 3.5 edition to fix things.

I think that if d20 Future had several editions behind it, the sort of problems that people have mentioned would have been mostly knocked out. Although I still wouldn't be dumping the phlogiston and/or putting hyperspace into SJ.

BTW: If anyone is looking for that sort of SJ meets tech stuff, there is a Yahoo Group called Spelljammer Gone Wild where other fans of a sci-fi like Spelljammer hang out. The link should be on my links page.

I still think the best thing we can do with d20 Future is use the structure to come up with a draft structure for the Ships of Wildpace PDF. One of my bugbears*, with 2nd edition in general, is that bits of the same rule were scattered around. And in the case of Spelljammer, some of the rules (like the priest spheres of each of the religions) were not even included in the boxed set. I love the rules, but you get different comments on the same rule in different locations. The crunchy stuff should really be in one place.

* = Am I a bugbear yet? Last time I looked I was a troll! :lol:
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:03 pm

MODERATOR NOTE: This thread will be moved to the Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project forum tonight.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by night_druid » Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:29 pm

The biggest problem with "ships as monsters" is one of scalability. Basically, if you use d20 object rules or even a hp approximation that is even close to that, you get hp totals that are very high (typically in the thousands or tens of thousands). Artillery weapons have very low damage in comparison (IIRC, 5d6 is very high damage for them). End result is that catapults, ballista, and cannons are all useless; they cannot inflict enough damage to hamper in any way a spelljammer. I'm not sure that this fundamental problem has ever been worked out in official products. The most common work-around I've seen from WotC was to shrink ships to reduce HP to a more managable level.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Bidmaron » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:52 am

I think we have to stay with the ship as monster idea and not use d20 object scaling rules. After all, if you took a dragon scale shield and upscaled it to a dragon using d20 object rules, you'd have the same problem. Conversely, if you took a dragon and downscaled it to a shield's size, it would be easier to break than an egg shell.

I think we should approach ship hit points by staying fairly true to 2nd edition. That is, multiply hit points by 10 and then subtract out some amount for the 3rd edition hardness so that the same number of, say, light catapult hits that it would take under 2nd edition to achieve a ship break-up would still do it under 3rd edition.

As for the issue of a ship's dexterity, I'd propose that we simply convert the MC into a dexterity modifier, i.e. A=+3;B=+2;C=+1;D=0;E=-1;F=-2. I'm not sure how often you'd need an actual dexterity score for a ship, and if you did, you could simply work it backwards from the modifier.

A general question: Why are we doing 3e conversion? Why not go straight to 3.5? Are there really that many people who didn't make the leap from 3 to 3.5?

I really like the idea of assigning PCs functions for the crew. As a Navy man, I'm a fan of using 'Mate' or 'Boatswain' for the 'rigger'.

I like the idea of reducing the hex size to make the tactical speeds the same as a function of time (i.e. divide hex size by 10). Also, I think we should move to the 3rd edition square rather than a hex and use the rule that every other diagonal is 2 squares.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by dulsi » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:24 am

Bidmaron wrote:A general question: Why are we doing 3e conversion? Why not go straight to 3.5? Are there really that many people who didn't make the leap from 3 to 3.5?
I suspect it will be 3.5. I know Big Mac has mentioned having separate 3 and 3.5 conversions but realistically I think there will be only one. The monster conversions that I've done are 3.5. Big Mac mentioned using the extra domains released with Unearthed Arcana SRD material.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by night_druid » Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:33 pm

Bidmaron wrote:I think we have to stay with the ship as monster idea and not use d20 object scaling rules. After all, if you took a dragon scale shield and upscaled it to a dragon using d20 object rules, you'd have the same problem. Conversely, if you took a dragon and downscaled it to a shield's size, it would be easier to break than an egg shell.
Heh, scaling joys.

I think we should approach ship hit points by staying fairly true to 2nd edition. That is, multiply hit points by 10 and then subtract out some amount for the 3rd edition hardness so that the same number of, say, light catapult hits that it would take under 2nd edition to achieve a ship break-up would still do it under 3rd edition.
But this makes a "3.5e conversion" almost pointless, if the ship rules are pretty much the same in 2nd edition. The primary benefit of a 3.5e conversion is to pit dragons against spelljammers. :P
As for the issue of a ship's dexterity, I'd propose that we simply convert the MC into a dexterity modifier, i.e. A=+3;B=+2;C=+1;D=0;E=-1;F=-2. I'm not sure how often you'd need an actual dexterity score for a ship, and if you did, you could simply work it backwards from the modifier.
Maneuvering is kinda screwy. A&B are almost never used, outside of serious magic or the tiniest craft. C is rare, almost unheard of outside of elven ships. Most ships are D or E, with only the most unmaneuverable ships (usually battle-damaged or behemoths) at F.
I like the idea of reducing the hex size to make the tactical speeds the same as a function of time (i.e. divide hex size by 10). Also, I think we should move to the 3rd edition square rather than a hex and use the rule that every other diagonal is 2 squares.
A disadvantage of scaling down to 1/10th time/space is that reload times for weapons again renders them useless. One shot, and you're done. Or if you keep the overall ship ranges and increase the map 10-fold, well, hope you have a gymnasium to play in ;)
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Bidmaron » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:12 am

night_druid wrote: But this makes a "3.5e conversion" almost pointless, if the ship rules are pretty much the same in 2nd edition. The primary benefit of a 3.5e conversion is to pit dragons against spelljammers. :P
Yes, I agree violently! Just written unclearly. I think we should go with the ship as monsters, but the hit points need to be appropriate. A gargantuan dragon has about 375 hp, so why shouldn't a 50 ton ship have 500 hp. Seems reasonable to me. Maybe I'm missing your point.

Maneuvering is kinda screwy. A&B are almost never used, outside of serious magic or the tiniest craft. C is rare, almost unheard of outside of elven ships. Most ships are D or E, with only the most unmaneuverable ships (usually battle-damaged or behemoths) at F.
OK, good point. But we need some kind of mechanic. You could argue that very few ships should have A&B MC just like few people have dexterity of 17/18.
A disadvantage of scaling down to 1/10th time/space is that reload times for weapons again renders them useless. One shot, and you're done. Or if you keep the overall ship ranges and increase the map 10-fold, well, hope you have a gymnasium to play in ;)
No solution is perfect. I think we should reduce weapon ranges an equivalent amount so you can stay on a realistically-sized playing space. But, the range of ship-ship weapons should definitely be longer than personal ranged weapons.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:45 am

night_druid wrote:The biggest problem with "ships as monsters" is one of scalability. Basically, if you use d20 object rules or even a hp approximation that is even close to that, you get hp totals that are very high (typically in the thousands or tens of thousands). Artillery weapons have very low damage in comparison (IIRC, 5d6 is very high damage for them). End result is that catapults, ballista, and cannons are all useless; they cannot inflict enough damage to hamper in any way a spelljammer. I'm not sure that this fundamental problem has ever been worked out in official products. The most common work-around I've seen from WotC was to shrink ships to reduce HP to a more managable level.
I think we will need to keep ship weapon damage and ship hit points in proportion.

If both are multiplied by 10 then that fits in with the 2e system. If that isn't entirely true to 3e, then we can consider other multiples.

Jaid's ship weapon rant thread is probably a good place to look at for finding any imbalance within the existing 2e system. It would be nice if we could make the 3e version of the system favor the sizes of weapons that SJ should favor.

I'm not sure we need to fix the exact values now. We can try different ways of doing things, see what we can break and then see what is left.
Bidmaron wrote:I think we have to stay with the ship as monster idea and not use d20 object scaling rules. After all, if you took a dragon scale shield and upscaled it to a dragon using d20 object rules, you'd have the same problem. Conversely, if you took a dragon and downscaled it to a shield's size, it would be easier to break than an egg shell.

I think we should approach ship hit points by staying fairly true to 2nd edition. That is, multiply hit points by 10 and then subtract out some amount for the 3rd edition hardness so that the same number of, say, light catapult hits that it would take under 2nd edition to achieve a ship break-up would still do it under 3rd edition.
That gets my initial vote for best candidate. But Jaid's weapon rant proves that the original system has its flaws. I think we need to make sure we don't come up with a conversion of a flawed system.

I invite Night Druid to break the system. If he can break it, I'll look elsewhere. :D
Bidmaron wrote:As for the issue of a ship's dexterity, I'd propose that we simply convert the MC into a dexterity modifier, i.e. A=+3;B=+2;C=+1;D=0;E=-1;F=-2. I'm not sure how often you'd need an actual dexterity score for a ship, and if you did, you could simply work it backwards from the modifier.
A dexterity modifier sounds good, but I'd like the helmsman to be in control of the ship, so I'd like to add in his/her dex modifier too.

I'm thinking of an equasion where
  • a better hull type gives your ship more dex,
  • a better helm type gives your ship more dex,
  • a helmsman with a higher spellcasting level gives your ship more dex and
  • a helmsman with a good dex score gives your ship more dex
Bidmaron wrote:A general question: Why are we doing 3e conversion? Why not go straight to 3.5? Are there really that many people who didn't make the leap from 3 to 3.5?
We probably will go straight to 3.5, but if rules work out as 3.x then they will work for both groups.

Ultimately the Seeker High Council will get the judgement call, but I suspect they will go with what people want to make.

(What we will need to look out for is 3.0 conversions that don't work under 3.5 rules.)
Bidmaron wrote:I really like the idea of assigning PCs functions for the crew. As a Navy man, I'm a fan of using 'Mate' or 'Boatswain' for the 'rigger'.
My initial names were placeholders. I'm happy to use more proper nautical terms (especially if they date back to the Age of Sail). Some of them might be a bit hard for non-native English speakers to pronounce, so I think we would want to look at a list of shipboard job titles.

Some names might be so "cool" that we want to build Prestige Classes around the concept.

Others (like "Powder Monkey") also sound cool, but are associated with young people that you would expect to be apprentices.
Bidmaron wrote:I like the idea of reducing the hex size to make the tactical speeds the same as a function of time (i.e. divide hex size by 10). Also, I think we should move to the 3rd edition square rather than a hex and use the rule that every other diagonal is 2 squares.
I'm really torn by this "dump the hex" suggestion. On one hand it would fit in well with non hex maps. On the other hand we are going to limit the amount of angle a ship can turn.

I think we need to play one against the other and see which system we can crash.
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:00 am

night_druid wrote:
Bidmaron wrote:I like the idea of reducing the hex size to make the tactical speeds the same as a function of time (i.e. divide hex size by 10). Also, I think we should move to the 3rd edition square rather than a hex and use the rule that every other diagonal is 2 squares.
A disadvantage of scaling down to 1/10th time/space is that reload times for weapons again renders them useless. One shot, and you're done. Or if you keep the overall ship ranges and increase the map 10-fold, well, hope you have a gymnasium to play in ;)
Don't forget that 3e has the rules for Range Increment. We would have a standard range for SJ weapons, but allow people to exceed that by a factor of ten. We could even say that SJ weapons break the usual rule and make it larger than ten. (In fact we could make all weapons break the usual limits in the void.)
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Bidmaron » Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:17 am

Big Mac wrote:
night_druid wrote:The biggest problem with "ships as monsters" is one of scalability. Basically, if you use d20 object rules or even a hp approximation that is even close to that, you get hp totals that are very high (typically in the thousands or tens of thousands). Artillery weapons have very low damage in comparison (IIRC, 5d6 is very high damage for them). End result is that catapults, ballista, and cannons are all useless; they cannot inflict enough damage to hamper in any way a spelljammer. I'm not sure that this fundamental problem has ever been worked out in official products. The most common work-around I've seen from WotC was to shrink ships to reduce HP to a more managable level.
I think we will need to keep ship weapon damage and ship hit points in proportion.

If both are multiplied by 10 then that fits in with the 2e system. If that isn't entirely true to 3e, then we can consider other multiples.

Jaid's ship weapon rant thread is probably a good place to look at for finding any imbalance within the existing 2e system. It would be nice if we could make the 3e version of the system favor the sizes of weapons that SJ should favor.

I'm not sure we need to fix the exact values now. We can try different ways of doing things, see what we can break and then see what is left.
Well, I don't think we should wait long. So far, we don't have any dissenting opinions. Let's go with it. Or, should we make a poll and put it to the vote and go with majority rules?
Bidmaron wrote:I think we have to stay with the ship as monster idea and not use d20 object scaling rules. After all, if you took a dragon scale shield and upscaled it to a dragon using d20 object rules, you'd have the same problem. Conversely, if you took a dragon and downscaled it to a shield's size, it would be easier to break than an egg shell.

I think we should approach ship hit points by staying fairly true to 2nd edition. That is, multiply hit points by 10 and then subtract out some amount for the 3rd edition hardness so that the same number of, say, light catapult hits that it would take under 2nd edition to achieve a ship break-up would still do it under 3rd edition.
That gets my initial vote for best candidate. But Jaid's weapon rant proves that the original system has its flaws. I think we need to make sure we don't come up with a conversion of a flawed system.

I invite Night Druid to break the system. If he can break it, I'll look elsewhere. :D
OK, Night Druid, take the challenge. Otherwise, let's move on.
I definitely believe we should go with the rebalancing of the weapons rant thread. The larger weapons should have clear benefits. They should have longer range and more damage, obviously. Their 'to hit' numbers should basically be the same as a function of range increment, true to 3rd edition (which means that, at a given range, the larger weapon would have a higher chance to hit). This is in keeping with personal weapons, where the 'to hit' numbers are only a function of range increment and the user (that is, a long bow has a better chance to hit at a given range because it is a more powerful weapon, not because of any inherent quality of the weapon).
Bidmaron wrote:As for the issue of a ship's dexterity, I'd propose that we simply convert the MC into a dexterity modifier, i.e. A=+3;B=+2;C=+1;D=0;E=-1;F=-2. I'm not sure how often you'd need an actual dexterity score for a ship, and if you did, you could simply work it backwards from the modifier.
A dexterity modifier sounds good, but I'd like the helmsman to be in control of the ship, so I'd like to add in his/her dex modifier too.

I'm thinking of an equasion where
  • a better hull type gives your ship more dex,
  • a better helm type gives your ship more dex,
  • a helmsman with a higher spellcasting level gives your ship more dex and
  • a helmsman with a good dex score gives your ship more dex
I'm not sure why a better hull type would give the ship a higher dex. If the ship has a higher MC under 2nd edition, it should have a higher dex. Maybe that's what you meant by 'better hull type'.
Bidmaron wrote:A general question: Why are we doing 3e conversion? Why not go straight to 3.5? Are there really that many people who didn't make the leap from 3 to 3.5?
We probably will go straight to 3.5, but if rules work out as 3.x then they will work for both groups.

Ultimately the Seeker High Council will get the judgement call, but I suspect they will go with what people want to make.
Who is the Seeker High Council?
(What we will need to look out for is 3.0 conversions that don't work under 3.5 rules.)
Bidmaron wrote:I really like the idea of assigning PCs functions for the crew. As a Navy man, I'm a fan of using 'Mate' or 'Boatswain' for the 'rigger'.
My initial names were placeholders. I'm happy to use more proper nautical terms (especially if they date back to the Age of Sail). Some of them might be a bit hard for non-native English speakers to pronounce, so I think we would want to look at a list of shipboard job titles.

Some names might be so "cool" that we want to build Prestige Classes around the concept.
I'm all for the PrC concept! We should use the strengths of the 3rd edition. Obviously, the 2nd ed kits would be PrC's (or, perhaps a straight character class, if that made the best sense).
Others (like "Powder Monkey") also sound cool, but are associated with young people that you would expect to be apprentices.
Bidmaron wrote:I like the idea of reducing the hex size to make the tactical speeds the same as a function of time (i.e. divide hex size by 10). Also, I think we should move to the 3rd edition square rather than a hex and use the rule that every other diagonal is 2 squares.
I'm really torn by this "dump the hex" suggestion. On one hand it would fit in well with non hex maps. On the other hand we are going to limit the amount of angle a ship can turn.

I think we need to play one against the other and see which system we can crash.
I don't understand how this limits the amount a ship can turn. In fact, it improves the amount a ship can turn. Counting the corners, you can turn 8 directions with a square system. With the hexes, you can only turn 6 directions. I really can't see any '2nd ed charm' associated with the hexes. 3rd edition doesn't do hexes, and, since it isn't critical to making a conversion from 2d ed and isn't part of the 'feel' of 2nd edition (since you can get more turning on a square), I say we go with the square model.

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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by night_druid » Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:42 pm

Heh, I can already break it. ;)

Purely for the sake of arguement, let me use this as an example. One heavy catapult pounding away at a 50 ton ship, ignoring criticals.

2e: Ship: 50 hull points, catapult does 2d4 damage, 5 points on average, 3 round reload. Assuming it hits every time, it takes 10 hits to destroy the ship, or 30 rounds. With 2-3 catapults, its reasonably possible to blow a ship out of the stars in a reasonable amount of time (within standard duration of a combat).

3e: Ship: 500 hp, catapult does 5d6, 17.5 damage on average, don't remember reload time but I think its like 15-20 rounds. Assuming it hits every time, it takes ~29 hits. With the rounds being 1/10th the length of 2e rounds, you'll need a swarm of catapults (in upwards of 20-30) to destroy a ship within the standard duration of a combat. I doubt anyone will fight that battle out :P

That, I think, is the problem to overcome. Ship weapons have a low damage output and a long reload time (in minutes rather than the 6-second rounds of combat). I think if you can get around that, you've got a good chunk of the conversion done.

We encountered the same round-length problem in Hackjammer. Our solution was to have combat operate like 2e outside of bow/spell-range, then "zoom in" once ships got closer than 100 yards & switch to the 6 second rounds. Maybe there's a better solution, I don't know.

Anyways, just my input. Take it for what you will ;)
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:37 am

Bidmaron wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
night_druid wrote:The biggest problem with "ships as monsters" is one of scalability. Basically, if you use d20 object rules or even a hp approximation that is even close to that, you get hp totals that are very high (typically in the thousands or tens of thousands). Artillery weapons have very low damage in comparison (IIRC, 5d6 is very high damage for them). End result is that catapults, ballista, and cannons are all useless; they cannot inflict enough damage to hamper in any way a spelljammer. I'm not sure that this fundamental problem has ever been worked out in official products. The most common work-around I've seen from WotC was to shrink ships to reduce HP to a more managable level.
I think we will need to keep ship weapon damage and ship hit points in proportion.

If both are multiplied by 10 then that fits in with the 2e system. If that isn't entirely true to 3e, then we can consider other multiples.

Jaid's ship weapon rant thread is probably a good place to look at for finding any imbalance within the existing 2e system. It would be nice if we could make the 3e version of the system favor the sizes of weapons that SJ should favor.

I'm not sure we need to fix the exact values now. We can try different ways of doing things, see what we can break and then see what is left.
Well, I don't think we should wait long. So far, we don't have any dissenting opinions. Let's go with it. Or, should we make a poll and put it to the vote and go with majority rules?
The reasons why I don't feel inclined to rush this is that:
  1. There are already two combat systems out there that people can use for the time it takes us to investigate all the options,
  2. I'm not totally happy with either of those systems and want to spend the extra time it needs to address certain issues that seem to be causing imbalance.
On one issue, we have Jaid having a pop at the weapons. If this issue can be thrashed out (2e or 3e) we can ensure that the big weapons do have some sort of real advantage.

On another issue, Night Druid was recently talking about the sizes of the original AD&D Adventures in Wildspace boxed set (and how they seemed to follow some sort of rule). Now if ships were monsters, we would expect ships of a certain number of Hull Points to be equally matched. If one ship gets one small weapon, but another ship gets ten weapons, then the second ship gets an "unfair advantage".

With 3e monsters, this "unfair advantage" is addressed by giving monsters a "challange raiting" that gives people extra XP for tackling a monster that is "harder than normal". I think that we either have to create a level playing field or build the wonkyness (especially of the Lost Ships ships and some of the hull variants) into the system.

We also have the "level adjustment" mechanic for playable monsters. With ships being things that can be "owned" by the players (as well as by NPCs) some people are inevitably going to want to min-max. I don't know if that sort of side of things can be put into the "system". I can't see us being able to declare ships as too "epic" to be available to player characters. But perhaps a GM can be given some sort of numbers that show how "easy" it is to get hold of certain ships.

Certainly, we have a few things like the Netherese ships and the Quad of Thay that seem to be totally over the top.
Bidmaron wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Bidmaron wrote:I think we have to stay with the ship as monster idea and not use d20 object scaling rules. After all, if you took a dragon scale shield and upscaled it to a dragon using d20 object rules, you'd have the same problem. Conversely, if you took a dragon and downscaled it to a shield's size, it would be easier to break than an egg shell.

I think we should approach ship hit points by staying fairly true to 2nd edition. That is, multiply hit points by 10 and then subtract out some amount for the 3rd edition hardness so that the same number of, say, light catapult hits that it would take under 2nd edition to achieve a ship break-up would still do it under 3rd edition.
That gets my initial vote for best candidate. But Jaid's weapon rant proves that the original system has its flaws. I think we need to make sure we don't come up with a conversion of a flawed system.

I invite Night Druid to break the system. If he can break it, I'll look elsewhere. :D
OK, Night Druid, take the challenge. Otherwise, let's move on.
I definitely believe we should go with the rebalancing of the weapons rant thread. The larger weapons should have clear benefits. They should have longer range and more damage, obviously. Their 'to hit' numbers should basically be the same as a function of range increment, true to 3rd edition (which means that, at a given range, the larger weapon would have a higher chance to hit). This is in keeping with personal weapons, where the 'to hit' numbers are only a function of range increment and the user (that is, a long bow has a better chance to hit at a given range because it is a more powerful weapon, not because of any inherent quality of the weapon).
I'm not into holding things up more than they need to be held up, but on the other hand we have multiple hull types, multiple hull variants and combinations of weapons.

I once saw someone on ENWorld do a "battle of all monsters" kind-of thing to work out what was the best monster of each type. They threw all the conversions (from the Creature Catalogue) into the battle and gave some feedback on the CRs of monsters that looked too powerful.

I don't think we have time to wait for that level of R&D, but I suspect that we can use our "mark one eyeball" to identify a few ships that might highlight wonkyness and see if we can find some way to balance it (or increase XP). I also think it would be OK, to create a set of provisional rules and then make revisions when someone finds something that looks wrong.
Bidmaron wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Bidmaron wrote:As for the issue of a ship's dexterity, I'd propose that we simply convert the MC into a dexterity modifier, i.e. A=+3;B=+2;C=+1;D=0;E=-1;F=-2. I'm not sure how often you'd need an actual dexterity score for a ship, and if you did, you could simply work it backwards from the modifier.
A dexterity modifier sounds good, but I'd like the helmsman to be in control of the ship, so I'd like to add in his/her dex modifier too.

I'm thinking of an equasion where
  • a better hull type gives your ship more dex,
  • a better helm type gives your ship more dex,
  • a helmsman with a higher spellcasting level gives your ship more dex and
  • a helmsman with a good dex score gives your ship more dex
I'm not sure why a better hull type would give the ship a higher dex. If the ship has a higher MC under 2nd edition, it should have a higher dex. Maybe that's what you meant by 'better hull type'.
Yes, that was exactly what I meant. To put this into real examples (for anyone confused by my other statements):
  • A flitter has a better MC than an amarda, so should get a better "dex score",
  • A flitter with a major helm generally has a better SR than a flitter with a minor helm so should get a better "dex score",
  • A helmsman with a higher spellcasting level generally has a better SR than a helmsman with a lower spellcasting level so should generate a better "dex score" for the ship and
  • A helmsman with a good "physical dexterity" would have good reaction times (reflex save) and should pass some of that onto the ship they control.
Actually, rewriting this, I've realised that my second and third point both are factored in with the Ship's Raiting. So if we used Tactical Raiting it would cover both things. Then we could just use the hull type's inherant MC*, the Tactical Raiting and the helmsman's reflex save to work out the ship's reflex save.

I'm not sure exactly where to go with this (yet), but I would like to see a system where one helmsman can learn to be "better" at flying the ship than another helmsman. All helmsmen generate "Spelljammer Speed" in the depths of wildspace, but there needs to be "payback" for a 15th level spellcaster loosing their spells instead of dumping a 1st level apprentice on the helm. Specifically, we should also allow spacefaring spellcasters to "specialise" in spelljamming and get an advantage over a high level groundling. (And that advantage should be more than "are you a groundling or a spacefarer?". It should be more like "what are your reactions like?" and "have you specialised in flying flitters?".)

The SRD has feats dealing with ranged weapons. I see us needing to create feats dealing with ship weapons.

The SRD has feats dealing with mounted combat. I see us needing to create feats dealing with helm control.

The SRD has feats dealing with specialisation in weapons and even spells. I see us needing to create feats dealing with specialisation in a specific hull type.

The SRD has the concept of Metamagic Feats that allow a spellcaster to burn up a bigger spell slot to make a lesser spell do things in a better way. So perhaps we should allow some sort of metamagic to allow a helmsman to trade "time on the helm" for better ship performance. Perhaps the 3e SJ crew could have a ship combat specialist who jumps on the helm just prior to a fight, "pushes" out spelljamming energy at a greater rate and then "burns out for the day" after 6 hours, 3 hours or 1.5 hours (depending on what their special metajamming trick is). (Provisional Metajamming Feats would include Enhanced Tactical Raiting, Enhanced Manouverability and Enhanced "Footprint"* but we could thrash out other options as we go along.)

* = Enhanced Footprint (this needs a better name) would be a Metajamming feat that allows a helmsman to increase the range at which other nearby objects drop out of Spelljamming Speed and are forced to travel at Tactical Speed. This would allow a GM to give a nasty ship (like a Mind Flayer Nautiloid) a helmsman who can exert a bigger pull that can stop the players "doing a Han Solo" and vanishing off at top speed after a few rounds of manouvering. The same feat could be taken by a PC helmsman who wanted to be a pirate, privateer or other helmsman who is better at stoping enemy ships.

There are also a couple of feats that allow people to do a parital move, attack and then finish their move. With a ship effectively having one "brain" for the movement and other brains for the weapons, I don't see the ship acting on one initiative roll (unless everyone with bad rolls refocuses** and the ship spends one round to catch up with the best roll). So I'm not sure that is appropriate. But I think we need to address that sort of thing.

** = Here is a question. If a helmsman takes no action (other than to fly their ship in a straight line) should they be allowed to refocus and get a better initiative score for the next round?

(And if you can do anything else on foot, on a horse or on the back of a dragon, you should be able to do it on a moving spelljamming ship.)

We might not even need to invent all new feats for this. We might be able to say that if a character can do Uncanny Dodge then it can automatically apply that "mental training" to the way they operate a spelljamming helm. Unless anyone sees a problem with this line of thought, I think it might be good to allow a helmsman to literally treat the ship as a second body - a sluggish body admittedly, but one that responds to the same sort of things they can do with some of their normal feats.
Bidmaron wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Bidmaron wrote:A general question: Why are we doing 3e conversion? Why not go straight to 3.5? Are there really that many people who didn't make the leap from 3 to 3.5?
We probably will go straight to 3.5, but if rules work out as 3.x then they will work for both groups.

Ultimately the Seeker High Council will get the judgement call, but I suspect they will go with what people want to make.
Who is the Seeker High Council?
Good question. They are the people who approve things for Beyond the Moons. I'm not sure if it is just the webmaster, or if he has other people with him. I know I'm not on the Seeker High Council (and for me, that is enough information).
Bidmaron wrote:
Big Mac wrote: (What we will need to look out for is 3.0 conversions that don't work under 3.5 rules.)
Bidmaron wrote:I really like the idea of assigning PCs functions for the crew. As a Navy man, I'm a fan of using 'Mate' or 'Boatswain' for the 'rigger'.
My initial names were placeholders. I'm happy to use more proper nautical terms (especially if they date back to the Age of Sail). Some of them might be a bit hard for non-native English speakers to pronounce, so I think we would want to look at a list of shipboard job titles.

Some names might be so "cool" that we want to build Prestige Classes around the concept.
I'm all for the PrC concept! We should use the strengths of the 3rd edition. Obviously, the 2nd ed kits would be PrC's (or, perhaps a straight character class, if that made the best sense).
IIRC, we only had kits in The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook. Lets have a quick look at them:
  • Corsair - can be applied to fighters, rangers or paladins, so a PrC would be best.
  • Crusader - a religious warrior, so something similar to the Divine Champion (page 42 FRCS) would be a good replacement or starting point.
  • Frontiersman - seems like a Ranger based PrC to me.
  • Marine - this might work as a class or prestige class.
  • Merchant - this might work as a class - personally, I think this is a bit naff, but DLCS has the noble class and the Merchant could take that role. This might also be a prestige class aimed at Experts.
  • Arcanist - obviously a PrC rather than a class. These guys are "magic item junkies". The requirements should include magic item possesion.
  • Astronomer - I see no reason why this isn't open to all characters. I'd make it a PrC anyone can take, but I would fold it into Astrology (and not use the name Astronomy).
  • Geomancer - Another thing that seems a bit naff to me. This guy just seems to be someone who doesn't dislike groundlings. And everyone dislikes him a bit because he "thinks groundlings are cool". Personally, I think the "dislike of groundling" thing is too much like racisim - it is an element of SJ that I think is a bit naff. I think the stuff a Geomancer can do with a spyglass is pretty cool. And I think that some sort of spacefarer Anthropologist is an interesting idea. But I don't see this as a wizard thing. This needs a reboot or one or two replacement feats.
  • Imposter - This is actually a very interesting concept. I wouldn't make it a class. It is pitched like a PrC restricted to Illusionists, but it might work well for anyone with the natural or magical ability to change shape.
  • War Mage - Obviously a PrC pitched at wizards and sorcerers, but probably ok for bards. This person has two roles magical firepower on ships and helmsman. I'd be inclined to put combat spells into the requirements of the PrC. The 10 percent penalty on all spells doesn't make sense if this guy is a "magic canon", so I'd be inclined to only apply that to spells that don't cause damage (or maybe even spells that don't cause hull damage).
  • Astrologer - Fold into Astronomer, but keep this name. Astrology predates Astronomy. This has nothing to do with religion (or magic).
  • Diplomat - This kit ties in with an NPC boss, so I've got issues with it. In some ways, it feels like it should be a backwards Leadership feat (where the Diplomat becomes the cohort of a powerful NPC).
  • Evangelist - I love this. It shouldn't be limited to clerics. Anyone with a religion should qualify. It could be built up to a PrC or cut down to a feat. As a feat the benifits would be resources from the religion. It might also work as a Leadership "reboot", where you get religious followers instead of regular ones. Maybe it could stack with any existing Leadership score to help clerics gain enough followers in a new sphere to "import" their god.
  • Medicus - This sounds like it is just metamagic for healing spells. I'd be inclined to make the Healing domain a prerequisit, advance spells as if the character advanced as a cleric and give free metamagic feats that only apply to healing spells. I would make these guys obsessed with being able to save lives (to proove their skill) rather than make them blindly compassionate. So an Medicus in the elven navy, could cure a strange plague that a scro prisioner has and then happily let that same scro sit in jail for the rest of their life.
  • Missionary - This is great and has to be a PrC (rather than a feat). I see no tie in with spells, so like the Evangelist, it could be open to "lay clerics". (We might need a "Lay Cleric" feat that could be a prerequisit of this and the Evangilist PrC if people are not spellcasters.)
  • Aperusa - IIRC Beyond the Moons has done this already. Personally, I think it should be very similar to the Ethran feat/Hathran PrC that FRCS uses to shape the Witches of Rasheman. I'd suggest a feat that gives one basic thing and a PrC (or Class) that does the rest. One of the requirements for the feat should be that one of your parents were from the Aperusa clan. The PrC should build on that feat.
  • Courier - This sounds more like a memory feat than a PrC. I wouldn't limit it to any particular class, but would use Int or Wis.
  • Harlequin - This should be a PrC pitched at rogues and bards. They don't seem magical and don't seem like thieves, so maybe they could gain the Bardic Music stuff that bards have and also gain the backstabbing and dodging stuff that rogues have. If this all stacked, they would be a sort of specialist "middle man".
  • Privateer - SJ needs Privateers. I wouldn't limit them to rogues and am not sure it would be a PrC or even a feat. The benifits are largely an organisational thing. So if we had a PrC we would need to add new stuff that gives this guy shipboard "Leadership" as long as he possesses a "Letter of Marque".
  • Salvager - Pah! This kit is naff.
I really don't see us having a need to turn any of these into classes. An Aperusa class (for humans from the Aperusa clan) would be the same as a Tinkerer class for gnomes.

Other things (like Weaponeer, Helmsman and Pirate) are missing from this line up.
Bidmaron wrote:
Big Mac wrote: <snip = you didn't answer this particular sentence>
Bidmaron wrote:I like the idea of reducing the hex size to make the tactical speeds the same as a function of time (i.e. divide hex size by 10). Also, I think we should move to the 3rd edition square rather than a hex and use the rule that every other diagonal is 2 squares.
I'm really torn by this "dump the hex" suggestion. On one hand it would fit in well with non hex maps. On the other hand we are going to limit the amount of angle a ship can turn.

I think we need to play one against the other and see which system we can crash.
I don't understand how this limits the amount a ship can turn. In fact, it improves the amount a ship can turn. Counting the corners, you can turn 8 directions with a square system. With the hexes, you can only turn 6 directions. I really can't see any '2nd ed charm' associated with the hexes. 3rd edition doesn't do hexes, and, since it isn't critical to making a conversion from 2d ed and isn't part of the 'feel' of 2nd edition (since you can get more turning on a square), I say we go with the square model.
Having rechecked the diagonal rules in the SRD, I agree with you. If every second diagonal counts as two squares it would balance out.

I think we would need to create a SJ "tactical square" that was round about the same size as a hex (or scaled down from that size, to fit in with combat movement in 3e rounds), but I also think that we should have a parallel system that works in "normal squares", so that people can switch over to that for ship vs dragon or ship grappling combat. (This seems similar to what Adam said they did for HackJammer. I think that if the SJ square was a multiple of the other type of square we could get the big and small systems to work together better*.)

** = I've seen various arguments about slowing things down (because 3e rounds are faster than 2e rounds), but Tactical Speed is not Spelljammer Speed and I consider getting the combat system to "feel right" to be more important than retaining the same "movement rate" as in 2e. If ships are faster in combat (in line with conventional 3e round boosts), but take the same time to go from Realmspace to Krynnspace, I think that most elements of SJ movement and combat will feel good to me.

I think we might also need to review the entire Movement, Position and Distance part of the SRD, to see how each bit might work. For example, we might need to put in rules that "slow down" ships moving through "thick air" at Tactical Speed. I think that Spelljammer Speed should be exactly the same as in 2e.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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Re: [SJ3e] Ships as Monsters?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:04 am

night_druid wrote:Heh, I can already break it. ;)
Good. If we can break it, we can justify changing it.
night_druid wrote:Purely for the sake of arguement, let me use this as an example. One heavy catapult pounding away at a 50 ton ship, ignoring criticals.

2e: Ship: 50 hull points, catapult does 2d4 damage, 5 points on average, 3 round reload. Assuming it hits every time, it takes 10 hits to destroy the ship, or 30 rounds. With 2-3 catapults, its reasonably possible to blow a ship out of the stars in a reasonable amount of time (within standard duration of a combat).

3e: Ship: 500 hp, catapult does 5d6, 17.5 damage on average, don't remember reload time but I think its like 15-20 rounds. Assuming it hits every time, it takes ~29 hits. With the rounds being 1/10th the length of 2e rounds, you'll need a swarm of catapults (in upwards of 20-30) to destroy a ship within the standard duration of a combat. I doubt anyone will fight that battle out :P
Where are you getting your catapult from? Is it from WotC or from another conversion?

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
  • 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.
night_druid wrote:That, I think, is the problem to overcome. Ship weapons have a low damage output and a long reload time (in minutes rather than the 6-second rounds of combat). I think if you can get around that, you've got a good chunk of the conversion done.

We encountered the same round-length problem in Hackjammer. Our solution was to have combat operate like 2e outside of bow/spell-range, then "zoom in" once ships got closer than 100 yards & switch to the 6 second rounds. Maybe there's a better solution, I don't know.
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.

I would suggest that (for combat) we make one round of 3e time feel like one round of 2e time. (In other words speed up Tactical Speed, but retain Spelljammer Speed.) Maybe that will make some grognards think this is a Benny Hill version of Spelljammer combat, but as long as Spelljammer Speed isn't mucked about with it will only be the combat that is changing. And we are only changing the combat to put the SJ weapons on the same timescale as the speeded up characters and monsters. Given that everything else is given that speed boost, I think it is wrong to hold back the catapults and other SJ weapons.

I like your zooming in idea, but think that we should use one timescale with both big SJ squares and standard squares. (Instead I would recalculate the number of SJ squares that a creature like a dragon could move through and how far their ranged attacks would reach. And if things only work within the same 2e hex, then maybe they should only work within the same SJ square.)

I wonder if (rather than pitching this as SJ squres vs standard squares) we could use SJ squares for ranged combat and switch to standard squares for anything that happened "inside the same 2e hex". (i.e. if you ram or grapple you switch to standard squares and if you enter the same hex and fire at close range you switch to standard squares.)

Switching to standard squares would require full size ship deckplans and would take up an area the size of an entire SJ square. So it would cause its own problems. But (as long as you could randomly calculate the starting positions of the two ships - or the ship and the creature it was fighting) you could then allow people to use ranged spells and personal weapons under the standard SRD rules.
night_druid wrote:Anyways, just my input. Take it for what you will ;)
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.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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