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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Break my air-skiff

    This is a key device in an airborne invasion of maybe-Europe by Aaracokra maybe-Aztecs, and the party's return to the Aaracokra homeland to deal with the threat. The overall campaign is a hexcrawl, which is why the air-skiff speed is relatively low.

    The party should end up stealing one or more of these, and then stealing replacements when theirs wears out. Aaracokra patrols will typically be a squad of 8-12 based around an air-skiff. I think I made it large enough to carry four guards/pilots and about 8 slaves for a couple of weeks, but small enough that the party won't want to bring a dozen knights with them on the 20-30 day journey across the ocean.

    I set the HP a bit lower than it should be based on other boats, specifically so that "attack their flying boat" becomes a totally valid tactic on both sides - except, of course, that the bad guys can usually fly.

    (edited 9/26/20):

    Airborne Travel
    The air-skiff, a small magically-powered flying boat, travels at a speed of approximately the same speed as a running man (60’/rd), and can thus travel at 2 times the overland speed of the party, or 1 hex per 2 hours of travel. It only flies in the sunlight (or the equivalent created by light spells of 3rd level and up), so the party must land after 12 hours of travel, giving a speed of 6 hexes (72 miles)per day. Note that the air-skiff may be forced down by phenomena such as solar eclipses or storms, including storms generated by Control Weather. A large blanket over the central mechanism, Darkness spells, and the like are enough to cut off the light, in which case it descends to the ground safely at a rate of 60’ per round as per Feather Fall.

    The air-skiff travels at a height of 100’ above the ground, which is sufficient to clear all but the tallest of trees.

    It is approximately 15’ wide by 40’ long. For long-distance travel, this can comfortably fit 8 humanoids, or up to 20 in crowded conditions. The carrying capacity is 4,400 lbs.

    Several woven mats with poles are typically provided to provide shade over the fore and aft portions of the vessel, with a total weight of 400#.

    Mechanism
    The air-skiff functions partly by sunlight as a result of the blessings of Huitzopochitl and/or Quetzalcoatl, but also partly by the harvested hearts of four humanoids, which are contained within the central mechanism. This is the result of a ritual involving a priest of one of those two deities, and cannot be performed by anyone else. An air-skiff will function for 120 days before the hearts begin to lose power. At that point, it will lose 20’ of operating altitude per day, leaving it at ground or water level on the morning of the fifth day.

    The hearts are contained in a large, wooden chest with a slat top, which allows the light to fall on the line of beating hearts floating in the air inside. The inside of the chest has several faintly-glowing runes or hieroglyphs, and the outside is typically decorated with drawings of the Aaracokra gods. The chest is 10’ long and 5’ wide, and occupies the center of the air-skiff.

    If the central mechanism is destroyed, the air-skiff loses all lift and crashes to the ground at the end of the next round.

    Controls are located on the rear of the mechanism chest, and are limited to Go Forward, Stop, Turn Left or Right, Fly (fixed at 100’), and Ground (fixed at 0’). When on the ground or water, it cannot turn or move forward except by being pushed, pulled, rowed, etc. as a normal boat would be.

    Combat & Durability
    The air-skiff’s walls are 42”H, providing half cover against attacks made by enemies below or level with the air-skiff. The air-skiff itself has AC 15, 100hp, and a damage threshold of 10. The central mechanism has AC 15, 30hp, and a damage threshold of 10 against specifically-targeted effects. AOE attacks simply damage the hull of the boat.
    The bottom of the skiff provides full cover, so enemies below the skiff cannot target passengers, nor can the passengers target enemies below the skiff.

    In a severe storm, or if the air-skiff takes more than 30 points of damage in a single hit, everyone standing on it must make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) DC 10 check or fall prone.

    If loaded with more than 2,000# total, and more than ¾ of the weight (cargo plus passengers) of the air-skiff is moved to one end or one side, the skiff will tilt in that direction, becoming difficult terrain.

    Repairs
    The Mending cantrip repairs 1 hit point per casting, subject to a maximum of 5hp of repairing per day.

    Fabricate may be used to repair an air-skiff for 4d12 hp, consuming 100 lbs. of wood per d12 repaired.

    A character with carpentry or woodworking tools can repair the skiff. Make a Carpentry (Dexterity) check. The check takes 2 hours and restores hit points equal to the result of the check divided by 5. This check consumes 10 lbs. of wood and other materials.
    Last edited by J-H; 2020-09-26 at 11:31 AM.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    From the Airborne Travel section, it looks like the air-skiff has a speed of 60 feet. That might be handy to have in there somewhere, especially because it sounds like you intend for these to be used in combat.

    How does the air-skiff turn? I didn’t see that as an option in the Mechanism section.
    And can it travel along the ground?

    What happens if the central mechanism is destroyed? I’m assuming the air-skiff can’t fly, but it would be good to know if it just falls, descends slowly, or something else, especially because you call out that the central mechanism has a separate pool of hit points.

    What happens if only some of the hearts in the central mechanism are replaced after 120 days? Or what happens if some of them are replaced after a short amount of time?

    Does the usual bit on how to repair ships from the DMG apply here as well?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ship Repair, pg 119
    Repairs to a damaged ship can be made while the vessel is berthed. Repairing 1 hit point of damage requires 1 day and costs 20 gp for materials and labor.

    And from the end of your post,
    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    A character with carpentry or woodworking tools can repair the skiff. Make a Carpentry (Dexterity) check. The check takes 2 hours and restores hit points equal to the result of the check divided by 5. This check consumes
    This check consumes what?



    And because you asked, here are some attempts to break it.

    Nigh-Endless Flight: This strategy mitigates the loss of power pretty effectively. All you need is a cleric or wizard who can cast Gentle Repose and a good number of humanoid hearts (which shouldn’t be that scarce of a resource for the average adventuring party). The cleric or wizard would first cast Gentle Repose on the hearts in the central mechanism to see if that extended the time before they lose power. If so, congratulations, they can just cast it as a ritual spell however many times they need. If that doesn’t work, they just cast Gentle Repose on a large number of humanoid hearts, keeping them from decomposing. If the party keeps a basket of them by the central mechanism, they can just replace the old hearts when they begin to lose power without needing to scramble to find hearts to harvest.

    Night Flight: If someone has a Sun Blade, the ship can fly at night as long as the blade’s light illuminates the ship. It can also fly for 1 minute at a time if someone can cast Sunbeam, but that's rather limited.

    Sabotage: Instead of attacking the central mechanism, it seems like it would be quite easy for someone to open the chest and remove the hearts or even to reach through the slats and do the same. Also, a Fog Cloud cast at 3rd level would ground an air-skiff – a 60 foot radius of heavy obscurement would be more than enough to block sunlight and would easily encapsulate something that can only fly 100 feet above the ground. Although, come to think of it, a blanket over the central mechanism might do the same thing because it sounds like the hearts are what need the sunlight cast on them.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    Controls are located on the rear of the mechanism chest, and are limited to Go Forward, Stop, Fly (fixed at 100’), and Ground (fixed at 0’).
    This doesn't account for partial power or provide any way to maneuver. I would suggest the following:
    • Advance/Stop
    • Bear Left/Right
    • Raise Lower, presumably stopping at only two or three increments (See following)
    I would maybe also consider partial settings; in specific conditions it would be beneficial to fly at half height and fit twice the force into a narrow area. Say they're shipping supplies over a region with patches of dense brush. Shift guards onto the lower vessels and supplies up top so your personnel are better positioned to intercept thieves or raids ambushing from out of sight. Over a jungle river, it would let you nearly halve the length of your procession, with a vessel flying in the gap between the two up top.

    I suppose you could fiddle with the number of hearts here instead though.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    Enemies directly under the air-skiff cannot be directly targeted.
    I'm not clear why you don't use the term "full cover," but that's probably my paranoia about consistency. As long as your group understands.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    If more than ¾ of the weight (cargo plus passengers) of the air-skiff is moved to one end or one side, the skiff will tilt in that direction, becoming difficult terrain.
    In practice, the balance is "cargo plus passengers plus ship materials" on each side. To account for this, set a minimum weight. "If weight to the bow or aft exceeds X lbs and is more than ¾ of the weight (cargo plus passengers), the skiff will tilt in that direction, becoming difficult terrain. If weight to the port or starboard exceeds Y lbs and more than ¾ of the weight (cargo plus passengers), the skiff will tilt in that direction, becoming difficult terrain."

    Quote Originally Posted by Twelvetrees View Post
    What happens if only some of the hearts in the central mechanism are replaced after 120 days? Or what happens if some of them are replaced after a short amount of time?
    I was surprised to see it wasn't 5' per decaying heart per day excess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Twelvetrees View Post
    All you need is a cleric or wizard who can cast Gentle Repose and a good number of humanoid hearts (which shouldn’t be that scarce of a resource for the average adventuring party). The cleric or wizard would first cast Gentle Repose on the hearts in the central mechanism to see if that extended the time before they lose power. If so, congratulations, they can just cast it as a ritual spell however many times they need. If that doesn’t work, they just cast Gentle Repose on a large number of humanoid hearts, keeping them from decomposing. If the party keeps a basket of them by the central mechanism, they can just replace the old hearts when they begin to lose power without needing to scramble to find hearts to harvest.
    Note this requires putting coins over the body's eyes. If this isn't intended to work, limit the spell to connected tissue. Then the party has to carry around multiple torsos that can have the spell ended on them if the skiff tilts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Twelvetrees View Post
    SabotageAlso, a Fog Cloud cast at 3rd level would ground an air-skiff – a 60 foot radius of heavy obscurement would be more than enough to block sunlight and would easily encapsulate something that can only fly 100 feet above the ground. Although, come to think of it, a blanket over the central mechanism might do the same thing because it sounds like the hearts are what need the sunlight cast on them.
    I would specify how long of a charge the hearts can hold. You'll want this possible just so the party has time to react to changes in weather or other sources of darkness (like the spell).
    Last edited by sandmote; 2020-09-26 at 01:11 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    Great stuff, thank you!
    OP edited.
    Quote Originally Posted by Twelvetrees View Post
    From the Airborne Travel section, it looks like the air-skiff has a speed of 60 feet. That might be handy to have in there somewhere, especially because it sounds like you intend for these to be used in combat.
    How does the air-skiff turn? I didn’t see that as an option in the Mechanism section.
    And can it travel along the ground?
    Added. No ground travel. On water, it could be rowed. When crossing the ocean, they get to spend a night each night atop the water. When they hit a hurricane, it may be unpleasant. Still working on the water encounter tables, but this is where I get to have sahuagin, giant squid, etc. in the adventure.

    What happens if the central mechanism is destroyed? I’m assuming the air-skiff can’t fly, but it would be good to know if it just falls, descends slowly, or something else, especially because you call out that the central mechanism has a separate pool of hit points.
    Added, splat in 1 round.

    What happens if only some of the hearts in the central mechanism are replaced after 120 days? Or what happens if some of them are replaced after a short amount of time?
    Added a line being more specific that only priests of the two enemy deities can make these. The PCs shouldn't be ripping out beating hearts on a divine sacrificial altar to power something.

    Does the usual bit on how to repair ships from the DMG apply here as well?
    That's going to be too slow to work, so I'm replacing it with my repairs.


    And from the end of your post,

    This check consumes what?
    Copy/paste error corrected.


    And because you asked, here are some attempts to break it.

    Nigh-Endless Flight: This strategy mitigates the loss of power pretty effectively. All you need is a cleric or wizard who can cast Gentle Repose and a good number of humanoid hearts (which shouldn’t be that scarce of a resource for the average adventuring party). The cleric or wizard would first cast Gentle Repose on the hearts in the central mechanism to see if that extended the time before they lose power. If so, congratulations, they can just cast it as a ritual spell however many times they need. If that doesn’t work, they just cast Gentle Repose on a large number of humanoid hearts, keeping them from decomposing. If the party keeps a basket of them by the central mechanism, they can just replace the old hearts when they begin to lose power without needing to scramble to find hearts to harvest.
    I think the "enemy deities involved" pops this one.

    Night Flight: If someone has a Sun Blade, the ship can fly at night as long as the blade’s light illuminates the ship. It can also fly for 1 minute at a time if someone can cast Sunbeam, but that's rather limited.
    Cool! If they want to fly around at night as a beacon visible for miles and miles, I can totally work with that.

    Sabotage: Instead of attacking the central mechanism, it seems like it would be quite easy for someone to open the chest and remove the hearts or even to reach through the slats and do the same. Also, a Fog Cloud cast at 3rd level would ground an air-skiff – a 60 foot radius of heavy obscurement would be more than enough to block sunlight and would easily encapsulate something that can only fly 100 feet above the ground. Although, come to think of it, a blanket over the central mechanism might do the same thing because it sounds like the hearts are what need the sunlight cast on them.
    Sabotage is good! Feather-fall speed to the ground in this case.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    This doesn't account for partial power or provide any way to maneuver. I would suggest the following:
    • Advance/Stop
    • Bear Left/Right
    • Raise Lower, presumably stopping at only two or three increments (See following)
    I would maybe also consider partial settings; in specific conditions it would be beneficial to fly at half height and fit twice the force into a narrow area. Say they're shipping supplies over a region with patches of dense brush. Shift guards onto the lower vessels and supplies up top so your personnel are better positioned to intercept thieves or raids ambushing from out of sight. Over a jungle river, it would let you nearly halve the length of your procession, with a vessel flying in the gap between the two up top.

    I suppose you could fiddle with the number of hearts here instead though.
    Left/right added. I deliberately don't want either side to have the ability to fly Nape of the Earth to avoid detection.

    I'm not clear why you don't use the term "full cover," but that's probably my paranoia about consistency. As long as your group understands.
    Fixed, good point.

    In practice, the balance is "cargo plus passengers plus ship materials" on each side. To account for this, set a minimum weight. "If weight to the bow or aft exceeds X lbs and is more than ¾ of the weight (cargo plus passengers), the skiff will tilt in that direction, becoming difficult terrain. If weight to the port or starboard exceeds Y lbs and more than ¾ of the weight (cargo plus passengers), the skiff will tilt in that direction, becoming difficult terrain."
    I made an edit for this... trying to keep it simple to ballpark.

    I was surprised to see it wasn't 5' per decaying heart per day excess.
    I want "we need a new ship" to be a problem the party has to solve urgently instead of "We have 19 days before we lose mobility."

    I would specify how long of a charge the hearts can hold. You'll want this possible just so the party has time to react to changes in weather or other sources of darkness (like the spell).
    Currently 2 rounds to ground the ship - fast enough for it to be a valid battle tactic. The enemies are mostly priests of sun and fire gods, so Daylight and similar spells will be in play.

    A cunning party will realize that they can track an enemy patrol and attack them when their ship is grounded - but an enemy priest could also light it up and make the ship lift off for a bit. This makes me kind of want to give them a weapon of some sort on the ship, but no...not now anyway.

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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    When on the ground or water, it cannot turn or move forward except under power.
    I know you don’t want ground travel and you mention rowing as a method of locomotion while it is on water, so this line is a little confusing. "Under power" appears to imply that the central mechanism would enable ground or water travel because you use similar "power" terminology with the hearts.


    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    If the central mechanism is destroyed, the air-skiff loses all lift and crashes to the ground in 1 round.
    I’m not sure whether this means "over the course of 1 round," "at the start/end of the next turn of the creature who destroyed the central mechanism’s next turn," or "at the start/end of the next round."

    My guess is that you want people to have a chance to do something before the air-skiff crashes, so my suggestion to keep it simple would be to go with "…the air-skiff loses all lift and crashes to the ground at the end of the next round."


    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    I want "we need a new ship" to be a problem the party has to solve urgently instead of "We have 19 days before we lose mobility."
    Can you go over your reasoning for the 120 days of power that the hearts provide, in that case? That seems like quite a bit of time. Will the party not know how many days are left for a particular air-skiff? Would an Identify spell enable them to tell?


    And on the topic of mobility and carrying capacity, you mentioned this.
    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    I think I made it large enough to carry four guards/pilots and about 8 slaves for a couple of weeks, but small enough that the party won't want to bring a dozen knights with them on the 20-30 day journey across the ocean.
    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    It is approximately 15’ wide by 40’ long. For long-distance travel, this can comfortably fit 8 humanoids, or up to 20 in crowded conditions. The carrying capacity is 4,400 lbs.
    What prevents the party from bringing "a dozen knights with them on the 20-30 day journey across the ocean?" From what I can see, air-skiffs are able to do so.


    Quote Originally Posted by J-H
    Currently 2 rounds to ground the ship - fast enough for it to be a valid battle tactic. The enemies are mostly priests of sun and fire gods, so Daylight and similar spells will be in play.

    A cunning party will realize that they can track an enemy patrol and attack them when their ship is grounded - but an enemy priest could also light it up and make the ship lift off for a bit. This makes me kind of want to give them a weapon of some sort on the ship, but no...not now anyway.
    Keep in mind that while Daylight can get rid of Darkness and enable an air-skiff to fly again, it doesn’t create sunlight, which makes it rather more difficult for an enemy priest to light up a grounded air-skiff at night. I think your requirement of sunlight being necessary is good if you want to ensure air-skiffs only fly during the day, but it is quite difficult for both the party and enemy priests to circumvent.

    If you wanted a way around it, maybe you could add a consumable Common magic item associated with air-skiffs that creates an area of sunlight?




    Side note because it’s no longer relevant to the air-skiff:
    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote
    Note this requires putting coins over the body's eyes. If this isn't intended to work, limit the spell to connected tissue. Then the party has to carry around multiple torsos that can have the spell ended on them if the skiff tilts.
    Thanks for pointing that out! I’m not sure how I forgot that Gentle Repose needs coins over the body’s eyes, so I’m glad that got caught.

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    For sunlight, how about
    "It only flies in the sunlight (or the equivalent created by spells of 3rd level and up),"
    Or is that still ambiguous?

    Corrected all.

    When the party first acquires an air-skiff, it will have already flown across the ocean (30 days) and been in use for a while (3d10 days?). This means that when they counter-cross, they have about 30-45 days before they have to replace it. The campaign is a big hexcrawl that should last for around a year game time, based on my best estimate now. It takes about 3 days to travel straight across the map east-to-west or north-to-south without doing any searching of the ground along the way, and a day or more (depending on various factors) to search a hex from the air.

    I wanted to have a plausible duration allowing the ocean travel, without it being long enough that the party doesn't have to worry about a replacement.

    The enemy plan was to set up a new temple and do sacrifices in the Europe-ish place, but the party should foil them before then.

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    For sunlight, how about
    "It only flies in the sunlight (or the equivalent created by spells of 3rd level and up),"
    Or is that still ambiguous?
    Still ambiguous. You could make it more clear with something like "(or bright light created by spells of 3rd level or higher)." I should point out that this would allow players to Hallow the air-skiff to fly whenever they pleased.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    Corrected all.
    Did I miss something? I’m not seeing any changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    When the party first acquires an air-skiff, it will have already flown across the ocean (30 days) and been in use for a while (3d10 days?). This means that when they counter-cross, they have about 30-45 days before they have to replace it. The campaign is a big hexcrawl that should last for around a year game time, based on my best estimate now. It takes about 3 days to travel straight across the map east-to-west or north-to-south without doing any searching of the ground along the way, and a day or more (depending on various factors) to search a hex from the air.

    I wanted to have a plausible duration allowing the ocean travel, without it being long enough that the party doesn't have to worry about a replacement.

    The enemy plan was to set up a new temple and do sacrifices in the Europe-ish place, but the party should foil them before then.
    It sounds like the party will need to replace the first air-skiff, but will have less need to replace any acquired after that. Are you intending for them to need to replace air-skiffs often? If so, maybe it would makes sense to have two versions of the air-skiffs, one meant for long distance travel (this one) and others meant for travel in the aarakocras’ homeland. If the party encounters smaller versions powered by one heart that only remain aloft for 30 days, that would match the remaining time you expect the party to have with the first air-skiff quite well and would maintain the time pressure to replace air-skiffs.

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    Whoops, OP updated from my document now.

    Two or three replacements over the duration of the campaign is plenty. They'll be in the level 13-20 range, so I don't expect them to have much trouble with this... it's just one more thing to juggle along with building alliances, exploration, evading patrols, and planning + executing strikes on the enemy high priests.

    I think Hallowing an air-skiff is a great idea. The target of Hallow is a point with a 60' radius around it, so the question is whether or not Hallow travels with the ship. I think I would allow the Daylight Everglow Air-Skiff... but they're going to have a REALLY hard time hiding it at night!
    Last edited by J-H; 2020-09-26 at 11:34 AM.

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Break my air-skiff

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    I deliberately don't want either side to have the ability to fly Nape of the Earth to avoid detection.
    At 100 feet up you've prevented this in flat areas of trees, but hills can easily exceed 100 feet in height. Or, hills with trees on the them. I'd maybe at least boost the height to 150 feet, so they're out of a longbow's short range.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    I want "we need a new ship" to be a problem the party has to solve urgently instead of "We have 19 days before we lose mobility."
    5' per decaying heart per day excess. 4 hearts by 5 feet each is 20 feet, or your original figure. The suggestion is to explain what happens if someone fails to destroy all four hearts in a skiff but succeeds on destroying some of them.

    Although personally I would have the hearts last 69+1d10 days each. This lets messengers return home with samples, but the main invasion force is stranded on the party's continent. This would also allow you to send a second force across to try to bait the party back to their home continent, but leaving open the option for the party to cut off supplies to the second force (where 120 day skiffs would allow the second force to return home) instead of giving up their gains among the Aarakocra's neighbors. Then on the Aarakocra's continent the party would be incentivized to replace skiffs most times after they fight enemy patrols; destroying skiffs now becomes a big risk in the future.

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