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Old 06-20-2022, 06:57 PM   #1
Astromancer
 
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Default Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

Basically, I hope to start a DnD 5e campaign fairly soon. The PCs will be hired on as part of the crew of a flying ship. The flying Ships of this world will look like the illustrations of Martian "Kites" from Space 1889. They won't fly on the same principles. The keels of these ships are alchemically treated wood.

How would you model the process of flying such a ship? I'd prefer simplicity but I want a bit of detail too.

To help you figure out this world, and answer my question better, I'll give you some background.

The four intelligent races came to this world about two hundred years ago. A large group of human women and girls (the men were fighting a Dark Lord, and most of the boys were killed by a baroque curse) were sent by magic into this Realm. Later, two groups of warriors were diverted from their goals by a powerful mage who foresaw the death of the old universe at the hand of the Dark Lord. One group was a small army of elves and the other a similarly sized group of orcs that had joined the forces of light. The orcs were exclusively male, the elves nearly all male. Later, as the death of the old realm was coming on too quickly, the mage sent a village of Owlins (hobbit sized owlfolk with wings) into the new realm.

Half-elves and half-orcs make up the vast majority of the population. There are small but thriving groups of humans (descended from those boy babies in their mother's wombs at the time of crossing) and some elves. The Owlins are more common than pure Elves or humans. As there were no female orcs sent along there are no pure blood orcs.

The PCs will be explorers looking for any other groups sent from either their old realms or another.
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Old 06-21-2022, 02:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

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How would you model the process of flying such a ship? I'd prefer simplicity but I want a bit of detail too.
How are they propelled? Sails, some kind of engine, or a combination?
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Old 06-21-2022, 04:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

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How are they propelled? Sails, some kind of engine, or a combination?
Sails, occasionally spells would be used to summon some extra wind. The anchor line would act like the tail of a kite.
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Old 06-21-2022, 07:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

So, what exactly would you be looking like here? Game mechanics for piloting this ship but under D20 rules?
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Old 06-21-2022, 08:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

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How would you model the process of flying such a ship? I'd prefer simplicity but I want a bit of detail too.
Let me preface this by noting I don't have any experience with DnD 5e.

It sounds like the process of flying it would largely be similar to the process of sailing an ocean-going ship, so I'd start with how 5e handles that. In GURPS the skills involved would generally be different than for a sailing vessel, or at least be different specializations of said skills, but I don't think DnD generally has that level of detail, so using the same skills is probably fine.

You'll need to decide how damage to the vessel works. Is it simply that the vessel fails when it runs out of HP, or do you want something equivalent to how oceangoing vessels can sink from taking on water if struck close enough to the waterline? To roughly approximate the latter, you could have an option to attack the keel (or a chance of hitting it), and the more damage the keel suffers, the less lift it provides, reducing the flight ceiling of the vessel (I assume the keel's alchemical treatment has given it some sort of antigravity lifting properties).

If there's no way to adjust how much lift the keel provides, the vessels will basically be stuck at a specific elevation based on how much weight they are carrying - going higher means dropping ballast, going lower means either adding weight or dropping some long ropes so it can be dragged down. In a DnD world, magic can be really useful here - if you design the vessel to have a Cargo Hold of Holding (or whatever you'd like to call it), you could have heavy weights that you shift in and out of it as needed - as items in a Bag of Holding or similar are functionally weightless (being shunted to a pocket dimension), this has the effect of reducing or adding weight as needed. Clever mechanisms can lessen the workload for doing this, but you probably still need strong sky-sailors for the task.
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Old 06-21-2022, 01:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

This unofficial 5th Ed SRD actually covers a good amount of nautical related mechanics that I think would translate fairly well to airships. For the most part the mechanics are for non-standard sailing situations though: rough seas, perilous water, ship-to-ship combat situations etc. It assumes that the sailors are adept enough at sailing the ship under standard conditions, and won't need to check their abilities until those conditions change.

In the official Ghosts Of Saltmarsh book there was also coverage for ship combat, sea battles and traveling. I haven't looked at it in a long time though, and never thoroughly read the material so I can't really say if it is better or worse than the SRD mechanics.
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Old 06-23-2022, 05:16 AM   #7
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

Has Eberron be re-done for 5Ed yet? They had a variety of ships that went up and down as well as along...
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Old 06-23-2022, 07:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

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Has Eberron be re-done for 5Ed yet? They had a variety of ships that went up and down as well as along...
Yes, Eberron: Rising From the Last War was published in 2019. Additionally detail in the DMsGuild published Exploring Eberron.

Note though that elemental airships require the Mark of Storms to pilot, which isn't relevant to settings without dagonmarks.
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Old 06-23-2022, 07:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

I got the Eberron book yesterday. I just haven't had the chance to look in it much. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 06-28-2022, 11:15 AM   #10
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Default Re: Flying Ships for DnD, advice sought

Simplicity:
Propulsion:
Magic vs antimagic -> creating flow, a bit like electric current, or magnetism. With magic energy not being exactly the same strength everywhere, creating tempestous or calm regions.

Captain skills -> Experience for how the ship 'feels' while riding a current.
Navigator skills -> Specially trained mages in detecting magical currents.

In short, it's just magic. D&D and magic are peas in a pod. Almost any handwave is possible with it.
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