Correcting Spelljammer Ship Stats

 

We are now two sessions past our disastrous first session of the Spelljammer campaign and the game has markedly improved. However, there are still some rules issues that need to be corrected before the conversion really works. One of these issues is how durable I originally made a Spelljammer ship.

The Problem

During the first session, the party found itself almost immediately engaged in ship-to-ship combat. After exploring the abandoned wreckage of another Spelljammer ship their own vessel was set upon by two mystery ships. I wanted the players to feel that they were outnumbered and outmatched and serious consider fleeing. Unfortunately, what should have been a tense battle between three ships ended up turning into a boring slog of a combat.

I sat down after the session was over and tried to determine what the problem was. It was fairly evident in hindsight; I had built the Spelljammer ships to be too durable.

Spelljammer Ships

Ship TypeCostCrew Min/MaxMRACHPDamage ThresholdKeel LengthBeam LengthStandard ArmamentHelm Type
Flitter10,000 gp1/111425N/A20 ft/ 6.1 m5 ft/ 1.5 mNoneMajor or Minor Helm
Mosquito15,000 gp1/621715010100 ft/ 30.5 m15 ft/ 4.6 mNoneMajor or Minor Helm
Caravel10,000 gp8/105132501070 ft/ 21.3 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 large weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Dragonfly40,000 gp3/1021425010100 ft/ 30.5 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 medium weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Damselfly50,000 gp2/1031825010100 ft/ 30.5 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 huge weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Wasp20,000 gp8/183164501580 ft/ 24.4 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 huge weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Tyrant Ship100,000 gp15/2322257520100 ft/ 30.5 m100 ft/ 30.5 mSpecialOrbus
Tradesman15,000 gp10/2531762520120 ft/ 36.6 m30 ft/ 9.1 m1 medium weapon and 1 large weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Gnomish Sidewheeler40,000 gp20/3041575020120 ft/ 36.6 m25 ft/ 7.6 mNone Gnomish
Nautiloid40,000 gp10/3531887520180 ft/ 54.9 m30 ft/ 9.1 m5 large weaponsSeries Helm or Pool Helm
Mindspider60,000 gp3/4021810002540 ft/ 12.2 m15 ft/ 4.6 m3 large weaponsLifejammer
Galleon50,000 gp20/40415100025130 ft/ 39.6 m30 ft/ 9.1 m1 medium weapon and 2 large weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Squid Ship45,000 gp12/453171,12525250 ft/ 76.2 m25 ft/ 7.6 m2 large weapons and 1 huge weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Dragonship60,000 gp20/45 3171,12525150 ft/ 45.7 m20 ft/ 6.1 m2 large weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Hammership50,000 gp24/603161,50030250 ft/ 76.2 m25 ft/ 7.6 m3 huge weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Man-o-War100,000 gp10/602151,50030200 ft/ 61 m20 ft/ 6.1 m4 large weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Deathspider100,000 gp30/1004172,50030175 ft/ 53.3 m50 ft/ 15.2 m6 huge weaponsMajor Helm
Armada125,000 gp40/100 3172,50030300 ft/ 91.4 m30 ft/ 9.1 m14 huge weapons Major Helm
Citadel1,000,000 gp100/3004227,50030250 ft/ 76.2 m200 ft/ 61 m7 huge weapons, 8 large weapons and 12 medium weaponsForge

You can see on the above table that most ships as originally built had not only a Damage Threshold, but also a ridiculous amount of hit points. I included the Damage Threshold so that combat didn’t turn into all of the characters shooting arrows and magic missiles at enemy ships. The high hit point totals came about in an effort to make the ship’s durability seem more realistic. While this combination seemed great on paper, in reality it doesn’t work at all.

The Solution

Spelljammer Ships (Modified)

Ship TypeCostCrew Min/MaxMRACHPDamage ThresholdKeel LengthBeam LengthStandard ArmamentHelm Type
Flitter10,000 gp1/111440N/A20 ft/ 6.1 m5 ft/ 1.5 mNoneMajor or Minor Helm
Mosquito15,000 gp1/62177510100 ft/ 30.5 m15 ft/ 4.6 mNoneMajor or Minor Helm
Caravel10,000 gp8/10513751070 ft/ 21.3 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 large weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Dragonfly40,000 gp3/1021410010100 ft/ 30.5 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 medium weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Damselfly50,000 gp2/1031810010100 ft/ 30.5 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 huge weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Wasp20,000 gp8/183161501580 ft/ 24.4 m20 ft/ 6.1 m1 huge weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Tyrant Ship100,000 gp15/2322220020100 ft/ 30.5 m100 ft/ 30.5 mSpecialOrbus
Tradesman15,000 gp10/2531720020120 ft/ 36.6 m30 ft/ 9.1 m1 medium weapon and 1 large weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Gnomish Sidewheeler40,000 gp20/3041525020120 ft/ 36.6 m25 ft/ 7.6 mNone Gnomish
Nautiloid40,000 gp10/3531830020180 ft/ 54.9 m30 ft/ 9.1 m5 large weaponsSeries Helm or Pool Helm
Mindspider60,000 gp3/402184002540 ft/ 12.2 m15 ft/ 4.6 m3 large weaponsLifejammer
Galleon50,000 gp20/4041540025130 ft/ 39.6 m30 ft/ 9.1 m1 medium weapon and 2 large weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Squid Ship45,000 gp12/4531745025250 ft/ 76.2 m25 ft/ 7.6 m2 large weapons and 1 huge weaponMajor or Minor Helm
Dragonship60,000 gp20/45 31745025150 ft/ 45.7 m20 ft/ 6.1 m2 large weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Hammership50,000 gp24/6031655030250 ft/ 76.2 m25 ft/ 7.6 m3 huge weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Man-o-War100,000 gp10/6021555030200 ft/ 61 m20 ft/ 6.1 m4 large weaponsMajor or Minor Helm
Deathspider100,000 gp30/100417100030175 ft/ 53.3 m50 ft/ 15.2 m6 huge weaponsMajor Helm
Armada125,000 gp40/100 317100030300 ft/ 91.4 m30 ft/ 9.1 m14 huge weapons Major Helm
Citadel1,000,000 gp100/300422200030250 ft/ 76.2 m200 ft/ 61 m7 huge weapons, 8 large weapons and 12 medium weaponsForge

The simplest solution that I could come up with was to reduce the hit point totals of all of the Spelljammer ships. Some of the totals were only reduced slightly, but many of the larger ships had their HP reduced dramatically.

Let me explain what this change means in the context of the game. We now need to look at the hit points of a Spelljammer ship as not how much damage it can take before it is destroyed, but how much damage it can take before it is no longer spaceworthy. A Spelljammer ship that is reduced to 0 HP does not break apart into toothpicks. It is just unusable for moving through space or sustaining life. A ship at 0 HP also has no gravity plane and doesn’t refresh its own air supply. It is basically a wreck floating through space.

I believe that this change to ship hit points is going to have a positive effect on how exciting our ship-to-ship combat will be in the future. As always let me know what you think in the comments.

Top image by Brom

8 thoughts on “Correcting Spelljammer Ship Stats”

  1. It looks like a good solution, although I don’t have the ship weapon damage off hand. Would you ignore damage threshold for certain types of damage, such as fire for wood ships or the Shatter spell for metal?

    Ongoing damage tends to be low enough that it would rarely ever exceed the threshold, but historically any amount of open flame on a ship is really bad news. Although a way around this might be an explanation that spelljamming ships wouldn’t need to be soaked in tar and varnish like their ocean going cousins as the constant degradation of salt water wouldn’t be present.

    I would think that Shatter or other spells specifically designed for siege warfare and/or large targets would operate normally.

  2. I would definitely ignore the damage threshold for fire. There are specific rules for dealing with fire on a Spelljammer ship. I would probably still use it for Shatter though.

  3. I actually have a request of you, if you do that sort of thing. Would you be willing to do a conversion of the Tsunami and/or Locust from the Realmspace book? I’m about to start using your material in our 5E Kara-Tur game, and I thought having a carrier battle with this monstrosity would be fun. I hope it isn’t rude of me to ask!

          1. Just imagining the fun of a monstrous carrier of a spelljammer powered by monks is delicious. Even moreso for anyone foolish enough to board it!

Join the Party