Friday, February 1, 2013

The Petrel's Wing

Well, it may not be politics, but I did promise the plans for a ship, and I mean to deliver.  I've been working on these for about four hours, having stolen the originals from this site here.

I'm making this ship for my online world, to play the part of the Petrel's Wing, but the basic deckplan is for the H.M.S. Surprise (launched 1794 it says here, but I have seen 1778 and at least one other date that says it was scuttled before 1790 ... ah, history scholarship).

The website linked shows these plans ... and they are lovely:

There are, of course, a couple of problems ... no scale, there are cannon onboard, the entire first deck down would be superfluous for D&D because if there are no cannon then there's no need for a gun deck, etc.  So all I've been doing is photoshop to A) get rid of the guns; B) compress the stairs on the gun deck and the 2nd deck down so that they match up throughout, reducing it from a five-deck ship to one that's four decks; and C) get rid of the labels because, while they are useful, they spoil the use of the ship for combat.  Thus we get the final result:

Yes, not as colorful as the first group, but clean and with hexes and without guns.  It just takes a little diligent careful slicing and cutting and 'painting' to make them useable ... but I'm afraid for some of you that I've included my online party for the benefit of scale.  Each hex is 5' in diameter.  If you take the time, you can clean the party images right out of there, and make it useful.

I haven't actually run a combat aboard a ship since ... wow, 1989.  Parties in my world tend to avoid piracy because it takes just one sinking and you have a TPK.  I think its silly; I'd love to be a pirate.  In any case, last time I 'made' a ship it didn't look as nice as this.  I have to thank the originator for putting the plans online.

What a terrible plagerizer I am.  But ... I'm bibliographing my sources and I'm not trying to sell these for cash.  I just want them for the party's campaign.


Lukas said...

Come now TPK? You sure we can't grab onto some loose floating wood and wash up on shore like in all the movies?

"I'll never let go Andrej!" (Lets go of Andrej to die in freezing water)

As a side note, I think we should avoid wearing plate mail on board.

Alexis said...

I should qualify. I never say that it will be a TPK ... but strangely, my parties always think the worst of me (heh heh heh ...)

Maximillian said...

Maybe someone needs to invent lifejackets...

Comparing this hex scale to to imagined pirate battles, involving maybe 50-100 sailors, it leads me to think that there should be a skill to allow close fighting. I for one am looking forward to the high seas, seasickness, and learning to swim.

Alexis said...

That same concept occurred to me. Perhaps what's needed is the recognition of "clearing hexes" using overbearing/grappling rules, so that most of the fighting is done with enemies in the same hex (grappling) until someone gets a moment in a hex by themselves, so they can strike with a weapon.

Then it becomes a challenge to gather together, push people out of this hex or into that one, to compress them, to make room for a bowman or a spearman to throw weapons into the mob ...

Which begs the question, should all combat be allowed to occur this way?

The kite-flyers would probably start screaming that's too much work ... and I probably won't encourage that kind of tactic (except where forced, like aboard ship) ... but wouldn't it be neat?

Alexis said...

Then again, there are 65 useable combat hexes on the top deck. Assuming another ship of the same size, that's more than enough for 100 sailors.

Imon Fyre said...

Looks like fun. Can't wait to see what the dice bring about in the future for the Petrel's Wing.

Will Ahmet and the Captain have a romantic tryst below decks? Will Lukas part with his lunch over the side? Will the winds of fate bring about a climactic battle on the open seas that will have Andrej swinging from ship to ship?

James C. said...

It's lovely. I can't wait to play on it.

Charles Taylor (Charles Angus) said...

The original ship had a crew of 200, although your rendition seems to be a good bit smaller (20' beam vs 32), so maybe 100 would be about right.

They really packed them in on those warships, but a merchantman of this size would have a much smaller crew.

Obviously also depends on the rig - what kind of rigging does the Petrel's Wing carry?

Alexis said...

Sadly, I don't know enough about rigging to answer that question. Whatever a 17th century carrack was likely to possess.

The rendition by the fellow on the website really narrowed the ship by quite a lot - I found a 33 foot beam, following the version of the ship that had 28 guns - which the fellow named as the number of guns on his website. His rendition calculated to only 20 feet when I compared its length to its beam - this version is 115 feet instead of the Surprise's 120, and I fattened up the fellow's drawing to make it 22-23 feet.

It's also smaller in that there's an entire deck that's missing. Remember also that there's plenty of room for 200 crew if you consider all the decks being in use continuously, plus men in the rigging. Tight, yes, but not irredeemably so. If the battle goes below decks, that's lots of room for that, too.

Obviously, if your mage is going to cast spells, he or she is going to do it below decks, looking up through a slit - probably included in the design for that purpose - to safely wipe out any unwanted boarders.

Also, I suppose it must be said that magic is the logical replacement for cannons, too. Get your ship close enough for a fireball or a lightning bolt to do its good work.

Lukas said...

Of coarse, if you're a pirate vessel, I would think you would want to have your mage in a higher location so they could use anti-personnel spells with line of sight as opposed to staring at the side of a ship.

Alexis said...

Ah, Lukas, I was thinking of the situation of massed combat on the top deck of the ship during a grappled fight, when a mage casting a spell on the deck would find his or her self a bit 'cramped.'

Of course, in any other situation, you're quite right.

Lukas said...

True. But where there's a will there's a way. With the potential to put 16 of the enemy 50 to sleep, or debilitate even more, you might get a bit inventive I would think.

Especially considering a level 1 mage could debilitate a large number, bit it would probably take a level 5 mage under decks to do anything noticeable.

With the range on a fireball/lightning bolt being a reasonable amount further than boarding (and much more maneuverable than a cannon.) I can easily envision your 5th/7th level mage emptying their spell list and going below decks before boarding even is possible...

jbeltman said...

Hi Alexis,

I was looking around for what a House of Ease was and found the site the forum poster got the plans from originally.

The main page lists a number of different ship, including the Surprise:

From there you can follow a link to the Surprise specific page:

The ship cutaway image has been made into an image map and you can click on any of its decks to be taken to the page for that specific deck. e.g.

These pages have the top down plan where again you can click on any point of interest and be taken to the page for that deck that describes the features. e.g.

Each feature is given a quote from the book which is really interesting. Bruce Trinque obviously put a lot of work into these pages.


Maximillian said...

I thought about the "crowded combat" some more. I think the kobold fight in your online campaign was proof that the mechanic as it stands is good, as it leads to more realistic tactics. Otoh, there are examples of people (Roman soldiers, sailors, line cooks) who through extensive practice have learned the ability to overcome crowded hectic conditions. perhaps there's simply a skill that wouldn't generally apply to players (since it would have to be a shared skill between both participants) that would two normal-sized people to occupy a hex without penalty, just as the kobolds did.

Alexis said...

It's a good idea. I could add it into the skill one gets from a father, and into the effects from dexterity, both in the character background generator.