Wednesday, 30 May 2012

D&D 3.5/Pathfinder Simple Ship Combat Rules

I had an email conversation with a friend who wants to run a Pathfinder high seas pirates game but the ship combat was a bit tme consuming and flat. I just quickly wrote up some ideas for him and hopefully these pointers might help with the basics of naval warfare, but can it really be this simple? I guess it depends on how much detail you want.

'Hi Nik - however you want to play it, matey, it's your game. Can you pregen me a fighter as a character, please, as I've not got my rulebook at the mo? Human, put his proficencies and talents into swordplay and leadership, that kind of stuff.

As for vessel combat, if you want to keep it simple, just give a ship some hit points for size and a number of attacks to simulate gun numbers (say, 1 attack for up to 5 guns on one side, 1 attack for bowchasers and stern, fire arc determined facing).

Range can be the to-hit number, such as 1 square is a traget number of 3 to hit (hence 4 squares is 12) and the roll is a straight forward D20, no attack mods.

Speed is determined by size, lets say 1 square of movement per round for every 50 hit points (the larger the vessel, the more cloth - I'm not sure how accurate that is!). 1 square of movement also means 1 face of a turn, so to move 90 degrees uses one space of movement. A hex map would be better, but a D&D battlemat is squares so you'll have to make do!

Hit points could also equal crew numbers, so a reduction in crew/hitpoints could mean a loss of ability. If you make the hit points number divisible by four by default, and then let's quarter the hit points so that every quarter lost means a -1 to rolls and a single attack. So, a crew of 20 means that losing 5 crew means -1 to hit and a loss of 1 attack. Attacks are taken from the side facing the enemy ship.

So, for example, a schooner could have:
HP: 20. Guns: Port 3 (1attack), Starboard 3 (1 attack), Fore bowchasers 1 (1 attack). 1D3 damage per successful attack. Speed: 1

Or a Warship:
HP: 120. Guns: Port 20 (4 attacks), Starboard 20 (4 attacks), Fore bowchasers 1 (1 attack), Aft 1 (1 attack). 1D4 damage per successful attack. Speed: 2 squares.

This way, ships of a similar build would be evenly matched but you'd know not to go up against a warship with a whaler.

If you want to add some PC interaction, let's say the gunners get a +1 to hit with a succesful PCs leadership roll, DC20, with a +2 if they roll a natural 20.

To repair a vessel on the go, 1 hit point lost equals 2 hours of work. For every quarter crew lost doubles that time.

Just some ideas. Either way, I'll have a fighter, please!

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