Battle Beyond the Shards —
Air combat over Almeri

February 6, 2020 at 4:40 pm

“I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

– Captain John Paul Jones

 

This is a continuation of the Airship rules from the previous post. To start from the beginning click here.

While much of the time on a voyage is quiet and lonely, there are threats in the Scintillance. Pirates, raiders, and other enemies might hope to catch a trader unaware or strike a blow for an opposing power. The weapons in common use, however, are not usually enough to destroy an enemy ship unless it is wildly outclassed. Battles are usually decided by closing, boarding, and paying a bloody price for victory.

When two ships come in contact in the skies, it is usually at some distance. Unless there is an element of ambush or subterfuge, ships would spot each other at fairly long range.

When two ships come in contact, roll 1d.

d6 rollDistance
1-2 10 THexes distant
3-4
9 THexes distant
5
8 THexes distant
67 THexes distant

These Tactical Hexes (THex) are roughly 10 megahexes across and represent the relative distance between the two vessels.

Each round they are in contact, their two captains have three choices: close, track, or withdraw. If the choices are opposing, they would make a contested (Captain) check. If there are more than one ship on one side, that captain gain +2 on their skill per additional ship. The winner can move up to two tactical hexes more than the difference of their speed. If a ship moves more than 10 hexes away from an enemy it has escaped the conflict, and must be sighted again before combat renews.

Tactical combat rounds are handled in three phases.
1.    Opposed checks and tactical movement
2.    Maneuvers, including speed changes
3.    Fire weapons and attempt boarding

If a ship comes into range of its enemy, it may fire on its opponent. Most weapons have a single firing arc, and the captain may need to come about to fire all of its weapons. Even if a weapon has range to reach the opponent, the test is –1 for each hex beyond the first between them. Note also that catapults firing arcs prevent them from attacking ships in the same hex.

WeaponSpaceMax. Range DamageCrewROF
Scorpion1 hex4 THex4d41/2
Catapult2 hex6 THex 8d41/3
Petard launcher1 hex3 THex6d3*1
Fire launcher2 hex 2 THex8d**21/2

* One member of a petard crew must have the Guns or Mechanician Talent.
** If a fire launcher strikes sails or rudders, they may catch fire as a figure.

New IQ9 Talent: Siege weaponry (1) The ability to aim and fair siege weaponry like scorpions, ballista, catapults, and trebuchet. The test for a siege engine attack is IQ-based. These skills are all included in the Engineer talent, and an Engineer is usually in command of a siege engine crew.

On a hit, roll 1dSystemHits
1-4HullShip ST
5-6Ship systemSee below
On a 6, roll 1d
1-4Sails10ST / OAD
5Weapon12ST / 2AD
6Rudders15ST / 1AD

Ship system hits can affect the performance of the vessel. If the sails are damaged, its Speed drops equal to the percentage of sails lost, so an MA4 ship with 4 hexes of sail will lose 1MA per hex lost. Weapons hits can destroy individual weapons. If a manned weapon is struck, its crew takes half damage. Rudders are small articulated sails that maneuver the ship. There is one rudder hex for every 2 Size category. If destroyed, the vessel loses Handling in equal percentage to the loss. A ship with functioning sales will always have a handling of at least 1.

Ship systems can be targeted directly by an enemy. Sails can be struck at –3, and weapons and rudders are targeted at –6.

 

Boarding

If two ships are in the same hex they are in point-blank range, and can be become engaged. An attacking ship can send boarders on ornithopters, or can try to attach grapnels. Ornithopter pilots must make a single pilot check to reach the opponents’ ship, and succeed on a 3/DX to land cleanly. An attacking ship must be quite close for grapnels to land, and the attacking captain must succeed on a 4d test to come aside. A 17+ on this test is a collision on both ships take 3d for each speed category they are traveling. If the attacker gains two grapnels per size category for a full round, the ships are considered engaged. The two ships are bound together and neither ship can maneuver until the engagement is broken. Rammed ships are automatically engaged.

New IQ10 Talent: Gliding (1)  This is the skill to pilot single-occupant flying machines. Simply flying in an ornithopter requires no check, but complicated maneuvers like landing on a moving ship or aerial combat may require a DX test. A figure without his talent must make 3/DX test each round to make progress gliding, and would fall to the ground in normal gravity.

 

Tactical Combat Sample

Captain Abella of the sky galley Redolent is patrolling the Scintillance in search of pirates when she comes upon ‘Dark’ Derrick’s sloop Manta Ray with its sails furled. The GM rolls a 2 and two ships are 10 tactical hexes apart. The Redolent is currently moving at 2, while the Manta Ray was at anchor.

Abella chooses to close and Derrick will try to withdraw. Abella (IQ12) wins the contested roll against Derrick, and closes 4 hexes to 6 (their speed of 2+2 for advantage. Abella increases her speed by 2 (with +2 to the check due to the two unused maneuvers) to 4. Derrick lets out his sails and accelerates times to 3. The Manta Ray has extended rudders giving it Handling 3. Neither ship can bring weapons to bear at this range.

Abella wins the second round as well, and closes to 3 hexes. Derrick tries to Evade 3 times and succeeds twice. Abella’s gunners fire two scorpions against their IQ12, with -2 for the evasions and -2 for range (-1 for each hex beyond the first) and +2 for the sloop’s size for a total of -2adjIQ. One hits for 12 damage to the hull. Derrick’s only weapon is a fire projector which is out of range.

Abella keeps advantage for the third round and closes to 1 hex. Her ship must come about to fire its other two scorpions. Derrick evades twice and rolls to protect his sails. With a 5 and 7, both weapons hit. A lucky 6, followed by a 2 on the hit location chart has the second scorpion strike sails for 17 damage, taking one out and lowering the ship to MA2. The other did 12 more to the hull. Since it rolled, the Manta Ray may not use its weapons.

Derrick wins advantage this round, but since their speed (2) is 2 less than the enemy (4) they are still one hex apart. Derrick successfully accelerates to 3, evades, and rolls again. Abella slows to 3, comes about and fires, but both scorpions miss.

The contested roll is a tie, so there is no advantage. Since the Redolent is moving faster, it closes to engage. Abella tries to position for boarding, but fails the Captain check with a 15. Derrick’s crew unleashes their fire projector, but miss.

Derrick wins advantage and manages get slip away three hexes. They try and fail to roll, but successfully evade. Abella comes about to fire and both scorpions strike home, doing 14 and 11 to hull. Derrick’s fire projector is out of range again.

This round the the advantage goes back to Abella, who closes to 0 again. She drops speed to 2. Her positioning check of 8 is successful and she comes alongside the sloop. Six marines launch grapnels and four land. This is 2 per Size category of the smaller vessel and the two ships are lashed together.

Next round the marines will pour over the deck and the battle for the Manta Ray will get personal.