Aether vehicle and damage progress

Here we are at our first update of the new year. The holidays were hectic, as they always are, but now we’re back at the grindstone.

Aethermancy is progressing apace. Four of the chapters are now in editing and only two remain in the writing phase. One chapter’s editing is completed and it’s ready for layout.

Aether‘s new edition has seen some interesting changes in the last month. As I started writing stats for bigger and bigger vehicles, I realized that there was no precedent for how damage should work in combined arms for Aether. So, I consulted Kevin to see what direction he wanted us to go in. He pointed me at Panzer Reich (our prototype tank warfare game) and explained how he wanted to keep the numbers flat and easy to understand.

Damage in Aether comes in two flavors. The first is Soft Damage, which is nonlethal damage that won’t wound you but may knock you out. The second is Hard Damage, which will wound you. Most of the time, damage will be of the Hard Damage variety.

Further, there are four tiers of Hard Damage and four tiers of armor. You won’t need to know or care about these tiers, though, because they’re implicit rather than explicit. They are basically just different lower and upper bounds for damage used for balancing. Most gameplay will happen at the first tier, with damage amounts scaled for people. This is your handguns, swords, energy rifles, wolf bites, and so on. Once vehicles or truly enormous creatures come into play, though, that’s when the other three tiers kick in.

Tier two is meant for big and tough things that are still relatively human-scale threats. Tanks, dragons, and so forth. Tier three is for colossal threats that no person can stand against, like destroyers, battleships, starfighters, and leviathans. Tier four is meant only for space capital ships, as the amount of damage they deal can level entire cities.

Each tier’s damage and armor are balanced against each other. Tier two weapons are just as effective against tier two armor as tier four weapons are against tier four armor, for example. However, higher tier damage will make an absolute mess of targets in lower tier armor.

To illustrate this principle, I’ll give you a set of weapons and corresponding armor.

A thug with a .45-caliber revolver shooting at a police officer in a kevlar vest is going to be rolling 1d10 damage against 6 HD armor, with the officer having 5 Life Points.

A Panzer firing its main gun at a Sherman tank is going to be rolling 1d10+15 against 20 HD armor, with the Sherman having 15 Structure Points.

A Forrest Sherman-class destroyer firing its 5-inch guns at a Type 1936A destroyer is going to be rolling 1d10+35 against 40 HD armor, with the 1936A having 35 Structure Points.

A star cruiser firing its super-laser batteries at an enemy cruiser is going to be rolling 1d10+50 against 60 HD armor, with the target having 50 Structure Points.

The 1d10 determines whether the damage gets through the armor. Vehicles in each successive tier have slightly more Structure Points to indicate they have more mass with which to absorb damage, but it’s not by orders of magnitude.

Now, if that star cruiser fired its batteries at a single space marine, that marine’s 15 HD armor is not going to protect his measly 5 Life Points from 1d10+50 damage. He’s vapor, no matter what the roll is. Similarly, a tank or WW2 destroyer will also fare badly against the star cruiser, even if they could reach it with their weapons.

Over the next week, the vehicles chapter will be finished. After that, I’ll take a close look at each chapter in the manuscript to see if there is any further writing to be done. We’re closing in on completion of the manuscript for the Aether core book!