Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics IV

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:  Skyships and monsters can turn more hexsides than allowed for in Table 5 when flying at a modified MV rating of 5 or less.  Each turn performed with less than the required number of hexes of forward flight costs 2 MV instead of 1 (at least 1 hex of forward flight is still required between separate turn maneuvers.)  For simplicity, these maneuvers are called tight turns.  Only winged monsters can perform more than one tight turn during the same Battle Round.  Winged monsters and fixed-wing aircraft (if ever used in this context) can either pay the 2 MV cost or reduce it with the loss of altitude levels (if altitude mechanics are used—see 3.4. Climbing & Diving), or combine both as the consequence of tight turns.

Diagram 7. Tight Turns
Example:  A large dragon in moderate 90˚ crosswinds starts its Battle Round with an innate MV of 4.  As a Class C winged monster, it can fly 3 hexes forward and spend its last MV performing a normal single-hexside turn.  Instead, it performs a tight turn leeward before moving at all.  Rather than spending 2 MV, it pays a 1 MV cost and drops an altitude level.  Now with a moderate tailwind, the dragon still enjoys a remaining MV of 4 (innate MV 4 PLUS tailwind 2 PLUS turning modifier –1 MINUS 1 MV already spent = 4 hexes.)  The dragon moves one hex forward (required between separate turns), followed by a second tight turn leeward, dropping another altitude level and paying 1 MV.  Still incurring a tailwind, its MV requires no updating, leaving the dragon with a remaining MV 2 to move (and so on.)

Note:  Winged monsters and fixed-wing aircraft lean toward the inside of a turn.  However, when beam-reaching or turning, sailing skyships do not heel like seagoing vessels thanks to their outrigger sails.  During a turn, while the crew adjusts the sails, some may start luffing while others suddenly fill with wind, causing a vessel to roll and weave at high speeds.  Airmen call this odd motion, often sickening to land lubbers, the jolly sway.  It takes a hex of forward movement to stabilize after a turn.  That Scarlet Witch, she be a jolly swayin’ curse, matey!

3.3.3. Caught In Irons:          A sailing skyship starting its Battle Round in irons can make one single-hexside turn, after which it ends its move.  A skyship’s hull enchantment favors forward motion along its centerline, thus preventing the vessel from drifting abaft when facing headwinds.  See Diagram 5’s adjoining text, earlier, about monsters directly facing headwinds.

Example 1:  The Star Phoenix, a Class B galleon, starts its move close reaching through a moderate breeze.  Its initial MV is 3.  It flies one hex forward and turns into the wind.  Its remaining MV is 0 (in irons 0 MINUS moderate breeze 2 PLUS turning modifier +1 MINUS 2 MV already spent = –3 hexes.)  The Star Phoenix ends its move in irons.  It can make a single turn at the beginning of the next Battle Round.

Example 2:  The Lucky Deuce, a Class A cutter, flies close hauled in a strong breeze.  Its initial MV is 3.  The Lucky Deuce is nimble enough to move 1 hex forward and perform a sudden two-hexside turn as a single maneuver clear across headwinds costing only 1 MV.  The Lucky Deuce is now beam reaching, with 2 MV remaining (beam reaching 2 PLUS strong breeze 3 PLUS turning modifier –1 MINUS 2 MV already spent = 2 hexes.)

3.3.4. Slowing Down:  Sailing skyships can opt to move fewer hexes than what their MV ratings suggest, or even come to a full stop, by lowering or furling their sails.  Due to inertia and crew response time, sailing skyships (and Class D monsters) must spend at least half their initial MV before coming to a full stop.  The same applies to vessels powered with machinery or magic, though they can reverse power and move backward.  

Galleys, longships, and Class C monsters only require a quarter move before coming to a full stop.  Class B monsters only require 1 hex of forward motion to come to a full stop if their current speed is 4 or more (otherwise they just stop instantly, as would Class A monsters.)  

Winged monsters above Class A don’t generally like hovering, which can be exhausting; stamina checks are needed after each Battle Round spent hovering.  If a check fails, the winged monster must resume normal flight.  Fixed-wing aircraft, if any, cannot hover.  Winged monsters and fixed-wing aircraft can remain aloft using at least half their innate MV rating.  If they fail to spend the minimum required MV to stay aloft, altitude is lost at the rate of 1 level per missing MV.

Once sails have been completely dropped, hoisting them again takes time:  subtract 1 MV from a Class A skyship’s subsequent MV, 2 for Class B, 3 for Class C or D.  If half or fewer of the crew is available, hoisting sails takes a full Battle Round.  While its sails are dropped, a sailing skyship cannot perform any maneuvers.

Example:  The Queen’s Fury, a Class C draconic warship, starts its move beam reaching in a strong breeze.  Its initial MV is 7.  It needs to spend 4 MV in any kinds of maneuvers before coming to a full stop.  It can remain aloft even if motionless due its permanent hull enchantment, which provides basic lift.  A galley racing at MV 5 could stop with 2 MV.  A small dragon in the same situation, with an innate MV of 3, could stop with 1 MV.  A stray pixie would have a good laugh and stop instantly, without spending any MV.

3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver:  Most skyships are fitted with one or more air anchors.  These are magical devices intended to remain in a stationary position after being dropped.  An air anchor’s enchantment comes into effect when its chain is fully unrolled.  Its proper positioning on a vessel is crucial as its chain could easily sheer off masts below deck level.  An air anchor can be used to perform an emergency stop (at no MV cost.)  

If the anchor is fastened to the bow, the vessel immediately pivots opposite its original heading and stops.  Crew will likely get knocked off their feet.  Merchandise in the hold and any other unsecured objects may become loose, deck weapons could be thrown out of alignment, and any unfurled sails could become fouled.  An emergency maneuver will cause hull damage equal to the vessel’s initial MV (see 4.3. Damage.)  No deck weapons may be used for the remainder of the Battle Round.  Furthermore, the vessel will incur a +5 penalty to initiative during the upcoming Phase A4 (see 4.4. Combat Sequence.)

Weighing anchor requires a command word to deactivate and a –2 MV penalty (or a whole Battle Round, whichever is shortest.)  If half or fewer of the crew is available, the penalty is –3 MV, –4 with a quarter or fewer.  While anchored, a vessel cannot perform any maneuvers.

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

  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

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