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Month Index: July, 1995

From:     Michael Sandy <mehawk@????.org>
Date:     Mon, 17 Jul 1995 11:14:07 -0700
Subject:  Re: Ships tactics...
Back to the using jettisons to clear decks:
If the other captain rolls his ship frequently to intervene his bottom
hull to defend against crew hits, that means he has a hull side without
crew and thus without defenders on it.

Further, unless SJ physics are really weird, an unannounced roll could
be bad for unsecured ships weapons, ie, weapons that have to be manhandled
into position and aren't secured into their firing arc.

How fast can main weapons in turrets be turned, anyway?  If the ship
maneuvers will they slide into a different position, ( how well balanced
around the axes of movement of the turret are they?)

If I can make my enemy commit to evasive action while I close, as a ship
commander I'm happy.

Further, that hull side without defenders is easy to board.  Disable all
rigging you can that is exposed first.

If you are expecting an encounter in Wildspace, fly in a tetrahedron or
pyramid formation, such that if the forward ship is reduced to tactical
speed the others will as well.  Once the formation breaks out of spelljamming
speed the rear ships can arc around and ensure that the contacted ship
can't escape by reforming the tetrahedron around the enemy ship, all the
while maintaining contact with the first ship until the others are in

This works really well if the helmsmen are linked by something, a Psionic
sightlink, a Crystal Ball, etc...  Don't fight a fleet combat without
ship to ship communications effective over at least short spelljamming

Here is an amusing deck clearing concept:  a hermeticly sealed hull, another
hermeticly sealed hull just inside, filled with a noxious gas.  A firing
port for a mage who casts Cloudkill, or smoke grenades are set off on the
hull.  A last ditch defense, but the concept is fairly cheap for a
merchantman, except the lost hull space of the double hull, the inconvenience,
and the fact that it won't work at all if the hull is pierced, and the
problem of clearing the air afterwards...

For merchantmen concerned with maximizing profit, and thus minimizing helmsmen
hiring expenses, have scrolls on hand that can be saved or sold if they aren't
used.  A scroll that can be used to clear the atmosphere, like summoning
an Air Elemental  can be used by a mage who has been spelljamming, but it
high enough level to safely cast the spell.

An interesting device is a permanent illusion of a one way wall.  The enemy
can't see in, but you can see out.  An example of this on way wall is the
Leomund's Tiny Hut.  It is only 15' in diameter but a larger version of
that spell, with its long duration and less than a round casting time
would be great!

Makes it harder to grappel with the ship too, harder to identify with casual
snooping, where its weapons and crew are.  Further, the sphere can be
illuminated or not inside by command.

Other things that have been discussed lately:
Having a Decanter of Endless water on board each ship for fire protection.
Only a small portion of these devices flow with enough force to be used
effectively for fire fighting, they can be used to fill cisterns which
can be emptied very fast.  This is a little more magic conserving.

Having spare helms is very important for an exploration fleet.  Unlike
normal situation where a spare helm could be powering an extra ship, the
cargo and equipment of an exploration ship is unusually valuable.  Likewise,
scrolls of Helm Creation and other potent spells would be wise things to
have along.

A trebuchet is _not_ a ballista or a catapult.  It may be _aimed_ similar
to a catapult, but it is a gravity powered sling, not a spring powered one.
Where a catapult will dink away at walls, a trebuchet can fling a projectile
ten times as large that does impressive damage.  They survived well into the
gun powder era.  A major difference between the two weapons in spelljammer
terms is that the trebuchet can be set armed for long periods of time, and
since it has a longer, smoother motion, it won't pull itself out of its
mounting every time it fires.

By the way, I do not believe a turret will survive a large catapult firing
from it.  The track in which it swivels will under major stress every time
it fires.  Anyone have good turret designs for spelljammer weapons?

Michael Sandy

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