MAGEBLADE! and OSR Vehicular Shenanigans

MAGEBLADE! uses a roll-under mechanic for every check: roll 1d20 and get equal or under your stat. Dexterity roll? Just roll under your dexterity. Attack roll? just roll under your Melee or Missile (they start at 12). Resist a Charm spell? Roll under Wisdom.

More than one agent is going at it? everybody rolls, whoever gets the highest success wins. So if you’re struggling a clash of wit with a tax inspector, and you succeed your intelligence roll with 13 and the tax inspector succeeds their Extract Money roll with a 14, you succumb to taxes and have to pay.

But how do you handle vehicular shenaningans in this game? Use the Core Rule and roll a Piloting/Sailing/Driving/Cycling contest! Rogues have better access to skills and their Focus Ability essentially having free rerolls every day, so rogues are the best candidates for vehicular shenanigans.

I mean, rogues are also the best candidates for shenanigans in general, but whatever.

Prepare to improvise a lot as these rules strive for generic usability rather than detail. Also, MAGEBLADE! has skills (albeit very simple skills) accessible to all characters, so if you use this for other OSR games maybe replace the Piloting rolls with dexterity rolls, and give +2 to rogue-types.

Anyway: vehicles have stats, exactly like characters:

  • Focus: a modifier added to the piloting skill of the pilot. It’s added to the skill, not the dice roll.
  • Level: the bulk of the vehicle: subtract it from the piloting skill. Unlike for characters, it is not related in any way to the vehicle’s Focus.
  • Hits: how many wounds they can take before completely failing. Damage taken from anti-personnel weapons like swords and rifles is divided by 6, rounded down.
  • Defence: the vehicle’s armour. 0 for no armour, 2 for light, 4 for medium, 6 for that fine steel plating. Defence protects not only the vehicle, but also characters in it: exposed characters do not benefit from it.

With many excuses to Miyazaki-san, but just to explain what is the main inspiration for mageblade, have some examples:

  • Bicycle: Focus -3; level 0, hits 1, Defence 0. Carries 2, both exposed.Image result for miyazaki bicycle
  • Jet glider: Focus 4; level 2, hits 6, Defence 2. Carries 2, both exposed.largeAnimePaperscans_Nausicaa-Valle.jpg
  • Hydroplane: Focus 3; level 3, hits 12, Defence 1. Carries 1. Attack: twin MGs (2d6)Image result for porco rosso
  • Tank: Focus 0; level 5, hits 30, Defence 6. Carries 4. Attack: Cannon (1d12), MGs (1d6)
  • Small Airship: Focus 1; level 4, hits 20, Defence 3. Carries 5. Attack: 2 x MG (1d6)
  • Carrier airship: Focus 1; level 6, hits 25, Defence 4. Carries 40. Attack: Cannon (1d12), 5 x MG (1d6)
  • Moving Castle: Focus 0 (6 if elemental-powered); level 8, hits 50, Defence 5. Carries 60. Attack: 4 x Cannon Turret (2d12), 2 x Cannon (1d12)
  • Flying Island: I have no idea but maybe level 12, hits 80, Defence 9.

Vehicle combat is organized in rounds, but those rounds might be longer than normal rounds: for example, you can decide to use a minute round for ship combat. Each round the two pilots roll initiative, the loser declares their action first, then all roll a skill contest. Only the winner of the contest gets to do their action successfully:

  • Boarding: the two vehicles collide, the winner deciding if softly or violently. If violently, each vehicle takes 2 damage per Level of the other vehicle, and all on board the smallest take 1d6 damage plus 1d6 per size difference. Afterwards it’s possible to somehow board the other vehicle.
  • Manoeuvre: the winner gets to do one of the following:
    • add their success margin on the next piloting contest
    • get some distance between them and the other vehicle: when the distance gets over a threshold (for example 3) the vehicles disengage from shenanigans due to distance or other circumstances.  The threshold depends on the vehicles and environment: planes in the clouds will have a different threshold than bikers in a city or a bicycle trying to hide from a plane in a village.
    • recover some distance between them and the other vehicle, and win initiative the next round.
    • accomplishes some daring manoeuvre the Referee previously agreed not to be entirely impossible.
  • Shooting: the winner can shoot with all manned vehicular weapons on the loser, while the loser can shoot with half of their manned weapons on the winner. The vehicle guns can each be used once: attackers can each try to shoot with a d20 roll on Missile or Artillerist (or Dexterity for you OSR types). If they pass, the roll must also beat both the target target’s piloting roll and the target’s defence to deal damage; if they beat the piloting roll but not the defence the vehicle is fine but exposed characters might be hit. Damage is dealt to straight to the hits of the target vehicle. People on vehicles can also take damage: keep on reading.

When a vehicle is hit people on the vehicle can be hit too. First divide the characters in groups by location (so if two are in the cockpit and one is on a wing, there are two groups), then roll 1d(vehicle level): on a 1 characters in the first group are hit, on a 2 the second group is hit, etc. Hit characters must save.

  • exposed characters suffer the weapon damage multiplied by 3 if they fail a save, or 1d6 if they save. Also
  • unexposed characters take 1d6, no damage if they save.
Image result for sherlock hound
Of course you want critical hits: in that case do not deal extra damage, but come up with some terrible shenanigans. Maybe the vehicle can’t do something specific unless it’s fixed, or must manoeuvre successfully at least once every 3 rounds to avoid shutting down, or something similar. And of course characters can go out, get exposed and try to patch stuff up.
Many thanks to Richard G.