Unearthed Arcana: Of Ships and The Sea

Comments

This is the kind of UA I like, because I can drop it into my campaign without adding something new to the setting. Because obviously there were ships before, now we just run them a certain way. Stuff like new subclasses is trickier, because I like to create new world lore around them.
 

MarkB

Hero
This article says airships travel at 9 MPH. In prior editions, the airships moved at between 20 and 24 MPH. 9 MPH is just shy of 80 feet per round - meaning that thy're slower than your average barbarian. I'd prefer the faster speed.
For what it's worth, the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron puts elemental airship speeds at between 20 and 40 mph.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
Thinking on how I want ships to have Cannons instead of Ballistas and Mangonels...

I could see a Small Cannon as having roughly the same stats as a Ballista except that it does bludgeoning damage (though it could be argued that it's piercing just like the Ballista)

Big Cannons could roughly have the same stats as the Mangonel except that I don't see it having the restriction on being unable to target within 60'.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
What's funny is that I really wouldn't expect FR ships to have cannons especially, but not really ballistae either (at least not fired via taut cord). Instead, I'd expect all ship weaponry to be magically based... the "cannons" are magical items that have beefed up Catapult spells or Fireball spells that fire ship-to-ship.

When you have a world where magical destruction rains down all the time, but gunpowder has barely made any substanitive appearance... why any warship would try and make black powder cannons work as the default method of combat is beyond me.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
What's funny is that I really wouldn't expect FR ships to have cannons especially, but not really ballistae either (at least not fired via taut cord). Instead, I'd expect all ship weaponry to be magically based... the "cannons" are magical items that have beefed up Catapult spells or Fireball spells that fire ship-to-ship.

When you have a world where magical destruction rains down all the time, but gunpowder has barely made any substanitive appearance... why any warship would try and make black powder cannons work as the default method of combat is beyond me.
Yeah it mostly makes sense in a low-magic world.
 
I think it is intentional. The Wisdom (Nature) roll involves perception of the natural hazard rather than analysis while the Intelligence (Medicine) roll involves applying medical knowledge instead of treatment.
Probably intentional. We have to remember that Mike & Co. occasionally add things into the playtests that are not "normal"... not because they mess up, but because they want us to think about doing things "abnormally" and whether we're okay with it. By doing this alternate ability score bit, they are asking us to comment whether we like the idea or would rather just stick with the default 5E rule for one score / one skill.

I think people sometimes get way too hung up on wanting everything in a playtest document to be "absolutely correct!" from the get-go so that they can just use these playtest rules as-is without having to "fix" them... which is not what these are for. It the same reason why they release playtest docs wiithout having "the math" necessarily correct... because as they say, fixing the math is the easiest thing to do and what they can do right before they declare the product done. But yet folks on the boards still constantly complain and say stuff along the lines of "How can they release such shoddy work?!? Give the game to a company that cares!"

It's kind of ridiculous that people still don't realize this.
I only ask because it they don't draw attention to it (like they do for trying knots in Xanathar) and I think more than a few PCs will look at their sheet and use Wis/Medicine
and Int/Nature because they are written like that on their sheet.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I also don't think an effective Artificer class can work without basic item crafting rules. So I hope that the crafting rules are forthcoming and the Artificer will build upon those.

Making the Artificer a full caster is a cop-out (at best!) and it seems they are realizing that. The class needs to work and feel differently, and the crafting angle is a huge part of what it requires.
I couldn't possibly disagree more. It should be a full caster, and it should imbue spells into things. The Xanathar's crafting rules are fine, but the Artificer could certainly have some exceptions to those rules in some fairly limited way, like making consumables in the half the normal time, or spending a spell slot to recharge items.

I'd rather a bunch of new spells that hit the mark of how infusions and imbued items worked narratively, than an entirely different system for one class.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What's funny is that I really wouldn't expect FR ships to have cannons especially, but not really ballistae either (at least not fired via taut cord). Instead, I'd expect all ship weaponry to be magically based... the "cannons" are magical items that have beefed up Catapult spells or Fireball spells that fire ship-to-ship.

When you have a world where magical destruction rains down all the time, but gunpowder has barely made any substanitive appearance... why any warship would try and make black powder cannons work as the default method of combat is beyond me.
I think FR still assumes that the vast majority of people can't cast any spells of any kind, ever.

In such a world, the utility of powerful mundane weaponry rises exponentially, compared to the real world.
 

Ath-kethin

Explorer
I couldn't possibly disagree more. It should be a full caster, and it should imbue spells into things. The Xanathar's crafting rules are fine, but the Artificer could certainly have some exceptions to those rules in some fairly limited way, like making consumables in the half the normal time, or spending a spell slot to recharge items.

I'd rather a bunch of new spells that hit the mark of how infusions and imbued items worked narratively, than an entirely different system for one class.
But there you run into the fundamental problem I have with the 5e wizard/subclass setup: for at least one level, the wizard casts spells, just like any other. So with the Artificer, what happens? You cast spells for a level or two then stop being able to because you use the spell slots for something else? That's doesn't feel right to me.

And it's part of why wizards in general don't feel right to me in 5e: they're too much of all the same. A "speciality" that's as a much a ribbon ability as anything else notwithstanding.

My opinion carries little to no weight. But I strongly feel that an Artificer simply won't work right by hanging it on the bones of an existing class - particularly the 5e wizard.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
But there you run into the fundamental problem I have with the 5e wizard/subclass setup: for at least one level, the wizard casts spells, just like any other. So with the Artificer, what happens? You cast spells for a level or two then stop being able to because you use the spell slots for something else? That's doesn't feel right to me.

And it's part of why wizards in general don't feel right to me in 5e: they're too much of all the same. A "speciality" that's as a much a ribbon ability as anything else notwithstanding.

My opinion carries little to no weight. But I strongly feel that an Artificer simply won't work right by hanging it on the bones of an existing class - particularly the 5e wizard.
A couple things.

1. The artificer can assuming have its subclass come in at level 1.

2. No full caster in the game is a wizard clone, so I’m unsure why you’re worried that an artificer would be.

3. Having other uses of spell slots wouldn’t make the artificer unable to use spells, it would create a choice.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, where is a cutter/sloop supposed to fit in there?

Why is the longship so slow? A Viking sea vessel can beat a modern race cutter with the wind, and barely lose to it running into the wind. It can turn very quickly, too, and the oar-powered speed is faster than most would expect.

I’d love to see stats for a pilot cutter.

Some differences in turning capability would be cool if it can be done efficiently.

And give me differences in different rigging ya cowards! (I know this isn’t a reasonable ask...but I want my gaff rigged cutter!)
 

Parmandur

Legend
So, where is a cutter/sloop supposed to fit in there?

Why is the longship so slow? A Viking sea vessel can beat a modern race cutter with the wind, and barely lose to it running into the wind. It can turn very quickly, too, and the oar-powered speed is faster than most would expect.

I’d love to see stats for a pilot cutter.

Some differences in turning capability would be cool if it can be done efficiently.

And give me differences in different rigging ya cowards! (I know this isn’t a reasonable ask...but I want my gaff rigged cutter!)
Per Mearls on the Happy Fun Hour, they actually have way more stuff statted out with these rules, including land vehicles (he half-joked about doing up Kit from Knight Rider), but they wanted a focused set for public feedback of the principles.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Per Mearls on the Happy Fun Hour, they actually have way more stuff statted out with these rules, including land vehicles (he half-joked about doing up Kit from Knight Rider), but they wanted a focused set for public feedback of the principles.
Good to know!
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Per Mearls on the Happy Fun Hour, they actually have way more stuff statted out with these rules, including land vehicles (he half-joked about doing up Kit from Knight Rider), but they wanted a focused set for public feedback of the principles.
Perhaps they could communicate those principles, because the current stats seem quite unprincipled!
 

ZenBear

Villager
Any idea how one would stat up an ironclad warship? My players just commandeered one in the last game session and desperately want to keep it. This UA is serendipity at its finest.
 

Satyrn

Villager
Any idea how one would stat up an ironclad warship? My players just commandeered one in the last game session and desperately want to keep it. This UA is serendipity at its finest.
I'd start with whatever statblock matched the size of what I was going for, then:
1) Increase the Constitution score (probably by 4)
2) maybe up the Damage Threshold by 10.
3) reflavor the weapons as cannons (upping the damage by 1 or 2 dice if I upped the damage threshold)

4) Switch the movement to Steam Furnace.


That would probably be enough.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Perhaps they could communicate those principles, because the current stats seem quite unprincipled!
They aren't going to do that, because the point of giving us the playtest material isn't for us to "fix" the mechanics. It's *never* been about us helping them "fix" or "balance" the numbers. They know they can do that when the time comes, but what they are looking for us is for us to tell them how do the particular set-ups and formats for the mechanics make us feel?

To be truthful... I suspect that every single person who goes in to the survey doing nothing but talking about how this ship is "way too slow for what it should be", or that the other ship "is missing", or that "we need these rules for wagons and land vehicles"... is pretty much telling them that the rules they've created are what those people want. If worrying about fixing what has been given is (general) your entire focus, it pretty much implies (general) you think the rules as given to us are worthy enough to move on to the balancing pass. Which I suspect is probably NOT what many players who are getting bothered by what we have, actually think.

Don't worry about "fixing" the unbalanced rules. Tell them how you *feel* about the rules as given instead. Tell them you think for example that they are *too* simplistic and that we can handle a more complex system to make ship combat actually interesting. Or tell them that the rules should definitely be tiered on two different time scales so that you can seamlessly move from ship-to-ship into boarding-action. Or whatever else you think these rules need from a conceptual point of view. But also remember at the same time that at the end of the day... these vehicle combat rules most likely ARE going to be on the simplistic side. Because WotC is going to want rules easy enough for non-vehicle-combat-centric DMs to be able to drop into their games with a minimum of fuss. They'll be like the Stealth rules... a very baseline system anyone who have never used them before can figure out and put into place easily... under the expectation that those DMs who NEED a more complex system for their enjoyment were going to end up re-writing whatever rules WotC gave them anyway. So they won't bother delving too deep or spending too much page-count on it since no matter what they came up with, the DMs who want it would probably not like it and end up re-doing it.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
I did some looking into naval artillery and it seems that ballistas and catapults on ships were mainly something for the Roman or Byzantine Empires. One thing that was distinctive about Byzantine vessels though was while they may have had ballistas or catapults, many of them had Greek Fire flamethrowers. While the Byzantine Empire did exist in the medieval era, I certainly can't think of anything from official campaign settings that actually have a Byzantine Empire equivalent.

When non-Byzantine naval vessels started using artillery, it was cannons starting from the early 1300's which is still within what's considered the medieval era (although late).
 

R_Chance

Explorer
If you want a definitive book on medieval naval warfare I'd suggest "Medieval Maritime Warfare" by Charles D. Stanton. He covers the whole period, the ships, weapons, tactics, strategy and battles. He covers both the Viking, North Sea, Atlantic, and Mediterranean areas, including the evolution of the weapons, ships and tactics. It's a complete, well researched, and readable book on a topic that's not overflowing with material.
 

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