HD&D: Objects and Vehicles

Between now and Christmas, the remaining two parts of the Combat section will be posted to the blog. Part of the information contained in those sections requires an understanding of HD&D’s rules for inanimate objects, and for environmental conditions. I’ll deal with the latter in the next post. For now, we’re going to have a look at how inanimate objects and – by extension – vehicles are handled in the hybrid game. And can I tell you that these rules have caused me a considerable headache.

My headache  stems from my desire for everything to have a degree of internal consistency. If objects have defences, armour class and hit point (which they do) then I want a consistent and coherent way of derriving them. It’s not enough to say that a caravel has 800 hit points. I want to be able to prove why it has 800 hit points. What follows is probably going to seem like a lot of maths for no good reason. However, I think there is a moral point. I can’t spend as long as I have stressing over creature hit point totals and then have object hit points to be completely arbitary. In any event, these are not mechanics that players will use. They will just flip to the Equipment section and use the object or vehicle’s statistics as printed. However, I want the process of how we got to those statistics to be transparent.

Inanimate Objects

Almost all the items defined in the Equipment section are inanimate objects. Just like living creatures, such objects can be manipulated, damaged and destroyed. They therefore require defining game statistics that allow them to interact with your typically ham-fisted player character.

Inanimate objects use many of the same statistics as living creatures, although they do not have levels. This means that we have to derrive those statistics differently. The following rules explain the method for drawing up statistics for all manner of inanimate objects: from a humble wine bottle, to a gravity-defying airship.

Ability Scores

Objects do not have ability scores in the same way as creatures. They have no Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma scores. They are assigned pseudo scores in Dexterity and Constitution to help calculate their defences and saving throws.

Dexterity: Even though objects cannot move, their Dexterity is consider to be 1. This gives them a -5 penalty to their Reflex Defence.

Constitution: Inanimate objects have a base Constitution of score of 10 + their Item AC (see below) + Thickness in inches (minimum 1). This means that a one inch thickness of Wood has a Con score of 16, one inch of Iron has a Con score of 21 and so on. The Constitution score is used to calculate the item’s Fortitude Defence. That defence is subequently used to calculate the Break DC of the item.

Size

All objects have a Size category. These size categories are exactly the same as those used by creatures. The size category of an object grants it a multiplier that is used to calculate its hit points (see below). These mulitpliers are based on the size modifiers that apply to the attack rolls and Reflex defence of living creatures.

Size Cateogory

Item Size Multiplier

Miniscule

×0.167

Diminuitive

×0.25

Tiny

×0.5

Small

×1

Medium

×1

Large

×2

Huge

×4

Gargantuan

×6

Colossal

×8

It is worth repeating that the size categories of objects and creatures are the same. Therefore in HD&D, a longsword is not a medium-sized weapon anymore: it’s a Small weapon. The longsword falls within the dimensions of a Small creature, and therefore it is also of Small size. In HD&D characters can wield any weapon up to two size categories smaller than they are in one hand. They can wield weapons of the same size, but must use two hands. They cannot wield weapons of a size greater than they are. So a human can wield tiny and small weapons in one hand, and medium weapons in two hands. A human cannot wield weapons that are diminuitive or smaller, neither can he wield weapons that are Large or larger.

Material

An object’s toughness and durability is mostly dependent upon the material it is made from. An item made of mithril is tougher than one made of wood or tapioca. All materials are assigned an armour class, and also a hit point value per inch of thickness. These details are used when calculating the hit points and the armour class of an inanimate object made from the material (see below). 

Material

Item AC

Hit Points per inch

Paper or Cloth

0

2

Rope

0

2

Glass

1

1

Ice

0

3

Leather or Hide

2

5

Wood

5

10

Stone

8

15

Iron or Steel

10

30

Mithril

15

30

Adamantine

20

40

Note that the Item AC of a material isn’t necessarily the same as the protection conferred by armour made of that material. For example, hide has an Item AC of 2, but hide armour is AC 3. The protection is often as much about the way the armour is made as it is about the material the armour is made from.

Reflex Defence

As objects are immobile and unlikely to get out of the way of any obstacles or attacks, one would imagine that their Reflex Defence would be somewhat on the low side. And indeed one would be right. The Reflex defence of objects is calculated on a similar basis to creatures (except that objects do not have levels):

Base 10 + Dex Modifier + Size Modifier

The Dexterity of an inanimate object is considered to be 1, which imparts a -5 penalty on the Reflex defence. The size modifiers are the same as the size modifiers that creatures use: Miniscule (+6), Diminuitive (+4), Tiny (+2), Small (0), Medium (0), Large (-2), Huge (-4), Gargantuan (-6), Colossal (-8). This results in the following Reflex Defence scores:

Size Cateogory

Reflex Defence

Miniscule

11

Diminuitive

9

Tiny

7

Small

5

Medium

5

Large

3

Huge

1

Gargantuan

-1

Colossal

-3

Fortitude Defence

The Fortitude Defence for objects is interpeted as the object’s ability to resist continuous force. It is also the basis from which the object’s Break DC (see below) is derrived. The Fortitude Defence of an object would be used in combat manoeurvres: for example, if a giant squid was trying to grapple a sailing ship. The formula to calculate Fortitude Defence is as follows:

Base 10 + Con Modifier + Size Modifier

The Constitution of an inanimate object is considered to be 10 + its Item AC + its Thickness in inches. The Size modifiers are inverted for the purpose of calculating Fortitude: i.e. Miniscule (-6), Diminuitive (-4), Tiny (-2), Small (0), Medium (0), Large (+2), Huge (+4), Gargantuan (+6), Colossal (+8). Therefore the Fortitude score of the following selection of objects would be as follows:

Example object

Fortitude Defence

Rope

13

Simple wooden door

13

Small chest

11

Treasure chest

13

Strong wooden door

13

Masonry Wall (1 ft thick)

22

Hewn Stone (3 ft thick)

34

Chain

15

Mannacles

15

Masterwork manacles

17

Iron Door (2″ thick)

16

For example: In the above table a two inch thick iron door has a Fortitude Defence of 16. In order to calculate that figure, we first need to would out the door’s Constitution score. This Con score is work out as the base of 10 + the door’s item AC (10 for iron) + the door’s thickness (2). 10 + 10 + 2 = a Constitution Score of 22. A Con of 22 gives you a Con Modifier of +6. Therefore the Fortitude is worked out as Base 10 + Con Mod (+6) + Size Mod (+0) for a total of 16.

Some objects may be more or less durable than their size, Constitution or thickness would indicate. For example, rope is a Tiny object, with an Item AC of 0, and is only 1 inch thick. It should have a Con of 11, and a Fortitude score of 8. However, Rope is very resistant to damage. It gains a +10 bonus to its Con score, that works in the same way as racial bonuses in creatures. It’s Con is considered 21 (+5 modifier) and therefore its final Fortitude score is 13.

Masterwork and Magical Items

Masterwork items are tougher and more durable that normal items. Depending on its quality, a materwork item can add a bonus of between +1 and +6 to the item’s Fortitude Defence. Masterwork and magical augmentations can also increase an item’s hit points or armour class. Details of which items enjoy such bonuses will be found in the section on equipment.

Break DC

While the Fortitude score is used when applying continuous pressure or grappling with objects, the item’s Break DC is used if you want to destroy the item by dint of sudden force. The Break DC of all items is equal to the item’s Fortitude Defence +10. So manancles have a Fortitude Defence of 15, but a Break DC of 25.

You can only attempt to break objects that one size category larger than you or smaller. An object that is the victim of a successful break attempt gains the Broken condition. In a similar vein to the rules governing the Escape Artist skill, a character can make one (and only one) attempt to break an object. If that fails, then they cannot try again unless circumstances change – e.g. someone helps them, they grab a crowbar. The roll to break an item is a skill check using the Athletics skill. It is not an attack roll, and therefore  a natural 20 is not an automatic success.

Will Defence

Inanimate objects do not have a Will defence. They are mindless. Any attack that targets Will automatically fails against them.

Hit Points

An item’s hit points is calulated very differently to the hit points of creatures. Use the following formula:

Hit Points per inch × Thickness in inches × Size Multiplier

For example wooden door has 10 hit points per inch of thickness, is one inch thick and has a size multiplier of 1. That means it has a total of 10 hit points. A Pinnace is a wooden ship that has 10 hit points per inch of thickness, a hull that is ten inches thick, and a size muliplier of 6. It has a total of 600 hit points.

Remember that an object reducd to half its hit points is Broken. Usually Broken objects are useless, and whatever protection or utility they might provide ceases. For example, if the pinnace takes 300 points of damage it is Broken, which probably means that it starts to sink.

The formula is an excellent guide, but doesn’t always work. Therefore all objects also have a minimum number of hit points based on their size. If the formula comes up with a figure that is less than this minimum number, use the minimum number instead. These minimums are: Miniscule (1), Diminuitive (2), Tiny (5), Small (10), Medium (20), Large (40), Huge (100), Gargantuan (200), Colossal (400).

Armour Class

An item’s armour class is dependent on its material type. Items can be covered in other materials to make them more resistant to damage. For example. A iron-clad battle ship has a layer of iron covering the wooden hull. In these cases the different material types are treated as different objects, and the first must be destroyed (or broken) before damage can be dealt to the second.

For example, a colossal ironclad battleship has a hull made of wood, that is covered in one inch thick iron plate. The wooden hull has an Item AC of 5 (from the wood) and 800 hit points. The armour-plate has an Item AC of 10 (from the iron) and 240 hit points. Any attack against the ironclad hits the armour plate first. Once the armour plate is Broken (has taken 120 points of damage) then subsequent damage is dealt to the wooden hull.

Resistances and Immunities

As with characters, an object’s Item AC does not defend it against energy attacks, but some materials are inherently resistant (or vulnerable) to certain attacks. This works in the same way as resistance (or vulnerability) for creatures. The seven types of energy attacks (Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Necrotic, Radiant and Thunder) have the following effect on these common materials.

Adamant: Resist 20 to all energy attacks.

Cloth: Resist 10 Cold, Vulnerable 5 Lightning; Vulnerable 10 Fire; Vulnerable 10 Necrotic

Glass: Resist 5 Cold; Resist 5 Fire; Resist 5 Lightning; Vulnerable 10 Thunder

Ice: Resist 30 Cold; Vulnerable 10 Lightning; Vulnerable 10 Radiant; Vulnerable 10 Thunder; Vulnerable 20 Fire

Iron/Steel: Resist 15 Cold; Resist 10 Lightning; Resist 10 Fire

Leather/Hide: Resist 5 Fire; Resist 5 Lightning; Resist 10 Cold; Vulnerable 10 Necrotic

Mithril: Resist 15 to all energy attacks.

Paper: Vulnerable 5 Lightning; Vulnerable 15 Fire

Rope: Vulnerable 5 Lightning; Vulnerable 5 Necrotic; Vulnerable 10 Fire

Stone: Resist 20 Cold ; Resist 15 Lightning ; Resist 15 Fire

Wood: Resist Cold 15; Resist Lightning 10; Vulnerable 5 Fire; Vulnerable 10 Necrotic

These resistances and vulnerabilites only come into play if an object is specifically targeted with an energy attack. You don’t have to check the hit points and resistances of your sword and armour every time you’re hit by a fireball. Spells that target characters may still cause collaterol damage, but that damage does not include your character’s equipment. This is a convention of the system, and designed to make for a smoother game. While we might want feasibly want to know how many lightning bolts it takes to blast an iron door off its hinges, we don’t want every fireball to melt the paladin into his platemail.

In addition to immunities and vulnerabilities, many objects also have Immunities to certain assaults. While the material an object is made from usually governs its resistances and vulnerabilities, its immunities are usually dependent on how it is made. For example, most objects are immune to attacks from any weapon that is more than two size categories smaller than it is. So if you want to damage a Caravel (a Colossal object) then you need to be wielding a weapon that is Huge or larger. All smaller weapons simply bounce off.

Of course, all of the above are generalities and I am sure that you can see exceptions. Given enough time a human with a small axe can chop his way through the hull of a caravel. Soaking wet wood doesn’t have any vulnerability to fire, and so on. In HD&D, the GM needs to take the above information as guidelines and create objects and vehicles that work within the spirit of the game.

Sections

In third edition, large objects are divided into a number of different 10 ft by 10 ft sections. A sailing ship might actually be ten different objects, and each one could be targeted separately. That seems a little too complicated for me, and so we’ve gone down the fourth edition route of giving each vehicle one blob of hit points. After all, Called Shot rules can apply equally to vehicles as they do to characters.

However, there are times when it is worth splitting very large objects into two (or more) smaller objects. This is only done when it makes sense to do so. For example, a ships rigging may be considered a different object to the ship’s hull. However, even if we do divide into sections, we are still dealing with one object. One section will be the primary section and all attacks will default to that section unless a player says otherwise.

Usually it isn’t necessary to take a called shot to hit a particular section of an object. If an object has been divided into sections, it’s because the object is enormous to start with. Different sections will have different statistics, and can be treated as two completly separate objects.

A Note on Animated Objects

An object that becomes animated by dint of the Animate Object spell or similar means, ceases to be an object and starts being a creature. Details of example animated objects are given in the Monster Manual. An animated object will have many of the same traits as its inanimate counterparts, but it will have a level and follow the rules for generating creatures.

Does All this Work?

The above may look as little more than an exercise designed to twist me knots. However it does (on paper at least) seem to work. Inanimate objects and vehicles are only useful up to a point they have taken half their hit points in damage – i.e. gain the broken condition. Half hit points for an object in HD&D is about the same as maximum hit points for an object in fourth edition. And as character hit points and damage potential mirrors fourth edition more closely that third, I think this should work. Regardless of how overtly fiddlesome is appears.

However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So here are the statistics for a few inanimate objects in the hybrid game. I have concentrated on vehicles because they have a greater bearing on the next Combat system post. Have a look and see what you think. And if there’s any statistics that I haven’t previously explained, I will explain them when the post on Atypical Combat is ready.

LONG SWORD
The mainstay of your stalwart adventurer. These swords are usually referred to as doubled-edged swords, war swords, or military swords. The longsword is about 40 inches in length, and designed to be wielded in one hand.
Size/Type: Small Object
Ability Scores:  Str –, Dex 1, Con 21, Int –, Wis –, Cha —
Armour Class: 10
Fortitude: 15 (Break DC 25)
Reflex: 5
Hit Points: 30
Special: Resist 15 Cold; Resist 10 Lightning; Resist 10 Fire
Cost: 15 gp

CARAVEL
The caravel is a seaworthy, nimble ship that can handle long ocean crossings. It has a small forecastle and sterncastle, and three masts. A caravel is a smooth-hulled, full-decked vessel built on a strong internal frame. It is a relatively advanced design, and not every seafaring people have the skills and knowledge to build one.

Primary Section: Hull

Size/Type: Colossal Object
Ability Scores: Str –, Dex 1, Con 25, Int –, Wis –, Cha —
Armour Class: 5
Fortitude: 25 (Break DC 35)
Reflex: -3
Hit Points: 800
Special: Resist Cold 15; Resist Lightning 10; Vulnerable 5 Fire; Vulnerable 10 Necrotic. The Caravel cannot be damaged by weapons of Large size or smaller, except over the course of many hours in a non-combat environment.

Secondary Section: Rigging

Size/Type: Huge Object
Ability Scores: Str –, Dex 1, Con 19, Int –, Wis –, Cha —
Armour Class: 0
Fortitude: 18 (Break DC 28)
Reflex: 1
Hit Points: 100
Special: Vulnerable 5 Lightning; Vulnerable 5 Necrotic; Vulnerable 10 Fire

Other Statistics

Skill Check: Profession (Sailor)
Crew: 7
Seaworthiness: +2
Manoeuvrability: Poor (-5)
Propulsion: Sails
Speed: Swim 30 ft (× Wind multiplier)
Length: 60 ft
Width: 20 ft
Height: 10 ft
Draft: 10 ft
Complement: 30 passengers and crew
Cargo: 120 tons
Cost: 10,000 gp

WAGON
An open-topped vehicle pulled by a team of two of four horses.
Size/Type: Large Object:
Ability Scores: Str –, Dex 1, Con 21, Int –, Wis –, Cha —
Armour Class: 5
Fortitude: 17 (Break DC 27)
Reflex: 3
Hit Points: 120

Skill Check: Handle Animal
Crew: 1
Manoeuvrability: Average (+0)
Propulsion: Two or Four dray creatures
Speed: As dray creature
Length: 20 ft
Width: 10 ft
Height: 5 ft
Weight: 400 lbs unladen
Complement: 6 passengers
Cargo: 2 tons
Cost: 35 gp

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