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Old 07-21-2019, 11:23 PM   #1
Vethano
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Default Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

So I'm having a little difficulty parsing how to apply Control Roll modifiers (B466) when the vehicle in question is a large vehicle that requires rolls against both Shiphandling and average Crewman.

For background, I ask because I'm specifically going to be running an adventure aboard a tallship (a Cog, B464), but I'd like to understand the rules in general before applying them to my particular case. I'm specifically asking about the Basic Set rules--I don't have Spaceships or Age of Sail Pirate Crew, and the PCs will only be aboard the ship for a session or two so it doesn't really justify purchasing a new book.

I assume that vehicle Handling modifies both rolls, given the emphasis on 'all', but it seems odd to me that the handling of, say, a tallship out at sea affects the crew's ability to manage the sails. Is Handling in this case supposed to be a sort of stand in for a bad footing penalty, indicating how rough (or smooth) the ride is? Or should Handling only apply to Shiphandling after all?

If handling does apply to both rolls, the result seems fairly harsh. On a Cog with Handling -3, the captain and crew would need to have skill 15 or higher just to get to a relatively reliable effective skill of 12. Is there something I'm missing here?

Visibility penalties are another odd example. As I understand the RAW, Crewman would suffer from visibility penalties to manage sails, but only if there's a risk of collision, which doesn't really add up. Is this just a case where the GM has to apply common sense and ignore the RAW? Ignoring the RAW, I could see an argument for Visibility modifiers applying to all DX-based Crewman rolls when it's dark (e.g. on a tallship's unlit deck at night, or in a spaceship's engine room while the lights are out.)

This is probably simpler than I'm making it out to be, and at the table I'll just rule by common sense to keep the game going, but I'd like to understand the rules all the same.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:24 AM   #2
Gollum
 
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Default Re: Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vethano View Post
I assume that vehicle Handling modifies both rolls, given the emphasis on 'all', but it seems odd to me that the handling of, say, a tallship out at sea affects the crew's ability to manage the sails. Is Handling in this case supposed to be a sort of stand in for a bad footing penalty, indicating how rough (or smooth) the ride is? Or should Handling only apply to Shiphandling after all?
In my humble opinion, the -3 doesn't represent the crew's ability to manage the sails, the vision (which is an other modifier, as described in the rules) or anything like that ... It represents the speed and easiness with which the vehicle responds to what the crew and the captain do. And a large boat does respond very slowly ... So, it is why it is much harder to make control rolls than with a canoe for instance.

Remember the titanic ... They saw the iceberg. But, unfortunately, to late to react ... Some said that a better reaction would have avoid the disaster: accelerating instead of slowing down, to turn more rapidly ... I don't know if it is true, but, in game terms, it would have mean a higher skill for the captain or a better roll.
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Last edited by Gollum; 07-22-2019 at 01:46 AM.
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:20 PM   #3
Black Leviathan
 
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Default Re: Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

Control roll penalties and vision checks don't apply to the Seamanship rolls, only the boat handling. The helmsman deals with the sluggish control of the large boat and the need to see navigation concerns. The crewmen could just about be blindfolded and do their job so long as they're given proper instructions. If you have an incapable crew their crewman ship rolls to control the sails or manipulate the anchor, throw or catch lines matters. If you have seasoned deck hands then you can assume those systems are automated. Your watchman has to make Per checks to see reefs or wreckage or other threats and to count off distances for the helmsman. The Helmsman has to make Shipmandling rolls to judge the best management of the ship to navigate a course or avoid dangers. Perhaps a navigator needs to plan the trip to take advantage of the best currents and avoid unpredictable depth or stormy regions. Otherwise other rolling is just to keep players in the game.

It is tough to pilot a tall ship. A skill of 15 is probably not good enough to navigate shallows or dock the ship without accidents. However your ship doesn't just hit the bottom of the ocean if you fail one of those -3 skill rolls. Most tall ship maneuvers are made far enough out that you can make a correction to avoid a hazard. That correction might put you off your desired course or allow a ship pursuing you to gain a bit but it's probably not a wreck unless you fail by a wide margin. If your crew aren't ship-shape chances are you have a first mate on the main deck shouting them into order so if they fail their seamanship roll they can get another roll and the outcome is your orders are delayed a second or so.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:56 PM   #4
YankeeGamer
 
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Default Re: Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

Ships take TIME to do things like docking and undocking, usually a lot of it, giving some modifiers. They also have people ashore heaving lines and the like--assistence from the docking crew. Getting underway with a competent crew and normal conditions--in some cases, tugs and the like--shouldn't need a roll except to see if it's smartly done.

On the other hand, the junior officer who had the watch aboard USS Nevada on the morning of December 7, 1941, and got underway without tugs or shoreside assistance, under heavy air attack, poor visibility due to exploding ships and bombs, must have rolled VERY well...
I hate to think of the modifiers he was stuck with.
(Oh--and undermanned and not much steam up...)
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:39 PM   #5
Vethano
 
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Default Re: Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

Quote:
Originally Posted by YankeeGamer
Ships take TIME to do things like docking and undocking, usually a lot of it, giving some modifiers.
Good point about the time spent modifiers, YankeeGamer. I hadn't considered that. What about the generic task difficulty modifiers on B345? Since controlling such large vehicles inherently contains some risk, I can see an argument for a +2 or +3 ("Very Favorable") bonus on control rolls made under ordinary condition, with the unmodified roll for stressful situations like combat or traveling through a storm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Leviathan
Control roll penalties and vision checks don't apply to the Seamanship rolls, only the boat handling. The helmsman deals with the sluggish control of the large boat and the need to see navigation concerns. The crewmen could just about be blindfolded and do their job so long as they're given proper instructions.
I can see your argument about this, but do you have a source? The formatting of the Control Rolls section seems to suggest that, in the case of large vehicles, both the Shiphandling and Crewman rolls are considered control rolls, and the modifiers state that all control rolls are modified by Handling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gollum
In my humble opinion, the -3 doesn't represent the crew's ability to manage the sails, the vision (which is an other modifier, as described in the rules) or anything like that ... It represents the speed and easiness with which the vehicle responds to what the crew and the captain do. And a large boat does respond very slowly...
I like your idea here; it's elegant and seems to pass the reality check. Handling equaling responsiveness was intuitive for shiphandling and for things like driving or piloting smaller vehicles, but I can see how it might extend to how quickly the vehicle responds to the crew's actions as well. Continuing the sail example, no matter how skilled they are it takes time for the crew to haul on the ropes to trim the sails.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:32 AM   #6
Gollum
 
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Default Re: Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

Responsiveness … It is the word I was looking for. Yes, it is exactly how I see the Handling stat. And it explains why small vehicles always have a better Handling (sport bike +2, inflatable boat +2, light monoplane +2) than huge ones (bus -2, tramp steamer -3, twin-prop transport -3), which are slow to react with their massive momentum.

Don’t forget several things that go with all that …

As noted by Black Leviathan, a failed roll doesn’t mean a “crash”. It is just a minor problem, except if the margin of failure exceeds the Stability Rating (4 for the cog). See Control Rolls, page 466. So, a skill of 12 is still good.

Also remember than you don’t need to make any roll in ordinary conditions. See When to roll, page 343:
The GM should not require rolls for …
• Utterly trivial tasks, such as crossing the street, driving into town, feeding the dog, finding the corner store, or turning on the computer.


Likewise, if you really want to make a roll in such a situation, the Meaning of Skill Levels rules (page 171) are clear: you get a bonus.
In nonadventuring situations when you have lots of time to prepare and face minimal risk, the GM may give you +4 or more to skill. (The GM might even declare such actions successful instead of wasting time on a skill roll; see When to Roll, p. 343).

And the example given just below is even clearer: an airline pilot gets that +4 for day-to-day flying, which raises its skill of 12 (74% chance of succeeding) to 16 (98% chance of succeeding).

So, you just ask for a control roll with the -3 when there is a problem: “Captain, Captain, reefs straight ahead!” or during combat maneuvers, of course.
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Last edited by Gollum; 07-23-2019 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:07 AM   #7
Rupert
 
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Default Re: Large Vehicle Control Roll modifiers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
It is tough to pilot a tall ship. A skill of 15 is probably not good enough to navigate shallows or dock the ship without accidents. However your ship doesn't just hit the bottom of the ocean if you fail one of those -3 skill rolls. Most tall ship maneuvers are made far enough out that you can make a correction to avoid a hazard. That correction might put you off your desired course or allow a ship pursuing you to gain a bit but it's probably not a wreck unless you fail by a wide margin. If your crew aren't ship-shape chances are you have a first mate on the main deck shouting them into order so if they fail their seamanship roll they can get another roll and the outcome is your orders are delayed a second or so.
Seamanship-15 is only necessary if the GM is making you roll all the time, and thus you really need to not fail badly except on a 17-18.

Also, while that cog has Handling -3, it also has Stability Rating +4. This while you take -3 to your control rolls, you have to fail by more than 4 to have a major problem. Also, if the situation is a bit risky but otherwise easy (docking in a familiar harbour in good weather) you'll get a bonus to your Seamanship skill. Thus there's not reason to require professional helmsmen, etc. to have higher levels of skill than other professionals do in their areas of expertise.

Note that very few vehicles have negative Hnd and SR levels so low that the SR doesn't at least cover the penalty.
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