Airships III

Hey look, I’m still alive.

I blame work for my absence. So without further ado (we’ve had quite enough ado thank you), I present to you part 3 of this Rules Module.


Rules Modules: Airships Part 3

Non-combat Rules and Uses for Airships

An Airship can cover quite a lot of distance in a short time, by far providing the quickest transportation from one place to another in most game worlds. They come with their own hazards, of course, but this is generally very much worth the convenience. This convenience is generally very expensive, however, and in most cases airship transportation isn’t available to common folks. Adventurers, however, tend to find ways to get the cheapest ones, and use these ships to build up their careers and get better ships.

Having a personal ship for your party opens up a lot of opportunity for you. The world becomes your oyster, and the adventures you have will surely be flavored by the method of your travels.

This section will talk about the mechanical rules for travel and noncombat situations with your ship, using the rules from the DM Guidelines PDF in the Playtest Packet as a baseline.

Travel Pace

When using your airship to travel, the pilot can set a travelling pace. There are benefits and detriments for choosing speed or caution as your focus. Note that these speeds and rules apply to noncombat travel. The ship descriptions will list their specific combat speeds, which will differ from these Point A to Point B speeds listed here.

If you choose a Slow or Cautious speed, the ship travels at 450 feet per minute / 5 miles per hour, and the ship’s crew has a readiness DC of 5.

If you choose a Moderate or Cruising speed, the ship travels at 900 feet per minute / 10 miles per hour, and the ship’s crew has a readiness DC of 10.

If you choose a Fast speed, the ship travels at 1300 feet per minute / 15 miles per hour, and the ship’s crew has a readiness DC of 15.

If the ship is a Medium ship, subtract 200 feet / 2 miles from these speeds. If it is a Heavy ship, subtract 300 feet / 3 miles from these speeds. If the ship has DR, subtract a further 200 feet / 2 miles.

The Engineer (or anyone else with proficiency) can push the engines further, and can make a Proficiency check with his repair tools at a DC 15. A success will gain the ship a 200 foot per minute / 2 mile per hour boost to it’s maximum Fast speed for one hour. Whether successful or not, the engines take one hit (out of three) which cannot be repaired until the boost is finished. The Engineer can do this as many times as he wishes, however if the engine takes three hits they fail and the ship falls out of the sky.

Exploration Tasks

When exploring a new place while on their airship, the ship’s crew can perform certain tasks to the benefit of the party.  The tasks mirror those in the playtest packet, with the exception of Foraging, which doesn’t make much sense in the context of an airship. Using the beforementioned rules and the Wilderness exploration section of the playtest packet makes it easy to include this option in your airship game. Here are certain bonuses:

If the character keeping watch is using a telescope or binoculars, they gain a +1 bonus to their roll.

The captain may give advantage to one other characters roll per hour of travel.

If the ship is outfitted with stealth equipment (5,000 gold pieces), the pilot gains advantage on the sneak check he makes when trying to fly stealthily, but only if moving at a slow pace.

Ship Additions and Equipment

The game master may allow you to purchase the following equipment for your airship if it fits with his idea of the game. Note that this does not include weapons currently, beyond the bombs, as I wanted to keep the current state of this module simple and basic. Also note that you must choose a location on the ship to place these items, though some (like stealth equipment) are equipped in every location. Equipment such as this is considered destroyed if it is destroyed in one location. Repairing the item in that one location, however, fixes it as a whole.

It is up to the Dungeon Master to decide how many items your ship can hold. You could make it L3/M4/H5 for simplicities sake. Or no limits if the players can make the item make sense in a crowded ship.

Stealth Equipment 5,000 Gold Pieces – Allows the pilot to make Dexterity (Stealth) checks at advantage if moving at a slow pace. Equips to every location.

Telescope 200 Gold Pieces – +1 bonus to a character’s Wisdom (Perception) rolls if it makes sense. Must be on an open deck.

Drop Door 500 Gold Pieces – An opening on the bottom of the ship which can be used to drop things that explode. Must be put in the hold of a ship.

Bursters 100 Gold Pieces Each – Alchemists bombs that can be dropped. When they land, they explode in a 20-foot-radius burst. Each creature in the area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 2d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half that damage on a successful one. Wood or other flammables combust. Ships are hit automatically if the dropped from above. They may also be thrown, and are thus used with an attack roll and follow all the rules for thrown items. If they miss, they do not do half-damage when thrown, but are assumed to have been thrown out of the way of damage.

Engine Upgrade 1,000 Gold Pieces – When buying this, choose to either A) Permanently add 100 feet / 1 mile to the movement of the ship, or to give the Engine an extra “hit”. An engine can be upgraded twice.

Arcane Life Support 5,000 Gold Pieces – This is a system of magical upgrades that insulates the ship, and creates a magical bubble of air around the areas of the ship that crewmen can be. This allows the ship to climb to altitudes that other ships would find impossible due to lack of oxygen and warmth. All parts of the ship are considered to be a comfortable temperature at all times. This is installed at all locations.

Detection Instrument 3,000 Gold Pieces – This gyroscopic device contains a rod that can detect magic at a radius of five miles, and will rotate to point in the general direction of a magical presence in that radius. If there are two magical presences, or more, it will rotate back and forth, though will spend more time pointed at the strongest one. Airships are considered magical, so this is very useful, though if in a large fleet battle it will whirl about uselessly.

These are just some examples of items that could be put onto your ship as an upgrade. Have any ideas? Let me know!

I’m actually going to be working with a friend to make an “Advanced” version of this Airship module, as a PDF. It will include more complex outfitting rules for your ship, with equipment slots and energy requirements for some items depending on the kind of engine you have. This module is considered the “Basic” module. I hope it is easy to use and that you enjoy it. Feedback, as always, is both welcome and wanted!

Thank you for reading my test module for Airships!

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