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Old 11-06-2008, 07:45 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 02:56 PM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

WOW! Thats a lot to take in at once & after a preliminary read I agree with most of what you are saying (still have to analyze it all).

The only real question I have so far is: you keep refering to ship speeds in knots while their move is in standard YPS/MPH. Have you taken that into account?

PS: older (TL 4) vessels were hardier (less brakeable) against battle damage then newer ones with lighter construction & explosive/flamable propulsion systems.
They were built massively whilst 'newer' ships were built closer to the engineering 'envelope'. (Though for the rowboat vs. speed boat thats probably not relavant.)

Last edited by Tinman; 11-06-2008 at 08:22 AM. Reason: PS
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

You forgot to mention aerial vehicle stats, e.g. the lack of indication how much FP is spent on using a Winged Harness per unit of time, or the somewhat optimistic glide ratio of the glider.
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

BTW, Kromm's comment on rocket stats.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinman
The only real question I have so far is: you keep refering to ship speeds in knots while their move is in standard YPS/MPH. Have you taken that into account?
Not really. I just multiplied their top speed in yards/second by two to get their speed in knots. On re-reading the relevant section in Campaigns, I see that this gives their speed in mph, which is slightly better (but not much, in case of the galleon and it's actively worse for the 'pirate ship').

I'll convert to proper knots in the original post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinman
PS: older (TL 4) vessels were hardier (less brakeable) against battle damage then newer ones with lighter construction & explosive/flamable propulsion systems.
They were built massively whilst 'newer' ships were built closer to the engineering 'envelope'. (Though for the rowboat vs. speed boat thats probably not relavant.)
Some older vessels were built strongly. Others were not, such as the roundship and dhow. In any event, momentum is momentum and not supposed to vary depending on the engineering style of the movable object.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
Some older vessels were built strongly. Others were not, such as the roundship and dhow. In any event, momentum is momentum and not supposed to vary depending on the engineering style of the movable object.
Momentum is momentum, but using HP rather than something that is a clean mass-derivative was deliberate according to the collision rules. Because something with more HP for its mass will tend to crush less, therefore delivering more of the impact to the other object, is my impression. (Which then works just great when you inflict collision damage on yourself...)
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth
Momentum is momentum, but using HP rather than something that is a clean mass-derivative was deliberate according to the collision rules. Because something with more HP for its mass will tend to crush less, therefore delivering more of the impact to the other object, is my impression. (Which then works just great when you inflict collision damage on yourself...)
I remain unconvinced that a wooden hull should deliver a superior impact than a fiberglass one, if and only if the fiberglass one is fitted with an engine.

The seperation into powered and unpowered vehicles is wonky and it ignores the fact that many sailing ships are far from Homogenous objects.
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Old 11-06-2008, 05:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

Quote:
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.
When I did my TL analysis, I noticed this myself. A TL 4 "Pirate ship" is actually SLOWER than a TL 3 Crusader Ship, and looking at the two statlines, I can't think of many reasons to make the jump to the "Pirate Ship." I would expect Pirate Ships would be faster than their prey, as you can't possibly pounce on treasure ships if they simply lower all their sails and outrun you.

I'm betting its errata, and there's some numbers switched between the Galleon and the Pirate ship
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Old 11-06-2008, 06:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
I remain unconvinced that a wooden hull should deliver a superior impact than a fiberglass one, if and only if the fiberglass one is fitted with an engine.
If impact is supposed to include a toughness factor, it should really be based on DR, not hit points. In any collision, there's a certain amount of energy which needs to be absorbed somewhere, and 'somewhere' is usually the softer object.

Of course, collision damage should also be based mostly on the hit points of the smaller object; a human getting hit by an aircraft carrier moving at 10 mph is not going to be significantly more hurt than one hit by a truck moving at 10 mph (this assumes the human doesn't get caught between the vehicle and a solid object); in either case, it's basically a 10 mph collision with an essentially immovable object.
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: Vehicles and Weapons from Fantasy giving me problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
I remain unconvinced that a wooden hull should deliver a superior impact than a fiberglass one, if and only if the fiberglass one is fitted with an engine.

The seperation into powered and unpowered vehicles is wonky and it ignores the fact that many sailing ships are far from Homogenous objects.
I wasn't trying to advocate the existing collision rules, which may or may not be decent but offend my inner physics geek greatly. Just pointing out the whys.
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