D&D 5E I figured out why all 5e ship rules suck

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The hardest thing for me, is how to capture the idea of simultaneous movement and not turn based movement.
Easy enough - each round, resolve each ship's movement and action(s) in turn but with the clear understanding that it's all happening at once.* Just because the shots from your ship happen to be resolved first at the table doesn't mean the target ship will sink before it can fire back: it too gets its shots in for the round, and maybe after that it sinks.

Also, and again this is different from how normal D&D combat works, movement has to be seen as a continuous thing. In a normal D&D combat, movement often almost seems to work like a mini-teleport - you're here, and on your turn you're suddenly there, having spent no apparent in-game time to cover the distance. Can't do that with ships.

* - unlike a typical D&D combat; and D&D could really use a lot more simultaniety of resolution in its combat mechanics.
One idea I liked from black seas is being able to fire on your opponents turn (almost like a 5e reaction) in exchange for not firing on your turn. There is a slight penalty to it but I really like that rule. They call it Fire as She Bears.
Still sounds too turn-based.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
Easy enough - each round, resolve each ship's movement and action(s) in turn but with the clear understanding that it's all happening at once.* Just because the shots from your ship happen to be resolved first at the table doesn't mean the target ship will sink before it can fire back: it too gets its shots in for the round, and maybe after that it sinks.

Also, and again this is different from how normal D&D combat works, movement has to be seen as a continuous thing. In a normal D&D combat, movement often almost seems to work like a mini-teleport - you're here, and on your turn you're suddenly there, having spent no apparent in-game time to cover the distance. Can't do that with ships.

* - unlike a typical D&D combat; and D&D could really use a lot more simultaniety of resolution in its combat mechanics.

Still sounds too turn-based.
Yes, make it phase based.

A Command phase. This is when the captain gives orders. There is a check involved.

Then a maneuver phase. Winners can change range.

I guess damage control and fire happens at the same time. Things that are broken are broken for at least a turn this way, and you can shoot damage control parties repairing stuff as well.

With no maps, range is functional - what can you do at that range.

You do have to, as mentioned, make sure that an adventuring party off a ship is suicide, and that typical combat spells and abilities only work at the closest range increment; two ships in bowshot range (within 1000') are EXTREMELY close.
 

TheSword

Legend
The problem still appears that both ships would fire when their opponent was at the right point, they wouldn’t move and fire, move and fire. Just my thoughts.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The problem still appears that both ships would fire when their opponent was at the right point, they wouldn’t move and fire, move and fire. Just my thoughts.
Unless it's flat calm or they're hove-to they're going to keep moving whether they want to or not. Whether they move much in relation to each other is an open question, but they will be moving; and when one ship is in range to fire that means by default the other will be also, so each will end up simultaneously moving and then (probably) simultaneously firing.

The tactics come in when trying to ensure your movement puts you broadside-on to the other ship(s) while keeping their bow or stern toward you.
 

TheSword

Legend
Unless it's flat calm or they're hove-to they're going to keep moving whether they want to or not. Whether they move much in relation to each other is an open question, but they will be moving; and when one ship is in range to fire that means by default the other will be also, so each will end up simultaneously moving and then (probably) simultaneously firing.

The tactics come in when trying to ensure your movement puts you broadside-on to the other ship(s) while keeping their bow or stern toward you.
I think you misunderstand me. That’s my point, ships aren’t still they don’t move and fire, move and fire. They are moving and then at some point along that path they fire. So is the other ship.

But game systems operate a move and fire approach. It is ridiculously easy to line up your broadsides on the bow when you get to move a substantial distance and fire because it’s your turn and the opposing ships just has to sit there and wait.

Turn based combat means your ship gets to fire at the advantageous point, and my ship has to sit and wait until that point has passed and then try and move to fire again on my turn at a different spot. Hence me advocating being able to fire at any point in your opponents turn at the cost of firing in your own.

In fact I would allow ships a number of reaction options, the chance to fire, or a skill check to take evasive maneuvers to turn to protect your bow or stern.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
I think you misunderstand me. That’s my point, ships aren’t still they don’t move and fire, move and fire. They are moving and then at some point along that path they fire. So is the other ship.

But game systems operate a move and fire approach. It is ridiculously easy to line up your broadsides on the bow when you get to move a substantial distance and fire because it’s your turn and the opposing ships just has to sit there and wait.

Turn based combat means your ship gets to fire at the advantageous point, and my ship has to sit and wait until that point has passed and then try and move to fire again on my turn at a different spot. Hence me advocating being able to fire at any point in your opponents turn at the cost of firing in your own.

In fact I would allow ships a number of reaction options, the chance to fire, or a skill check to take evasive maneuvers to turn to protect your bow or stern.
Many games have the ships move one at a time...until they all have moved. Then they have them all fire after the movement is complete. This better (but not perfectly) simulates everyone moving at once.

Some games even divide the moves into multiple steps so that each ship moves 1/x of it's movement evenly until they are all finished.

Simarly some games allow a player to "mark" when during the stepped movement they wanted to fire and allow shots against enemies who are no longer in view, range, or other favorable situations.

I'm a fan of all 5e combat feeling like 5e combat though, regardless of what combat is being simulated. Otherwise save yourself the effort of custom building something and just pick up an off the shelf naval miniatures combat game.
 

TheSword

Legend
Many games have the ships move one at a time...until they all have moved. Then they have them all fire after the movement is complete. This better (but not perfectly) simulates everyone moving at once.

Some games even divide the moves into multiple steps so that each ship moves 1/x of it's movement evenly until they are all finished.

Simarly some games allow a player to "mark" when during the stepped movement they wanted to fire and allow shots against enemies who are no longer in view, range, or other favorable situations.

I'm a fan of all 5e combat feeling like 5e combat though, regardless of what combat is being simulated. Otherwise save yourself the effort of custom building something and just pick up an off the shelf naval miniatures combat game.
Those are fair points. Im not sure what it is about reactions that make it not seem like a 5e game though?
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Those are fair points. Im not sure what it is about reactions that make it not seem like a 5e game though?
It's not reactions, it's that trying to swim upstream against the one-complete-turn-at-a-time generates friction and leads to the "people don't want to learn new rules" issue that (to some) holds back innovative 5e design.

I'll refer back to my previous exams of the old WEG Star Wars RPG. There was a standalone fighter dogfighting game (Star Warriors) that used the stats from the RPG to represent the ships and pilots, but which did combat in a totally different way than combat between fighters in the RPG.

In a way the OP is designing the 5e version of Star Warriors.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think you misunderstand me. That’s my point, ships aren’t still they don’t move and fire, move and fire. They are moving and then at some point along that path they fire. So is the other ship.

But game systems operate a move and fire approach. It is ridiculously easy to line up your broadsides on the bow when you get to move a substantial distance and fire because it’s your turn and the opposing ships just has to sit there and wait.

Turn based combat means your ship gets to fire at the advantageous point, and my ship has to sit and wait until that point has passed and then try and move to fire again on my turn at a different spot. Hence me advocating being able to fire at any point in your opponents turn at the cost of firing in your own.
So move away from turn-based combat to a more 1e-like system where every ship declares its action (preferably in secret) then they all resolve at once. And be granular with it, to allow a ship to react with next round's action to what happens in this one. (in other words, every round is in effect a "reaction", there's no sub-round reaction-speed events)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It's not reactions, it's that trying to swim upstream against the one-complete-turn-at-a-time generates friction and leads to the "people don't want to learn new rules" issue that (to some) holds back innovative 5e design.
Which raises a point: why does this have to be specifically tied to 5e? As no previous or current edition has really done this right, a good naval combat system would ideally be edition-agnostic (as no matter what edition you're running it'll be its own subsystem anyway) and thus slottable into any D&D game out there.
 

Or you abandon squares and hexes completely and just use straight-line distances (really old-school idea: measure with pieces of string!). Unless there's rocks or other navigational hazards, the "battlefield" is wide open; might as well take advantage of that.
An appropriately scaled grid makes the game faster and more fun. Simulationist is the antithesis of fun.

I'm talking from experience of (space) ship combat in various RPGs.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
An appropriately scaled grid makes the game faster and more fun. Simulationist is the antithesis of fun.
Not for everybody.
I'm talking from experience of (space) ship combat in various RPGs.
I've never played a spaceship combat but have a few times tried playing out sea-ship combat, to iffy results - which is why I hope the OP's system can work its way up to being viable while remaining at least a bit realistic. If it can, it'll be the first one I've seen that did.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Your basic premise is correct. I've used 2E, 3E and 5E rules and they basically suck.

It's not limited to D&D either the Star Wars rules not great either.
 


Which Star Wars rules? I found WEG Star Wars D6 was good for theatre of the mind, and the Star Warriors tie-in boardgame good for minis.
Different person but: the Star Wars d20 rules helped me narrow down a couple key problems.

1. If every pc is in their own ship/fighter, it's fine. Everybody gets a whole turn. But if all the pc's are on the same ship, there's only one turn to share amongst the whole party. Usually one pc ends up being the captain, making the main tactical decisions. Other players get to roll attacks or sometimes reactions. It's basically built for quarterbacking. I have yet to see a system that even looks like it would solve this.

2. The system requires feats to be good at piloting fighters or ships - it doesn't let you use standard-blaster-battle class features while in a ship. Even in the case of fightercraft, this means you have to pick at character creation/level up which pillar of play you'll be able to engage in - which is not something I think a game should do. If it's a pillar of play (and space battles are a pillar of Star Wars), every pc should be able to participate. This is relatively simple to solve - even 5e avoids this trap by assuming everyone can ride a horse well and fight from horseback, rather than making you invest feats or whatever to be able to use class features while riding.
 

I have yet to see a system that even looks like it would solve this.
FASA Star Trek is this, and it worked great. The engineering station allocates power to other players, as well as carries out repairs. Ops distributes their power allocation to shields, and has science folded in (unless you have lots of players); Security fires the weapons with their power allocation; helm moves the counter with their power allocation (and probably has captain folded in).

The only drawback it is a lot of management for the GM running the enemy ships.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Different person but: the Star Wars d20 rules helped me narrow down a couple key problems.

1. If every pc is in their own ship/fighter, it's fine. Everybody gets a whole turn. But if all the pc's are on the same ship, there's only one turn to share amongst the whole party. Usually one pc ends up being the captain, making the main tactical decisions. Other players get to roll attacks or sometimes reactions. It's basically built for quarterbacking. I have yet to see a system that even looks like it would solve this.

2. The system requires feats to be good at piloting fighters or ships - it doesn't let you use standard-blaster-battle class features while in a ship. Even in the case of fightercraft, this means you have to pick at character creation/level up which pillar of play you'll be able to engage in - which is not something I think a game should do. If it's a pillar of play (and space battles are a pillar of Star Wars), every pc should be able to participate. This is relatively simple to solve - even 5e avoids this trap by assuming everyone can ride a horse well and fight from horseback, rather than making you invest feats or whatever to be able to use class features while riding.
In WEG Star Wars RPG ships that held multiple people (like the Falcon for example) divided up the jobs amongst the crew. In Star Wars for example Han and Luke were shooting different guns, Chewie was piloting, and R2 was doing repair and navigation. 3PO was just in the way. Obiwan wasnt really shown doing much but was probably copiloting.

In game terms this let two players shoot guns, one player repair/navigate, and two other players in the cockpit handle piloting, sensors, and shields.

In practice the fish out of water character on the ship was in charge of shields since it was the easiest station to hit the target numbers without much skill. I always manned the shields (I was an alcholohic failed Jedi with little skill) and joked it was the SW equivalent of turning a light switch on and off.

SW small ship combat isn't really similar to sailing vessels, though, so we are kind of straying from the course so to speak.
 

Yeah, Star Trek is more influenced by naval combat. Star Wars is influenced by WW2 dogfights. This is very apparent in Star Warriors, which is basically a reskinned Battle of Britain game.
 
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I have yet to see a system that even looks like it would solve this.
GURPS 3E Space (the original printing at least, they revised space rules almost as much as they did extraordinary Strength in that edition) had a pretty 'what are the player's doing?' kind of ship combat system. Each character could be pilot or captain or gunner or damage control, and each role the ship didn't have covered would be a serious detriment. Consequences of combat were more focused on when/whether the main adventure could continue (cost to repair, how long the ship would be inoperable/without a function) than actually taking them out. Sure, ships could eventually destroy each other, but that would be more akin to 'Okay, you need to make 3 damage results checks and 2 grievous damage results checks on the power-plant chart. What? a crit fail? Okay, that's... uh oh' than 'your ship takes 3 more hit points damage, it's at zero. Looks like your character goes with it.'
 

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