Thursday, July 27, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics Part VIII

Previously Posted Sections

1. Introduction
2. Wind Direction & Strength
3. Maneuvering
  3.1. Movement Rates
    3.1.1. Sailing Skyships
    3.1.2. Other Skyships
    3.1.3. Ramming Speed!

    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

    3.3.2. Tight Turns
    3.3.3. Caught In Irons
    3.3.4. Slowing Down
    3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver

  3.4. Climbing & Diving
    3.4.1. Ascending
    3.4.2. Descending
    3.4.3. Effects of Altitude
    3.4.4. Gales & Storms
  3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers

4. Combat
  4.1. Deck Weaponry
    4.1.1. Weapon Types
    4.1.2. Armor Ratings

  4.2 Hitting a Target
    4.2.1. Skyships
    4.2.2. Monsters
    4.2.3. Combat Modifiers
    4.2.4. Fighting in the Great Vault 

Odin's Eye is the "Space Vikings'" answer to Starfolk meddling in Calidar
4.3. Damage

4.3.1. Structural Rating (SR):  Most role-playing games use statistics to measure how much damage a target can sustain.  In the mechanics devised here, skyships have a structural rating.  This number indicates how much damage a skyship can withstand before its enchantments fails catastrophically.  Damage from siege weapons is subtracted directly from this number.  Table 8 gives damage ratings for each of the weapons.  At 100%, the ship is a wreck; its enchantments fail, and the vessel plummets uncontrollably to its doom. The same mechanics apply to a monster’s “life points.”

A ship like the Star Phoenix, a tri-masted galleon, has 120 SR, or approximately 1 SR per foot of length (rounded up to the next ten). Subtract 20% for an elven-style clipper.  Add 20% for a skyship designed primarily for war rather than speed (such as draconic vessels).  Double the rating for a dwarven ironclad.  Cards are provided which suggest SR ratings for both ships and monsters.

Monsters:  Conversion will be required to introduce your own creatures.  Most role-playing games give a life point rating to creatures.  The best method is to establish an appropriate range of life points in the chosen RPG (one single range including at the low end the weakest monster in the book with minimum life points, and at the top end the toughest one with maximum life points).  Use common sense when establishing a base range for creatures (see CC1 pg. 8 for more details on establishing a practical range).  Give them maximum life points, and convert their individual ratings to a range 1-100, which is what is used here.

For example:  If a monster had 80 life points, and the chosen RPG range of life points were 1-160, the monster’s SR would therefore be 50 (80 DIVIDED BY 160 MULTIPLIED BY 100 EQUALS 50).  If the RPG range were 1-300, the monster SR would be 26 (or 30, rounding up to the next 10).

4.3.2. Damage Location & Effects:  Combat damage applies directly to a target’s SR. Monsters' SR are listed on their individual cards in the event conversion of their original RPG’s statistics is unwanted.  Damage is rated as follows: VL (VERY LOW) such as a dagger, Lo (LOW) like a short sword, M (MEDIUM) a long sword, Hi (HIGH) a two-handed sword, and VH (VERY HIGH) an oversized weapon.  2M means double M damage, M+2 means M damage +2, etc.  As described in CC1“Beyond the Skies,” each “+” can be interpreted as a +10% bonus depending on the chosen RPG's combat mechanics.

Damage Location: For skyships in particular, locating damage may be of interest—if not for a specific effect, at least for the sake of storytelling.  Flying vessels are divided into three approximately relevant areas (roll 1d6): 1-2. Fore, 3-4. Midship, and 5-6. Aft.  In the cases when the only visible part of a skyship is its prow or its stern, then damage always applies fore or aft, as appropriate, especially with line-of-sight weapons.  If the entire length of the vessel is visible, then any of the three areas may be hit.

Once a damage area has been determined, a more specific effect is in order.  Table 9 helps pinpoint damage location within the appropriate section.  If the target is an aerostat (see 5.2.1. Dirigibles & Aeroliths), roll on the first column.  If the target isn’t a dirigible and has masts, roll on the second column, otherwise, roll on the third.  Projectiles on a line-of-sight trajectory only affect the side from which they were shot.  Unless a swooping vessel crashes through another’s masts, a ship’s ram only inflicts hull damage.  Use common sense.

(*) For example:  A trebuchet’s “+” modifier is +12, vs. +4 for a scorpion.  For gnomish battle-rods, add their +2 modifier as many times as shots were fired (see Table 8).

Damaged Masts & Sails:  If half of more of a vessel’s masts are damaged or destroyed, halve its initial MV.  If all masts in a single row are destroyed, that vessel is crippled and cannot maneuver.  If only one row of masts is left standing, the vessel becomes unstable enough that its deck weapons cannot be aimed, and it is immediately at risk of rolling over, possibly dumping overboard unsecured crew and weapons until remaining sails are dropped; loose cargo could also inflict another 3M+3 internal damage to the ship’s remaining SR.

Decimated Crew:  Skyships can function with minimal crew, but this comes with limitations.  If a quarter or more of a crew is killed or disabled, deck weapons sustain a –10% penalty to hit, –20% if half, or –30% if three quarters, because ranks are depleted enough that weapons are operated with fewer crew or untrained sailors.  If half or more of the crew is missing (killed or disabled), hoisting sails takes a full Battle Round (see 3.3.4. Slowing Down).  If a quarter or more of a crew is missing, the vessel incurs a +2 penalty to initiative during the upcoming Phase A4 (see 4.4. Combat Sequence), +4 if half, or +6 if three quarters.  Assume that 2/3 of casualties include disabled airmen (as opposed to killed outright), who are therefore out of action for the remainder of the battle.

Hull Damage:  At about 70% SR loss, a skyship is hard to maneuver—either change the ship to a less forgiving Class or assess a large penalty to piloting skills.  Furthermore, if not in the Great Vault, this skyship loses 1 altitude level per Battle Round; it cannot climb, but it can increase its descent rate to 2 levels.  At 100%, a ship is wrecked; its enchantments fail, and the vessel plummets uncontrollably to its doom.  A critical hit (as appropriate to one’s RPG of choice) typically wreaks double damage; as an option when scored against a hull or engine location, internal damage may occur instead, resulting either in a fire or damage inflicted to an internal engine (if any—roll on Table 4 with a +4 modifier; see 3.1.3. Ramming Speed).

Pinpoint Shots:  If an attack roll exceeds its attack score by 15 or more, the attacker can pick which area is actually hit (fore, midship, or aft, when visible), rather than rolling randomly.  If the attack roll exceeds its attack score by 30 or more, the attacker selects exactly what is hit (which mast, which deck weapon, what part of the hull may be breached, or whether crew is targeted—the commander cannot be deliberately selected).  Pinpointing targets with salvaged starfolk weapons isn’t possible because of the users’ inexperience with alien technology.  Monsters performing physical attacks on a skyship can pinpoint damage at will and without penalty.

4.3.3. Boarding Attacks:  The crew on one ship leaps aboard another (see 3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers). Tally the two crews, establish a combat ratio of one versus the other, and look up the result on Table 10.  The alternative to this process is to run the battle using the chosen role-playing game’s combat mechanics; this may be needed if individual heroes are involved.  When calculating combat ratios, fractions are rounded in favor of the defender.  Boarding attacks may take multiple Battle Rounds to resolve.  Casualties are not assessed until one side retreats or the other surrenders.  The attacker, however, always has the option of breaking off and retreating at the beginning of a Battle Phase (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).

Locked:  Roll again with the same odds during the next Battle Phase (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).
=>:  Roll again immediately, shifting one column to the right.
<=:  Roll again immediately, shifting one column to the left
B:  Boarding Party              D: Defending Crew
L: Light Casualties (10%)   M: Medium Casualties (20%)
                                        H: Heavy Casualties (40%)
R: Retreats                        S: Surrenders

Retreats:  The boarding party retreats to their ship; defenders may counter-attack.  The defending side must announce right away whether a counter-attack takes place.  If it does, the two sides are locked in melee until the next Battle Phase (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).  The defenders become the new boarding party, and vice-versa.  Check for commander casualties before resuming the fight (see later in this section).  It takes a full Battle Round to separate ships involved in a boarding maneuver.

Crew Experience: Subtract defending crew’s experience from boarding party’s, where 10% increments = +/–2 point modifiers to the die roll (see 4.2.3. Combat Modifiers).

Leadership Quality:  Charismatic commanders on either side are components of victory or defeat (see 4.2.3. Combat Modifiers, Commander Skills).  An “excellent” commander allows a +2 bonus to the die roll on Table 10, +1 if “good,” a –1 penalty if “mediocre,” and a –2 penalty if “poor.”  Add this modifier to the die roll for the boarding party’s commander; subtract the defending commander’s modifier.  The presence of an epic hero aboard adds another +1 bonus (or –1 if defending).  The presence of one or more adventurers (player characters) adds another +1 bonus (or –1 if defending).  Though player characters ought to be handled with traditional RPG mechanics, the rest of the battle can be run using the rules suggested here.

Example: An elite crew of 50 boards another vessel with a crew of 75.  The combat ratio is 2-3 in favor of the defending crew.  On the other hand, die rolls receive a +4 modifier due to the difference in crew experience.  First roll is a 2, resulting in a locked melee.  The boarding attack continue to the next Battle Phase (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).  The next roll is a 6, resulting in an immediate reroll, using the adjacent column to left.  The final roll is a 7: BLDMS.  The attackers sustain light casualties (5 killed or disabled) vs. the defenders who surrender after suffering medium losses (15 killed or disabled).

Commander Casualties:  The number of casualties on either side is the percent chance a ship’s commander is killed or disabled (up to a maximum of 95%)  In the previous example, the odds are 5% for the boarding party’s officer, vs. 15% for the defending captain.

Monstrous Crews:  If one or both crews are monsters with different life points, substitute the total life points of crew to the number of people.  For example, 100 crew with 10 life points each facing a boarding party of 60 with 25 life points each would result in a combat ratio 3-2 in the boarding party’s favor.  Casualties are assessed on this basis as well.

4.3.4. Area of Effect Attacks:  Some monsters and certain skyships fitted with special weapons can perform attacks that affect an area rather than a specific location.  The easiest approach is to apply the effects as described in the chosen RPG mechanics.  Scale issues will came into play as spells and other magical effects aren’t likely to affect a whole hex (100ft. scale) or even an entire skyship.  Use you best judgement to adjudicate mechanics.

4.3.5. Fire Damage:  After a fire-based attack succeeds, fire has a chance to keep burning.  Roll 1d6: on a roll of 1-2, the fire catches and starts spreading.  The crew may attempt to put out the fire during Battle Phases C2 and F2 (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).  It succeeds with a roll of 1-2 on a d6.  A crew locked in a melee (see 4.3.3. Boarding Attacks) cannot put out fires.  Deck weapons cannot be used while the crew is busy fighting fires.  If an existing fire is not put out, it causes the same amount of damage at end of Phases C2 and F2 as was inflicted initially.

4.3.6. Swarm Attacks:  Large monsters (Class C and D) have a chance of defeating a warship on their own.  Smaller, isolated monsters (Class A and B) realistically do not, however, unless they have access to relevant magic.  It may be best to have smaller monsters attack as a single swarm.  This type of attack takes place in the target’s hex.  For each monster in a swarm, add a +3% bonus to hit (see 4.2. Hitting a Target) and +1 extra damage per attack (see 4.3.2. Damage Location & Effects).  For example, a pack of 10 griffons would fight as a single griffon but with a +30% bonus to hit and +10 extra damage per attack.  Not all monsters in a swarm attack at once; many are flying around, dodging projectiles, or missing their own attacks entirely, thus the single attack roll with modifiers.  Use the monster’s AR for the swarm as a whole (see 4.1.2 Armor Rating).  Add up all their life points (see 4.3.1. Monsters)—this is becomes the swarm’s SR.  A swarm sustaining 50% or more damage typically flees, or it loses half its modifiers.

When swarmed, the crew on an open-deck vessel is considered locked in melee (see 4.3.3. Boarding Attacks).  It is possible for a skyship within range of a swarmed vessel to shoot at these monsters, deliberately taking the risk of hitting their quarry instead.  Any missed attack roll must be rerolled and checked against the swarmed vessel’s AR.

4.3.7. Proportional Damage:  This refers to the ability of a target to reduce damage based on how tough its armor is vs. how effective an attack is.  Guidelines provided here are entirely optional.  Any time a modified attack roll exceeds the target’s hit score by 25 or more, full damage applies (other effects described in Table 9 always apply without alteration).  If the attack succeeds by less than 25, apply only half the damage, rounded up.  Using a scale of 1-20 for hit scores, this 25 point margin equals +5.  For example: if a hit score of 12 is needed, rolling a 17 would qualify for full damage.  As another option, critical hits (unmodified attack rolls of 95 or higher) inflict double damage, although proportional damage mechanics can still apply, as appropriate.

If a more detailed approach is wanted, ignore the simple guidelines given above, and use instead Table 11.  Cross reference the target’s armor rating with the column showing by how much the attack roll exceeded the hit score.  All other effects described in Table 9 still apply without alteration.

For example:  A light catapult attack needed a hit score of 70 to succeed against a dragon.  The attack roll was 83 (less than 20 over).  Cross reference the +11-20 column with the target’s AR of 35.  The catapult’s damage of M+8 should be reduced 1/3 when rolled.  However, the result for deck weapons with M-rated damage should be shifted one row up, yielding instead a –¼ result.  Damage is then rolled, and the total reduced by a quarter.  If the weapon had been a trebuchet, its VH-rating would shift 3 rows up, yielding instead a full damage result.

These mechanics favor heavier weapons vs. lighter ones, while reflecting attack rolls vs. armor ratings more accurately.  On the other hand, a ballista can shoot twice per Battle Round, compared with a light catapult shooting once per round, or a heavy catapult only once every 2 rounds.  Table 11 gives heavier weapons a better chance of delivering full damage.

Design Note:  If these mechanics are popular, current damage ratings of deck weapons will need to be revised (especially the ballista and the scorpion, down to M+6 and Lo+4 respectively).  This certainly improves the survivability of a lone monster against broadsides and player characters acting together during its approach.  On the other hand, this will slow down a game and make life much harder for math-challenged players.  So, Dear Readers, time has come once again for you to chime in!  Your opinions are wanted on this matter.

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

Coming Up Next:
  4.4. Combat Sequence

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics VII

Previously Posted Sections

1. Introduction
2. Wind Direction & Strength
3. Maneuvering
  3.1. Movement Rates
    3.1.1. Sailing Skyships
    3.1.2. Other Skyships
    3.1.3. Ramming Speed!

    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

    3.3.2. Tight Turns
    3.3.3. Caught In Irons
    3.3.4. Slowing Down
    3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver

  3.4. Climbing & Diving
    3.4.1. Ascending
    3.4.2. Descending
    3.4.3. Effects of Altitude
    3.4.4. Gales & Storms
  3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers

4. Combat
  4.1. Deck Weaponry
    4.1.1. Weapon Types
    4.1.2. Armor Ratings

The Grand War Galley of Meryath
4.2. Hitting a Target

The mechanics presented here are intended as an extension to existing role-playing games. 

4.2.1. Skyships:  Especially if established RPG heroes operate deck weapons, then use the combat mechanics of the chosen role-playing; use the crew’s attack rolls in order to hit targets.  There are a few methods on how to plug in armor ratings (AR) to an existing RPG.  Method 3 remains independent from RPG mechanics.  Pick what works best.

Method 1:  Convert the target’s AR to the chosen game system, and run combat accordingly.  Combat modifiers (see 4.2.3). can be subtracted directly from the target’s original AR if this is the better way to convert numbers.  For example, an elite artillerist bonus of +20% would reduce a mighty dragon’s AR of 65 to just 45.

Method 2:  Convert the target’s AR and add combat modifiers to the die roll to hit the target.  For example, the elite bonus of +20% could be applied to a d20 hit roll, where +20% equals a +4 bonus to hit.

Method 3:  If neither of the first two approaches are desirable, the third does away with conversion entirely.  Assume a basic score to hit a target of 50%.  Add the target’s AR to this score.  Roll percentile dice and apply the modifiers listed in 4.2.3 to the roll of the dice.  If the result is equal or higher than the hit score, the attack succeeds.  If a target’s hit score exceeds 100%, an unmodified roll of 95+ with the dice still succeeds (considered a critical hit).  An unmodified roll of 5 or less is a critical failure.

Line-of-Sight Limitations:  A deck weapon cannot shoot past intervening masts and sails on the same deck.  This is particularly true to swivel (*) weapons.  For example: a deck-mounted scorpion on a ship’s port side cannot aim at anything off the vessel’s starboard unless the helmsman deliberately tips the vessel on the target’s side (a piloting skill check may be needed for this).  One skyship can hide another if the line of sight crosses through any part of the intervening vessel, unless the one farther back is at least twice as large or at a different altitude level.  Use your best judgement.

Diagram 9. Monsters' Ranged Attacks
4.2.2. Monsters:  With an RPG’s combat system, use the monsters’ attack routines in order to hit a target.  Otherwise, set the monsters’ attack score at 50 minus the monster’s SR.  For example, a small white dragon with an SR of 20 has a basic hit score of 30, while a large red with an SR of 40 would enjoy a hit score of 10.  Proceed as described in 4.2.1. (apply the target AR and any other combat modifiers; see 4.2.3).  If a hit score is in the negatives, an unmodified roll of 5 or less still misses (considered a critical failure).  An unmodified roll of 95 or more is a critical hit.

Bear in mind that some monsters’ ranged attacks may not necessarily be limited to a 60˚ arc-of-fire.  For example, a dragon can turn its head and breathe fire off to one side, aiming at any single target in its three front hexsides.  Likewise a manticore shooting spikes with its tail: its arc-of-fire would be the three rear hexsides.  See Diagram 9 above.

4.2.3. Combat Modifiers:  Without wanting to add too many variables, several combat modifiers stick out as unavoidable, especially if running combat independently from a role-playing game’s established mechanics.

Skyship Crew Experience:
–10%     Crew is unfamiliar with siege weapon operation* (or)
  Nil.       Crew has basic knowledge of siege weapon operation (or)
+10%     Crew has trained with the specific siege weapon’s type (or)
+20%     Crew is veteran or elite class

(*) Operating salvaged starfolk weapons incurs an additional –10% penalty.  Non-starfolk operators have at best basic knowledge of alien technology, unless trained by starfolk such as the Kahuulkin (see CAL1 “In Stranger Skies,” pg. 59).

Commander’s Skill:
–10%     If poor, with a +4 penalty to the vessel’s initiative in Phase A4 (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).
–5%       If mediocre, with a +2 penalty to initiative
+5%       If good, with a –2 bonus to initiative
+10%     If excellent, with a –4 bonus to initiative

If skill is unknown, make a random roll: 2d10—1-3. Poor, 4-7. Mediocre, 8-13. Average, 14-17. Good, 18-20. Excellent.  Also check 4.3.4. Boarding Attacks.

Range:
+5%        Short range
–5%        Long range
Shots at extreme range (beyond long range, see 4.1.1) are limited to experienced crews or better.  They require an unmodified critical hit unless some special aiming device is used (dwarven optics, combat prescience, or an item specially enchanted for this purpose).

Diagram 10. Various Bearings in Combat
Relative Velocities:
  • Different Bearings:  Subtract current MV rates of both target and attacker if moving with different bearings.  For example: a skyship with an MV of 5 aiming at a dragon with an MV of 3 incurs a –8% penalty to hit.
  • Parallel Bearings:  Subtract the slower MV from the fastest; the difference is the attack penalty if both have identical bearings.
  • Pursuit/Head-on Bearing:  One follows another with identical bearings, or both head directly toward one another results in no modifier to hit each other.  The same holds true if both attacker and target are motionless (sails furled, hovering, or has not moved during the previous Movement Phase).

Skyship’s a-Jolly-Swayin’
Shooting deck weapons while a skyship is turning (it hasn’t yet moved a hex forward to stabilize) incurs a –10% penalty to hit, or –20% during a tight turn (see 3.3.2. Tight Turns).

Target Size:
+5%       Target is Class C monster or vessel 45’ or larger
+10%     Target is vessel 90’ or larger
+15%     Target is Class D monster or vessel 180’ or larger
Use normal role-playing game mechanics for monsters Class B or smaller, and individual heroes riding them.

Sun Glare
–10%     Target is higher and sun lies within the attacker’s field-of-fire (a 60˚ cone).

Cloud Obstruction
–20%     Clouds partially block line-of-sight
–40%     Inside a storm cloud or at night (see 3.4.4. Gales and Storm Clouds)
Clouds can otherwise completely mask the presence of a monster or a skyship from 4 hexes away or more.  An observation roll may be needed to detect a hidden target.  Clouds are much larger than any battle side portrayed here, so if clouds are present at all, divide the playing surface into two or more large sections to show which areas are affected.  Clouds may also negate sun glare.

Dealing with Altitude:  Most siege weapons on skyships are designed to shoot at targets on the same horizontal plan.  Aiming any deck weapon upward is limited to a 45˚ angle (one level higher per hex of distance).  Aiming a deck weapon with line-of-sight trajectory at a lower altitude is limited to approx. 22 degrees (one level lower for every two hexes of distance).  Deck weapons with parabolic trajectories can always aim at a lower target, provided it flies outside their minimal ranges, their projectiles eventually dropping vertically until they hit or crash into the ground below.  See the notes at the end of Table 8 in 4.1.1. Deck Weaponry, about how altitude affects range.

4.2.4. Fighting in the Great Vault:  There are no parabolic trajectories in the Great Vault.  Anything thrown, catapulted, or otherwise propelled keeps on going until it hits something or is pulled into a nearby world’s orbit.  Damage is never halved at medium and long ranges.  Siege weapons with parabolic trajectories can be set to hurl projectiles in straight line-of-sight trajectories level with their ships’ decks.  Vessels fitted for navigation in the Great Vault are enchanted with artificial gravity, enabling roll maneuvers for the purpose of aiming deck weapons at targets immediately above or under.

Void-enabled skyships possess individual life-preserving envelopes, artificial gravity, and enchanted sails able to trap ethereal and atmospheric winds equally well.  Winged monsters able to travel the Great Vault can use ethereal winds like sailing skyships.  There is no such thing as “burning up in reentry” as skyships rely on different sorts of long range travel which do not involve physical velocity.  Ship combat takes place at more “earthly” speeds.  Use common sense when addressing combat in outer space, although keep in mind that absolute scientific orthodoxy is neither required nor necessarily welcome, as Calidar embodies first and foremost a world of fantasy.

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

  4.3 Damage
    4.3.1. Structure Rating (SR)
    4.3.2. Damage Location & Effects
    4.3.3. Boarding Attacks
    4.3.4. Area of Effect Attacks
    4.3.5. Fire Damage
    4.3.6. Swarm Attack
    4.3.7. Proportional Damage

Your feedback is helpful.  If you enjoy this series of articles, plus them or share them.  Thank you.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics V

Previously Posted Sections

1. Introduction
2. Wind Direction & Strength
3. Maneuvering
  3.1. Movement Rates
    3.1.1. Sailing Skyships
    3.1.2. Other Skyships
    3.1.3. Ramming Speed!

    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

    3.3.2. Tight Turns
    3.3.3. Caught In Irons
    3.3.4. Slowing Down
    3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver

Quad-Masted Draconic Warship
3.4. Climbing & Diving

Altitude levels are optional, though they do add realism to what a fantasy 3D aerial battle should be.  Due to the change in scale from CAL1 “In Stranger Skies,” altitude levels represent approximately 100’.  Because of its enchantment providing basic lift, a skyship remains level when changing altitude, unlike a fixed wing aircraft that would point up or down.  Winged monsters, however, have different options, as they rely on the use of wings combined with physical strength.

3.4.1. Ascending:  Class A, B, and C skyships and wingless monsters, as well as Class A winged monsters can, at no MV cost, ascend up to 2 altitude levels per Battle Round.  Class D vessels and wingless monsters can only climb 1 altitude level per Battle Round.  Unless stated otherwise in their individual descriptions, Class B, C, and D winged monsters and fixed-wing aircraft can climb 1 altitude level for each hex of horizontal motion.

Example:  A large dragon starts its Battle Round with a strong breeze tailwind, with an MV of 7.  It trades 3 hexes forward motion to climb 3 altitude levels, moving 4 hexes forward.

3.4.2. Descending:  Skyships and wingless monsters, as well as Class A winged monsters can, at no MV cost, safely descend up to 2 altitude levels per Battle Round.  In a shallow dive, all winged monsters and fixed-wing aircraft can, at no MV cost, drop up to 1 altitude level per hex of horizontal movement.  In a power-dive, winged monsters and fixed-wing aircraft stay in the same hex, but drop a number of altitude levels equal to quadruple their innate MV rate.  Recovering from a power dive requires winged monsters Class B or higher and fixed-wing aircraft pilots to roll an ability check.  The check is rolled whenever the attempt to pull up is made.  A Class B ability checks should incur a –1 penalty for every 5 altitude levels dropped, 4 levels for Class C, and 3 levels for Class D.

Example: A large dragon starts its Battle Round with a strong breeze tailwind and an MV of 7.  In a shallow dive, it can spend 7 MV and drop as many as 7 altitude levels (this can be combined with altitude loss due to performing tight turns—see 3.3.2.)  In a power dive, it could instead drop as many as 16 altitude levels (innate MV 4 x 4 = 16) per Battle Round, demanding an ability check with a –4 penalty to resume level flight.  A common altitude for skyship encounters could be 3,300’, allowing for two attempts to pull out of a power dive before crashing into the ground.

3.4.3. Effects of Altitude:  Most skyships have some measure of life support enchantments allowing navigation at high altitude or in the Great Vault.  Here are some things to keep in mind.  Clouds likely to affect line-of-sight begin to form at about 6,500ft., up to 20,000ft.  Depending on latitude, rain typically forms at about 8,000ft., 30,000ft. for snow.  Above 8,000ft. clouds are made of ice crystals rather than water droplets, which could cause icing on skyships and creatures flying there.  Calidar being a fantasy world, it should not be altogether surprising to encounter solid or semi-solid clouds with creatures dwelling on or inside them.  Reportedly, flying beasties, miscellaneous giants, flying gelatinous spheres, and other giant tunnel-digging worms have been sighted in such places.  If there is solid cloud material, its density increases gradually from the outside in, which may cause flying vessels to run “aground” and become stuck.  Force fields preserving both heat and air pressure aboard skyships are recommended above 12,000ft.  Critical hypoxia occurs at 18,000ft.  Death from lack of breathable air follows at 26,000ft.—air-breathing monsters do not typically fly higher than this.

3.4.4. Gales and Storm Clouds:  Navigating in dangerous conditions is likely to result in damage to the monster or the vessel brave enough to take such risk.  Roll 1d6 during Phase A3 (see 4.4. Combat Sequence).  For gales and storm clouds, on a roll of 1, damage takes place possibly in the form of high winds, turbulence, and/or lightning strikes.  For a strong gale, damage occurs with a roll of 1-2.  Allocate damage as described in Table 9 (see 4.3.2. Damage Location.)

3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers

Ships and monsters can occupy the same hex.  If their headings intersect, vessels collide either accidentally or because one is using a ship’s ram against another.  One of the two could be initiating a boarding attack (see 4.3.4. Boarding Attacks.)  In all three cases, sailing skyships’ riggings are considered fouled (tangled); resuming normal movement will require a full Battle Round to cut loose.  While involved in a boarding maneuver, all involved skyships come to a full stop unless one is large enough to carry the other (as may be the case with a dwarven dreadnought.)  Monsters do have to enter a skyship’s hex in order to perform melee attacks.  Monsters are never considered “fouled” when on a sailing skyship.

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

4. Combat
  4.1. Deck Weaponry
    4.1.1. Weapon Types
    4.1.2. Armor Rating

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Skyship Combat Mechanics VI

Previously Posted Sections

1. Introduction
2. Wind Direction & Strength
3. Maneuvering
  3.1. Movement Rates
    3.1.1. Sailing Skyships
    3.1.2. Other Skyships
    3.1.3. Ramming Speed!

    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

    3.3.2. Tight Turns
    3.3.3. Caught In Irons
    3.3.4. Slowing Down
    3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver

  3.4. Climbing & Diving
    3.4.1. Ascending
    3.4.2. Descending
    3.4.3. Effects of Altitude
    3.4.4. Gales & Storms
  3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers

Kragdûras Fetzgrim-Powered Ironclad.  To the elves in a rocky voice: "You're going down!" 
4. Combat

There are two sorts of fighting: individual hero actions from heroes and ship combat.  This reflects how time is measured, as explained in the introduction:
  • Battle Rounds (rounds) involving skyship maneuvers and attacks, approximately 40 seconds
  • Combat Actions (actions) involving heroes’ individual actions, approximately 10 seconds (thus 4 actions per round.)  The fourth action takes place simultaneously with a Battle Round.

Much of the information provided in this chapter connects with generic statistics described in CC1 “Beyond the Skies,” pg. 8-11.  Combat actions are primarily resolved according to the players’ chosen game mechanics.  This section provides the detail needed to help understand how effective skyship combat is intended to be in the World of Calidar.

4.1. Deck Weaponry

4.1.1. Weapon Types:  Skyships use deck weapons and any other magical attacks available to them.  Monsters use whatever natural attacks and fantastic abilities described in their original role-playing game.  Since it is assumed that combat mechanics will be those from the players’ chosen role-playing game, all statistics provided here will need to be adapted (the generic system in CC1 should help with conversion.)  Hex scale is approximately 100 feet.  Altitude levels also come in 100’ increments.  Table 8 lists common deck weapons used in the World of Calidar.

Scorpions & Ballistae:  Line-of-sight trajectory at short range, otherwise parabolic; no minimum range; half-damage rounded up at medium and greater ranges.

Catapults & Trebuchets:  Parabolic trajectories only.  Munaani and Calidaran projectiles are occasionally fitted with incendiaries or alchemical explosives.

Culverins & Firemouths:  As scorpion; dwarven darkpowder cannon.  Smoke may obscure line-of-sight.

Thornbush:  As scorpion; organically grown elven weapon; ensnares target area in razor-sharp thorns 15’ radius until burned or hacked away.

Podkin:  Parabolic trajectory; organically grown elven weapon; inflicts acid damage 15’ radius; unless doused, breaches a hull when the next Battle Phase starts (see 4.4.)

Hwacha Battery:  Parabolic trajectory only; Lao-Kweian arrow launcher; inflicts fire damage (M+4) and individual VL+1 damage to any exposed crew within a 15’ radius.

Chu-Lung Rocket:  Line-of-sight trajectory at all ranges; Lao-Kweian dragon rockets inflict blast damage 10’ radius.

Laser Blaster & Rail Gun:  Salvaged starfolk weapon; line-of-sight targeting; improper handling results in erratic targeting and odds of catastrophic malfunction or explosion.

Battle Rods:  Line-of-sight trajectory; twin-mounted synchronized gnomish weapon shooting bullets fitted with smuggled dwarven darkpowder cartridges; keep rolling attacks until one misses or battle-rods jam on a critical fail.

Ship Rams:  Same hex only if attacking vessel rams another; without a purpose-built ram, damage is M+8 to both vessels. Dwarven steam-powered ram open a breach through which marines can board the enemy vessel’s lower deck.

Diagram 8. Limited Field of Fire
4.1.2. Armor Rating (AR):  A ship’s or a monster’s AR indicates how tough it is to actually hit on a scale of 1-100 (1 being easiest and 100 being toughest.)  AR can exceed 100 as the result of modifiers for creatures well beyond this scale.  The AR percentile scale is intended to help plug ship and monster statistics into a role-playing game’s combat mechanics.

Lightweight or fragile vessels, such as rafts, river boats, canoes, or longships have an AR10 or less.  A typical wooden, multi-decked skyship, such as the Star Phoenix, possesses an AR25.  A dwarven ironclad could reach AR40.  Magic can easily modify these ratings.  As a comparison, the AR of dragons could range from AR35 to AR65 depending on breed and maturity.  Individual ship cards given for the mechanics devised here offer more varied statistics.

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

  4.2 Hitting a Target
    4.2.1. Skyships
    4.2.2. Monsters
    4.2.3. Combat Modifiers
    4.2.4. Fighting in the Great Vault 

Your feedback is welcome.  If you enjoy this series of articles, plus them or share them.  Thank you.