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Old 11-06-2008, 08:45 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

I confess to finding myself puzzled by elements of the tables in Fantasy. The draft of some of the watercraft there are decidedly optimistic, not to mention the top speed listed. The listed HPs appear somewhat unplayable, as a sailing ship is hardly a homogenous object. It might be better to calculate HPs the same way for powered and unpowered vessels (to avoid the unholy mess that if you put an engine into a boat it suddenly possesses less momentum if it slams something) and just treat them as Unliving and Homogenous respectively for damage purposes.

Added to that, the mechanical artillery section causes me some problems as well. I cannot seem to make out the crew requires for each weapon and the Acc stat of the two available Scorpions appear to me to differ far too much for the relatively small extra Cost and Weight of the larger one.

If we examine the Vehicle Tables in order, let us start with the humble Rowboat, a 15 feet long example. It displaces 1.65 tons loaded, as opposed to the Speedboat at 2 tons and it weights a mere 1400 lbs. against the 2000 lbs. of the Speedboat. Yet, the Rowboat has a higher HP total and in a collision between the two, it‘s more likely to withstand the blow. To my mind, at least, that‘s bogus.

I've been assured that the stats for oared galleys are fine. Since I'm no expert, I concur.

The Dhow is a light sailor, sure, but more than 12 knots top speed? That‘s the same speed as late 18th century/early 19th full-rigged frigates made. I just don‘t see dhows making over 300 miles per day, monsoon wind or no. In fact, since the hull isn‘t exactly adapted to roiling seas, any sort of lively wind will likely knock a few knots of its theoretical top speed because of the need to weather waves.

The Drakkar is a fast vessel, so I guess I don‘t have a quibble with the Top Speed. The draft is okay as well, I guess. It‘s really one of the few watercraft here that appear believable to me. It's not a historically correct vessel, though, in tonnage or length.

The Elven sailing ship is something of a miracle vessel (well, that and it‘s not a ‘ship’ any more than the Crusader ship, since it doesn’t have a full ship rig). It‘s handier than a rowed war galley of almost half the size (the Trireme) and the turn of speed is has is nothing short of wonderful. Yet, for all that, it‘s not an unreasonable design, except for one thing. Usually a ship with such a large sail area will need a large draft or another method to keep a low centre of gravity to act as a counterbalance, in order not to be at risk at tipping over. Yet this light schooner flying a lot of sail draws 4‘? While a similar TL 5 sailing schooner could draw 8’ and still not achieve the same speed in perfect conditions, let alone stability. I think that drawing 6’ wouldn’t be out of place and would at least prevent the vessel from being completely perfect. On the other hand, it does carry a very light cargo, so it may be balanced that way.

I’m not sure what the ‘Pirate ship’ is supposed to be. As a single-masted vessel, it’s hardly representative of typical Age of Sail ocean-going ships. And if it’s meant to be a pirate craft, it should be fast and handy, right? But the listed speed is incredibly slow. An Acceleration of 0.03 is inferior even to the Rowboat, let alone any other vessel. Even the paddling Elven riverboat is faster at an Acceleration of 0.05. The top speed at just over five knots is unimpressive as well, especially when one keeps in mind that a cheap medieval roundship like the one GURPS calls a ‘Cog’ can make 7 knots. One wonders how this supposed pirate vessel is going to catch anyone that doesn’t explicitly want to be boarded and captured.

As for the ‘typical’ 16th century Spanish Armada Galleon, I’m stunned. More than twelve knots? I know that the popular image of ponderous Spanish ships yipped at by light English terriers is somewhat inaccurate, but the fact remains that while galleons undoubtedly were very seaworthy and represented a tremendous advantage over the carrack or nao, they weren’t built for speed. They made 8 knots, typically, and the fastest galleons weren’t anywhere near as large as the one presented here. In fact, a typical galleon was smaller with a tonnage of 400-500 tons and still not nearly so fast.

From the emergence of the first galleons almost three centuries of sailing ship development steadily led to ships with more advanced sail plans and racier hull lines. If the typical galleon, displacing almost a thousand tons, could make 12 knots without making any trade-offs, what was accomplished with all these new technologies? The only vessels of comparable size that made that speed before the modern age of better materials and science are American schooners or ships build for speed at the cost of everything else. And those were flush-decked vessels with much lesser cargo capacity and 200-300 years of fairly rapid technological advancement on their side.

At a 150’ in length, the vessel is among the largest ship in the Spanish Armada. It’s smaller than the Rata Coronada, San Martin or Regazona; but it’s longer than the largest ships on the English side, the Triumph or the Royal Ark. This isn’t a ‘typical’ galleon; it’s among the largest warships in the world in the 16th century. Also, as far as I can tell, the 9’ draft is optimistic. I’m sure it’s possible to find a Dutch-built galleon with that draft, but that would be an exceptional vessel, not the norm.

And now for the Vehicular Weapons table.

How many men form the crew of an Onager, a Trebuchet or a Scorpion? It doesn’t say anywhere and that’s a problem, to say the least.

There are two sizes of Scorpions. One of them is about 80% larger than the other, has about a range that’s about 3,6% better, inflicts about 30% more damage, takes 16,7% longer to load and costs 4% more. Those percentages look a little peculiar, particularly in that a heavier projectile that delivers more energy to the target should probably get a slightly longer range and a device that is so much larger should perhaps display more difference in the price, but it may fall below the radar in any case.

What does not fall below the radar is the enormous increase in Accuracy. A bonus of +3 Acc is equivalent with an eightfold increase in effective range. That’s a little over the top for a device that’s essentially just a bigger model. Not to mention that it’s a little weird that a TL 2 mechanical artillery piece without proper sights can really be more accurate up to 400-500 yards than a modern rifle designed for the purpose.

Sure, Scorpions could be used by Roman armies to hit man-sized targets at remarkable ranges, but I hardly believe that this means that they’re more accurate than an M16A4 (Acc 5), a Springfield M1903 (Acc 5) or even a modern main battle tank gun like the D81TM (Acc 5).

And a TL 3 Rocket with an Accuracy of 9? Even at TL 5 Congreve’s rockets were famously inaccurate. Hale’s later refinement still had Acc 0 in GURPS terms, but someone means to tell us that many hundreds of years before that, there existed TL 3 rockets which were much more accurate than a guided missile like the modern Stinger FIM-92C (Acc 5).

What’s going on here? David Pulver is listed as a playtester, couldn’t he tell this was nonsense?

I’m also confused why someone felt there was a need for the stats of both a 9-pounder and a 10-pounder, given that there are only slight cost and weight differences and otherwise the stats vary only vary about 3%-5% for ½ Damage Range. Wouldn’t it have been better to include 12-pounders, since those are both common in the era described and presumably vary more from the 9-pounder stats, perhaps enough to justify their own line of stats?
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Last edited by Icelander; 11-27-2008 at 03:56 PM.
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