Monday, August 6, 2018

Skyship Saving Throws

Using D&D BECMI language, here is a look at how saving throws could be handled for skyships in the world of #Calidar. Flying ships are neither living beings nor simple objects, and therefore the topic of their vulnerability to diverse situations may require extra detail. Skyships are complicated devices, likely brimming with magic and housing crews and commanders with different skills, all of which should impact battle results as well as saving throws.

Image: Jason Rainville. #MTG. ©2017 Wizards of the Coast

The most common skyship in Calidar is the wooden-built, galleon-size, sailing vessel. As a general rule, it saves as F7 (level 7 fighter), giving it approximately 50/50 chances to succeed. The chart below gives the complete listing of ship types and their suggested saving throws:

Skyship Type/Save As:
1st/2nd Ed. D&D
Rafts, canoes, rowboats
Barges, sm. galleys, longships
Elven clippers, wizard yachts
Wooden-built junks or galleons
Wooden-built war galleys/warships
Dwarven ironclads
Undead ships from the abyss

Adjustments will be needed to reflect other D&D game versions being used. Actual scores are approximate and will yield different results in each of the chosen game versions. That’s not necessarily bad—just different. The above saving throws can easily be modified to reflect alien or monstrous vessels as needed.

Tactical Modifiers

When engaged in air combat, modifiers can come into play at the referee’s discretion. Here are a number of them to pick from as needed. “Plus” adjustments are bonuses to the target’s saving throws.


·   Attacker or Target is moving
·   Attacker & Target are moving*
·   Gusty winds, stormy conditions
+1 to +3
Magic Bonuses to AC
1 for 1
Captains’ Skills**
1-3 (+/–)

(*) In different directions.
(**) NPC captains can be assigned ranks as needed for a scenario, such as Expert, Good, Fair, Poor, Inept. PCs ranks depend on their average airmanship (Wis), tactical (Int), and leadership (Cha) skills, or a simple assessment by the referee. Average scores are: 3-6 Inept, 7-9 Poor, 10-12 Fair, 13-15 Good, 16+ Expert. Absence of a specific skill counts as a 3. Compare the ranks of the captains on the attacking and defending ships. The difference between their rankings results in a bonus or a penalty to the defending ship’s saving throws reflecting which commander is the best, as follows: 0-2 No modifier, 3-5 +/–1, 6-8 +/–2, or +/–3 with a greater difference. If the attack comes from a monster (rather than another skyship), use the monster’s Intelligence score in lieu of a captain’s ranking.

It could be argued that crew skills ought to be reflected as well. In this case, the referee should make a general assessment of a ship's crew and its captain, and then average their two scores (if they are different), assuming the rank of a crew is as important as their commander's. 

Special Modifiers

Colorful and unusual ship abilities can affect how well they defend against certain types of attacks. For example: wooden ships could receive a –2 penalty vs. fire-based attacks; dwarven ironclads could suffer the same vs. electrical attacks; a ship described as particularly maneuverable (or the opposite), can receive appropriate modifiers, and so on. Calidar is a world full of magic, so imagination is the only limit to possible adjustments and special rules. Remain somewhat conservative to avoid game-balance issues and needless complexity. Storytelling and fun are more important.

Last but not least: a roll of 1 always saves, and a 20 always fails. Savvy?