View Full Version : Vehicles in Fantasy(and other Games)

09-26-2013, 03:27 AM
Hello all!

I was wondering how successfull people have been in using vehicles in their campaigns.

The very first product I ever bought for any roleplaying was the Champions of Mystara: Heroes of the Princess Ark Box set, detailing how to make air ships my favorite being "The Flying barge of Sayr Ulan". But I never actually used it.

I've used ships, but mostly as maps or platforms the PC's fight an encounter on, not really as vehicles.

I've even run a campaign where a cahracter had a dirigible from the Arms and equipment guide, but again it was really just a platform, with no ship vs. ship combat.

I started a Spelljammer game a couple of times, but they never "got off the ground".

Has anyone used vehicle vs vehicle combat well? I'm especially interested in the Spelljammer campaign, did anyone ever get a working Spelljammer game going?


09-26-2013, 10:21 AM
hmmm, we've had the occasional ship vs ship battle in our campaigns. though that was mostly just maneuvering to get into and out of range for the archers and spellcasters.

09-26-2013, 12:31 PM
We're playing the pirate themed adventure path from Paizo and we've been using sailing ships quite a bit, from chasing/running to/from other ships, ship to ship combat and boarding actions.

09-26-2013, 01:10 PM
yeah, the last group of pirates that attacked us, we wound up taking their ship instead! and that kraken didn't fare so well, either. ^^

09-27-2013, 01:44 AM

I'm (slowly) reading through the BRP book and wanting to set up some people vs vehicles and vehicle on vehicle combat, but still in the very nebulous stage. I really enjoyed Final Fantasy 6 (No Roman Numerals? What is wrong with this guy?) and Magitech scenes, and I also like that BRP has Armor for being in a vehicle.


09-28-2013, 04:18 AM
Had an excellent session today where my playtesting buddies and I cobbled together what rules i'm going to use for my BRP combat (There's alot of options, so is good to state which you're using pre campaign). And went over the BRP chase mechanic.

Next stop is to build some fighting vehicles and make em fight!


09-30-2013, 10:04 AM
i have always had a soft spot for car wars. despite the fairly high granularity, and the highly detailed and accurate maneuvering and movement system, it was always a blast (literally in most cases) to play arena combats and such. we even set custom scenarios... i remember one where we set up this one guy had a big rig he could outfit any way he wanted as a cargo/courier, and i had 4 vehicles (pirates) that i could outfit however i liked, and the goal was to steal the cargo before the truck could either get to a certain point, or backup could arrive (assuming that i stopped the truck somehow). he surprised me by making the cargo space only big enough for about 200 lbs of stuff, and the rest of the rig all weapons and armor - postulating an exclusive high-stakes hauler. i surprised him with a suicide car loaded with shaped explosives, a ramplate, and rocket boosters that did some insane total amount of d6s.... course, depending on where i hit the rig, i ran a serious risk of destroying the cargo.... ^^

10-02-2013, 01:07 AM
Yes I have and seldom found the AD&D or D&D rules helpful. Difficult as that is what we were playing. I even build miniatures for the miniatures. Ships that the minis can fight on. Personally I like ships.

These beauties for example The ships are at the bottom of the page.

10-03-2013, 02:44 AM
Those are some nice ships! They remind me of the first role-playing product I ever bought Champions of Mystara http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champions_of_Mystara that had the most wonderful (and stupid complex) sky ships!

I was reading through making my vehicles for fighting when I realized that like Character Creation (and possibly everything?) Combat rules are not fully written in stone, but have many Options, so I put together the list of how combat, wounds, and healing work in my BRP game.

Now for the Freeing/Frustrating task of making my vehicles. Freeing in that any way I make them is correct. Cars that suffer Bleeding damage? That's just because they leak vital oils and gas, O PC's! Frustrating in that there is not alot of structure, like when I modified monsters in D&D 3.5 or even the D&D 2E xp table as a guide.


10-03-2013, 05:57 AM
D&D is particularly deficient in thing to thing combat. Creature combat is sketchy enough, but things are worse. First you had "structural damage" a one to six trade with "normal damage" they dropped that in 3e in favor or lots of hit points and hardness.

Spelljammer's damage effect tables are useful to give you something out side of "your ship gets more hurt". Some adaption for the lack of a "helm" is required. But the tables are useful even on the fly if you have them. (I need to look into that.)

For ship tactical movement I would look at Wooden Ships & Iron Men. It isn't deathly complex but handles the act of moving on the water with sailing ships fairly well. You get unintended consequences. Orders, move. Each side issues orders ,and moves are made simultaneously. Then drift is applied. You can end up with collisions neither side intend and so forth. It takes wind into effect.

Either works, not extremely well, but you can make it work. I've had sky ship, and water ship battles.

My current game is longships and the like. Battles will resemble land battles on complex terrain as no one has ship to ship weapons. Humm I need to dig though my Pirates of the Spanish Main for little ships.

10-03-2013, 09:01 AM
if you want to see what they did with ship to ship combat in 3.x, then look up stormwrack. in it they give rules for ship movement and sectional damage, plus how much damage a ship can tolerate before sinking. even a bit about ship mounted weapons, for once. as might be expected, not the best, nor most efficient, but at least there was something.

10-03-2013, 10:36 AM
"It was something" is fair too typical of the system.

I'll poke about and see if it is buried in my files. It might be on the shelf downstairs as well.

10-04-2013, 03:07 AM
All good stuff! Ben taking an Elric break lately (That Moorcock and his wacky lady names) but I will have to give Stormwrack another look, and I like the vehicles move differently than creatures idea (since I'm using BRP, perhaps a Pilot roll every round to make it move in the right direction?).

I don't have access to Wooden Ships & Iron Men or Pirates of the Spanish Main, do they have any novel rules?


10-04-2013, 10:46 AM
I wouldn't have a pilot check each round. Ships do not move quickly. An easy check with a change in direction if the ship requires a crew to make that change, such as a sailing ship. Tacking is fairly complex. If one but need turn a wheel no check.

If you want a measure of "realism" have large ships turn the round after the wheel was turned. As I said, ships move slowly and unlike cars do not react at once to a change in the rudder.

The two games are opposite ends of the gaming spectrum.

Pirates of the Spanish Main is simple. A friend once complained that the ships move like motor boats. True. The mechanics of the game are stunningly simple. But the little card ships are cool. I fell for it hook line and sinker. Wiz kids had the full rules online.

Wooden Ships & Iron Men is an old school Avalon Hill war game. It can get extremely complicated. Tactical level naval combat in the age of Nelson. Heck Google the name. I found the rule book on line in about one second. Very old out of print game. Take what you will from it. It is way more complex than you will likely want or need.

10-15-2013, 05:47 AM
No one has a Spelljammer story?

I just realized that I didn't mention the reason for my question: I am planning on running a BRP game set in Numenera soon, and I wanted to build some small mecha/ big powered suits for one session. (Such as the aforementioned Magitech armor or maybe the Ripley's construction suit at the end of Aliens)

Since they are essentially vehicles, I needed to learn how to make vehicles in BRP and how to use them in combat. Since i'm new to BRP, I also had to learn how to do combat. As I mentioned above- I figured out how to combat in BRP, and how they handle a chase scenario (I was impressed by the way, I like BRP's chase mechanic). I then had to go back and figure how to make my mecha/magitek/poweredsuit.

The BRP only has one paragraph on mecha along with one example (a 500pt super mech, less helpful for my Normal level game), but they mention that a mecha is handle mostly as an item with characteristics. There is a table for vehicles (along with thier stats) and a page or two for making an item with Characteristics but no real "How to" guide for making mecha in the base book.

From our earlier posts, I like using a Pilot (Mecha) to manuever the mecha (and for use in the chase mechanic), using the hit locations for each section (each leg, arm, and main torso), using the user's Fist/Projection/Firearm/etc skill to use the mecha's combat systems, and so on.

Now I just have to make the mechas......


10-15-2013, 12:24 PM
That sounds quite interesting! I always liked the idea of customization for games, GM or player, either/both.

Where did you find info on building items in BRP? I am unaware of a resource for that, but the rock I live under doesn't get deliveries. =)

10-17-2013, 01:16 AM
Well Jpatterson,

Unfortunatly there is not much info on building items in BRP.

The main book gives info on how to give both characteristics and powers to items, and also what it means when an item or monster does not have a characteristic (for example most items do not have an App characteristic, and if they do, it is usually to depict how pretty the item is).

They don't really give rules for making said items in the main book (although i've heard that in the Traveller/Runescape days it involved sacrificing permenant POW) or a power level, general price, or any other real parameters, which has been very frustrating, as I came from D&D 3.5 most recently.

I'm mainly using some of the other monsters as a baseline, and will have to playtest and experiment to find out what will make the correct "Challenge level" for my BRP game. Since i'm using the Average wealth/roll status to "buy" items, and since i'm using the post (post-post-post-post-etc) apocalypse Numenera setting, at least I won't have to worry about prices...

11-28-2013, 02:37 AM
Hello all! I wanted to give an update on my progress with vehicles in fantasy. I've been playtesting using BRP characters on motorcycles vs. mosters, and then usig the smallest mech I could conjure from the BRP Mecha book http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/115012/BRP-Mecha and it has been pretty fun!

The rules for BRP seem to be pretty good for using vehicles!

Has anyone else used vehicles recently in their campaigns?


04-19-2014, 06:39 PM
I ran one campaign in which all the PCs were hired as defense crew for a seagoing ship on a quest something like the travels of the Argonauts with Jason, the various ships under Odysseus and under Sinbad the Sailor, and a touch of the Dawntreader from the Narnia books.

Their conflicts included fighting the many tentacles attacking the deck from a kraken directly beneath the ship, exploring a ghost ship they encountered, stopping a mutiny of were-rats who had been hiding in the hold, using waterbreathing potions to dive under the ship and battle merfolk who were threatening to sink the ship by battering it from below sea level, and fighting a boarding party of winged pirates descending from above (the pirates had anti-arrow protections to keep it from becoming too easy, although a few PCs managed to climb up the ropes and drop onto them from above). Of course, there were also the various island encounters.

What seemed most important was avoiding those ship-to-ship encounters that turn too easily into war games in which the captain's player participates while everyone else only watches or occasionally rolls dice without any personal decision-making involved.

04-21-2014, 07:56 PM
i rather enjoyed the last ship-to-ship battle one of my DMs ran. elvish pirates who only attacked during the night due to their ability to see in the dark. while the helmsman was maneuvering, we were exchanging bolts, arrows, fireballs, lightning bolts, ballista fire and other long range attacks. eventually after we repelled the pirates, we counter boarded them and captured their ship. we had quite the time keeping our own ship afloat after that due to our getting holed during the combat. fortunately we had a sand shaper amongst the PCs who could just maintain the sand form planks long enough to get to where we could repair the ship in a more permanent fashion.