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Playtesting naval combat


Skull & Shackles

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.

So, maybe we're Paizo-fanboys, or maybe we were just *that* anxious to get our pirate-on, but tonight we decided to play a oneshot focused around the new naval-combat rules in the S&S Player's Guide.

We can into a lot of rules questions. If anyone knows clear answers to these questions, please chime in! Maybe we can turn this thread into a clearing-house for figuring out the rules.

Without further ado:

Our ship was on fire, then we grappled and began shipboard combat; how do we now put the fire out? Can we take the "uncontrolled action"? Or is the crew too busy fighting, and we're doomed to burn?

We had lots of momentum (4 squares/rd), and start only 1 square away from another ship, so we attempt to ram. We fail the CMB check; do we end adjacent? Do we "slip on by" the ship and end elsewhere? The text says our "movement rate is reduced to 0", which implies that kicks in next turn - but what about this one?

We are now perpendicularly adjacent to the enemy ship (from the failed ram). We then initiate a grapple (and succeed!), do the ships move to parallel position? The text seems to say so. If this is the case, on which initiative tick? The exact tick matters, as now shipboard combat is about to begin, and the spellcasters are itching to try out their short-range spells.

When you do a mass attack from the broadsides, what attack bonus do you use? We eventually picked +3, because we figured they'd all be warrior 1, with a dex mod of 1, and they all took weaponfocus(seigeengine). But what should we have really done? Are there rules for getting a better crew?

The text says the sails become broken if "half the squares of sails are destroyed" (sidebar, pg 11). The enemy ship had 90 squares of sails, but we didn't have any ideas as how to correlate the damage we were doing to the squares that the ship had. So we just went with "half HP" instead to make it consistant with how other things get broken.

We attacked the enemy sails, they got the broken condition: what exactly does this do? We ruled -2 to Prof(sailor) checks to accelerate/deccelerate. Is this right?

How does "changing the heading of your ship" work? When we did it, there were three squares between our two ships. Then we successfully did a "hard to starboard" action. Because our ship was three squares long, this made us instantly adjacent. Is this correct?

Thanks!!

Dark Archive

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Have not tried these rules out yet but what I would like to see is a Gamemastery deck for the Skulls & Shackles AP's mass navel combat, other "skill challenge" and "mass combat" type stuff. There should be interesting ways in which these decks can be used on an optional basis.


Erik Freund wrote:

So, maybe we're Paizo-fanboys, or maybe we were just *that* anxious to get our pirate-on, but tonight we decided to play a oneshot focused around the new naval-combat rules in the S&S Player's Guide.

We can into a lot of rules questions. If anyone knows clear answers to these questions, please chime in! Maybe we can turn this thread into a clearing-house for figuring out the rules.

Without further ado:

We had lots of momentum (4 squares/rd), and start only 1 square away from another ship, so we attempt to ram. We fail the CMB check; do we end adjacent? Do we "slip on by" the ship and end elsewhere? The text says our "movement rate is reduced to 0", which implies that kicks in next turn - but what about this one?

We are now perpendicularly adjacent to the enemy ship (from the failed ram). We then initiate a grapple (and succeed!), do the ships move to parallel position? The text seems to say so. If this is the case, on which initiative tick? The exact tick matters, as now shipboard combat is about to begin, and the spellcasters are itching to try out their short-range spells.

I would make a ruling on the first item that if you can side slip behind the enemy ship you would. Otherwise you hit the other ship causing no damage but everyone on board the ramming ship would need to make a balance check or be knocked prone and possibly turning the ramming ship 1 tick in the direction of the moving ship.

Other naval combat rules I have read only allow grapple checks when ships are parallel. But, up to 30 feet apart due to throwing grappling hooks. Yhey connect with multiple grapples and the grappling crew pulls the ships together. (while the opposing crew runs around and tries to dislodge the grappling hooks) I personally would not allow a grapple check while in any other position but parallel and 1 or 2 30 ft. squares apart.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Erik Freund wrote:

So, maybe we're Paizo-fanboys, or maybe we were just *that* anxious to get our pirate-on, but tonight we decided to play a oneshot focused around the new naval-combat rules in the S&S Player's Guide.

We can into a lot of rules questions. If anyone knows clear answers to these questions, please chime in! Maybe we can turn this thread into a clearing-house for figuring out the rules.

Without further ado:

Our ship was on fire, then we grappled and began shipboard combat; how do we now put the fire out? Can we take the "uncontrolled action"? Or is the crew too busy fighting, and we're doomed to burn?

Since the ship's speed is now reduced to 0 from grappling, there are no longer any ship movement actions to take (uncontrolled or otherwise). Since shipboard combat focuses on the actions of the PCs (with the crew acting in the background), I think it's fair to say that the crew can both fight and try to put out the fire, using the normal saving throw each round to put out the fire.

Erik Freund wrote:
We had lots of momentum (4 squares/rd), and start only 1 square away from another ship, so we attempt to ram. We fail the CMB check; do we end adjacent? Do we "slip on by" the ship and end elsewhere? The text says our "movement rate is reduced to 0", which implies that kicks in next turn - but what about this one?

If you're 30 feet (one square) away and moving at a speed of 120 feet (4 squares), you're going to collide with the other ship whether you make a ramming check or not (assuming you have initiative so the other ship can't move out of the way first). If you make the ramming check, you have the chance for greater success (dealing more damage to the target and reducing its speed), but if you fail the check, you still ram, and both your ship and the target take damage from the collision. In either case, your ship's speed is reduced to 0 immediately (not next turn).

Erik Freund wrote:
We are now perpendicularly adjacent to the enemy ship (from the failed ram). We then initiate a grapple (and succeed!), do the ships move to parallel position? The text seems to say so. If this is the case, on which initiative tick? The exact tick matters, as now shipboard combat is about to begin, and the spellcasters are itching to try out their short-range spells.

Grappling normally takes place in parallel, but it can happen perpendicularly too. The ships are moved adjacent to one another, not parallel, on the next round. This happens on the grappling ship's initiative count, unless both pilots wish to grapple, in which case it can happen on the grappled ship's initiative count.

Once shipboard combat begins, I would re-roll initiative, since you're moving to a different type of combat in a different setting, and initiative should no longer be tied to the pilots of the tow ships.

Erik Freund wrote:
When you do a mass attack from the broadsides, what attack bonus do you use? We eventually picked +3, because we figured they'd all be warrior 1, with a dex mod of 1, and they all took weaponfocus(seigeengine). But what should we have really done? Are there rules for getting a better crew?

You use the attack bonus of the crew firing the weapons. Usually the crew will be made up of identical crewmembers, so their attack bonuses will be the same. Stats for crews (and the attack bonuses for a ship's siege engine) are given in specific encounters in the AP. Likewise, there are guidelines in the AP for determining the makeup of the PCs' crew.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Erik Freund wrote:
The text says the sails become broken if "half the squares of sails are destroyed" (sidebar, pg 11). The enemy ship had 90 squares of sails, but we didn't have any ideas as how to correlate the damage we were doing to the squares that the ship had. So we just went with "half HP" instead to make it consistant with how other things get broken.

The squares of a ship (and its sails) determine the hp of the ship (and its sails). The sails of a ship with 90 squares of sails have 360 hp (90 x 4 = 360). When you deal 180 points of damage to the ship's sails (thus destroying half the squares of sails: 180/4=45 squares), the sails gain the broken condition.

Really, squares are just to figure out how many hit points a ship or its sails have. A ship's stat block should list the number of hit points it and its sails have, and just as with any object, taking damage in excess of half its hit points means its gains the broken condition.

Erik Freund wrote:
We attacked the enemy sails, they got the broken condition: what exactly does this do? We ruled -2 to Prof(sailor) checks to accelerate/deccelerate. Is this right?

The rules for broken propulsion are at the top of the sidebar on page 11: "When a means of propulsion gains the broken condition, the ship's maximum speed is halved, and the ship can no longer gain the upper hand." If the new speed is lower than the ship's new maximum speed, it automatically decelerates to its new maximum speed.

Erik Freund wrote:
How does "changing the heading of your ship" work? When we did it, there were three squares between our two ships. Then we successfully did a "hard to starboard" action. Because our ship was three squares long, this made us instantly adjacent. Is this correct?

That would be correct (though you would be perpendicular, not adjacent to the other ship). However, you can choose to change heading at any point during the movement. If you turn at the beginning of your movement, it sounds like you'd ram the ship next to you as your ship continues to move forward.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Thanks Rob!

If you don't mind, you spawned a couple follow-up questions.

Rob wrote:
you're going to collide with the other ship whether you make a ramming check or not (assuming you have initiative so the other ship can't move out of the way first). If you make the ramming check, you have the chance for greater success (dealing more damage to the target and reducing its speed), but if you fail the check, you still ram, and both your ship and the target take damage from the collision.

Could you elaborate on the part that I bolded? The PG doesn't actually say what happens on a failed check, only that "Regardless of the result of the combat maneuver check, the ramming ship’s speed is reduced to 0." Are you applying the below text?:

pg 15 wrote:
If a ship collides with another ship or a solid object (an immobile structure with a hardness of 5 or more), it also makes a ramming maneuver, regardless of the pilot’s intent. There is no combat maneuver check for this ramming maneuver; its effects happen automatically. When a ship makes a ramming maneuver against a solid object, to determine how much damage both the solid object and the ship take, allow the ship to enter the solid object’s space. The ship will only travel through that space if the damage is enough to destroy the solid object; in all other cases, the ship takes the damage and its speed is immediately reduced to 0 as it comes to a sudden stop directly in front of the solid object.

Is an enemy ship an "immobile structure"? How much damage is dealt? The bolded part is extremely unclear, and I assumed it meant that "rocks" have listed damage-scores in the AP scenarios.

As a tangent follow-up: if we attempt a ramming check, and succeed the check by 5 or more, do WE take double damage TOO? Or just the enemy ship? (A strict reading of the text suggests we DO take double.)

Rob wrote:
That would be correct (though you would be perpendicular, not adjacent to the other ship).

If I'm reading you right, you are saying that if we are perpendicular and only one square away (or zero squares away) then we are NOT "adjacent", per the keyword?

Thanks again!

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Erik Freund wrote:

Thanks Rob!

If you don't mind, you spawned a couple follow-up questions.

Rob wrote:
you're going to collide with the other ship whether you make a ramming check or not (assuming you have initiative so the other ship can't move out of the way first). If you make the ramming check, you have the chance for greater success (dealing more damage to the target and reducing its speed), but if you fail the check, you still ram, and both your ship and the target take damage from the collision.
Could you elaborate on the part that I bolded? The PG doesn't actually say what happens on a failed check, only that "Regardless of the result of the combat maneuver check, the ramming ship’s speed is reduced to 0." Are you applying the below text?:

Normally on a failed ramming check, you either miss or don't do any damage (but your speed is reduced to 0 regardless - much like a failed overrun attempt). In the situation you posted, your ship was moving at a high speed, meaning that it would collide with the other ship no matter what (unless the other ship can move out of the way beforehand). In this case, it becomes a collision instead of a ram, and uses the rules below.

Erik Freund wrote:
pg 15 wrote:
If a ship collides with another ship or a solid object (an immobile structure with a hardness of 5 or more), it also makes a ramming maneuver, regardless of the pilot’s intent. There is no combat maneuver check for this ramming maneuver; its effects happen automatically. When a ship makes a ramming maneuver against a solid object, to determine how much damage both the solid object and the ship take, allow the ship to enter the solid object’s space. The ship will only travel through that space if the damage is enough to destroy the solid object; in all other cases, the ship takes the damage and its speed is immediately reduced to 0 as it comes to a sudden stop directly in front of the solid object.
Is an enemy ship an "immobile structure"? How much damage is dealt? The bolded part is extremely unclear, and I assumed it meant that "rocks" have listed damage-scores in the AP scenarios.

A ship is not an immobile structure. "Solid objects" or "immobile structures" are things like rocks, reefs, walls, the ground, etc. The damage dealt is the same for a normal ramming maneuver, i.e., a ship's ramming damage. Both the ship and the object it collided with (such as another ship) take the same amount of damage. Rocks do not have hit points listed in the AP - they follow the rules for object AC, hardness, and hp from the Core Rulebook. The part about damage and passing through the space are only if the ramming/colliding ship does enough damage to destroy the object it collided with - such as a rowboat, a wooden wall, or the like. If it does not do enough damage to destroy the object, the ship stops directly in front of it.

Erik Freund wrote:
As a tangent follow-up: if we attempt a ramming check, and succeed the check by 5 or more, do WE take double damage TOO? Or just the enemy ship? (A strict reading of the text suggests we DO take double.)

No. The "target takes twice the ship's ramming damage." The ramming ship takes half its normal ramming damage, as normal (unless it has a ram, in which case it takes no damage).

Erik Freund wrote:
Rob wrote:
That would be correct (though you would be perpendicular, not adjacent to the other ship).
If I'm reading you right, you are saying that if we are perpendicular and only one square away (or zero squares away) then we are NOT "adjacent", per the keyword?

Sorry, I meant "not parallel," not "not adjacent". You are adjacent, but you are perpendicular, not parallel (which doesn't really have any effect on boarding).


Dotted.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've just finished reading through the guide and had a bunch of questions but you've answered them already!

What a great service you guys are providing, thanks!


Hello,

Longtime lurker, first time poster. I was the GM during the one-shot that Erik described above (though it was more of a mutual learning experience).

Some thoughts on improvement that came to mind

  • No rules for undead rowers
  • When you are using both muscle and wind propulsion, who makes the check to see if you get the upper hand? Or do you just pick one of the two pilots?
  • Broadside vs Broadside gets boring. If I run this in the future, I'll have the gunners make one damage roll for all of the ballista so that there is some variability (it's virtually impossible to miss a ship)
  • Crew - If the SS Shrimp has 2x the full complement of crew, can they set about two different tasks, such as one 'crew' putting out the fire and another crew controlling the ship?
  • Our wizard who spent some time shooting fireball after fireball into their sails felt underpowered when the gunner could just load up a chain shot and do much, much more damage. My future houserule would be that there can be one fire per mast.


mad props to rob for writing the player's guide, it looks like it was a doozy. can't wait to set sail, good job rob :)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Seren wrote:


  • When you are using both muscle and wind propulsion, who makes the check to see if you get the upper hand? Or do you just pick one of the two pilots?
  • From what I have read you only have one pilot no matter how many modes of propulsion you have and you would just choose one or the other to determine which check would be applicable for piloting the ship.

    Seren wrote:


  • Our wizard who spent some time shooting fireball after fireball into their sails felt underpowered when the gunner could just load up a chain shot and do much, much more damage. My future houserule would be that there can be one fire per mast.
  • That is just what happens when combat starts involving siege weapons. Their downside is that it takes more people/ more time to load and fire them.


    Maybe someone here can answer this; what on earth is the ship action "Make Way" supposed to represent?

    From the Player's Guide:

    Make Way (standard action): With a successful sailing check, a pilot can make a tricky or difficult maneuver that forces an enemy pilot to react. The result of this sailing check then becomes the DC of the enemy pilot’s next sailing check. On a failed check, the ship’s speed remains constant, but the ship cannot move forward diagonally, and the enemy pilot makes his next sailing check at the normal DC.

    So if the pirates are gaining on me, the enemy ship wants to ram me and I "make way," I could see myself rolling the ship somehow and messing up his ramming manouver, but what if my enemy is 400 feet away and makes a hard turn? What did I just do to interfere with him from way over here? What kind of "tricky or difficult manouver" can make it harder for my enemy to accelerate, slow down, turn, gain the upper hand, etc? I'm looking for ideas for making the fluff a little more specific than "Ok you do something and it throws off the other pilot's groove."


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    dot

    Star Voter 2013

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Blaaarg wrote:

    Maybe someone here can answer this; what on earth is the ship action "Make Way" supposed to represent?

    From the Player's Guide:

    Make Way (standard action): With a successful sailing check, a pilot can make a tricky or difficult maneuver that forces an enemy pilot to react. The result of this sailing check then becomes the DC of the enemy pilot’s next sailing check. On a failed check, the ship’s speed remains constant, but the ship cannot move forward diagonally, and the enemy pilot makes his next sailing check at the normal DC.

    So if the pirates are gaining on me, the enemy ship wants to ram me and I "make way," I could see myself rolling the ship somehow and messing up his ramming manouver, but what if my enemy is 400 feet away and makes a hard turn? What did I just do to interfere with him from way over here? What kind of "tricky or difficult manouver" can make it harder for my enemy to accelerate, slow down, turn, gain the upper hand, etc? I'm looking for ideas for making the fluff a little more specific than "Ok you do something and it throws off the other pilot's groove."

    You might, for example, appear to execute a very sharp turn that will put you at broadsides with them if they don't react, only to abort at the last second and keep gaining. Essentially it's a feint or bluff.


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    Dotted

    Sovereign Court Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    dotted as well

    Star Voter 2013

    Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Chris Kenney wrote:
    You might, for example, appear to execute a very sharp turn that will put you at broadsides with them if they don't react, only to abort at the last second and keep gaining. Essentially it's a feint or bluff.

    The helmsman may bluff that he's spinning the wheel to put the helm hard over when he's really doing no such thing. Or he may actually move the rudder but return it to its normal position before the ship can do much more than begin a bit of a roll (enhancing the appearance of "I'm turning, and really hard, too !). Or maybe he's just jinking the stern back and forth a bit.

    The top-men may loose a false sail (or manipulate a real one) to make it appear that a line has parted or that they are preparing to take in sail or make more sail or are preparing to tack. I remember Hornblower doing something like this (faking a poor tack by luffing his fore-top to make the opposition think he's a lubberly whaleing ship).

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