Saturday, October 21, 2017

How Many Peasants?

I had the surprise of finding a good article that suggested averages for population densities in fantasy worlds. This isn't a new topic by any means, but one that has caught my interest during the past many years. Some of you might remember work I did on Mystara's population levels and armed forces. I had used as a starting point material published in the D&D Companion set. This approach worked well for small dominions that player characters might be building in a campaign setting. It broke down, however, when applied to much larger states. 

I then devised numbers that I could use in a more systematic manner, reflecting hex-based Mystara maps, and preserving my mental sanity along the way. They worked up to a point, though the method used involved manually counting every hex one by one, including partial hexes along coasts and borders, and sorting them by terrain type AND proximity to urban centers/water sources. Exhausting to say the least. I ended up with large, multi-page Excel files. Meanwhile, in my constant search for data and answers on a topic that isn't as well documented (or not documented in a way that I found practical at all), I stumbled across this article: Medieval Demographics Made Easy. It confirmed many of my earlier assumptions, but I had the feeling that the population averages its author suggested were too high.

I recently found another article that commented on the older one and reached the same conclusions as mine. I suggest a read through, as explanations and numbers suggested there seem to make more sense. The author quoted a set of average population densities for medieval European kingdoms, as follows:

"France has around 36 people per square mile in 1000, and peaks at about 68 in 1300. Meanwhile, Scotland has 4–8 people per square mile. Sweden and Norway have 1–4. England and Wales have 11–30. Italy has 60–95. In other words, population densities below 30 people per square mile are very plausible, while population densities about 100 people per square mile are not likely for a large country." 

MDME had suggested a range of population densities from 30 to 120 people per square mile. Notes on Medieval Population Geography suggested instead a range of 1 to (somewhere below a 100), which I interpreted as 1-80 people per square mile, deliberately aiming on the low side for my own purposes.

I decided to apply this range to my current designs in the World of Calidar, in particular the realms of the Great Caldera. The next step was to determine which real world kingdoms among those listed above these provinces would best compare with. My assumption is that this range should be actually higher on Munaan (which we know to be overpopulated). So far, the new targets are:

  • Ellyrion: somewhere near 80, making it the local powerhouse.
  • Meryath, Osriel, Caldwen, Phrydias: nearer the mid-range, listed here in in decreasing order of population densities.
  • Alfdain, Narwan, Belledor, Nordheim, and Araldur: near the bottom of the range because of these realms' topographies, vegetation, and prevailing climates.

The next step was to determine square mileages. I made my life a lot easier by relying on techniques I didn't have access to back in the 90s. Thanks to Thorfinn Tait's good work (Thorfinn drafts my maps' finals), accurate numbers can be calculated directly from computer generated maps. Armed with this, the areas of internal provinces could be devised, as well as a percentage of what land was settled (versus wilderness).

Here's a section of the current map developed for Caldwen.
Since I'm working on Caldwen, I tested this new method. Forests and mountains (which are described there as "forbidden to the common population") cover much of the land, so I defined them as "wilderness" (unpopulated), versus the rest of the land (valleys, open plains, and coasts) defined as fully settled (just 60 people per square mile for Caldwen). Once populations were calculated for all the provinces, the total population density for the whole of Caldwen boiled down to... 30 people per square mile, which is where I wanted it to be. Mind you, this still added up to nearly 10 million folk, since Caldwen is a bit smaller than modern-day Germany.

This brought up the issue of how many people actually live in cities. I had assumed up to this point that no more than 10% of the total population should be urban, counting everything including villages (trust me--this was a real pain!) This wasn't quite correct anyway. According to Notes on Medieval Population Geography, villages and small towns should really be counted as rural (they concern mostly farmers, local markets, periodical fairs, etc.) The true urban centers are large towns and major cities. This is actually a good thing since it's impossible at the scale of common fantasy maps (certainly at the scale of Mystara and Calidar maps) to account for all the villages and smaller communities that may exist in a realm. This made my job much easier, since there is a limited number of large towns and major cities in the Great Caldera. What the article suggested was about 5%.

My challenge was to reconcile the population density determined above with the number of relevant urban centers already shown on the Great Caldera map published two years ago. Yes, much groaning and cursing followed while I pulled and stretched numbers to get a workable basis. By the time the smoke cleared, all small towns had grown into large ones. And even with this, Caldwen still ended up with an urbanization rate of 3%. Ouch.


One of the established rules of thumb I tried to preserve goes back to Mystara's older standards, as regards urban sizes. See inset image on right. You may have noticed that small towns now only go up to 4,000 instead of the original 5,000 (for now anyway). I may yet increase the urbanization rate, which will result in major cities growing even larger, without necessarily affecting anything smaller (Caldwen's cities presently range from slightly above 15,000 to 18,000+ at best.)

The purpose of doing this is in part to understand how many troops may be available, at least during peacetime. This leads to another decision. Although Calidar is defined as "medieval fantasy," it is more fantasy than true medieval. In this respect, it stays close to its spiritual kin, the World of Mystara. Medieval warfare involved feudal troops (vassal knights, feudal levies, etc.) Some of this remains somewhat true in Calidar. This world's economy is mostly money driven, which comes closer to Western Europe's late 1400's if not its Renaissance period. It's when permanent armies and professional civil servants became more of a norm, more so than granting offices based on nobility or feudal rights. It's also the general style for the World of Mystara (no surprise here). 

What does all this mean? Realms of the Great Caldera maintain professional, full-time troops during peacetime. I chose this approach for the sake of expedience and sanity, the game masters' and my own. Imagine trying to figure out what troops can be levied from feudal nobility, chart-holding towns, and peasantry, during what season, how far away from their lands, for how long, how many times, and for what purpose, all of which varying with each source? Do alternative scutage fees apply? I'll pass, thank you very much. It's a lot easier for everyone involved if I just say: basic army is "X." Just add more during a war already! 

Once that hurdle is cleared, then it's easy to assign ground troops, seagoing vessels, and skyships to various locations, based on their strategic values. Such kingly troops amounted to about a tenth of a percent of the entire population of Caldwen. I know that's not excessive. As it were, that's actually an average 3% of urban population. To this, I'm adding town militias, about 10% of town populations (lightly armed and trained, for defense only). Even then, much of the militias only gather when summoned, since these are mostly townsfolk with real jobs. Only a few of them are permanently attached to the militia, to serve as guards and for law enforcement. In other words, each town has local forces under the mayor's control, plus a complement of "royal troops" under the authority of a commander appointed by the head of state (who may have been sent from another part of the realm). The latter troops definitely garrison fortresses built to control key spots in the kingdom.

That's about it for now. As I continue designing Caldwen in detail, numbers will probably shift from what I described above. The key to all this is to remain consistent across the board with neighboring realms. More computing on the way!



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Calidar Kickstarter Updates

Greetings all.

A few things have been going on during the past several days. First off, discount coupons offered as part of Dreams of Aerie's Kickstarter didn't quite work as I'd expected, failing to accomplish two key goals:  the first was to allow multiple purchases, the other therefore was to bundle shipping costs. The result of this was that the added cost of mailing separate orders exceeded the value of the discounts. Fortunately, I could pinpoint those folks with messed-up orders and at least reimburse them for the value of unredeemed coupons. I otherwise handled the majority of backers' orders myself, ensuring properly redeemed discounts and bundled shipping.

Another issue with these discounts was that they did not allow purchasing privately listed titles (they should have). This forced me to list CST1 & CST2 publicly. This is a temporary measure. These two booklets will be resuming their "private" status very soon. If any backers remain who still want to exercise their options to purchase these books with the discounts offered in their Kickstarter pledges, please contact me. I'll be happy to handle their orders myself directly (forget these coupons entirely). 

A final problem with the coupons was that they were intended to include both printed books with their associated PDF documents. I was able to send the PDFs to a number of backers whose names were listed with their purchases on DTRPG. On the other hand, a number of purchases only showed customer numbers. If anyone has purchased a printed booklet and is missing the associated PDF document to which they were entitled, please contact me. I'll be more than happy to have DTRPG e-mail the appropriate download links. My sincere apologies for the hassle this created for everyone.

What else? Work is proceeding apace on CA1 Dreams of Aerie. Joe Garcia is generating internal art. Eric Lofgren has completed the cover art, shown on the left. Thorfinn Tait is our man for collecting all the pieces and copyfitting everything. Many thanks to all three! Meanwhile, I'll be placing orders at DTRPG for everyone's deck plans very soon. If you are planning on adding deck plans to your Kickstarter pledges, now's a good time to do so. After I'm done with this part of the rewards fulfillment, I will not accept any other such requests as these deck plans will become available to the public. This should happen within the next few days. Deck plans are printed at locations separate from those handling the books, which is why I'm sending them out without waiting any further (they would have otherwise been bundled with the books, in December).

Calidar's system-agnostic game mechanics were released to the public yesterday. These are needed to understand game stats in Calidar books. Some of you are already quite familiar with this material, which was introduced in CC1 Beyond the Skies. The 12-page color booklet also provides an overview of the Calidar universe and a look at its "known world," the Great Caldera. Right now, only the PDF document is available, as a pay-what-want item. Anything you decide to pay for it will help support the product line -- thank you. Digital files have been submitted to the printer for pre-press approval. A printed version of these game mechanics should become available to the public within the next 3-4 weeks.


Thank you for your patience and for your support!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Caldwen Colleges of Magic

In my endeavor to flesh out the various colleges of Caldwen, it became necessary to define what their general disciplines were. For this, I followed existing wisdom, so to speak. I didn't like the original definitions I found, however. They seemed imprecise or flawed in some way. I wrote new ones to minimize overlap, which will cause some spells to shift from what players may be used to, to new groups. That's not necessarily an issue, since Calidar relies on a system neutral way of referring to game mechanics (therefore spell names are never mentioned specifically in the text.) In and of itself, this is a design challenge. Here's the list of my definitions. Feel free to kibbitz!

Abjuration: The will to reject or deny evokes the power to block, remove, undo, dismiss, or banish unwanted conditions or creatures. Abjuration is the primary form of magic for protective spells.

Alteration: The will to change what already exists into something else evokes the power to subtly modify or completely transform a condition (metathesis), an object (transmutation), a creature (metamorphosis), or their locations (transference—generally moving away, otherwise see Conjuration).

Conjuration: The will to call forth what exists elsewhere evokes the power to fetch an object or summon a creature (generally moving toward the caster, otherwise see Alteration).

Divination: The will to perceive what is unknown evokes the power to distinguish what lies beyond normal senses, or attain a higher consciousness to learn and comprehend what lies out of reach.

Invocation: The will to bring into existence something that did not exist evokes the power to create matter, energy, and visible or invisible forces that are tangible.

Enchantment: The will to enable or disable evokes the power to bestow properties upon objects and beings, or manipulate the will and abilities of others (affecting natural senses, however, pertains to Illusions).

Illusion: The will to deceive evokes the powers to control one’s natural perception of reality, to suggest thoughts and emotions, to impair logic, to blur the limit between conscious and subconscious, and to bring to life the imaginary. Illusion parallels Invocation in that effects may be tangible, as imagination, if strong enough, taps directly into Calidar’s world soul—the very source of magic and life itself.

Necromancy: The will to master death evokes the power to control or corrupt the nature of one’s own life or the lives of others, and all that dwells between life and death. It is an essential discipline meant to unveil the fabric and origins of Calidar’s world soul, the netherworld, and the divine.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Caldwen's Wizard Towers

Having completed all the details of Caldwen's climate zones, I followed up with brainstorming about what should go on the magiocracy's map. This process helps me coalesce/solidify in my mind key creative concepts behind designing a Gazetteer. I started out with the map Thorfinn Tait generated for his Patreon, and doodled (literally) stuff all over it. Thorfinn then sent me the map's source file, with all its layers and a correct 10 mile scale hex grid, so I could switch off material I needed to change or remove. This really kicked the process into a higher gear. Working from a finished piece of art (the topographical rendering) is hugely helpful, both for practical and visual reasons. A map that looks almost like its finished version this early in the process is a luxury. Naturally, all of this will be turned over to Thorfinn when CAL2's production stage begins, so he can generate the clean, definitive version.

Among the topics on which I focused were mechanics determining how Caldwen aristocracy is granted titular domains (see CAL1 "In Stranger Skies, page 72). This led me to review and flesh out the way the magiocracy is governed, how the colleges (schools of magic) are set up, and how inheritance laws work. This created a system that is reminiscent of GAZ3 (Mystara's Glantri), with individual estates routinely bestowed to qualifying wizards, reflecting their standings in their spellcasting speciality. There's much more to this than I should expose here, but you get the idea.

This affects directly what goes on the map. I can already see a referee's version showing all the details while a players' map would display much less (especially about the actual locations of private wizard estates which aren't common knowledge to folks living in the country, let alone visiting foreigners).

Wizard towers can come in many forms. The simplest and most common is the free standing structure. It can be a traditional tower or some other elegant manor house with the sort of enchantments one ought to expect from the abode of a spellcasting aristocrat. As it were, contrary to landless sorcerers who typically work for a salary, aristocrats receive a pension from their affiliated colleges along in addition to their titular estates. One concern is moving from a private domain to another, as wizards ascend their colleges' academic ladders or (gasp!) begin the process anew in another college, and so on. Do be aware that academic achievement in Caldwen opens doors to political power.

Another common dwelling is the one buried beneath a wilderness, like a dungeon, or carved directly out of a mountain's face. Fortunately, there are plenty of deserted mountain regions in Caldwen. One might be wise not to wander there aimlessly. Wizardly aristocrats crave privacy, either because they loathe being disturbed or because rivalries among Caldwen's mightiest can be downright deadly. Making one's home hard to find and harder yet to approach is the norm. The terrain and harsh alpine climate keep virtually all commoners away. This also explain why there are so few roads and trails in the country. They connect towns, since commoners have no other option but walking or riding. The proper spellcasting sort flies, teleports, or uses some other sort of transportation. To them, roads are meaningless. No self-respecting mage would ever permit any sort of visible path to his or her domain.

Following the same thought, another sort of tower is the one entirely submerged near Caldwen's coastline. Some are intended to stand at the bottom of the sea, while others may emerge to allow visitors in or out. Private domains typically include surrounding lands, up to 15 miles radius (this may seem familiar to Mystaran oldguard). These estates include a magical dome. Their occupants otherwise rely on magic and submersibles to dwell beneath the waves and interact with wandering wildlife.
Some wizards truly dislike the aquatic environment and its inherent dangers. They feel much more at home in levitating towers. They still can exploit the land directly beneath their abodes, but it certainly makes it harder for mudane visitors to come knocking at the door. Granted, there are random flying monsters, but wizards always have ways of keeping those bay (or using them as a source of valuable components). On the other hand, weather at altitude ranges from fierce to downright deadly

Yet another style of tower can phase in and out of the prime plane entirely. However convenient, there are dangers involved with this too, as outer planar beings can be much more perilous to deal with than Caldwen's common fare. Where these towers shift to is another matter. Some may drop into the netherworld. Others may shift to other places, such as the Dread Lands, any of Calidar's three moons, Kumoshima, Lao-Kwei, Felis Minor, Canis Major, or even (gasp of horror!) Draconia. At this point, anything goes.

The thing about these towers is that they all have an intrinsic ranking. It may have to do with how close to a college's power center they stand, or whether they benefit from some special feature: a source of magical mana,  a haunting, a serving demon permanently bound to the domain, serfs 
(alive or undead) working nearby land, etc. As you may already have guessed, demons are big thing in Caldwen. However sinister the idea, remember that etymologically, the term referred to spiritual guardians and arcane servants who weren't necessarily evil. So, serving imps, devilish familiars, folks with demon ancestry, patron demons associated with towns and villages are all to be expected, along with everything a wizard might want to know about these fearsome critters and how to deal with them.

If you can think of other ideas on how to show wizard towers on a map (did I forget some other type of estate?) do fee free to pitch in! Thanks.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Climate in Caldwen

As I begin work on Calidar's next Gazetteer, this one for CAL2 (The Magiocracy of Caldwen), I needed to double check the area's climate zones, since these should affect what vegetation and color ranges should be depicted on a geographical map. What was indicated for the Great Caldera in CAL1 "In Stranger Skies" was very approximate and hard to locate as regards regional borders. The map below is my first attempt at developing the local climate. Some questions came up that professional meteorologists or climatologists might be able to elucidate (thank you!) 

First, here are my assumptions. The southwestern region is oceanic, comparable to conditions ranging from France's Loire Valley to southern England. The continental weather prevailing in Caldwen's midlands and in the north is similar to central Europe's; the dominant wind blows from the southwest, channeled by high mountains stretching along the region's eastern and western sides. A large mountain chain walls off the magiocracy's eastern seashores. I assumed it would result in these shores becoming semi-arid, colder to the north, milder to the south. A valley is tucked in between the oceanic and semi-arid zones; its wind blows from the south-southwest, from a region that enjoys essentially Mediterranean climates. I wasn't sure what weather would result in this valley; my best guess was a warmer continental weather, such as US Midwest (Chicago or St. Louis), perhaps milder.

Another issue I ran into is the presence of warm water streaming northward along eastern seashores. Is this a problem?  I also wondered whether the island farthest to the east should also be semi-arid or continental. One more thing, the maritime area west of Caldwen, is nowhere near comparable to the Atlantic Ocean (as regards its size, depth and temperature), which may invalidate all of the above anyway. This is a fantasy world, so ultimately details need not be absolutely correct, but I must admit curiosity got the best of me here. Any help would be appreciated.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics XI

Previously Posted Sections

1. Introduction
2. Wind Direction & Strength
3. Maneuvering
  3.1. Movement Rates
    3.1.1. Sailing Skyships
    3.1.2. Other Skyships
    3.1.3. Ramming Speed!

    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

Click here for Part III
  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

    3.3.2. Tight Turns
    3.3.3. Caught In Irons
    3.3.4. Slowing Down
    3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver
  3.4. Climbing & Diving
    3.4.1. Ascending
    3.4.2. Descending
    3.4.3. Effects of Altitude
    3.4.4. Gales & Storms
  3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers

4. Combat
  4.1. Deck Weaponry
    4.1.1. Weapon Types
    4.1.2. Armor Ratings

Click Here for Part VII
  4.2 Hitting a Target
    4.2.1. Skyships
    4.2.2. Monsters
    4.2.3. Combat Modifiers
    4.2.4. Fighting in the Great Vault

Click Here for Part VIII
  4.3 Damage
    4.3.1. Structure Rating (SR)
    4.3.2. Damage Location & Effects
    4.3.3. Boarding Attacks
    4.3.4. Area of Effect Attacks
    4.3.5. Fire Damage
    4.3.6. Swarm Attack
    4.3.7. Proportional Damage
    4.3.8. Defensive Checks (DC)
  4.4. Combat Sequence

  5.1. Crew Allocation
    5.1.1. Sailors
    5.1.2. Artillerists
    5.1.3. Marines
    5.1.4. Officers
    5.1.5. Rowers
  5.2. Unusual Vessels
    5.2.1. Dirigibles & Aeroliths

5.3. Cards & Tiles

A collection of cards, front and back, are posted here, at their normal resolution (click on an image to view an enlarged shot.)  Their statistics are tentative, and some have been revised since they were posted earlier.  They should be printed at a normal playing card size.  More will eventually be drafted to fill a deck, but there should be enough here to playtest movement and combat mechanics. Tiles will come at a later time.



©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Skyship Combat Mechanics X

Previously Posted Sections

1. Introduction
2. Wind Direction & Strength
3. Maneuvering
  3.1. Movement Rates
    3.1.1. Sailing Skyships
    3.1.2. Other Skyships
    3.1.3. Ramming Speed!

    3.1.4. Monsters
    3.1.5. Powering Through

Click here for Part III
  3.2. Maneuverability
  3.3. Turning
    3.3.1. Basic Turning Capability

    3.3.2. Tight Turns
    3.3.3. Caught In Irons
    3.3.4. Slowing Down
    3.3.5. Emergency Maneuver
  3.4. Climbing & Diving
    3.4.1. Ascending
    3.4.2. Descending
    3.4.3. Effects of Altitude
    3.4.4. Gales & Storms
  3.5. Collisions & Boarding Maneuvers

4. Combat
  4.1. Deck Weaponry
    4.1.1. Weapon Types
    4.1.2. Armor Ratings

Click Here for Part VII
  4.2 Hitting a Target
    4.2.1. Skyships
    4.2.2. Monsters
    4.2.3. Combat Modifiers
    4.2.4. Fighting in the Great Vault

Click Here for Part VIII
  4.3 Damage
    4.3.1. Structure Rating (SR)
    4.3.2. Damage Location & Effects
    4.3.3. Boarding Attacks
    4.3.4. Area of Effect Attacks
    4.3.5. Fire Damage
    4.3.6. Swarm Attack
    4.3.7. Proportional Damage
    4.3.8. Defensive Checks (DC)

  4.4. Combat Sequence

Star Phoenix
A tri-masted galleon fitted with three sets of three masts.
5. Appendix

This chapter is a work in progress. Honestly, the Combat Sequence ought to have been numbered 5. (not 4.4.) So this section will eventually become 6. Just being a tad OCD. Sorry. Flying right along now.

All ships and monsters are listed separately on playing cards.  Each card displays a point of sail diagram appropriate to the ship or monster, its class rating, armament, natural attacks, special abilities, and other useful game statistics.  The front of the cards shows an illustration and, if appropriate, the location of deck weapons.  Until further notice tiles can be used to represent ships and monsters on the playing surface.  Cardboard counters should be used to show which piece has moved or made its attack.

The icon located in the upper left corner of the Points of Sail table shows what sort of skyship is depicted.  In the sample shown here, it is a tri-masted galleon with 3 sets of three masts, adding up to nine (three masts upright, three outrigger masts on starboard, and thur-ree more portside pretty please).  Later in this chapter, an assortment of cards, front and back, will be provided for the sake of playtest.

5.1. Crew Allocation

In the real world, the crew on sailing ships often numbered more than a hundred, if not several hundred.  In a fantasy game context, this isn’t practical or even desirable, especially with vessels featuring two to four times more masts and sails than seagoing ships.  Assumption must therefore be made here that a skyship’s rigging is at least partially enchanted or mechanically enhanced to warrant fewer sailors than it would otherwise demand.  Certainly, elven vessels, which can grow weapons right out of their ships’ decks qualify.  If you haven’t already, do engage disbelief-suspension mode and, with your tongue firmly planted in your starboard cheek, make full sail and embrace the following staffing guidelines.

5.1.1. Sailors:  Universally known as airmen in Calidar’s universe, they number anywhere from 3 to 20 topfolk per mast.  The low end corresponds to vessels with triangular sails whose rigging carries some enchantment or who are fitted with winches and other mechanical devices.  The high end includes tall masts holding multiple square sails.  Sailing skyships often use sails located well below deck merely as stabilizers rather than full wind-bearing surfaces, as they are harder to access.  These types of sails require no additional crew.  Alorean clippers need the fewest topfolk due to their semi-sentient skyships’ ability to respond to mind suggestions.  Thus, for a Calidaran tri-masted galleon with three sets of three masts, topfolk could number about 90.  Add another 20% for other deckhands and specialists, bringing the total to 108.  For a mechanically propelled vessel, such as a dwarven ironclad, count 4-9 stokers for every 50ft. of ship length (rounded up), plus 20% for deckhands and specialists.

5.1.2. Artillerists:  Deck weapon crew are listed in Table 8 (see 4.1).  On the Star Phoenix card, artillerists number 20 souls under the command of an officer (see 5.1.4.)

5.1.3. Marines:  If marines are present, assume an additional tenth of the vessel’s airmen (round up to the next 10).  The Star Phoenix would have 20 therefore.  Include rowers when calculating the number of marines (see 5.1.5).  Skyship military are referred to by various other terms in Calidar’s universe.  For example, the dwarves of Kragdûr don’t have seas, so they call on-board combatants empeers.  Elves of Alorea prefer aëreenes, a duty often entrusted to winged elves.  The Munaani dispatch men-at-skies on their vessels.  Draconic knights often refer to their shipborne mates as dragoons.  On Calidar, the correct term is airvaliants, though Belledor gnomes fancy the label skyship troopers.  On Lao-Kwei, they are known as wind swords, or fēng zhǔ, while on Kumoshima, they just call them sky troops, or in the vernacular, kūheitai.  As for Ghüleans, they are best described as skyraiders, sworn enemies of the Wayfarers’ himinnsverd.

5.1.4. Officers: Allow for at least one captain and a first officer.  If there are marines aboard, allow for one extra commander.  Other officers number one for each 50 crew.  In total for the Star Phoenix, this adds up to 148 crew plus 6 commissioned officers.  Petty officers and officers of the warrant are counted among specialists.

5.1.5. Rowers:  A lightweight galley could have 8 rowers for every 10ft in overall length, while a war galley could hold twice as many for the same space.  A typical Wayfarer longship counts as a light galley, except rowers and airmen are the himinnsverd—thus, a small twin-masted vessel about 60’ long (1 set of 2 masts) would have about 48 oarsmen plus 7 airmen who form the vessel’s complement of 55 himinnsverd, plus 2 leaders.  On giant, spacefaring Wayfarer longship, these numbers could easily be doubled.

5.2 Unusual Vessels

Self-Propelled Airship
5.2.1. Dirigibles & Aeroliths:  Flight may be achieved with minimal magic, using gas-filled balloons.  In the real world, these types of skycraft can’t lift a whole lot of payload unless the carrying envelope is truly huge, such as WWI Zeppelins—though one might expect just the thing from crafty gnomes.  For the sake of including aerostats lifting improbably heavy loads, there should be a precious gas than can be found in isolated regions throughout the Calidar universe (yes, it’s always gotta be someplace hard to reach and dangerous, otherwise, what’s the fun?)  Let’s call it mirthium for now, a name it earned from its effect on one’s voice when inhaled, provoking a jocular reaction among anyone else listening.

Mirthium, in its gaseous form, defies gravity quite effectively, making most fantasy dirigibles at least somewhat believable.  When it escapes from the soil where it is trapped, it eventually flies up to the Great Vault where it dissipates.  Thankfully, this property is temporarily lost when mirthium is compressed.  Such can be conveniently achieved by way of pumps and magical receptacles for the sake of transport, sale at a skyport, and stowage aboard aerostats.  Mirthium’s strange property also diminishes to a certain degree with altitude.  This limitation makes it difficult for dirigibles to reach the Great Vault.  It also explains the existence of aeroliths: anything from floating boulders to airborne islands. Depending on how impregnated with mirthium an aerolith is, it settles at a certain altitude and drifts among the clouds at the whim of the winds.

Twin-Masted Sailing Airship
In the Calidar universe, aerial navigators should beware of drifting rocks, especially in clouded conditions.  Most realms demand, by law, that they be reported at once so they may be towed away.  Some judicious realms fit them with air anchors and build lighthouses or fortifications upon them, both to warn oncoming traffic and (more likely) to keep an eye on who flies by.  The Kingdom of Meryath currently has open offers for good size derelicts, which authorities have been positioning above main cities.  Roaming rocks are popular with wizards of Caldwen and various military around Calidar’s universe.  Enterprising merchant princes of Osriel have also started new ventures, setting up shop (typically overpriced) intended for traveling skyships whose captains seek to avoid lengthy approach and docking procedures at congested skyports.  Discretion may also be another motivation.  The Araldûras Roaming Rocks Salvage Enterprise, often the butt of jokes among skyship crews, uses fetzgrim-powered, smoke-belching tugs to tow large aeroliths in the sky or in the Great Vault for handsome profits.  Competition can be fierce among such businesses, and sometimes lethal, as no one can ever be sure of what may be using a roaming rock as its lair.

Dirigibles and small aeroliths can be fitted with sails, in which case they follow movement rules for sailing skyships (treat as Class C).  These skycraft must have basic enchantment favoring movement along their centerline, otherwise navigation would not be possible.  Others rely on mechanical devices, such as engines and propellers—therefore with an innate MV rating (treat as Class B).  Self-propelled dirigibles and aeroliths do not require a centerline enchantment, but in this case they are subject to drifting in crosswinds, as shown in Table 13.  In order to travel through crosswinds, such vessels need to correct their courses on a regular basis.

One might wonder whether it would be wise to bring aerostats to a battle.  Many a landlubber unaccustomed to life in skies fears containers filled with mirthium are vulnerable in combat.  Gas bags are often made of giant spider silk.  It is resistant to blunt projectiles, usually those with a parabolic trajectory (see 4.1. Deck Weaponry), which will bounce off harmlessly.  Should they sustain piercing or slashing damage, mirthium balloons are woven in such a way to house independent cells, preventing sudden loss of contents.  Patches can be applied during flight (provided a tamed giant silk spider does not reside aboard for this purpose), and gas pumped in through hoses from stowage canisters.  Fire damage is no more likely to destroy a good quality silk weave than the rest of the skyship.  Of course, giant spider silk does not come cheap, but even with mirthium it is more affordable than permanently enchanting a skyship.  Nonetheless, aerostats aren’t battleships—they can survive a battle, but they remain somewhat more fragile than dedicated warships.  An aerostat’s SR corresponds to its nacelle rather than the size of its inflated casing.

©2017 Bruce A. Heard. All Rights Reserved.

Coming Up Next:
  5.3. Game Cards
    5.3.1. Whatever else I have time to write.


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