[Let's Read] SJR1 - Lost Ships

Gyrfalcon

They said I was mad, MAD!
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Am I correct in remembering that the gravity line is a plane, above which things fall down, below which things fall up?

If so, why are we not stacking cargo on both sides of the barge? (Well it's going to be a bit awkward if you land like that, I guess.)
Cargo almost certainly could be stacked on both sides of a barge -- but there's clearly a hard weight limit imposed by arcanobabble and games mechanics, which is likely more of a concern than available space. Stacking all your cargo on one side of the hull is useful not just for landing purposes but also for day-to-day operations (diving through the gravity plane every time you want to check what's strapped to the underhull is potentially hazardous) and potentially for last-ditch defense (pitching so that the keel of your ship is facing towards the enemy, rather than squishy cargo and crew -- the shell of a cargo barge may be fragile, but it's better than nothing).
 

Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
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It's been a long time since dealing with determining where the gravity plane lies, but isn't it basically center of mass on the long axis? Presumably, the gravity plane of the barge somehow lies parallel/beneath the flat bottom, or the design makes no sense. There's already the hut sticking up, so if you pile all the cargo tonnage on the top deck, I'd expect the center of mass to start sliding up, also...
 

MacBalance

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Am I correct in remembering that the gravity line is a plane, above which things fall down, below which things fall up?

If so, why are we not stacking cargo on both sides of the barge? (Well it's going to be a bit awkward if you land like that, I guess.)
Yes and yes.

In this case, I think it's just that it didn't fit the concept. The gravity plane 'rules' were pretty minimal at times, and perhaps these simple ships do have problems with the plane shifting, which explains the lack of a defined line on the plans and the movable walls?

Today is the height of Gnomish Engineering, the Deathglory!

This is a large ship at 70 tons and has a few 'nonstandard' entries in the stat list. Water Landing is listed as "Maybe (leaks badly)" and it's powered by a '"Gnomish" Major Helm' and equipped with tons of gadgets and extras including a water canon and a spell reflector.

Built and used by gnomes (which prompts the usual small-creature verbage about increasing crew: This thing can hold 140 gnomes!). The crew of these ships, known as 'dreadnever-class' are of high mroale because the ship actually works, mostly.



It's a Gnomish Dreadnought which should inspire fear of anyone docking in the same sphere as it. it is a battleship, and a successful design, although it's constantly tinkered like most Gnomish designs. The battleship description mentions that the listed arsenal 9 weapons) is only the start as they often include additional arms and armaments as well as armored plating and shielding to conceal the ships' nature. Variants include a "trouble-plagued" design with rams and jettisons and an experimental design using serial helms as well as a variant built for long trips in the flow.

I like the Deathglory: It's a way to take the Gnomes from being a dangerous joke to being deadly serious. The design has a fun swooshy 'Renaissance ship gone wild' look I think is fun and fits the setting. I could see one of these being prepared as a 'secret weapon' in some Gnome operation, perhaps to free their groundling (and non-tinker) cousins from an oppressor.
 

MacBalance

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Today is the Eel Ship which is basically a 20 ton super-basic vessel. It's a "missing link" between the "modern" Spelljammer hulls like the Hammerhead, Squid Ship, or Tradesman and the early converted ships like the Cog or Drommond.



Basically an open 'top' deck and a lower deck with a single corridor running fromt he helm at the front to an open cargo hold in the back. Of note, the Crew Quarters are the same for the Captain's room, the Spelljammer's room, and the rest of the crew (4/20). Rank has privileges. No gravity plane is shown. My only real issue with the design (which has a neat giant fin on the tail) is there's a lot of 'curved hull' for no real reason but perhaps increasing maneuvering ability. It's a water landing craft and usually uses a helm, but 15% have furnaces. 2 mounted weapons, and a tiny 8 tons of cargo.

The description has an interesting note that the builder is uncertain. It might be "early humans" but could be an unspecified "Insectoid race." Some suggestions include thri-kreen ancestors or an unknwon race of giant wasps. The suggestion (and a reason this is not a human ship) is that there's a "crawl-tunnel running down the center of the ship to the tail, too small for a human to stand in." It's not clear if this is meant to represent the displayed corridor or something else: An interesting design choice would be a ship that requires massive inconvenience to crew: Most ships in Spelljammer take an "Age of Sail" so assume cramped and dirty conditions, but the corridors are made for average-height people.

This ship is commonly used as a raider (possibly with heavy weapons including converting the cargo bay to a one-shot jettison) or defender. The latter are noted as using a greek fire projector on 30% of such ships.

This is one of the more 'normal' ships in my mind. It's uncommon, but still something you might expect to find in any sufficiently large port. It's old, small, and limited... But could be used as a second-line ship for so many uses, I think.
 

MacBalance

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Today is a fun one: The Flying Pyramid.

It's basically 90 tons of building converted into an an awkward but crew-efficient spacecraft. It's got 20 mounted weapons and usually uses a Death Helm or Furnace, often both. Landing is listed as "maybe" for land: They crash 60% of the time.

The description centers heavily on the Dark Pharaoh, a spacefaring mummy, who is one possible user of this kind of ship and was described in an earlier silly adventure. Other uses could be temple-ships of Ptah (when they don't use the earlier Barges) or Shuttles for the Dwarves when they must move from asteroid to asteroid. The first listed use is piracy, but diverges into a discussion of how the craft operates with it's traditional undead crew. They can also be used as defense bases or pharoah's ships. The piracy option does include human crews.



Of note, no gravity plane. A second thought is the iconic pyramid was built with no real mortar to hold the stones which form the walls together to my understanding. Possibly for a decorative outer layer. The description does mention encouraging moss and other plants growth to help hold the structure together, which isn't what plans really do, but I'll allow it. I feel like the gravity plane should be such that the bottom floor or two is reversed.

Still, this could be a fun idea as a base for an adventure: A DM could take the floor plan as given and embellish it, or even add a small attached 'lower tomb' in a chunk of rock (also explaining moving the gravity plane to 'ground level') to add a more traditional small dungeon. Such a vessel could be a small free port for undead, worshippers of Ptah, or similar. Maybe a mummy captain (perhaps with a normal helm?) rules the pyramid as a mobile base and is relatively cool as long as no one offends it on its own turf. So it's become home to a crew of mostly undead, a few necromancers who crave the experience, and similar. It shows up at other ports willing to allow it and doesn't officially break any laws, but could become involved in all sorts of shenanigans based on the Mummy Lord's long game. Maybe the Mummy Lord is doing the Strahd schtick and looking for a lost love she's sure has been reincarnated somewhere in Wildspace. She pulls her ship in, her crew goes trades access to ancient lore (the library goes back thousands of years, as does the librarian) and goods like rare spices for knowledge of her beloved whom was killed thousands of years ago because of his fondness for petting snakes or something.

While the lore and trading is relatively aboveboard, there's rumors of a lot of illegal and evil acts by the crew, which includes a few vampires and other high-level undead. The Mummy Lord feels certain artifacts are hers, and sees nothing wrong with having an associate steal them. As well, the Vampires must feed, and may have their own agendas: The best way to shut down this ship is probably to drive a wedge between the vampires and their mistress, in fact. Then storm it and loot the treasure room hidden in the basement, guarded by traps.
 
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Gyrfalcon

They said I was mad, MAD!
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So I got a bit curious about the Flying Pyramid, and I checked my books as well as Wikipedia. The flying version has a base 80' on a side, which suggests a height of only about 40'; this is pretty darn puny compared to what IRL Egyptians regularly built (heights of 150'-200' were fairly common, and the Great Pyramid is ~480' high). OTOH, the Flying Pyramid also effectively maxes out the tonnage limit movable with a regular spelljamming helm.
 

MacBalance

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The flying version has a base 80' on a side, which suggests a height of only about 40'; this is pretty darn puny compared to what IRL Egyptians regularly built (heights of 150'-200' were fairly common, and the Great Pyramid is ~480' high).
I was wondering that... Thanks for the research! I feel like this is a pretty tiny pyramid. It's also extremely open inside, as if the reference model was the top few floors of the Luxor in Las Vegas, not real pyramids used for burials. I feel like a stone structure could be made that does this (minus the flying) but it might not be easy.

It could also be that the people who think a Pyramid ship is a good idea (Note: To my limited knowledge, the ancient Egyptians had some watercraft that'd work better for small vessels...) just took the top of a structure, although I like the idea of adding a small dirt-clod/rock base.
 

Sleeper

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I haven't been following the thread, so other people might not have the same reaction. But the design of that space pyramid is hilarious. It's supposed to be a pirate ship, but it has that huge space in the bottom for cargo, complete with massive cargo doors on every side. Which isn't the design of a ship intended to chase down other ships, it's the design of a barge. Well, except the very lowest level is a dungeon. Apparently, they decided their barge wasn't crawlworthy enough, so they attached a huge chunk of sandstone on the bottom and carved out some random rooms and corridors. Which of course means the cargo bay doors are on the second floor, which must make unloading difficult. I assume, given the Egyptian mummy motif, they have hundreds of slaves build a temporary ramp of sand every time they land. Or crash, since they crash a lot.
 

MacBalance

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I didn't think of the door placement. I think the assumption is it never lands, at least under normal circumstances. It lands for a long period to loot and pillage. Landing meaning it settles down, taking serious damage, and the crew and whomever they can recruit spend weeks or months fixing it up.

I feel like 'Piracy' was a bad listed usage for this vessel, as the text focuses so heavily on the undead uses (which is piracy of a sort at times) and use by humans is a distant second.

In general, imagine if the book removed the Adventure chapters and integrated them with the ships. It might be more efficient: We could lose the Dark Pharaoh discussion here, for example, and just include it as a possible use of this hull. It would make the layout quite different, but I feel the book might flow better.
 

s/LaSH

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A ha'tak this ain't. The goa'uld would be disappointed.

Well, actually they might not be. Sci-fi's eternal space pharaohs have a range of starships, and the ha'tak is the top-of-the-line warship. Ra, in the original Stargate, showed up in something shaped more like a traditional pyramid - except his was hollow, because pyramids were landing pads built to accommodate such ships.

Imagining the pyramid ship as something a bit more sleek in construction, and looking at those thin upper walls, we get something I think could be pretty cool. You make the lower deck stone, as ballast. Then the rest of the decks are formed from 8 or 12 massive, irregular plates locked together to make the pyramid. They could be rusted iron or green-streaked bronze, or an iridescent dark metal, or even look like the inside of a goa'uld ship: columns upon columns of golden hieroglyphics on every side of the ship.

You could even explain their tendency to crash: they're not supposed to take off again. They're cheap scouts. When they find a suitable target, they spontaneously convert to a fortified port... a dock for the bigger treasure ship that tours subject worlds, collecting loot. It's why the doors are high up. They're not for land access.
 
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