[4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

A project to create a Spelljammer conversion to 4th edition rules.
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[4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:42 pm

I'd just like to start of by saying that I am not personally going to be taking any part in a 4e conversion - any free time I get will go into 3e or the Spelljammer Wiki. But I will give my moral support to any people who want to organise a "project" to start work on this.

There seems to be no organised effort at organising a 4e conversion for Spelljammer and I think it needs a "starter" thread that 4e fans can rally around.

I know that Dragonhelm was talking about getting the Speciality Priests of Celestian converted to 4e.

I don't know if things could be converted on a bit-by-bit basis, or if 4e fans need something that is organised a lot more like the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.

While I'm not going to take part myself, I know we have some 4e fans here, and I'd love to see some sort of discussion on this.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Tauster » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:19 pm

[preface] I typed the following as an answer for the [4E] Specialty Priests of Celestian-thread but realized just before sending the post that this thread is much more appropriate. [/preface]

Disclaimer: The following is just my personal opinion and absolutely not intended to critisize anybody else's prefference for whatever edition they like best. Hell, it might even be plain wrong. ;)

I've been roleplaying since 1998 or 1999 (can't remember exactly at the moment...), which is longer than some other users here and shorter than a lot of others are in the game. Our group started with the ADND boxed sets and the 2e FR-box, added pretty quickly a number of houserules (not a few of them were discarded when they proved unbalancing), and after a few years we added the three 'Players Options' add-on rulebooks. Up to now each campaign played in the Forgotten Realms, or at least started there (one campaign is currently located in the planes, another one in the depths of wildspace). All in all we're talking about 10 people, involved in four major active campaigns and three lesser ones (including one on one sessions) that are played only rarely since we just don't have enough time for playing.

As you can see, our group has seen several edition changes over the years:
- 2e ADND
- 2e Players Options add on
- 3E
- 3.5
- 4E

We've combined the first two rules sets and found them to be good and flexible enough for our style. What came afterwards did not only change the rules but also altered the game world - and in ways we found unacceptable for our own game. as yet, no campaign has advanced the timeline into 3e territory, but we decided to ignore 3e, 3.5 and 4e, including the in-game developments.

...so much about explaining my background. The point I want to make:

If we (i.e. my gaming group and myself) accepted each and every edition change, not only would we have to spent great amounts of money* to buy the books anew every few years. Even more important: We simply do not have the time to relearn the rules and implement all the changes repeatedly - even if we would like the changes o the setting (which we don't).

* in fact, that agrument doesn't count for myself: As a collector I do own quite a lot of 3.x stuff, as there are tons of good ideas and not a few great illustrations to mine out of the material.

The same* applies to Spelljammer (again: this is only about my personal point of view!).
I simply don't see the value of us ('us' meaning the people in this board, this time) splitting resources between rules editions. Spelljammer was a purely 2e game - and for me, that's fine. Obviously, everybody who doesn't use 2e might see this differently. If we start to "translate" every material we've already created into each new rules set, we will waste precisous time and energy that is lost to produce more (fanon) content.

* minus the thing about new editions altering the game setting, since SJ has never been affected by e.x or 4e

That's my personal reason for producing either rules-free stuff or if I absolutely have to refer to rules, use 2e (i.e. the 'native rules ses' of the game setting).
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Silverblade-T-E » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:24 pm

I've seen useful things like ballistae and catapults listed as "critters" in 4th ed, so giving a good baseline for ship wepaons
also, construct weapons liek living ballista/crossbows

SPelljamer stats are in the Manual of the Planes
problem is, it's such a high levle and price it really messes it all up :/
I'd suggest
reducing the price down to Paragon levels (from 3 MILLION gold, jeesh!)
and remove the Plane crossing ability, kepe that for high levle and Pirate of Gith versions.

"Minion" rules work great for basic crew and mooks. making space ocmbat a HUGE load easier :)

I'd make a list of feats for it, many would be paragon level, for liek, controlling a SJ ship, boosting speed etc
Heroic feats woule be good for simple ship borne combat, some already exist, I'd need ot dig 'em out though
more compelx ones would be Paragon

Warlords make great capains and artillerists.

i can contribute but lot of my time's spent on art :)
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Dragonhelm » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:43 pm

Tauster wrote:* minus the thing about new editions altering the game setting, since SJ has never been affected by e.x or 4e
Not entirely true. There was the Shadow of the Spider Moon mini-game in Polyhedron and the SJ stuff being adapted for 4e in projects such as The Plane Above.

My response to this proposal in another post...
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Dragonhelm » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:50 pm

David, I appreciate you trying to get the ball rolling on this. I do think that Spelljammer should be adapted to 4e, so that new players can enjoy the game and so that people can play SJ in 4e if they so choose.

I, personally, will probably not be involved as I've yet to get a project like this going on for Dragonlance circles. But I do encourage it.

Also, I question whether there would ever be a desire to see a 4e SJ. There was a ton of resistance at the thought of 3e SJ. I can't imagine at how much worse it would be now. I don't know why SJ fans seem more resistant than fans of other settings to see conversions. :(
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:25 pm

Tauster wrote:The same* applies to Spelljammer (again: this is only about my personal point of view!).
I simply don't see the value of us ('us' meaning the people in this board, this time) splitting resources between rules editions. Spelljammer was a purely 2e game - and for me, that's fine. Obviously, everybody who doesn't use 2e might see this differently. If we start to "translate" every material we've already created into each new rules set, we will waste precisous time and energy that is lost to produce more (fanon) content.
This is supposed to be a thread about people who do want SJ4e, rather than a thread about the value of a 4e conversion.

The way I see it, some people like Spelljammer and some people prefer different campaign settings. And some people like 2nd edition AD&D and some people prefer different editions of the rules. None of those people are "wrong", because there is no wrong answer. Life is all about personal choices.

I like 3rd edition. I prefer it to 2nd edition, but I also prefer it to 4th edition. I know that there are other people out there (like the Paul Westermeyer) who prefers AD&D, and I know that there are other people out there (like Silverblade) who prefer 4e.

I can't "make" myself want to go back to 2e anymore than I can make Paul Westermeyer suddenly think that 3rd edition is brilliant. We all like what we like.

As someone who really loves Spelljammer, I really want everyone to be able to play it, but at the moment, the only people who can play it fully are the 2e fans. Now, you seem to be arguing that any focus on non-2e gaming will somehow "hurt" Spelljammer, but I believe the opposite is the case.

I believe that our lack of conversions is a barrier that prevents fans of other D&D editions (or games like Gurps, or C&C) from having the pleasure of trying out Spelljammer. And I want to see retro-conversions too. I want to see a BECMI Spelljammer conversion that can finally take Spelljammer back home to the oldest D&D fandom.

And I don't see this process as being something that will eat into the time of non-4e fans, because, as I see it, we are talking about 4e SJ fans who currently have the choice of giving up their setting or giving up their rules. If they choose 4e over SJ, then they are lost to us and we will then have no access to any cool stuff they would have made.

I want to see a 4e Spelljammer Campaign Guide PDF netbook. I won't use it myself, but I want to see it get made, and I want it to look attractive. And I want to see it get made because Spelljammer deserves 4e representation and it is up to the fans to make it.

In no way do I ever want to see the 2e SJ fans diminished, but at the same time, I want to see 3e SJ fans, enabled. And it seems to me that 4e fans also need to be enabled. That is why I started this thread.

I do understand your concern, Tauster. Because I've also had the concern that 4e could take away people from the pool of talent that could be helping to get the 3e conversions back on target. I know that both Dragonhelm and Silverblade are interested in 4e now and I love the work that both of them came up with during the 3e era. But I need to swallow that fear and trust in the 3e community (including myself) to carry on. Because I believe that this 4e thing is far too important for me to let my personal preferences stand in the way of it. And I also think that I have no right to force other people to play a game that is somehow unsatisfying for them.

This thread is not here for 2e fans like you. But it is also not here for 3e fans like me. I just don't have the love of 4e that this project needs and deserves. But I am hoping that there are people out there who can rise to the challenge and get this thing going. And I hope that I can have the privileged of watching them make 4e Spelljammer gaming into a reality.

4e fans need Spelljammer, because Spelljammer is the best fantasy space universe ever made. And Spelljammer needs 4e fans, because 4e is going to bring us "new stuff" that 4e fans can interpret for us and help retro-convert to older games.

We won't see any payback for some time. But in the long term, this is going to be as good for Spelljammer as the cross-pollination of ideas that we enjoy from interacting with a wide variety of fans on The Piazza.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:39 pm

Silverblade-T-E wrote:I've seen useful things like ballistae and catapults listed as "critters" in 4th ed, so giving a good baseline for ship wepaons
also, construct weapons liek living ballista/crossbows
Living ship weapons are interesting. I suppose they could also be retro-converted to older editions as "self loading weapons".
Silverblade-T-E wrote:SPelljamer stats are in the Manual of the Planes
problem is, it's such a high levle and price it really messes it all up :/
I'd suggest
reducing the price down to Paragon levels (from 3 MILLION gold, jeesh!)
and remove the Plane crossing ability, kepe that for high levle and Pirate of Gith versions.
Yep. I would call that ship a Planejamming ship and try to make it fit in with the 2e economy.
Silverblade-T-E wrote:"Minion" rules work great for basic crew and mooks. making space ocmbat a HUGE load easier :)
Hmm. Don't know how those rules work, but I suppose that the 3e Leadership Feat would be a good way to fill up a ship's crew. It sounds pretty logical to me.
Silverblade-T-E wrote:I'd make a list of feats for it, many would be paragon level, for liek, controlling a SJ ship, boosting speed etc
Heroic feats woule be good for simple ship borne combat, some already exist, I'd need ot dig 'em out though
more compelx ones would be Paragon
I think the same sort of stuff could be done for 3e too.
Silverblade-T-E wrote:Warlords make great capains and artillerists.
Are they the "controller" guys?
Silverblade-T-E wrote:i can contribute but lot of my time's spent on art :)
I for one, would hope to see you continue with your art. But you do have some great ideas.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:48 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:
Tauster wrote:* minus the thing about new editions altering the game setting, since SJ has never been affected by e.x or 4e
Not entirely true. There was the Shadow of the Spider Moon mini-game in Polyhedron and the SJ stuff being adapted for 4e in projects such as The Plane Above.
From a 2e point of view, I think that both those things (and the many other elements of SJ hidden in other non-SJ gamebooks) offer a GM things that they can "rob" for their game.

But this is off-topic. This thread assumes that there are (some) people out there who want to do a 4e conversion.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Silverblade-T-E » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:44 am

"controllers" control the battlefield, they are like oh, area denial (mines, poison gas, barbed wire or in D&D, cloudkill, spike stones, wall of fire),
massive (size) area of effect damage to take out waves of enemies (wiping out minions) or enemies dug into positions direct fire can't get to (fireball so flames lick round corners or over top of trenches)
and so forth, they bog the enemy down, cut him off from allies, and cripple their ability to use the battlefield as they wish
wizards in 4th ed aren't about killing the enemy per se, they are about making his life pure bloody hell ! :twisted:

"Leaders" are classes like warlords and clerics, warlords are like officers or NCOs, they have different builds
some are courageous, up and at 'em!
some are smart and sneaky
others are charismatic and who an urge even beaten men back into the fight once more with spirit
etc
warlords don't have magic, but they use charisma, guts, strategy, to give their men a breather (heal), rouse their hate (bonus ot attacks) boost defences ("TAKE COVER!")
in game terms, leaders buff (give bonuses to hit/damage etc) and heal their allies, and may make enemy take more damage.
they dont' do much damage directly themselves, usually, but, the more allies aorund them, the more their amplication of force adds up...in larger parties, they can add enormous damage to total party output
I love them :) what I have always wanted in the game to show that good leadership is every bit as powerful as magic.

"strikers" are the pure damage dealers, rogues, rangers, warlocks
usually they have nifty ways to avoid being retaliated on, ie they are meant to jump in/out of battle to avoid harm, or wipe an enemy out before he can hurt them
but they don't get many area of effect abilities or some of the really nasty abilities wizards, psions and other controllers get.
some warlocks can go toe to toe, they suck the life out of an enemy, lol
many classes can edge towards another class depending on how you build them
a warlord can edge towards a fighter, defending allies though not as good as a fighter

"Defenders" bog the enemy down beside them, protect allies, make it damn painful to try and attack anyone other than THEM
liek a fighter "marks" an enemy, if the enemy attacks anyone but the fighter, he takes a penalty to that attack and make suffer a free attack form the fighter
its liek the fighter gets in the enemy's face and says "I'M GONNA HAVE YOU!!", to take your eyes of the fighter, will resultin an ass kicking, evne though tacticlaly you may want t kill the wizard behind him, getting to the wizard will get you killed.
this is called being "sticky", defenders stick to enemies like glue and chop 'em up.

living ships I meant in sense of treating the ship/crew as ONE being, with multiple attacks (1 for each weapon), and hit points for different parts like "forward ballista" takes 20 hp to put out of action, and kill 2 crew. or whatever
ship hulls aren't affected by "Will" attacks, but they can be hit by AC, Fortitiude and Reflex ones, ships as "creatures" with crew, can be affected by will attacks, but only area of effect ones! ie, ones that say, confuse a bunch of crew.
ships would have lousy reflex scores of coruse, excep ttheir sheer damn size/thick hull keeps that high, you dont' have "touch attacks" in 4th ed, which makes it simpler.
there are rules for such, I have seen 'em, but will need to find 'em
I have all the 4th ed books by WOTC :)

Minion rules are awesome
4 minions = 1 normal critter for xp value and relative threat, and only have 1 hp each, any solid hit kills them, but, any miss or half damage effect does NOT. they never have temporary hit points,cannot be healed. so you can use them as "grunts", throw tons of the buggers in as swarms of enemies.
they only do the average damage of their base critter, say they use a shortsword, thats 1d6 damage, so they'd do 4 hp damage every time they hit (rouding up for strength or whatever) this means less rolls, just flat damage, making it easier on the DM and preventing too many crits on PCs.
and minions only have 1 or 2 attacks and abilities the basic critter has, like "kobold shifty" (shift 1 square as minor action). again, saving time/sapce for the DM
some minions do special stuff on death, like explode, penalize enemy etc (like burstign zombies and so forth) which is neat hehe

oh, since I love wizards, one of the great utility spells wizards get is called guardian blades
it lasts a whole fight when you cast it
if any enemy makes an attack roll of ANY kind or reason adjacent to the wizard, they take damage equal to the wizzy's intelligence modifer before their attack actually lands...
this is so so evil!
a well defended wizzy can chop the bejezuz out of enemies beside him who dare to fight, and since minions are killed in 1 hit... :twisted:
used with good defence spells/abilities, it makes it damn deadly to melee near such a wizzy, muhaha
doesn't do a lot of damage with each hit, so not much use versus a "BBEG" or such, but in a long fight, or with tons of minions like yer typical zombie horde, it's a bloody quisinarde!
battlefield control, wizzy style ;)
Last edited by Silverblade-T-E on Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Silverblade-T-E » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:01 am

here's an item from Dungeon magazine, showing a "trap", with a ballista using this and rules in the DMG 4th ed, you can make rules for SJ ship ballistae
Ballista Platform

Hazard
Level 19 Blaster

XP 2400 A massive crossbow manned by three crewmen, these platforms hurl spear-size bolts at foes.

Hazard: Seven ballista platforms arranged around the battlefield fire at enemies.
Perception
No check is necessary to notice the ballista platforms.
Initiative A ballista platform acts on the initiative of its crew.
Trigger
When the PCs move into line of sight to a platform, a platform’s crew rolls initiative and attack on their turn. A ballista requires a standard action to reload.
Attack
Standard Action Ranged 30

Target: One creature
Attack: +24 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d8 + 7 damage
Countermeasures
A character can attack a crewmember (a githwarrior). If the PCs kill two crewmembers, that ballista can fire only every other round. If the PCs kill all three crewmembers, that platform is effectively disabled, although they could fire the ballista themselves.
A character can attack the ballista (AC 5, Fortitude 10, Reflex 5; hp 60). Destroying the ballista disables the platform.
so, form this, a "lvl 19" ballista (lvl 19 crew that is)
would be somehting like this, with my tweaks
a platform’s crew rolls initiative and attack on their turn. A ballista reloads on a 4, 5 or 6 on D6.
Attack
Standard Action Ranged 30

Target: One creature, or 2 creatures if one is adjacent to primary target
Attack: +24 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d8 + 7 damage
Countermeasures
A character can attack a crewmember If you kill two crewmembers, that ballista can fire only on a 6. If the PCs kill all three crewmembers, that platform is effectively disabled, unless more crew arrive.
A character can attack the ballista (AC 5, Fortitude 10, Reflex 5; hp 60).
4th ed uses a convention that creatures can recharge and use powers each round, if they roll high enough on a d6
this is because 4th ed doesn't want folk to keep tracking multiple rounds, ie, such as an effect that takes 4 rounds to go off. its only just THIS round, or into the next one you need to track carefully.
the more powerful/rare a power is, less chance it has to recharge, so a wizards deadliest spell might recharge on a 6 on a d6 only or be useable only once per encounter.

in combat this means the DM or player if we use this for ships, only needs ot roll 1 dice, to see if he cna fire for each weapon, rather than worrying about keeping track of each round
this decreases the load on everyone

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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Azaghal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:14 am

I will probably be playing either 3e or 4e and will help with both projects as I can.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:48 am

Dragonhelm wrote:David, I appreciate you trying to get the ball rolling on this. I do think that Spelljammer should be adapted to 4e, so that new players can enjoy the game and so that people can play SJ in 4e if they so choose.
I think we are pretty much on the same page on that count.
Dragonhelm wrote:I, personally, will probably not be involved as I've yet to get a project like this going on for Dragonlance circles. But I do encourage it.
In some ways, Dragonlance has got bigger issues with its 4e conversion, because the MWP stuff is so darn good (trivial errors and omissions aside) that it is a hard act to follow. I think it is going to cast a very long shadow. But ultimately, I think that it will help inspire the 4e Dragonlance Campaign Guide netbook.
Dragonhelm wrote:Also, I question whether there would ever be a desire to see a 4e SJ. There was a ton of resistance at the thought of 3e SJ. I can't imagine at how much worse it would be now.
I think there are similar issues, but I also think that some of the issues are totally different issues that are being written off as the same thing, because that is "all we know", and people have a tendency to compare old with new.

Back when 3e came out, I think there was a feeling that WotC wanted to convert existing fans to 3e (which to be fair they probably did). But we now live in a world where the Internet lets us see the truth: that old school gaming is thriving.

So while I think that WotC probably still wants to convert 3e and earlier fans to 4e, I think that past experience demonstrates that the out of print rules (and this goes all the way back to the Basic OD&D set) will continue to retain fandom.

I think the sort of edition wars we had back when WotC bought D&D and brought out 3e were really counter-productive (both to Spelljammer fans and fans of other settings). I think they took our focus away from "getting more Spelljammer stuff made" and put it onto stupid arguments. Tauster spoke eariler of wasting time, but I think we "wasted time" that could have been spent to "import Eberron into the Spelljammer universe".

While it may have seemed like the same thing has happened with 4e, I think that people have gone through the process of assimilating stuff like the Spellplague a lot faster. And while I think there has been some (unproductive) anger at WotC, I think there has been a lot less (also unproductive) anger at people who like 4e.

I think the good news is that most people know that 4e is a "take it or leave it" thing. I don't see any cause for "resistance". A lack of enthusiasm is enough to stall this sort of thing.
Dragonhelm wrote:I don't know why SJ fans seem more resistant than fans of other settings to see conversions. :(
I do wonder about that sometimes.

I used to worry about it in the past, because I figured that Spelljammer looked like the setting where the fans couldn't be bothered to work on a 3e conversion, but as I said to someone else recently, this has turned out to have hidden benefits as there is now nothing WotC can publish that will invalidate a 3e Spelljammer Campaign Setting. 8-)

I think there are some rather unique challenges that Spelljammer faces, that another setting (like Dragonlance) does not. And I think those challanges may have been part of the cause for previous conversion attempts stalling.

One challange is that SJ is "standing on the shoulders of giants". The very core of SJ rests on Dragonlance, Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms. So people working on SJ need to learn about those other three settings too. I think that multiplies research time by four (or more if you take into account the body of work done on those settings).

A second challange is that SJ itself is not explained in much detail. Entire systems of planets get just two pages. So this makes the setting a very big and sometimes not very well defined sandbox.

I've come to the conclusion that the "solution" for the first challange that 3e faces is to "cut down" the project into set of rules along with a single sphere guide (with the other two spheres to follow on later - when time permits). I believe that will allow the project to have a very similar feel to Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Dragonlance Campaign Setting or Living Greyhawk Gazetter.

Given that the 3e core rules have that Greyhawk-lite thing going on, I think that Greyspace is the way to go with a 3e SJCS. A SJCS set in Greyspace would plug into the core rulebooks and allow someone to have a SJ game without needing to buy either FR or DL. And we know that the GM and players would have the core rulebooks needed to support this, so I think it is the easiest way to get players in. As I said before, that could be followed by a 3e Realmspace Campaign Suppliment and a 3e Krynnspace Campaign Suppliment. (I think you already know that I've been thinking* about what "extra stuff" might go into a new Krynnspace Campaign Guide.)

* = Unfortunatly, I've been very very poor at organising all of this and have allowed myself to get stalled a lot. :oops:

For the same reason, I think that a 4e Spelljammer Campaign Guide, would need to work with the core 4e D&D books. So that would suggest, to my (uneducated) eye, that a 4e Spelljammer Campaign Guide should be linked in with a Points of Light crystal sphere. I don't know how Points of Light might be tied into Spelljammer. Maybe it needs a bespoke crystal sphere, or maybe Points of Light could be "sold" as part of Bralspace. Maybe Points of Light could even be sold as a land on the planet Spiral. Again, a 4e Spelljammer Campaign Guide could be followed up by suppliments that bring in Greyspace,, Krynnspace and Realmspace, but in this case, I would suggest doing Realmspace first, and waiting to see if Wizards of the Coast or Canonfire! and Dragonlance Nexus are the first people to bring out the 4e campaign guides for the other two grounding worlds.

And I actually think that the 4e fans need to avoid the 3e fans previous "mistake" (overlooking the potential of Eberron for too long) and that they should make a "web enhancement" to pull in every new 4e campaign setting that WotC publishes.

I think there is a lot of work ahead for the 4e fans, but I think that this will get done. It might start this year or it might start next year or it might start in five years time, but I think that it is inevitable that this will happen.

Not being a 4e fan myself, I could just ignore this, and wait for the day when someone else starts it up. But I would rather let the 4e fans (and this includes the 4e fans who are not members of The Piazza, but have surfed in via Google) know that I will give what limited support I can give.

I've procrastinated on my own 3e work for far too long, but I decided a few years back to put my own Spelljammer "research notes" in a public place, rather than continue with the pen and paper system I had been using before that date. And I hope that my own research might help the 4e SJ conversion, as well as the 3e SJ conversion. (I also hope it helps 2e fans who want to write new fanon to expand canon. I didn't just start up that thing to aid conversions - I put it there for anyone who wanted to study SJ canon.)

I am also hoping (and Tauster probably wouldn't realise this) that any 3e netbooks that the process might churn out would contain new (sandboxed) expansions on the existing 2e material and a historical timeline (to add in logic for background details) as well as 3e conversions of 2e stuff and new NPCs and magic items. So I'm hoping that about two thirds of any 3e netbooks would be of interest to 2e fans.

I also hope that the 4e fans turn out some stuff (notes, artwork or whatever) that might be useful for 3e fans or 2e fans. But if they do - or if they don't - I would still love to see them share my research and see if they can use it to get their stuff done a bit faster.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:14 am

Thanks Silverblade.

I think you've got me to understand 4e better in one post, than all the stuff I've read about 4e up until now. (Still don't want to play it, mind you, but I feel I know it a bit better.)
Silverblade-T-E wrote:living ships I meant in sense of treating the ship/crew as ONE being, with multiple attacks (1 for each weapon), and hit points for different parts like "forward ballista" takes 20 hp to put out of action, and kill 2 crew. or whatever
ship hulls aren't affected by "Will" attacks, but they can be hit by AC, Fortitiude and Reflex ones, ships as "creatures" with crew, can be affected by will attacks, but only area of effect ones! ie, ones that say, confuse a bunch of crew.
ships would have lousy reflex scores of coruse, excep ttheir sheer damn size/thick hull keeps that high, you dont' have "touch attacks" in 4th ed, which makes it simpler.
there are rules for such, I have seen 'em, but will need to find 'em
I have all the 4th ed books by WOTC :)
Hmm. I do believe this "one being" mechanic is also how 2e Spelljammer did the beholder-kin that rode animals.
Silverblade-T-E wrote:Minion rules are awesome
4 minions = 1 normal critter for xp value and relative threat, and only have 1 hp each, any solid hit kills them, but, any miss or half damage effect does NOT. they never have temporary hit points,cannot be healed. so you can use them as "grunts", throw tons of the buggers in as swarms of enemies.
they only do the average damage of their base critter, say they use a shortsword, thats 1d6 damage, so they'd do 4 hp damage every time they hit (rouding up for strength or whatever) this means less rolls, just flat damage, making it easier on the DM and preventing too many crits on PCs.
and minions only have 1 or 2 attacks and abilities the basic critter has, like "kobold shifty" (shift 1 square as minor action). again, saving time/sapce for the DM
some minions do special stuff on death, like explode, penalize enemy etc (like burstign zombies and so forth) which is neat hehe
This sort of concept could probably be retro-converted to 3e or even 2e to make ship-scale battles a bit more manageable than they are with the existing rules.
Silverblade-T-E wrote:4th ed uses a convention that creatures can recharge and use powers each round, if they roll high enough on a d6
this is because 4th ed doesn't want folk to keep tracking multiple rounds, ie, such as an effect that takes 4 rounds to go off. its only just THIS round, or into the next one you need to track carefully.
the more powerful/rare a power is, less chance it has to recharge, so a wizards deadliest spell might recharge on a 6 on a d6 only or be useable only once per encounter.

in combat this means the DM or player if we use this for ships, only needs ot roll 1 dice, to see if he cna fire for each weapon, rather than worrying about keeping track of each round
this decreases the load on everyone
It does sound a bit more simplified. I'm not sure I like it, but I do think it would make large scale battles more do-able. I think that 3e could go for a more simple system and also think that 2e could go for something.
Azaghal wrote:I will probably be playing either 3e or 4e and will help with both projects as I can.
Great. I count two of you as interested, with Dragonhelm maybe chipping in, from time to time. It might go a bit slowly at the begining, but I think that is OK, because any effort will help bring in new visitors who are interested in the concept. 8-)

If you like, we could ask Ash to set up a Spelljammer 4E Conversion Project forum. :mrgreen:
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Azaghal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:36 am

I can't say when I may have time, so many irons in the fire and not enough time to heat any of them right now.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:44 am

Azaghal wrote:I can't say when I may have time, so many irons in the fire and not enough time to heat any of them right now.
I know the feeling. That is why I think you need to plan for the long view, and create a modular plan that allows anyone who joins in to contribute in small steps. If you "expect" to get this done in a year, you may become disappointed if you miss the deadline, but if you set a slow, but steady pace, the forward motion will always be doing some good.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:03 am

Big Mac wrote: As someone who really loves Spelljammer, I really want everyone to be able to play it, but at the moment, the only people who can play it fully are the 2e fans. Now, you seem to be arguing that any focus on non-2e gaming will somehow "hurt" Spelljammer, but I believe the opposite is the case.

I believe that our lack of conversions is a barrier that prevents fans of other D&D editions (or games like Gurps, or C&C) from having the pleasure of trying out Spelljammer. And I want to see retro-conversions too. I want to see a BECMI Spelljammer conversion that can finally take Spelljammer back home to the oldest D&D fandom.
Well said. Until I saw this thread, I was convinced that most SJ fans online were 2e fans who didn't want to hear a thing about post-2e Spelljammer. That has been my experience, at least. In fact, one of the reasons I avoided the SJ-L mailing list was due to the anti-3e sentiment I encountered there.

So I was wondering earlier today where I could talk about SJ in 4e. My thread on Celestian made me wonder if this was the place. I would like for it to be.

Game systems are like cars. Just different methods of getting from here to there. What is important is the end goal. I would like to play Spelljammer again, and I'd love it if there was a 4e version to use. I hope this will become a reality.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:13 am

One of the things that any new rendition of SJ needs to tackle is what the setting is. I think SJ needs to have its own setting, yet I think it should be adaptable to include other settings too. So we might look at things like Krynnspace or Greyspace, but we should also lay down the tools for DMs to incorporate other worlds (i.e. Eberron, homebrews, other published worlds) into the overreaching Spelljammer setting.

All of that being said...

The cosmic sorcerer build in Arcane Power would rock on toast in Spelljammer! :lol:
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by AuldDragon » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:02 am

Dragonhelm wrote:So I was wondering earlier today where I could talk about SJ in 4e. My thread on Celestian made me wonder if this was the place. I would like for it to be.
I think it should be. I don't play 4e, and I doubt I ever will, but I still read the threads on it in this forum, although I doubt I'll have anything to offer. At the same time, I'm not going to jump in and criticize 4e, since it wouldn't help anyone.

As for the conversion project to 4e, I don't think it can be forced. It's probably best to just wait until someone takes up the mantle of leadership.

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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:14 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:
Big Mac wrote: As someone who really loves Spelljammer, I really want everyone to be able to play it,...<snip>
Well said. Until I saw this thread, I was convinced that most SJ fans online were 2e fans who didn't want to hear a thing about post-2e Spelljammer. That has been my experience, at least. In fact, one of the reasons I avoided the SJ-L mailing list was due to the anti-3e sentiment I encountered there.
I had some negative experiences in the SJ community, back in my early days. I was talking about things I was thinking of doing for 3e, but the thing that really got slapped down was actually the fact that I wanted to extrapolate all the Planar Churches and Polygot Faiths into individual religions. The person who "shot down my idea" thought it was adding in a bunch of unneccessary stuff, where the player could just use the same cleric and "wing it" on the details.

However, that is the only time that has really happened to me. So was it "anti-3e" or was it someone thinking my idea was a waste of time?

I really haven't felt that sort of thing at all, in the last few years. There was a bit of ranting about the Spellplague in the SJ community, but I saw just as much of that in the DL community. I really think that you should give the SJML another go. Avoiding it would be doing a disservice to other SJ fans who are interested in 4e. The mailing list belongs to all of us.
Dragonhelm wrote:So I was wondering earlier today where I could talk about SJ in 4e. My thread on Celestian made me wonder if this was the place. I would like for it to be.
Well, Celestian is also a special case, because the Greyhawk fans "own" him and so do the Planescape fans. You kind of need to run this past all three communities to try to get the best ideas in from everyone. I've spoken to Loki (who is mysterously busy lately) about Celestian before. I think you need clerics to be able to go down a pure planewalking path a pure spelljamming path or "multiclass" the two activities. I'm not so sure that applies to other SJ deities.
Dragonhelm wrote:Game systems are like cars. Just different methods of getting from here to there. What is important is the end goal. I would like to play Spelljammer again, and I'd love it if there was a 4e version to use. I hope this will become a reality.
I'd like to see 4e SJ happen too...although, I won't say that the 3e fan in me doesn't want the 3e stuff to get finished first. :P
Dragonhelm wrote:One of the things that any new rendition of SJ needs to tackle is what the setting is. I think SJ needs to have its own setting, yet I think it should be adaptable to include other settings too. So we might look at things like Krynnspace or Greyspace, but we should also lay down the tools for DMs to incorporate other worlds (i.e. Eberron, homebrews, other published worlds) into the overreaching Spelljammer setting.
Very very true. This has been said elsewhere too.

I am not sure what the 4e SCG would need to be, but I am seeing the 3e SJCS as a collection of 3e SJ rules, a large rules-lite section on Greyspace (with enough sandboxing going on to place every single one of the core-SJ races, monsters and organisations into at least one specific location within the sphere), a "Beyond Greyspace" section (with plot hooks that take PCs to worlds within all the worlds of Realmspace, Krynnspace and some of the worlds of Bralspace and a couple of mentiones of other spheres) and last but not least, a system of random tables that allows a GM to create their own crystal sphere.

Beyond that, I think that 3e "needs" more detailed stuff, like a full treatement of Shardspace (the name most fan's call Eberron's crystal sphere) to be put into a bespoke netbook. I think that making it something that is rules-lite will allow both 2e and 3e fans (and now 4e fans) to gain some use out of the thing.

To me, this would be a bit like the 3e Forgotten Realms sourcebook line: tons of books that all define individual areas (in this case spheres).

I'm not so sure how that would work for 4e, because 4e is supposed to be "small enough" to fit into three books, and I can't see three books "doing the entire universe" unless the 4e fans made one Spelljammer Campaign Guide, one Spelljammer Bestiary and one 300 page Guide to the Known Spheres.
Dragonhelm wrote:All of that being said...

The cosmic sorcerer build in Arcane Power would rock on toast in Spelljammer! :lol:
I don't know that. But I've been interested in what could be done with the 3e sorcerer in Spelljammer.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:23 pm

AuldDragon wrote:
Dragonhelm wrote:So I was wondering earlier today where I could talk about SJ in 4e. My thread on Celestian made me wonder if this was the place. I would like for it to be.
I think it should be. I don't play 4e, and I doubt I ever will, but I still read the threads on it in this forum, although I doubt I'll have anything to offer. At the same time, I'm not going to jump in and criticize 4e, since it wouldn't help anyone.
Constructive criticism could be helpful (as well as proof-reading). But, I do agree with you, uninformed critisism probably wouldn't find logical flaws in stuff.
AuldDragon wrote:As for the conversion project to 4e, I don't think it can be forced. It's probably best to just wait until someone takes up the mantle of leadership.
And there, you have the issue in a nutshell. Nobody is holding back 4e SJ. It just doesn't have a massive amount of support...

...yet.

But I think there is interest and that it will happen.
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Elvith Jars » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:22 am

Here's some stuff for you that I wrote awhile ago, extrapolated from some 3E stuff as well as WoTC's take on shipboard actions from The Plane Above. Hope this helps.

Ship design guide
Adventures on the Astral Sea

The eerie tranquility of astral travel is often shattered by eruptions of sudden danger. Characters aboard skiffs or other conveyances could face magical storms, arcane anomalies, hostile ships, or hungry free-flying creatures, such as astral dreadnoughts. Depending on the game’s pace, such a moment of navigational menace can be resolved with a single skill check, as a skill challenge, or as an extended combat or action set piece.

General Shipboard Actions

The following skills can be applied to nearly any shipboard emergency.

•Acrobatics: Perform stunts requiring precarious climbing up, down, or through the ship’s masts and rigging. Tumble through falling obstacles to secure a critical piece of equipment knocked loose in the struggle.

•Athletics: Momentarily hold stressed or breaking ship pieces in place. Man the ship’s helm, executing audacious maneuvers or steering the vessel in the face of great resistance.

•Arcana: Pour additional magical fuel into the engines, momentarily (and dangerously) increasing the vessel’s speed or maneuverability (to compensate for missing crew members, for instance).

•Endurance: Perform tasks while battered and nearly destroyed; survive with minimal food and water after supplies are lost or stolen.

•History: Identify oncoming vessels by size and configuration, naming the origin and likely intentions of their crews.

•Perception: Spot trouble before it starts, determine the weak point in an enemy’s hull, or see a creature’s vulnerability.

Chase

When the crew of one vessel tries to engage and the other tries to escape, a chase ensues. If you know that a fight will ensue when one vessel catches up to the other, resolve the chase as a single Athletics check by the character at the helm. In instances when the conclusion of the chase won’t necessarily lead to ship combat, run the chase sequence as a skill challenge of its own.

•Arcana: Spot astral eddies to gain increased speed; locate nebulae or other astral bodies to hide behind; find portals allowing magical teleport to another sector of the sea.

•Nature: Spot or avoid schools of astral creatures that impede navigation.

•Stealth: Plot a confusing course while fleeing; identify a confusing course laid in by a fleeing vessel.

Conquering Enemy Vessels

In a skill challenge to board and overrun an enemy vessel, the characters contend for the opportunity to stage a fight on the enemy crew’s deck. If they lose, the targets successfully disengage before a fight can occur. Alternatively, a lost challenge could result in the fight occurring on the characters’ ship. Victorious invaders not only defeat their opponents, but can then seize control of the vessel.

•Acrobatics: Use a piece of loose rigging to swing onto the target deck.

•Intimidate: Frighten crew members into backing away or otherwise ceding ground.

•Stealth: Sneak aboard from a different direction to achieve surprise.

Allow movement attacks and racial powers to substitute for skills as the logic of the scene permits. For movement powers such as fey step, where no skill modifier pertains, ask for an Arcana check to determine if the character’s "aim" is correct, or treat the use of the power as an automatic success.

Interactions With Rival Crews
•Bluff: Fool targets into thinking you're an ally, letting you act unexpectedly and achieve surprise.

•Diplomacy: Pursuade adversaries to not attack you; determine how much to bribe to secure your freedom should things go sour.

•Intimidate: Persuade potential adversaries that it'll hurt them more than it'll hurt you.

•Insight: Identify crews intending to attack you when they're appearing friendly; make an important mental connection about a ship and its tactics.

Disable or Destroy Enemy Vessels
•Arcana: Use onboard magical weaponry (if available) to modify arcane ranged and area attacks to damage ships from a distance. This check allows subsequent uses of the attack powers themselves. Expending a daily arcane power grants a +5 bonus to the attack roll.

•Religion: Same as above, but for divine powers.

•Weapon Attack: Damage ships using onboard siege engines.

Repulse Boarding Attempts
Ways to avoid a fight on your own ship:

•Bluff: Lure an invader into making a false step or into a trap.

•Intimidate: Scare off the invaders.

•Stealth: Surprise an invader trying to move between vessels, shoving the target overboard.

Avoiding Navigational Hazards
Permanent navigational hazards are known as anomolies. Avoiding hazards may require skill challenges that use:

•Arcana: Operate the ship's instruments to detect the hazards.

•Endurance: Physically shielding an ally from the effects of the hazard and bearing the brunt of the effects yourself.

•History: Reveal the locations of the hazards to avoid.

•Nature: Predict oncoming weather conditions by observing changes in the astral eddies, wind and wildlife.

•Religion: Sensing divine energy indicating past or present activities of deities and thei agents; identify mystic runes left over from the Dawn War.
I'm also adding:

•Insight: Determine the intentions of the enemy ship.

•Intimidate: Maneuver the ship aggressively, making the other guy flinch, granting combat advantage (save ends)

•Arcana: Identify performance capabilities of the enemy ship, operate the aether drive, repair the ship, study the universe and how it relates to planar alignment and the effects of the universe on magic.

•Nature: Investigate celestial bodies like planets, asteroids, and comets, predict the orbits of celestial bodies (basically, what we call Astronomy in the real world).

•Athletics: When piloting a ship or flying mount, perform stunts like Sideslip, Avoid Hazard, Bootleg Turn, Dash, Feint (requires Bluff check), Grapple, Hard Brake, Hard Turn, Jump to Spelljamming Speed, and Withdraw if you successfully meet or beat the DC and you meet the prerequisites for the stunt.

A Matter of Scale
As noted in the Ship Design Guide, airships and spelljammers operate on a larger scale than characters do. In the Ship Scale, one square equals 100 feet or 20 character squares. For sake of convenience, don't convert a ship's Speed rating between scales; just assume that on the Ship Scale, vehicles can move faster with more open space.

Piloting a Ship
There are two different types of maneuvers possible when operating a vehicle: Simple Maneuvers, and Stunts.

Simple Maneuvers

Drive ♦ At-Will (Move)
Vehicles are designed to move in one direction only. You direct the vehicle forward, but turning the vehicle can be slow and difficult.
Movement: Move the vehicle a number of squares up to its Speed.
Direction: The vehicle must move directly forward along its heading.
Opportunity Attacks: The vehicle's movement does not provoke opportunity attacks against the vehicle or the creatures inhabiting it.
Terrain: Terrain affects vehicles in the way it affects creatures. flying vehicles can encounter debris fields, astral eddys, turbulence, and other aerial/astral phenomenon that counts as difficult terrain and cost an extra square of movement. If the difficult terrain requires a skill check, then the pilot makes the check.
Special: You may shift the ship one square along a forward diagonal without turning.

Stop ♦ At-Will (Move)
When a vehicle is moving, it takes effort to stop it.
Movement: The vehicle moves forward along its heading a number of squares equal to the distance it moved in the previous round. At the end of the move, the vehicle is motionless. The vehicle will not go out of control if it is stopped. The vehicle begins moving agan when the pilot uses the drive action.
Special: In Wildspace and the Astral Sea, motionless is a relative term. When orbiting a celestial body, motionless referrs to the speed an object needs in order to remain in orbit.

Turn ♦ At-Will (Move)
You turn the ship to change its heading. Heavier and/or fast ships are harder to turn.
Movement: The ship requires one or more drive actions based on its weight.
Tonnage Required Drive Actions
< 250 0
250 1
1,000 2
2,500 3
> 2,500 4


If a ship is traveling at more than half its speed, then use the next heaviest weight category to determine how many drive actions the ship uses. If a ship or vehicle is less than 250 tons, then it requires no drive actions before it may make a turn.
Direction: After completing the required move actions, change the ship's heading by 45 degrees.

Ram ♦ At-Will (Move)
You attempt to collide with another object and damage it.
Movement: The ship travels a number of squares up to its Speed. Additionally, it may shift up to one square along its forward diagonal.
Direction: The ship continues traveling forward.
Check: The pilot makes an Athletics check versus the target's Fortitude.
Success: The target ship takes 1d10 damage per square traveled before colliding with the target, multiplied by 5 + the attacking ship's weight multiplier found in the table below. The attacking ship takes half-damage, or one-quarter damage if equipped with ram. Anyone standing on either ship must make an Easy Athletics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: The ship misses the target and travels forward until it uses up its movement points.
Tonnage Weight Multiplier

< 250 1
250 2
1,000 4
2,500 8
> 2,500 16


Special: A ship equipped with a piercing ram also grapples the target.

Stunts
The pilot of the ship is able to perform special maneuvers to make the vessel do amazing things, but these maneuvers require an Athletics check to perform successfully. The DCs to perform these maneuvers come from the Difficulty Class and Damage By Level table found on Page 42 of the DMG. Performing a stunt is a full-round action; it requires considerable concentration to pull off successfully.

Avoid Hazard
You maneuver the ship to avoid colliding with something.
Difficulty: Varies.
Obstacle To Avoid
DC Category

Debris Field (1x1)
Easy

Debris Field (2x2)
Moderate

Debris Field (3x3)
Hard

Astral Riptide
Moderate + 2

Astral Whirlpool
Hard + 2


Success: You avoid the obstacle and shift the vehicle one square.
Fail: You collide with the object taking damage as if rammed.

Bootleg Turn
You make a radical turn, drastically changing the ship's heading, but come to a stop in the process.
Difficulty: Varies.
Heading Change
DC Class

45 degrees
Easy

90 degrees
Moderate

135 degrees
Hard

180 degrees
Hard + 4


Success: The ship moves forward a number of squares equal to the distance traveled the previous round, stops, and then changes heading. Anyone standing must make an Easy Acrobatics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: You fail to rapidly turn. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.

Dash
You quickly accelerate, performing a double-move with a single move action.
Difficulty: Moderate + 2
Success: You're able to take two drive actions for the cost of one.
Fail: You're unable to dash.
Special: You can only perform this stunt once per round.

Escape
You attempt to free your ship from a grab.
Difficulty: Special. Make an Athletics check versus the grappling ship's Fortitude.
Success: You end the grab, and can shift the ship one square as part of the stunt.
Fail: Your ship remains grabbed; you cannot perform move actions and your ship travels in the direction and speed of the grappling ship.

Feint
You mislead another ship so that it has a harder time dodging your ship's attacks.
Diffculty: Special. The target ship's pilot makes an Insight check to see through the pilot's feint. The feint succeeds if the pilot's feint check exceeds the target ship's Insight check.
Success: Your ship gains combat advantage until the end of your next turn.
Fail: The target ship sees through your trickery.
Special: Feint uses the pilot's Bluff or Intimidate skill instead of Athletics. If using Intimidate, the feint succeeds if the Intimidate check exceeds the target's Will.

Grapple
You pull along side a vessel, locking the two ships together.
Difficulty: Special. Make an Athletics check versus the target ship's Reflex.
Success: You shift into an adjacent square to the target ship and it becomes grabbed (its speed matches yours, and it cannot perform move actions until it successfully performs an Escape).
Fail: You fail to grapple the target ship and instead, you collide with it, taking damage as if rammed.
Special: You must be within one ship square to grapple an enemy ship. You may attempt to tow the grappled ship by making a Moderate Athletics check. If successful, you may move up to half your speed per move action, and you perform turns in a weight class equal to the combined weight of your ship and the grappled ship. If you fail, then the grappled ship automatically escapes.

Hard Brake
You stop the ship rapidly.
Difficulty: Moderate
Success: Your ship shifts forward one square, and stops. Anyone standing must make a Moderate Acrobatics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: You fail to rapidly slow down. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.
Special: You can only perform this stunt once per round.

Hard Turn
You overcome inertia and rapidly turn the ship
Difficulty: Hard + 2
Success: Your ship makes a 45 degree turn without performing the required drive actions beforehand. Anyone standing must make an Easy Acrobatics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: You fail to turn. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.

Sideslip
You shift the ship diagonally in its direction of travel without turning.
Difficulty: Moderate + 2
Success: You shift the ship along a forward diagonal a number of squares up to its Speed.
Fail: You fail to sideslip. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.

Sideswipe
You shift your ship and collide with an object, possibly forcing the pilot to lose control.
Difficulty: Moderate + 2
Success: You ram the object for half ram damage, and if piloted, the target's pilot must make a Moderate +2 Athletics check to avoid going Out of Control.
Fail: You ram the object for full damage.
Special: If your ship is heavier than the target ship and you succeed in the sideswipe, the target's pilot receives a -2 penalty to his/her Athletics check. If your ship is lighter, the target ship's pilot receives a +2 bonus to his/her Athletics check.

Withdraw
You exit the fray and try to jump to spelljamming speed.
Difficulty: Hard + 4
Success: You may perform up to four move actions, and attempt to jump to spelljamming speed (Moderate Arcana check)
Fail: You fail to withdraw. Make a Hard Athletics check to avoid going Out of Control.
Special: You may only perform this stunt once per round. Ships with aether drives require an engineer to make the Arcana check.

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Azaghal
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Azaghal » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:10 am

Elvith Jars wrote:Here's some stuff for you that I wrote awhile ago, extrapolated from some 3E stuff as well as WoTC's take on shipboard actions from The Plane Above. Hope this helps.

Ship design guide
Adventures on the Astral Sea

The eerie tranquility of astral travel is often shattered by eruptions of sudden danger. Characters aboard skiffs or other conveyances could face magical storms, arcane anomalies, hostile ships, or hungry free-flying creatures, such as astral dreadnoughts. Depending on the game’s pace, such a moment of navigational menace can be resolved with a single skill check, as a skill challenge, or as an extended combat or action set piece.

General Shipboard Actions

The following skills can be applied to nearly any shipboard emergency.

•Acrobatics: Perform stunts requiring precarious climbing up, down, or through the ship’s masts and rigging. Tumble through falling obstacles to secure a critical piece of equipment knocked loose in the struggle.

•Athletics: Momentarily hold stressed or breaking ship pieces in place. Man the ship’s helm, executing audacious maneuvers or steering the vessel in the face of great resistance.

•Arcana: Pour additional magical fuel into the engines, momentarily (and dangerously) increasing the vessel’s speed or maneuverability (to compensate for missing crew members, for instance).

•Endurance: Perform tasks while battered and nearly destroyed; survive with minimal food and water after supplies are lost or stolen.

•History: Identify oncoming vessels by size and configuration, naming the origin and likely intentions of their crews.

•Perception: Spot trouble before it starts, determine the weak point in an enemy’s hull, or see a creature’s vulnerability.

Chase

When the crew of one vessel tries to engage and the other tries to escape, a chase ensues. If you know that a fight will ensue when one vessel catches up to the other, resolve the chase as a single Athletics check by the character at the helm. In instances when the conclusion of the chase won’t necessarily lead to ship combat, run the chase sequence as a skill challenge of its own.

•Arcana: Spot astral eddies to gain increased speed; locate nebulae or other astral bodies to hide behind; find portals allowing magical teleport to another sector of the sea.

•Nature: Spot or avoid schools of astral creatures that impede navigation.

•Stealth: Plot a confusing course while fleeing; identify a confusing course laid in by a fleeing vessel.

Conquering Enemy Vessels

In a skill challenge to board and overrun an enemy vessel, the characters contend for the opportunity to stage a fight on the enemy crew’s deck. If they lose, the targets successfully disengage before a fight can occur. Alternatively, a lost challenge could result in the fight occurring on the characters’ ship. Victorious invaders not only defeat their opponents, but can then seize control of the vessel.

•Acrobatics: Use a piece of loose rigging to swing onto the target deck.

•Intimidate: Frighten crew members into backing away or otherwise ceding ground.

•Stealth: Sneak aboard from a different direction to achieve surprise.

Allow movement attacks and racial powers to substitute for skills as the logic of the scene permits. For movement powers such as fey step, where no skill modifier pertains, ask for an Arcana check to determine if the character’s "aim" is correct, or treat the use of the power as an automatic success.

Interactions With Rival Crews
•Bluff: Fool targets into thinking you're an ally, letting you act unexpectedly and achieve surprise.

•Diplomacy: Pursuade adversaries to not attack you; determine how much to bribe to secure your freedom should things go sour.

•Intimidate: Persuade potential adversaries that it'll hurt them more than it'll hurt you.

•Insight: Identify crews intending to attack you when they're appearing friendly; make an important mental connection about a ship and its tactics.

Disable or Destroy Enemy Vessels
•Arcana: Use onboard magical weaponry (if available) to modify arcane ranged and area attacks to damage ships from a distance. This check allows subsequent uses of the attack powers themselves. Expending a daily arcane power grants a +5 bonus to the attack roll.

•Religion: Same as above, but for divine powers.

•Weapon Attack: Damage ships using onboard siege engines.

Repulse Boarding Attempts
Ways to avoid a fight on your own ship:

•Bluff: Lure an invader into making a false step or into a trap.

•Intimidate: Scare off the invaders.

•Stealth: Surprise an invader trying to move between vessels, shoving the target overboard.

Avoiding Navigational Hazards
Permanent navigational hazards are known as anomolies. Avoiding hazards may require skill challenges that use:

•Arcana: Operate the ship's instruments to detect the hazards.

•Endurance: Physically shielding an ally from the effects of the hazard and bearing the brunt of the effects yourself.

•History: Reveal the locations of the hazards to avoid.

•Nature: Predict oncoming weather conditions by observing changes in the astral eddies, wind and wildlife.

•Religion: Sensing divine energy indicating past or present activities of deities and thei agents; identify mystic runes left over from the Dawn War.
I'm also adding:

•Insight: Determine the intentions of the enemy ship.

•Intimidate: Maneuver the ship aggressively, making the other guy flinch, granting combat advantage (save ends)

•Arcana: Identify performance capabilities of the enemy ship, operate the aether drive, repair the ship, study the universe and how it relates to planar alignment and the effects of the universe on magic.

•Nature: Investigate celestial bodies like planets, asteroids, and comets, predict the orbits of celestial bodies (basically, what we call Astronomy in the real world).

•Athletics: When piloting a ship or flying mount, perform stunts like Sideslip, Avoid Hazard, Bootleg Turn, Dash, Feint (requires Bluff check), Grapple, Hard Brake, Hard Turn, Jump to Spelljamming Speed, and Withdraw if you successfully meet or beat the DC and you meet the prerequisites for the stunt.

A Matter of Scale
As noted in the Ship Design Guide, airships and spelljammers operate on a larger scale than characters do. In the Ship Scale, one square equals 100 feet or 20 character squares. For sake of convenience, don't convert a ship's Speed rating between scales; just assume that on the Ship Scale, vehicles can move faster with more open space.

Piloting a Ship
There are two different types of maneuvers possible when operating a vehicle: Simple Maneuvers, and Stunts.

Simple Maneuvers

Drive ♦ At-Will (Move)
Vehicles are designed to move in one direction only. You direct the vehicle forward, but turning the vehicle can be slow and difficult.
Movement: Move the vehicle a number of squares up to its Speed.
Direction: The vehicle must move directly forward along its heading.
Opportunity Attacks: The vehicle's movement does not provoke opportunity attacks against the vehicle or the creatures inhabiting it.
Terrain: Terrain affects vehicles in the way it affects creatures. flying vehicles can encounter debris fields, astral eddys, turbulence, and other aerial/astral phenomenon that counts as difficult terrain and cost an extra square of movement. If the difficult terrain requires a skill check, then the pilot makes the check.
Special: You may shift the ship one square along a forward diagonal without turning.

Stop ♦ At-Will (Move)
When a vehicle is moving, it takes effort to stop it.
Movement: The vehicle moves forward along its heading a number of squares equal to the distance it moved in the previous round. At the end of the move, the vehicle is motionless. The vehicle will not go out of control if it is stopped. The vehicle begins moving agan when the pilot uses the drive action.
Special: In Wildspace and the Astral Sea, motionless is a relative term. When orbiting a celestial body, motionless referrs to the speed an object needs in order to remain in orbit.

Turn ♦ At-Will (Move)
You turn the ship to change its heading. Heavier and/or fast ships are harder to turn.
Movement: The ship requires one or more drive actions based on its weight.
Tonnage Required Drive Actions
< 250 0
250 1
1,000 2
2,500 3
> 2,500 4


If a ship is traveling at more than half its speed, then use the next heaviest weight category to determine how many drive actions the ship uses. If a ship or vehicle is less than 250 tons, then it requires no drive actions before it may make a turn.
Direction: After completing the required move actions, change the ship's heading by 45 degrees.

Ram ♦ At-Will (Move)
You attempt to collide with another object and damage it.
Movement: The ship travels a number of squares up to its Speed. Additionally, it may shift up to one square along its forward diagonal.
Direction: The ship continues traveling forward.
Check: The pilot makes an Athletics check versus the target's Fortitude.
Success: The target ship takes 1d10 damage per square traveled before colliding with the target, multiplied by 5 + the attacking ship's weight multiplier found in the table below. The attacking ship takes half-damage, or one-quarter damage if equipped with ram. Anyone standing on either ship must make an Easy Athletics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: The ship misses the target and travels forward until it uses up its movement points.
Tonnage Weight Multiplier

< 250 1
250 2
1,000 4
2,500 8
> 2,500 16


Special: A ship equipped with a piercing ram also grapples the target.

Stunts
The pilot of the ship is able to perform special maneuvers to make the vessel do amazing things, but these maneuvers require an Athletics check to perform successfully. The DCs to perform these maneuvers come from the Difficulty Class and Damage By Level table found on Page 42 of the DMG. Performing a stunt is a full-round action; it requires considerable concentration to pull off successfully.

Avoid Hazard
You maneuver the ship to avoid colliding with something.
Difficulty: Varies.
Obstacle To Avoid
DC Category

Debris Field (1x1)
Easy

Debris Field (2x2)
Moderate

Debris Field (3x3)
Hard

Astral Riptide
Moderate + 2

Astral Whirlpool
Hard + 2


Success: You avoid the obstacle and shift the vehicle one square.
Fail: You collide with the object taking damage as if rammed.

Bootleg Turn
You make a radical turn, drastically changing the ship's heading, but come to a stop in the process.
Difficulty: Varies.
Heading Change
DC Class

45 degrees
Easy

90 degrees
Moderate

135 degrees
Hard

180 degrees
Hard + 4


Success: The ship moves forward a number of squares equal to the distance traveled the previous round, stops, and then changes heading. Anyone standing must make an Easy Acrobatics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: You fail to rapidly turn. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.

Dash
You quickly accelerate, performing a double-move with a single move action.
Difficulty: Moderate + 2
Success: You're able to take two drive actions for the cost of one.
Fail: You're unable to dash.
Special: You can only perform this stunt once per round.

Escape
You attempt to free your ship from a grab.
Difficulty: Special. Make an Athletics check versus the grappling ship's Fortitude.
Success: You end the grab, and can shift the ship one square as part of the stunt.
Fail: Your ship remains grabbed; you cannot perform move actions and your ship travels in the direction and speed of the grappling ship.

Feint
You mislead another ship so that it has a harder time dodging your ship's attacks.
Diffculty: Special. The target ship's pilot makes an Insight check to see through the pilot's feint. The feint succeeds if the pilot's feint check exceeds the target ship's Insight check.
Success: Your ship gains combat advantage until the end of your next turn.
Fail: The target ship sees through your trickery.
Special: Feint uses the pilot's Bluff or Intimidate skill instead of Athletics. If using Intimidate, the feint succeeds if the Intimidate check exceeds the target's Will.

Grapple
You pull along side a vessel, locking the two ships together.
Difficulty: Special. Make an Athletics check versus the target ship's Reflex.
Success: You shift into an adjacent square to the target ship and it becomes grabbed (its speed matches yours, and it cannot perform move actions until it successfully performs an Escape).
Fail: You fail to grapple the target ship and instead, you collide with it, taking damage as if rammed.
Special: You must be within one ship square to grapple an enemy ship. You may attempt to tow the grappled ship by making a Moderate Athletics check. If successful, you may move up to half your speed per move action, and you perform turns in a weight class equal to the combined weight of your ship and the grappled ship. If you fail, then the grappled ship automatically escapes.

Hard Brake
You stop the ship rapidly.
Difficulty: Moderate
Success: Your ship shifts forward one square, and stops. Anyone standing must make a Moderate Acrobatics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: You fail to rapidly slow down. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.
Special: You can only perform this stunt once per round.

Hard Turn
You overcome inertia and rapidly turn the ship
Difficulty: Hard + 2
Success: Your ship makes a 45 degree turn without performing the required drive actions beforehand. Anyone standing must make an Easy Acrobatics check to avoid being knocked prone.
Fail: You fail to turn. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.

Sideslip
You shift the ship diagonally in its direction of travel without turning.
Difficulty: Moderate + 2
Success: You shift the ship along a forward diagonal a number of squares up to its Speed.
Fail: You fail to sideslip. Make a Moderate Athletics check to avoid becoming Out of Control.

Sideswipe
You shift your ship and collide with an object, possibly forcing the pilot to lose control.
Difficulty: Moderate + 2
Success: You ram the object for half ram damage, and if piloted, the target's pilot must make a Moderate +2 Athletics check to avoid going Out of Control.
Fail: You ram the object for full damage.
Special: If your ship is heavier than the target ship and you succeed in the sideswipe, the target's pilot receives a -2 penalty to his/her Athletics check. If your ship is lighter, the target ship's pilot receives a +2 bonus to his/her Athletics check.

Withdraw
You exit the fray and try to jump to spelljamming speed.
Difficulty: Hard + 4
Success: You may perform up to four move actions, and attempt to jump to spelljamming speed (Moderate Arcana check)
Fail: You fail to withdraw. Make a Hard Athletics check to avoid going Out of Control.
Special: You may only perform this stunt once per round. Ships with aether drives require an engineer to make the Arcana check.
Excellent stuff. I was just fixing to pull out my own copy when this caught my eye.
Sean "Azaghal" Pennington

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Elvith Jars
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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Elvith Jars » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:06 pm

Please by all means, there is no One True Way when it comes to writing stuff for spelljammer. The stuff I did lets me have a tactical game with ships while still allowing for WoTC's take on ship-to-ship combat in The Plane Above: focusing on the characters. My ship design guide gives me the flexibility to create elemental airships for Eberron and elemental spelljammers too, and I plan to set things up so that ships are priced like magic items (a level 20 ship has more capabilities than a level 12 ship). I suppose I might submit the idea to Dragon magazine, but the rules I adapted and created are just the way I view things, and how I'd like to see spelljammer work for my campaign, and it might not be someone else's preferred way.

P.S. Picture a 1960s space race between the Five Nations of Eberron, with each nation having their own spelljammer design such as a Thrannish whaleship or a Brelish hammership, and the media is going nuts reporting each nation's accomplishments in this wonderful new realm of spelljamming. The"aether drive" from the text above is an eldritch machine in my Eberron Spelljammer campaign that enables a spelljammer to achieve spelljamming speed, much like the old helms did. It normally requires the Mark of Passage to operate successfully, but you can also use it with enough skill in Arcana.

Also, while national prestige is a hot commodity in post-Last-War Eberron, the real reason for the space race is a resource rush; whoever can harvest dragonshards from the heavens will corner the dragonshard market.

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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by ravensmuse » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:05 pm

You know, I had this huge post written up, and I just saved the draft because really, it's just going to end up as my bible for when I do start converting stuff for 4e. So let's just go over the basics of what I was going to write real quick.

First off, setting wise, we would need some revisions.

We would need to eliminate groundling ties. Keep them as major trading points, yes. But they shouldn't play as big a part in the Sj universe as they originally did. Plus, it kind of broke suspension of belief because, all of a sudden Palinthas and Waterdeep have Sj ports? Interesting. Not to mention how that would help places like, say, Dark Sun, should sj technology make it through the haze in their crystal sphere (whomever came up with that idea, great one!).

Which means emphasizing the spaceborne stuff more. Places like the Rock of Bral or the Astromundi Cluster need to come to the fore. Floating towns in the form of dwarven citadels in orbit around the sun, lizardman breeding ships, colonies on the backs of space whales / cosmic dragons, or Project Mayflower: placing old, damaged, or otherwised decommisioned warships on the fringes of known space to act as safe staging areas for colonists heading into new spheres. And more adventure sites like "abandoned" beholder-kin asteroids, cosmic dragon corpses, ships graveyards, or newly found crystal spheres with strange planets with new races on it.

Embrace the elves and the Elven Imperial Navy. They're like the British during the Age of Sail; slowly sinking under its own weight, groaning after extended wars with the Unhumans. On that note, play them up as sort of corrupt by this point and willing to look the other way for terrible things like research stations in the middle of nowhere experimenting to create "the next Witchlight Marauder".

Which gives strength to emerging nations, like the Shou and others. Maybe another nation of humans, rebelling against their Elven lords. Or a trade or guild nation, like the Tinker Gnomes Association For Creative Experimentation and Thoughtful Design Choices While Floating Through Vast Etheric Dimensional Space.

The Scro should be a shadow-y nation bent on re-emerging to conquer, like the Clans in Battletech.

Bring in lots of new races and keep some of the old ones. There are ones that are just kind of...out there. But if anyone touches my Neogi, I will cut them. Cut them so bad, they won't want to be cut so bad no more.

One of the fun aspects of 4e is the continued support of racial choices throughout your professional life; imagine some of the racial feats you could create for a Giff!

Ship to ship battles would be fun to run. This might be hard to explain, but, treat each ship like a creature, one that you'd build like normal through the guidelines in the DMG. Leave certain aspects of it to be filled in by the stats of its helmsman - things like speed and maneuverability, for instance. Of course, there'll be baselines...

But just like a creature, each "attack" would be just that - like an attack a creature gets.

The saves would be tricky to configure, but AC for direct physical attacks, Reflex for magical attacks, Fortitude for attacks that cause detrimental damage to the ship's hull (like, illithid boreworms, or acid that eats at the hull, or magical worms that eat the hull), and Will for attacks that directly target the Helmsman?

I really can't think of there being much that needs to be converted - just races and places and things, honestly. The biggest thing I'd like to see them do would be to incorporate some of the literature stuff, like I mentioned above - beyond that, there ain't a whole lot of work to be done!

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Re: [4e] Conversion - who is interested in taking part?

Post by Jaid » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:30 pm

in a way, it might be easier to treat ships as mounts, rather than as a separate creature, actually...

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