Spence Posted April 21, 2020 Report Share Posted April 21, 2020 So, my topic title is “Ships as locations instead of characters”. The first thing I should do is try to explain what I mean by that, and then solicit some opinions. I’ll start my thoughts by asking some questions about an inn. If you are running a fantasy sword swinger, you know, warriors and wizards and rogues and such, and they come across an inn on their travels. Do you go to the Vehicles and Bases section of the rules and stat out the inn? Or do you sketch/draw out a floor plan and list some NPC names and short descriptions and then run on the fly? That is what I do. I may fill in more detail if the party stays there for a while. But I have never bothered to stat an inn. Why? Because the “stats” are irrelevant to the game. If I need to know the BDY/Def of a wall, I can either make it up or use the Object Table to grab the appropriate numbers. I have a sketch/drawing because if the payers can see the layout of the place they are in, they can roleplay far better. What has this to do with ships? Well for years I would stat out ships using the Vehicle rules and sometimes have a deckplan so the players could see where they were. As tile went on I put more and more emphasis on having a great deckplan because I noticed that a really good deckplan really got the players into a session. And I noticed than most of the ship board adventure wasn’t “ship vs ship”. It was “Ship going from A to B, with 90% of the session taking place on/inside of it. When there was “ship to ship” action is was usually a chase followed by a bit of long ranged action followed by boarding. Once again, PC skills and abilities drove the ship movement and 90% of the action was when the two ships were grappled and the action was on/inside the ship. After a while I stopped stat’ing out ships at all. I made sure I had a decent picture of each ship to give the players a visual idea, a general deckplan with all the decks drawn out (not hard for pre-gunpowder sailing ships). Not over detailed, but enough so the players had an idea of where the main parts were. And then a short card with a few notes for ship action, things like relative size of vessels, relative speeds and relative maneuvering. Notice I didn’t say what any of them were, I just said “relative” this or that. Why? Because in game the players are going to describe things and their PC’s will make skill rolls or ability checks and I will describe the result. A longship will maneuver rings around a Carrack. Unless there is a strong wind and a driving sea, in which case the bigger and stronger ship with more freeboard that can raise and hold more canvas will out run the longship. Speed and maneuverability for sailing vessels on the ocean is not a one size fits all. It depends on many factors and the weather conditions at that moment. So, like that inn or like a village. I stopped “stat’ing” them out. Like that inn, I make sure I have a good layout map and a list of NPC’s. Or I should say I have a card with the various ships that may be encountered and a short “value” list of their relative abilities plus a layout map/deckplan for each and a NPC list to draw on. I’ll add more detail as a ship becomes more important to the game. In the end though, “stat’ing” out a ship for an RPG is just a waste of time. I know people will say that you need all the details so you can have a fight between ships. But do you? I have played a lot of naval wargames, miniature games and scifi games and they all had detailed rules for movement both tactical and strategic and combat. But I have never needed to use that type of detail for an RPG. For an RPG the players need to be able to visualize the ships. They need to be able to know were ship stuff is. Like where there are the passageways and ladders. Where are holds, how many holds. And so on. And this is why I have pretty much given up on so called “RPG Ship Sourcebooks” because they usually have very little of anything actually useful. They are usually just text and use ship type names with little regard to what and when they actually existed and 99% fail to have any kind of information that a GM can actually use to portray the ship. Usually each ship has a small pic of it from the side or an angle and an occasional item that provides an idea of scale. Most times that is way off and usually the artist based the drawing of one of many drawings that share the same thing, zero research into what a real ship of the type actually looked like. For the last decade all of medieval fantasy has had nothing but Black Pearl’s running around. If I were to write a ship supplement, it would present the ships as a location. As a stage for the PC's to act out the adventure. Deckplans and a good visual of the ship so players could actually visualize them. And a brief, very brief description of various attributes, just enough to allow the GM to describe the action. Thoughts? pinecone 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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