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    Canonfire :: View topic - Air Ships
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    Air Ships
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Feb 01, 2005
    Posts: 178
    From: Columbus, Ohio

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    Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:10 pm  
    Air Ships

    I was wondering if Greyhawk has any canon reference to air ships? Eberron has them, and I kind of like the idea of them. I am considering whether or not to include them in my campaign, and I'd like your input. A recent Dragon magazine had a gnomish-zeppelin of sorts as part of a travel article.

    What do you think?
    Would they add or detract from Greyhawk?
    How would they alter the balance of power?
    Could they be a Baklunish device (elemental magic powers them afterall)?

    What about spelljamming ships?
    Could a few damaged ones still be about the Flanaess that are only sky worthy?

    Have you used any of these in your campaign?

    Thanks for any and all replies. Happy
    Skech
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: May 12, 2005
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    From: Woonsocket, RI, USA

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    Thu Aug 17, 2006 5:06 pm  

    I (reluctantly) accept the presence of a rare few spelljammers on Oerth. The only reason I permit even these is the premise that they originated from another world. Personally, I don't think Oerth needs any kind of Renaissance-era technology. (That was one of my biggest compaints about Yggsburgh.)
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 07, 2006
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    From: Timeless Rome, Italy

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    Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:49 am  

    Eberron, oh nooooo....
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Aug 18, 2006 2:01 am  

    There aren't any references I can recall to airships in GH. But there is no particular reason why they couldn't exist. The magical capability exists. However, if they rely on bound elementals and the like, I don't think they would be particularly cost effective except perhaps as luxury transport for the very wealthy. In which case, you would need to make sure they are very well protected from the plethora of aerial predators and dangers of Greyhawk.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Aug 18, 2006 5:06 am  

    Hi all,

    I have used airships in my campaign and I have found, if not overused, they add a new and exiciting dimension to game play. Specifically, I had the Hammerstrike clan of Dwarves (Highfolk Region) in possession of a stoneship. Their mountain fastness in the Clatspurs had been overrun by Infyrana (of Dragon Mountain Fame) and her tribe of Kobolds in alliance with forces from Iuz. The surviving Hammerstrike dwarves managed to board the Stoneship in time and take off from spot near the top of the mountain. Reminiscent of the last chopper to leave Saigon!

    This dwarven stoneship would eventually face off in battle against a Boneship from Iuz using a necrotic engine overtop a swirling mass battle near Highfolk (Iuz had managed to launch a wide flanking manuever down the Highvale as a counterattack in 587 CY during the Great Northern Crusade). With the PCs on the deck of the Stoneship facing off against their Iuzian enemies (including Drelzna of Tsojcanth fame who is also the half sister of Iuz), it was an epic battle. The dwarven airship tactics were simple yet effective. They managed to attack the boneship from above with the stone crushing the boneship. However, several elements of the Iuzian host managed to board the Stoneship leading to a scream of "Repel Boarders!" as the PCs and crew faced off against their enemies. It was bloody and a few PCs went down but in the end they won.

    For my campaign, the sparing use of airships has been a definite plus. However, I don't intend for them to be everyday or even remotely common items. Most people will never see them and most nations would never build them. Anyway, hope this helps.

    Chameleon
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004
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    Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:06 am  

    IIRC, WoG Treasures specifically has an adventure with a spelljammer ship.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
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    From: on the way to Bellport

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    Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:12 pm  

    Sounds like it was a fun campaign chameleon!

    An old Dragon article featured a Spelljammer in Greyhawk, something called the Black Pegasus Trading Company or somesuch, iirc. While the ship was fully functional, the article focused on the amazing profitability of flitting from the Rel Astra region to the Nyr Dyv.

    I recall its base was on an uncharted island in the Solnor.

    IMO, however, an airship should be unique or very rare--likely an artifact from the Suloise Empire. Of course the PCs might encounter it after NPCs bring it into the Flanaess, but I think that widespread (even uncommon) use would disrupte Oerth as we know it, or at least the Flanaess... ;)
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
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    Fri Aug 18, 2006 10:44 pm  

    If Murlynd had his way, Eberron and GH would come crashing together big time.
    CF Admin

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    Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:47 am  

    Hey Russ, let me join Allan in welcoming you back to the online GH community! I trust that on balance all has been well and look forward to your new contributions.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 05, 2004
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    Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:25 pm  

    If there is a principled difference between a spelljamming ship operating within an atmosphere and Eberron's airships powered by bound elementals operating within an atmosphere, I don't see it.

    Given that canon has multiple references to spelljammers (see Dragon article on the Black . . . Trading Company operating on some atoll, if memory half serves plus what Wolfsire noted), I think "airships" are aokay in GH.

    This said, I far prefer bound elemental craft as that doesn't mean I have to replace astrophysics with phlogiston-physics. I prefer to interpret spelljamming and the whole "crystal sphere" idea as a primitive effort to explain real astrophysics by people who are barely aware of physics in the first place - the typical Oerther. Smile Actually, I prefer to ignore spelljamming on Oerth entirely. Happy
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 470
    From: Canada

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    Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:31 pm  
    Re: Air Ships

    Skech wrote:

    What do you think?
    Would they add or detract from Greyhawk?
    How would they alter the balance of power?
    Could they be a Baklunish device (elemental magic powers them afterall)?

    What about spelljamming ships?
    Could a few damaged ones still be about the Flanaess that are only sky worthy?

    Have you used any of these in your campaign?

    Skech


    To answer your questions in order:

    1) I hate such obvious aberrations on Oerth. Oerth, to me, is a treasure to be safeguarded and protected from technological advancement and industrialization, particularly in the realm of firearms. I don't mind painting techniques and schools perfected in the 19th or 20th centuries (pointillism and cubism, for instance), different types of dance (tap dancing, which I doubt was available in medieval Europe) or various ideas and philosophies that came about long after the Middle Ages (Enlightenment philosophy, for instance), but I cannot and will not tolerate such obvious technological advancement.

    You want an airship? Fine-but be ready to spend a fortune getting the ship built-and how many shipwrights are willing to come out to your obscure corner of the Duchy of Urnst or Sterich to build it? That means it costs extra, and then you have to pay for the spellcasters to enchant the damn thing, since steam engines don't work on Oerth. Even if you do it yourself, it's going to cost a fortune to get all the materials for the ritual-and if you want a Grand Wizard to cast the spells, he's not going to eat the costs of those materials! Besides, how many 18th-level wizards are there, anyway? Not many at all.

    If a player decides to be stupid and run it on steam power or coal engines, here will be the results:

    Player: I decide to use my Craft and Engineering skills to build a steam engine to power the airship.
    Me: (not even bothering to roll the dice) The bizarre, alien device instantly explodes, and you char and die. Roll up a new character.


    Players who try and bring in industrialization will suffer the consequences. And they won't be pretty.

    2) Detract, detract, detract, detract, unless they're single, one-shot items that require an enormous amount of time, resources and money to construct. Even Mordenkainen would balk at trying to build something like that. It simply can't be done. Man will never learn to fly without magic, and lots of it-which in the world of Oerth, means that he simply won't learn to fly, since there isn't that much magic to go around. In a world where attempting to mass-produce potions is a guaranteed money pit...well, you see where I'm going with this. One airship probably exists in all the Flanaess, and even then it was probably done for some member of House Darmen who had more money than sense.

    3) They wouldn't alter the balance of power, they'd destroy it. Next question.

    4) No. The Baklunish are experts with mathetmatics and astronomy, not technology. That's the forte of the gnomes, and even they can't get airships to work.

    5) Spelljamming doesn't exist on Oerth. Were you to describe the concept to one of the Circle of Eight, they'd laugh in your face at your stupidity, and then incinerate you on the spot for wasting their time. Next question.

    6) No.

    7) Never have, and never will. The idea of a flying ship is simple lunacy. Maybe some very rare artifact might exist, but there's never going to be an air force or anything like that.
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    <div align="left">Going to war without Keoland is like going to war without a pipe organ.&nbsp; They both make a lot of noise and they're both a lot of dead weight, so what's the point in taking them along?&nbsp;</div>
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Aug 21, 2006 2:37 pm  

    I think you are overstating the consequences of a magical dirigible by several orders of magnitude. In a realm with all manner of flying threats, they aren't that big a deal. If you go with pulp era "air dreadnoughts", then maybe its a problem. But that requires bombs, cannons, and all manner of other things other than just a dirigible.

    Dirigibles are handy for transport cross country, in that they can have pretty good cargo capacity. They are good for scouting. And they may be useful for defense against some kinds of flying threats as a platform for archers to chase down wyverns or griffon mounted elves or something.

    But they'd hardly change the balance of power unless you make them so common and effective that whole armies can be shifted in them faster than they could overland. And if there are bound elementals and the like powering them, that's far from likely.

    Anyway, who says the Baklunish are good at mathematics and the gnomes good at technology? AFAIK, the former is confusing the Baklunish with the medieval Arabs. And the later is confusing non GH gnomes (from Dragonlance and the FR) with the illusionist oriented GH gnomes.

    The Baklunish do have a tradition of elemental magic and lots of open space to cross, so they would be good candidates to have airships if you wish to have them in your campaign.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Aug 21, 2006 7:09 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    I think you are overstating the consequences of a magical dirigible by several orders of magnitude. In a realm with all manner of flying threats, they aren't that big a deal.


    Anyway, who says the Baklunish are good at mathematics and the gnomes good at technology? AFAIK, the former is confusing the Baklunish with the medieval Arabs. And the later is confusing non GH gnomes (from Dragonlance and the FR) with the illusionist oriented GH gnomes.


    "Confusing the Baklunish with the medieval Arabs" is what canon itself does, from EGG onwards. The Baklunish are described as having dusky skin and black hair, and they use Middle Eastern titles commonly associated with peoples like the Persians and the Arabs. Whether one likes it or not, the Baklunish are derived, but not completely, from the Arabs, just like the Oeridians and Suel are at least party derived from Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic and Nordic peoples, what with the titles of King, duke, count, faastall, and other related titles. IIRC, the LGG also had them skilled at astronomy or mathetmatics.

    As for the gnomes, I came up with that as a blast at Weis and Hickman's tinker gnomes. I could never fathom how the tinkers of DL could function as a society if nothing they built ever worked right, so I made the gnomes of my version of GH master engineers to spite Weis and Hickman.

    And as far as airships go, it'd only be a matter of time before someone figured out how to put those weapons on the airships. I prefer overkill to prevent industrialization and technological advancement from happening, rather than dealing with the consequences for Oerth afterward.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:18 pm  

    There is a difference between using the real world for inspiration and color and directly cloning the whole thing. The Baklunish are clearly derived from the middle eastern moslem cultures, though the arabs aren't the only such group that could be used as the core model while still maintaining faith with the naming conventions. Turks, for example.

    Regardless, that does not necessitate making the Bakluns advantaged in areas the arabs excelled at. If only because the basis of comparison (Arabs vs Europeans) does not match the situation in the Flanaess of Bakluns vs Oerid-Suel-Flan peoples.

    Besides, bombs and guns don't exist (unless you allow the Murlynd clergy stuff, which I don't), so its not a matter of time before such things are added to airships.

    I'm fine with inspiration. I'm vehemently opposed to open cloning. Admittedly, the Olman as written are worse....
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:12 am  

    Cough::Kwalish::Cough::Cough:: Happy
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:37 am  

    My only rule on steam and other combustion powered stuff: Doesn't exist. Oh, you can have all the gunpowder and means to use it you want. Or a steam engine and coal and water. All you've done is start a fire. The gasses don't expand to propel whatever it is that moves for the device to work.

    Subject to change far in the future, when magic leaves, as implied by Elder Smedger. Definitely. But as long as magic continues as a usable skill, these physical principles will not function as expected.

    But when fireballs start developing overpressure....

    And on the subject, yeah, I think air ships, or landshps for that matter, powered by bound elementals are a cool idea. But, what are the moral implications of binding intelligent creatures to forced labor?
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:02 am  

    well, in that sense, almost all conjuration spells are immoral. Except for planar ally and druidic elemental summonings, they are all forcing a creature to do one's bidding against its will.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:10 am  

    However, none of them permanently bind the creature. Nor will the creature actually die in the service of the summoner.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:34 pm  

    It is your campaign. Have as many airships as you want. I probably wouldn't use them, but they're still a cool idea.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:40 pm  

    Hey, the Dwarven Mage army in The Eyes Have It by Rose Estes (part of the Greyhawk novel series) had zeppelins...
    Laughing Laughing Laughing

    On a more serious, but hardly less heretical note, I've given some thought lately to a theory I call "greyberron". The basic premise is that the eberron setting (with variant maps, obviously) is the "oerth that was", before the cataclysms. I think the extravagantly epic magic, borderline steampunk genre that eberron falls into could be a very interesting way to look at the forgotten marvels of the Suel and Baklunish empires, and to a lesser extent, the Olman, Touv and Ur-Flan empires.

    I'd probably attribute things like the metal cairns, the "techno-magic" of Myrlund, and perhaps even a recently recovered airship as legacies of these lost uber-magic societies.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:49 am  

    Or, perhaps, this could be the future, a time betwixt the current, late 6th Century Greyhawk we all love and the ca. 11th century low magic of Elder Smedger. Magic as technology, the artificers (or whatever that class is called) and all that leads to the loss of belief in magic as magic and thus perception changes the nature of the this prime material plane.

    Per the AD&D Manual of the Planes, the Physical and Magical Factors take about a 5 point shift each, PF positive, MF negative, over the next ~500 years of game time.

    Or something like that.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: Whitehorse

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    Sun Sep 17, 2006 5:49 am  

    Hiya.

    I, personally, would 'allow' magic flying/moving vehicles. However, they would be more of a curiosity and an expensive foible of the very wealthy countries. The easiest way to 'contain' the expansion of technolgy is to develope cheaper, as-or-more-than effective alternatives, using magic.

    So, someone creates a flying ship. Ok...figure cost to build as 10 times a normal seq-going eqivilent. Now, have it consume stuff to make it go (re: "rubies" in place of gasoline, for example)...of course, this stuff is 10x the cost of "normal" travel costs.

    I like the imagry of the Iuz bone ship and the dwarven rock-ship fighting over top of a raging battle below. That's pretty cool...so I can see it happening. However, it's a rather unique thing...it's not like they were then joined by a fleet of elven ships, a couple of gnome ones, some orc backup flying barges and a couple of aerial hot-flaming-oil bombardment V05 ships...THAT would be silly.
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