[5E] Saltmarsh - Attacking Ship Components

Melkor

Explorer
Hi all,

Just skimming through Saltmarsh, and was wondering, if you were attacking a ship with another ship, why would you ever attack/target the ships hull instead of the components?

For the Galley, the Hull has AC15, 500hp, and a Damage Threshold of 20.

The Oars are easier to hit (AC12), have less HP (100), no Damage Threshold, and the ship starts losing movement as it takes damage.

The Sails also have lower AC (12), less HP (100), no Damage Threshold, and also cause the ship to lose speed as they are damaged.

Even the Control: Helm has only 50HP (even though its AC is slightly higher than the Hull at 16).

I know that an unintelligent monster would probably just attack the biggest part of the ship (the hull), but for anyone else, it doesn't seem like there would ever be a reason to attack the hull over the components.

Thoughts?
 
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LordEntrails

Adventurer
Why would you think anyone would attack the hull?

Every RPG I play it with sailing vessels, we start by burning the sails of the other ship. That lets us either run away or close at our discretion. Then you pick off any artillery they have. Then close if you want. Ships are valuable if you can sail it back to port, and if not they carry valuable cargo you can loot.

My understanding is that's pretty much historically accurate until you get into battles like Trafalgar where oceanic dominance was at stake and you sunk the enemy's ships.
 

Melkor

Explorer
Seems like (with the exception of unfurled sails) the components would be more difficult to target than the hull.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
My point was it seems way easier to cripple a ship and not even have to worry about sinking it the way the rules are written.
You asked "why would you ever attack/target the ships hull instead of the components?", and I just gave a possible answer (not a great answer, but...). Yes, it's easier to cripple the ship, but that wasn't the question.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Seems like (with the exception of unfurled sails) the components would be more difficult to target than the hull.
So are you now debating if that the values in Saltmarsh are accurate? Because you seem to be wandering all over :) (edit: which is ok)

Statistics are their to enable game play. they are typically well thought out, but if you don't like them, you are always free to change them. Personally, I have no problems with the stats you listed, but of course their are arguments or concerns as you point out.

Also, keep in mind AC is not = "to hit" it is rather "to damage". The hull of a ship is easy to hit with an arrow, it is hard to damage with one though.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
It does make it harder to sink ships, but I know my players would much prefer it that way. Ships (and any potential cargo) are worth a lot of gp! Capture those enemy vessels, don't waste all that loot by blowing them out of the water!
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
For an easy switch if you want a different methodology for attacking ships that reduces the "Go for the sails, Boo! Go for the sails! Yearghh!!!"... don't give individual pieces of the ship their own ACs or allow them to be selected for attack. Instead, treat the hull's AC as the "Ship AC", and all attacks normally hit the hull-- unless your roll reaches another less-occuring marker (like an attack roll that was 5 points higher than the AC, or any roll of a Natural 20.) And if you reach this higher number or Nat 20... you then as the DM can roll randomly to see what other part of the ship was hit instead.

Then if you want to get further in the weeds, you could add on top of this the other types of shot (which cost more to supply) that are meant to go after other parts of the ship (at which point you can make direct called shots against them.) So if you load up chain-shot for instance... your standard attack roll goes directly to the sails rather than the hull or another part of the ship. The only downside being whatever you wanted to make it-- whether buying chain-shot costs more GP, or its more difficult to load and requires an extra action, or something else.

Lots of ways you can play around with them.
 

Melkor

Explorer
I think what I was getting at is quite a simple concept overall LordEntrails.

There doesn't seem to be any mechanical reason to attack the main body of a ship.

Additionally, it would seem like it would be harder to target most of the components than it would to target the main body (with the exception of unfurled sails) - But this is not the case based on most of the components Armor Class compared to the AC of the main body.

In my games, I will likely say that targeting a component other than the body (with the exception of the unfurled sails) is at Disadvantage. Of course, this can be countered by the Officer "Take Aim" action in the book.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
There doesn't seem to be any mechanical reason to attack the main body of a ship.
Agreed, and I believe that it is supported both with historical fact and role playing reasons that no point in going for the hull. Do you want there to be a mechanical reason for attacking the hull?

Additionally, it would seem like it would be harder to target most of the components than it would to target the main body (with the exception of unfurled sails) - But this is not the case based on most of the components Armor Class compared to the AC of the main body.
Think of the size of most of the components on a ship, they are roughly the same size or larger than a character or monster. So if a commoner is AC 10 to damage standing on the deck of a ship, why so surprised or put off that to hit the helm is AC12 (or whatever)?

And again, sure, it's really easy to hit the hull of the ship, that's not what AC is telling you, AC is what you have to roll to not only hit, but to do damage. So yes, it is very easy to target and hit the hull of the ship, but it is much harder to damage it because it is designed to be resistant to damage.

Personally I think the hull should have immunity to piercing (from range weapons but not melee like a pick), and the sails resistance to piercing but vulnerability to slashing. Or something (its hard to forget the 3.x mentality). But, then I have to step back and ask myself, does that add to the fun?

Another example, take a wooden target backstop. It is really easy to hit with an arrow or a thrown knife. Maybe AC2, cause it's really hard to miss with either of those weapons. But, I can hit it 10,000-20,000 times before it is beyond use. So do I give it 10000x3.5=35,000hp? Yea no, because if I take an ax to it, I can damage it pretty quickly (no more than 6 hits) so something like 30hp. I could give it immunity to piercing, but that doesn't work either, because if I hit my backstop with a ballistae, it's probably 1 or 2 hits before it's destroyed.

The whole purpose of that example is to say that you have to make situational rulings, and not worry about every little detail. Every detail, and a mechanical rule for it generally doesn't add to the role playing fun. It can add to the intellectual fun of figuring it out, but not to the fun for everyone sitting about the table. (imo one big reason 5E has taken off in the wider pubic where 3.x did not.)
 

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