Wednesday, July 19, 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 A4 (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.

Coming Up Next…
4. Combat
  4.1. Deck Weaponry
    4.1.1. Weapon Types
    4.1.2. Armor Rating

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


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 A1 (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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics III

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

Flight performance often depends on the nature of a flying monster or the general design of a skyship (Munaani, Kragdûras, Alorean, Lao-Kweian, etc.)  Class rating directly affects the ability to turn, which is explained in the following section.

Class A:  Galleys and longship move at a fixed oar speed, typically up to 3 hexes per Battle Round.  They are the nimblest of vessels because of their oars and relatively simple sail configuration. Twin-masted sailing skyships (one vertical mast above deck and one more below deck, or two-outrigger masts) belong in this category as well.  Small airships (30’ or less) powered solely with magic should also be included here, along with creatures relying on magic alone to fly and monsters smaller than mankind.

Class B:  These are Calidar’s jacks-of-all-trades, possibly the most common skycraft.  Reasonably fast and maneuverable, these vessels include tri-masted configurations (typically, one mast upright, plus two outboard masts extending below deck.)  Medium-sized airship (90’ or less) relying solely on magic to fly, as well as winged monsters the size of a horse or smaller also belong in this category.

Class C:  Draconic warships and Alorean clippers fit in this category.  This includes quad-masted vessels (two masts above deck in a V-configuration, plus two others below deck), which are typically faster than Class B skyships, but less maneuverable.  Large airships (more than 90’ long) relying solely on magic to fly, fixed-wing aircraft, as well as a large winged monsters (chimeras, wyverns, dragons, etc.) are also part of this category.

Class D:  Designs that are hardest to steer belong here, typically huge lumbering skycraft, dwarven ironclads, flying rafts, magically-powered monoliths, etc.  Most of these are magically powered, such as Kragdûras vessels relying on blackstone-powered Fetzgrim engines, which generate both lift and propulsion.  Any huge, gargantuan, colossal, or titan-sized winged creature (as defined in their respective role-playing games) belongs here.

3.3. Turning

3.3.1 Basic Turning Capability:  The ability of skyships and monsters to turn depends on their class ratings and initial speeds (their MV at the beginning of their movement phase.)  Table 5 shows how many hexsides a vessel or a monster can change per hex of forward motion.  Each turn costs 1 MV to perform.  A skyship or monster starting a Battle Round with a modified MV of 0 (or in the negatives) can always perform a 1 hexside turn.  Forward movement performed at the end of a Battle Round can count toward the following round’s turn requirements.

In Table 5, Class A skyships or monsters flying at a slow speed (shaded in green) can face in any direction after a hex of forward movement.  Changing multiple hexsides as a single maneuver costing only 1 MV is limited to Class A and B vessels, where turning capability is printed in blue.  Compare with Class D at fast speeds (shaded in blue), which allows one adjoining hexside change for every 5 hexes of forward movement.

Sailing skyships’ and winged monsters’ MV rates must be updated after each turn maneuver resulting in different wind modifiers.  For example, turning from a beam reaching to a close hauled heading results in a less favorable wind modifier.  A turning modifier listed in Table 6 reflects a fast-moving skyship’s initial momentum, or the inertia of a slow one catching a more favorable wind.  When updating MVs, apply to the new heading’s MV the turning modifier and subtract any MV already spent during this Battle Round.  If an updated MV is zero or less, or all current MV are actually spent, movement ends for this Battle Round.  Normal flight speed resumes at the beginning of the next round.  Table 6 should be kept handy while running a battle.

















Diagram 6. The Wind Thorn
Example 1:  The Wind Thorn, a Class C Alorean clipper, beam reaching (5) under high winds (4), starts its round with an MV of 9.  It can turn once for every 4 hexes of forward motion.  It flies 4 hexes straight and makes a windward turn.  The Wind Thorn is now close hauled (1); its new MV should be 3.  The actual remaining MV is therefore 1 (MV 3 PLUS turn modifier +3 MINUS 5 MV already spent = 1 hex.)

Example 2: The reverse case works this way:  the Wind Thorn is close hauled (1), with an initial MV of 3.  The clipper moves forward 3 hexes and, at the beginning of the following Battle Round, immediately performs a leeward turn.  It is now beam reaching again.  Its remaining MV should therefore be 5 (MV 9 PLUS turn modifier –3 MINUS 1 MV already spent = 5 hexes)

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics II

Click Here for Part I
Featuring: 
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!

(The first article has been updated since its initial posting.)

Continuing the series of posts on skyship & flying monsters' combat. Just for giggles, I'm including here a design that some of you may instantly recognize from way back when I wrote the Voyage of the Princess Ark stories for TSR. 

Calidar Princess Ark
Mischief Managed
3.1.4. Monsters:  Flying monster speeds given in traditional role-playing games are actually very low, compared with a how fast CAL1’s skyships can sail.  For example, a large dragon flies at little more than 8 miles per hour.  Slowing down skyships and using abstract hex numbers instead of mile-per-hour ratings helped tweak together incompatible MV rates and veil a certain lack of realism sacrificed for the sake of playability.  Table 3 suggests MV rates, converting approximate monster speeds in feet per Combat Action (based on the monsters’ original descriptions) into hexes per Battle Round.

Many monsters can fly because they have wings keeping them aloft and driving them forth.  Their flight performances will be affected by wind strength, just like skyships using sails as their primary propulsion.  Wingless creatures, such as ghosts and ogre mages, fly because of other fantastic abilities; they are impervious to wind strength and direction.  A game referee can implement exceptions to this rule (jinn and air elementals, for example, may indeed be able to use prevailing winds or create their own to move more quickly although they possess no wings.)

Diagram 5. Winged Monster POints of Sail
Diagram 5 shows the effect of wind on a small dragon’s flight.  Its innate MV is 3 hexes per Battle Round.  With a moderate tailwind, it flies with an MV of 5 (innate MV 3 PLUS moderate breeze astern 2 = 5 hexes.)  With a red speed rating, the full strength of the wind is subtracted, as explained earlier.  Against a moderate headwind, the small dragon would fly with an MV of 1 (innate MV 3 MINUS moderate breeze ahead 2 = 1 hex.)  If headwinds exceed a monster’s basic MV rating, the monster falls back one or more hexes.  For example, a small dragon heading into a gale (Str 5), would fall back 2 hexes (innate MV 3 MINUS gale conditions 5 = –2 hexes.)  The dragon would be better off weaving back and forth through crosswinds much like a tacking skyship.  Certain magical spells enable creatures to move at double their innate MV, which is allowed in this context.  The spell effect applies directly to the recipient’s innate MV rate.

3.1.5. Powering Through:  A winged creature can fly more quickly than its innate MV suggests, flapping its wings with greater strength.  The decision to power through must be made before moving, in Phase D1 (see 4.4. Combat Sequence.)  This gives a monster a +2 MV bonus, but its stamina needs to be checked during Phase D2.  Failing a stamina check requires the beast to land or at least glide with the wind during the next movement phase until it recovers its strength.  A winded creature sustains a combat penalty (see 4.2.3. Combat Modifiers.)
Skyship Combat Reconciled, Calidar ©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

Click here for Part III
Featuring:
  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics

It’s been a while since I began looking into how to make air combat between skyships to become more practical than the few steps already sketched out in CAL1 “In Stranger Skies.”  This also involves monsters and for that matter anything airborne, including flying saucers. I do have a system, or rather an early draft of a system, which covers all this ground, much in a style that would be fitting to Mystara’s Voyage of the Princess Ark.  Here’s what I would like to do.  While my present kickstarter is ending later today, I’m posting a first section of these combat mechanics right here.  I’ll add more in the coming weeks.  I’m releasing this to the public for the sake of playtesting or feedback.  This process will take probably a year.


Between now and then, I need to write CAL2, the new and as-of-yet-untitled Calidar gazetteer about the Magiocracy of Caldwen.  Expect this one in 2018 if I’m still of this world.  After reaching this milestone, I plan to put together the final version of these air combat mechanics in book form, with lots of extra goodies (deck plans, ship descriptions, profiles, NPCs, new monsters, stories and legends, ship equipment, adventures, ship-building mechanics, etc.)  This will be CC2 “Yet to be Named—Suggestions are Welcome.”  (Boaty McBoatface’s Big Book of Boats, Barges, and Battleships is not an option.)  Bear in mind that much of what I write here includes a lot of design explanations.  These were important to me while I developed the mechanics.  In a final version (should this one survive at all in its present form), these design insights will go into an appendix, leaving just the mechanics.  So here we go.

Version 1.2
©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

1. Introduction

Here is an attempt at bringing together mechanics for skyship combat that should work with most established fantasy monsters.  It is necessarily more complex than today’s trendy stand-alone tabletop tactical games (otherwise known as Tea for Two), because it is intended to connect directly with existing role-playing games (and tea lovers.)  For this to work, I reduced skyship speeds from what was stated in CAL1 “In Stranger Skies” to bring them on a par with role-playing games’ monster statistics.  For the sake of simplicity (nonetheless), movement rates (MV) and ranges will be expressed in hexes (100’ feet scale), as opposed to feet, yards, or miles per hour.  A tabletop surface with a 1.5” or 2” hex grid will be needed.  Ships (monsters, etc.) will be represented by tiles on the tabletop surface (or minis, if ever this becomes an option) and players' cards showing maneuvers and combat stats.  I’ve managed to preserve much of CAL1’s skyships concepts although much streamlined, which is the good news here.  There are now two ways of measuring time:
  • Battle Rounds (rounds) involving skyship maneuvers and attacks, approximately 40 seconds
  • Combat Actions (actions) involving heroes’ individual actions as described in CC1 “Beyond the Skies”, approximately 10 seconds (thus 4 actions per round)

2. Wind Direction and Strength

Diagram 1. Wind Direction
The first thing to do before running an encounter is to pick wind direction and strength deliberately, or roll randomly.  For direction roll 1d12 and check the wind Diagram 1.  For wind strength, roll 2d6, halve the result rounding down, subtract 1, and check the result on Table 1.  Setting the altitude of the encounter may also help (if optional altitude mechanics are in use.)

During the course of an encounter, wind may shift.  Before the game starts, if possible, a referee should secretly roll 2d8.  This score indicates the number of Battle Rounds present conditions should last.  At the beginning of the round when conditions are due to shift, roll 1d6 for wind direction: with a 1, the direction shifts one notch counterclockwise, or clockwise with a 2.  Do the same for wind strength: with a 1, wind strength decreases one notch; it increases with a 2.  Roll again secretly to see how long the new conditions will last (and so on.)

3. Maneuvering

For the sake of simplicity, all fractions in this chapter are rounded up.

3.1. Movement Rates

This section describes horizontal movement, expressed in MV rates.  In most cases, MV rates reflect wind strength combined with a skyship’s sailing efficiency, or innate movement rates when wind power is irrelevant.  Speeds can vary drastically from one Battle Round to the next.  Game mechanics devised here are fairly detailed because they are an extension of role-playing game mechanics, combining nautical and flight concepts applied to sailing skyships (common in the World of Calidar), a wide variety of monsters, enchanted devices, and machines such as fixed-wing aircraft or steam-powered dwarven dreadnoughts.  This detail provides opportunities for wildly different combat tactics.

Diagram 2. Sailing Skyship Points of Sail
3.1.1. Sailing Skyships:  Most skyships in the world of Calidar rely on sails for horizontal movement, and therefore their speeds vary a great deal depending on their headings relative to prevailing wind direction and strength.  Hull enchantments provide controllable lift and favor forward motion parallel to their centerlines, without which skyships would otherwise drift uncontrollably in the direction of the wind.  Diagram 2 shows how wind affects a sailing vessel’s speed.

To find a sailing skyship’s MV rate, add the wind’s strength to the number printed on the skyship’s windward side.  For example, assuming a moderate breeze, a beam reaching skyship would enjoy an MV of 5 per Battle Round (beam reaching modifier 2 PLUS moderate breeze 2 = 4 hexes.)  On the other hand, with a strong breeze directly astern, a sailing skyship would have an MV of 3 (broad running modifier 0 PLUS strong breeze 3 = 3 hexes.)  Under calm conditions, there is no wind, and sailing skyships become unable to move at all.

The color coding on the point of sail diagram determines how to apply wind strength.  A green modifier indicates the full strength of the wind must be added.  With an orange modifier, only half the wind strength is added.  Blue ratings incur no wind modifiers. With a red modifier, the full wind strength should be subtracted (see In Irons later on for more information on this specific point of sail.)

Diagram 3 shows how the wind blows in relation to a sailing skyship's heading. With a roll of 3, the wind direction is exactly eastward. A vessel sailing north would therefore be beam reaching. When the wind shifts, a roll of 4 would change its direction to east-by-south, resulting in the skyship's point of sail to become close reaching. A roll of 6 would put the vessel in irons.  The windward side faces the oncoming wind; leeward is the opposite. Portside lies on the left-hand side of a skyship; starboard is on the right.

Diagram 3. Examples of Wind Directions & Points of Sail
Not all skyships necessarily have the same point of sail modifiers (vessels may have unique flight attributes.)  For convenience, correct MV rates reflecting headings and wind strengths are displayed on individual reference cards showing skyship or monsters statistics, as indicated on Diagram 4.  Shifting winds at least once during a battle is important as there are 12 points of sails for only 6 hexsides; at any one given time, only 6 points of sails are in play, until the wind shifts, and the other 6 become relevant.  See 3.4.4. when sailing during gale conditions.

Diagram 4. Combining Oars & Sails
3.1.2. Other Skyships:  Wind conditions either do not affect or only partially affect the movement rates of skyships whose propulsion relies on magic or mechanical power.  Flying carpets, dwarven dreadnoughts, paddleboats, galleys, longships, fixed-wing aircraft, (etc.) fit in this category.  Flight enchantments typically allow an innate MV of 5 hexes per Battle Round, though some items and underpowered vessels often are slower.  Effectively, they can move in any direction regardless of wind conditions.

Some vessels, such as galleys, longship, and paddleboats fitted with sails, may be able to combine wind with some other mode of propulsion.  If sails are used in addition to magical oars, for example, apply wind modifiers listed on the outer rim, as shown in Diagram 4.  The broad running 3* modifier applies only if wind strength exceeds the vessel’s innate MV.

3.1.3. Ramming Speed!  Oarsmen can be made to row faster, giving their vessel a temporary +2 MV bonus.  The decision to row faster must be made at the beginning of Phase C (see 4.4. Combat Sequence), but their stamina, as a single group, needs to be checked during Phase D2.  The vessel sustains instead a –1 MV penalty if a stamina check fails.  This rowing penalty remains in effect until the exhausted oarsmen perform no rowing at all for twice as many Battle Rounds as were spent racing, without interruption.  Using this maneuver, a broad reaching galley under high winds could achieve MV 6 before its oarsmen become exhausted.  The smaller point of sail diagram labeled “Sail Only” (see Diagram 4) should be used while oarsmen are inactive, as galleys and longship aren’t as effective as dedicated sailing skyships when moving with wind alone

Skyships relying on engines as their propulsion method can try to power ahead just like a galley, and earn a temporary +2 MV bonus.  Engines pushed beyond their normal use tend to overheat and can breakdown.  Roll on Table 2 during Phase D2.



Click here for the next article.
    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

Click here for Part III
  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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Glen Hallstrom's Take

Hi everyone. Here's a review by Glen Hallstrom of CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." It is a fun walk through.


Another reminder: crowdfunding for Calidar "Dreams of Aerie" is on its last week.  Click here for the details.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beautiful Maps

A year ago or so, my good friend Thorfinn Tait embarked on a personal journey to establish his Patreon business. For this, he selected the creation of new geographical maps.  Anyone who knows the world of Mystara and Thorfinn should understand why. His claim to fame originated from a wealth of game maps, updates from existing TSR's Mystara gazetteers and others (often my own more recently, and vastly improved.)  Since producing maps for Mystara as a professional cartographer just isn't a legal option due to copyright limitations, Thorfinn opted wholeheartedly to create his own mapping style for the world of Calidar. This was the same reason I shifted my efforts as a writer from Mystara.

Thorfinn initially produced poster maps for my first book, CAL1 "In Stranger Skies."  This wonderful piece of cartography came in two formats, an artful version and a stylized hex map inspired directly from the format of TSR's popular D&D gazetteer maps of the 80s and 90s. His next opportunity to emulate this feat will follow in 2018, with the next Calidar Gazetteer. Meanwhile, Thorfinn started developing more detailed and refined versions of kingdoms of the Great Caldera, Calidar's known world (see below.)

There is a plan to develop the "Dread Lands," which is everything else on the planet outside the Great Caldera: Calidar's other continents. This competes with the excitement behind opportunities to map out Calidar's three moons, Mars-like Lao-Kwei and its own watery moon, Kumoshima (settings inspired from Earth's Far East), and Mercury-like Draconia (the dragon's Hollow World.)  I posted some of his work here for your enjoyment. If you appreciate Thorfinn's maps and would like to see more in the near future, do visit his Patreon page, give feedback, and show some gratitude!

Click on these maps to get a better resolution.


Naturally, if you become a Patreon supporter, you can get access to full resolution poster maps that are truly amazing. So, on behalf of Thorfinn, I'll just say:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Question for Game Grognards

To keep my mind off Calidar's Kickstarter, I'm working on an air combat system for skyships and fantasy monsters, using concepts introduced in CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." This concerns the effect of wind direction and strength on skyship flight speeds. Depending on conditions, a skyship movement can be halved, unaffected, increased by a half, or even doubled.

Ideally, one ought to check a skyship's speed once at the beginning of a battle round. This enables unlikely exploits, such as starting the round at max speed, immediately turning into headwinds, and continuing the rest of the move at no penalty. Simple, but lacking a modicum of realism.

The other obvious option is checking one's speed after making each turn. The question with this is: how do I compute this? Say a skyship starts the round with its speed doubled due to a favorable wind angle, allowing for a total 12 hexes of movement. Halfway through (after having spent 6 hexes) the ship's speed should now be halved due to turning into a more unfavorable wind angle. What's the best way to calculate this? I'm defining "best" as not overly complicated yet somewhat logical at least.

I'm thinking that the remaining move should be half the skyship's base move (6 hexes divided by 2) since it already spent half its MV, divided by two again due to headwinds, equals 1.5 hexes, rounded up to 2. This becomes a real pain when a skyship moves instead 1/4, 1/3, 2/3, or 3/4 of its base move, and this exercise gets done every time each skyship makes a turn. Hmmm.

Any suggestions?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dreams Day 1

Day 1 of Calidar "Dreams of Aerie's" Kickstarter: we did very well. By the end of Day 1, we've outdone CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." All numbers were better across the board. Thank you everyone! To help continuing this success story, do feel free to pass the word around, or simply keep chatting about the project, here, on Facebook, in forums, or on Kickstarter directly.




What else can I say, but "merci!" ☺️
A good number of you did share the campaign announcement, and this helped a lot. I'm very grateful for your enthusiasm and support. Judging from the funding pattern, it looks like "Dreams" should be at least funded by the end of the event. So far, we have at least 111 visitors who watched the video; 59% of them watched it all the way through, which is pretty good actually. Out of 111 visitors, 86 are backers at this point. Compare this with "In Stranger Skies" where more than 5,000 visitors watched the video and about 400 became backers (after 30 days.) That's very encouraging, even though June is a difficult month for crowd funding.