[Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

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[Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:57 am

Had a bit of a brainstorm this afternoon. Here's the result. Might expand on this later.

The Dragonfleet of Krynnspace
In the waning days of the War of the Lance, a significant fleet of thirteen dragon-shaped vessels began to raid ports and villages throughout Krynnspace. These raiders had pledged fealty to Takhisis and were assumed at the time to be a spelljamming arm of the dragonarmies rampaging across Ansalon. Few in Krynnspace realized that the Dragonfleet had not been built, but summoned. Fewer still knew the truth behind the dragon vessels that raided and pirated Krynnspace in the time between the War of the Lance and the Chaos War.

Records kept in the Library of Lionheart record that the Dragonfleet have been raiding and pirating ships across the Known Spheres and beyond for millennia. Tablets recovered from the ancient ruins of the Radiant Empire reveal the true origins of the Dragonfleet.

In the early days of the Radiant Empire, Emperor Manwe II was troubled by a group of thirteen dragons, who raided his villages for plunder and food. The dragons were the servants of the Bandit King Hono no Kunshu, a powerful red dragon. While Manwe cared less for the plight of his people, he cared that tribute failed to arrive in his coffers. So he made a pack with the dragons, promising them wealth and magic in exchange for their service. The dragons, thinking themselves superior to any ogre, rebuffed the offer. So Manwe gathered his most powerful wu jen, and laid upon the dragons a powerful curse. The dragons’ bodies were transformed into spelljammers, their souls bound to the ships, forced to do the ogres’ bidding. The Dragonfleet had been created.

The Dragonfleet were powerful raiders, packed with wako pirates and set against enemies of the Empire. The dragons were natural spelljammers, requiring no helm. What’s more, the curse bound the ships together and the dragon souls to the ships. The ships proved indestructible; while damage could be inflicted on the ships, even to the point of breaking up, the ships repaired and regenerated any damage over time. A ship reduced to flotsam would slowly repair and regenerate from the largest remaining piece.

In the twilight days of the Radiant Empire, the dragons managed to wrest control from the ogres, and gleefully raided the Empire to inflict as much damage as possible. They sacked the Imperial City, and fled deep into the Phlogiston, where they slumbered for centuries.
Since the fall of the Radiant Empire, the Dragonfleet has appeared in the records every few centuries, conducting daring raids and sewing reigns of terror before retreating to some remote sphere to slumber. It appears that for every decade of pirating, the Dragonfleet slumbers for a century although the dragonships may remain as active as long as they wish.

Notable raids by the Dragonfleet include several raids on Steelspace, the Sacking of Grog where seven Vodoni warships were left as wreckage in the fields of Grog, a raid on Lionheart that saw pirates making off with the Demon Lantern of Zivilyn, and the burning of the orc outpost One Eye Citadel during the Unhuman Wars. The elves hold a particularly nasty grudge against the Dragonfleet for the said raid on Lionheart.

When Takhisis was preparing to wage war upon Krynn, she summoned forth the Dragonfleet. The Dragonfleet had long ignored the goddess, for she offered them nothing. Yet this time, she offered them what they desired more than anything in all the Known Spheres: removal of their curse. Should the Dragonfleet come and win for her a great victory, she would remove their curse, returning them to their original, dragon forms. So the Dragonfleet came, arriving at a flying citadel the dragonarmies had somehow managed to lift into wildspace, and let crews of humans and goblins and draconians board them. Once fully prepared, they sailed off to war.

A great victory never came. The Dragonfleet was thwarted in their efforts to conquer Krynnspace by the Star Knights and the Elven Fleet, who defeated them at every turn. While the dragon ships were fully capable of waging a continual war, their crews were not so resilient. In time Takhisis’ mind turned towards other ventures, and the Dragonfleet was once more betrayed. By the time of the Chaos War, they departed Krynnspace, dejected and disillusioned. They have since vanished, perhaps once more slumbering in some remote corner of the Known Spheres, awaiting a day to return and wreck vengeance upon all that have betrayed them.
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by GMWestermeyer » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:23 am

BLOODY BRILLIANT!

But don't make them one of the standard ship designs... they need to be something special.

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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:22 am

I'm thinking design-wise, they're more akin to dragon-influenced junks; there are three sizes: two sixty ton vessels (former red dragons), five forty-five ton vessels (former blue & green dragons), and six twenty-five ton vessels (former black & white dragons), about five hundred tons in total. Weapons vary greatly both between ships and over time. They have no "set" weapon configuration. They don't need a helmsman to fly but they DO need a crew to fight. They also can rid themselves of irritating, incompetent, or otherwise unwanted crewmen in a variety of ways.
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by Dragonhelm » Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:18 pm

I absolutely love this. You took my idea of the Dragonfleet and expanded it into something new and interesting. Bravo!
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:09 pm

And a new ship, even :)

DRAGONSHIP, RAIDER
Built By: Special
Used Primarily By: All races
Tonnage: 25 tons
Hull Points: 25
Crew: 0/25
Maneuver Class: C
Landing – Ground: No
Landing – Water: Yes
Armor Rating: 6
Saves As: Thick Wood
Power Type: Dragon Soul (see below)
Ship’s Rating: 3
Standard Armament: Varies
Cargo: 13 tons
Keel Length: 125’
Beam Length: 20’

Description
There are six of these vessels, making the Raider the most common vessel within the Dragonfleet. When travelling apart from the greater Dragonfleet, they travel in groups of two to five vessels and sometimes accompanied by a Dragonship Plunderer. The Raider is the smallest and most nimble ship type in the Dragonfleet, often sent on missions requiring more stealth or maneuvering than sheer firepower.

Each of the six ships is unique in their own way, but they all share a common layout. The ship resembles a Shou Junk, with a prow that resembles the head of a Krynnish black or white dragon. The wood is painted black or white to match the head; some Raiders have deep, rich paint jobs, while others merely use paint to highlight and accentuate the wooden hulls. There is no forecastle but there is a aft-castle covering the aft third of the hull. Crew accommodations are sparse.

All Raiders are made from a black or white dragon, originally hailing from the world of Zivilyn. The souls of the dragons remain in the Raider, acting as natural spelljammers, thus requiring no helm nor helmsman to fly. The dragons can manifest as shadows to communicate with the crew, and all the dragons to let their desires be known. Due to the nature of the curse, a Raider can never be destroyed. If reduced to 0 hull points, the ship will break up as normal. It will begin to repair itself from the largest surviving piece at the rate of 1 hull point per day until fully repaired. If every piece is completely destroyed, the ship will return again after 1-10 years.

Crew
Like all Dragonships of the Dragonfleet, the ship can fly itself with no aide from any crewman. When operating without a crew, the maneuvering suffers slightly (MC drops to D), and the ship weapons cannot be fired.

The full crew of a Raider is twenty to thirty pirates. A mere three are needed to help with the rigging while the rest are free to fight. These are divided between the weapons and boarding parties. Crews can be almost any humanoid race imaginable, save for ogres. No Raider will ever allow an ogre, ogre-magi, or half-ogre aboard. They hold a great hatred of ogres, blaming them for their current situation.

Raiders demand a sacrifice before and after every battle. They can be appeased with a humanoid be placed in coffin located on the bridge, which acts as a Bag of Devouring. In lieu of a sacrifice of flesh, they will accept a bribe of no less than 1,000 gp in value. Failure to appease the dragon will result in unfortunate accidents befalling the crew.

Ship Uses
Piracy: The sole purpose of the Raider is piracy. Individual Raiders will act as scouts for the Dragonfleet. In battle, they will harass enemy ships and will attempt to isolate individual ships to be overwhelmed by superior numbers. They encourage boarding actions, just as much to capture enemy ships as to see their own crews slaughtered in bloody melee combat.

Other Configurations
Nugurmi: Once a white dragon, Nugurmi is dull-witted and prefers to be armed with two medium ballistae. Nugurmi prefers diving attacks, ballistae blazing and its crew firing crossbow bolts into enemy crews before retreating to reload.

Tosho: Formerly a white dragon, Tosho is the most chaotic and fickle of the Raiders. Tosho is known for abandoning reliable weapons in favor of fancier ones; Tosho often carries weapons of gnomish design. The ship is often decorated in gaudy colors and decorations.

Mo Fubuki: Most intelligent of the white dragons, No Fubuki is often entrusted with scouting missions. Mo Fubuki favors light catapults, as it likes to remain at a distance and pepper enemy ships with catapult fire. Mo Fubuki is a coward at heart, and will lurk at the edges of any battlefield rather that flying into the thick of it.

Seburu: Oft considered the most beautiful of the Raiders, Seburu was once a black dragon. The ship is very vain, often commanding her crew to clean, polish, and repair any defect. Seburu favors long-ranged weapons to avoid damaging its well-manicured hull.

Mukku: A battered Raider, Mukku has seen much combat. Mukku is a reliable combatant and skilled at picking a small or weakened ship to isolate so the other Raiders can overwhelm and destroy the prey. Mukku is often equipped with two or three medium weapons. Mukku was once a black dragon.

Nani: The most intelligent of the Raiders, Nani is considered the nominal “leader” when larger ships are not around. Nani distains non-dragons and is known for cleverly murdering captains and crewmen that displease it. Nani often carries weapons of a magical nature, and has a soft spot for an old yet reliable bombard.
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by GMWestermeyer » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:29 pm

I think all of these dragon ships need images to help them come alive, at least deckplans. And they need to be very different from normal ships.

I think they should less like junks and more like dragons - maybe?

Was this idea inspired at all by the living ship on The Magicians on SyFy channel?

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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:51 am

GMWestermeyer wrote:I think all of these dragon ships need images to help them come alive, at least deckplans. And they need to be very different from normal ships.

I think they should less like junks and more like dragons - maybe?

Was this idea inspired at all by the living ship on The Magicians on SyFy channel?
I intend to get to deckplans, eventually. Maybe images but I'm not as good an artist as the ones who did the ship cards.

The design I have in mind is a fusion of ship and dragon, favoring ship ala hammership/squidship/dragonship. As Static once pointed out to me, the more aesthetically pleasing ships tend to look like ships with animal-like features, not animals with some ship-like features. I agree with that philosophy. Also, I'm not terribly fond of ships that aren't...believable? Aka ships that look more like they're plastic toys, rather than "OK, it looks weird, but at the same time, I can see this working as a functional ship". The hammership is the former, the Batship is the latter.

I'm using junk as the starting point because a) the Radiant Empire has a very strong Oriental flavor it it and b) not enough Oriental-inspired ships.

As for inspiration, its been banging around in my head for a while, off and on, since Trampas first wrote his article. The idea just hit me one day last week and I sketched up the outline.
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by GMWestermeyer » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:01 am

night_druid wrote: The hammership is the former, the Batship is the latter.
I agree with that philosophy for regular ships, but this is a unique fleet, the sort of thing that could be a party's primary antagonist in a huge campaign. I think the Batship is a great example. As a TYPE of sip it fails utterly, but as a powerful, unique adversary it's kinda cool. :)

I'd look at that living ship on _The Magicians_ and the way Nimone deals with the Smalljammer in the SJ comics.

Also, incorporate the rules of intelligent magic items? I don't recall if you mentioned how they communicate but telepathy seems best, perhaps only with each other and those on their decks?

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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:24 pm

GMWestermeyer wrote:I agree with that philosophy for regular ships, but this is a unique fleet, the sort of thing that could be a party's primary antagonist in a huge campaign. I think the Batship is a great example. As a TYPE of sip it fails utterly, but as a powerful, unique adversary it's kinda cool. :)
The lack of internal features kinda kills the batship for me. I'll make some sketches and see what I can come up with.

I sorta see the dragonfleet as rather CN than evil at this point. They'll pirate ships and the like, but they're not picky about their targets. They're just as likely to attack a Zhent ship and let the Cormyr ship escape as the other way around. They bat for team Dragonfleet, not team Evil. :mrgreen:
The sort of thing that could be a party's primary antagonist in a huge campaign.
Makes me wonder if a certain Sunking just gained a shiny new fleet of thirteen ships... :lol:
I'd look at that living ship on _The Magicians_ and the way Nimone deals with the Smalljammer in the SJ comics.
Never heard of it but I can take a look.
Also, incorporate the rules of intelligent magic items? I don't recall if you mentioned how they communicate but telepathy seems best, perhaps only with each other and those on their decks?
I'm thinking they can't assume a physical form, but can communicate with crews via a shadow-like projection of their spirit, which can appear vaguely humanoid or dragonoid as they see fit. They can also murder their own crew, if necessary ;)
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:32 pm

I also might note that it is possible, although unlikely, for PCs to "team up" with the dragonfleet, assuming common goals. They could be recruited to fight the Vodoni, for example. Of course, the dragonfleet will have its own goals and the chance of betrayal is high. They're likely to cut out in the middle of any battle to go loot something valuable (perhaps a particular magic item they're after) before fleeing, with or without the PCs aboard. The PCs, of course, probably need their own way off said ships before the dragons murder them in their sleep...;)

Also keep in mind that the dragonfleet has been raiding and pirating off and on for the better part of five thousand years or so. They've accumulated several metric tons of treasure. Where do they keep that stuff? Who knows...maybe they have some planet made of treasure ala Treasure Planet. But they certainly don't run around with their best magic items on them at all times. They could probably outfit a small army with magic items, if they so wished.
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by night_druid » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:47 am

Campaign Use
The Dragonfleet roams far and wide so may appear in any spelljammer campaign. They can appear in any distant sphere as adversaries to the party. The Dragonfleet might arrive at some point prior to the start of the campaign to begin gathering a small army of pirates and buccaneers. The party might start hearing about pirate raids on merchant vessel by unusual vessels, ever increasing in number of attacks and ferocity. After some weeks or months have passed, desperate merchants might hire the PCs to hunt down and defeat the Dragonfleet. The Dragonfleet can be used as long-term adversaries for the PCs for a long-running mid-to-high level campaign.

Be aware of the abilities of the Dragonfleet, particularly the ships’ indestructability. This may appear to be an insurmountable problem but it is not as daunting as it first appears. Firstly, while the ships are indestructible, always returning after some time fully repaired, their crews are not. After a few battles, the Dragonfleet’s supply of pirates might become depleted, leaving the vessels unable to fight properly and forcing them to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Secondly, although the dragonships are effectively immortal, they utterly despise being so damaged that they are forced to regenerate from wreckage. They are bullies and cowards at heart; “destroying” a few ships would encourage the Dragonfleet to retreat. Thirdly, the Dragonfleet might be bargained with; with proper bribe or incentive, they can be encouraged to leave or turn their wrath on some other target. In this third option, it is entirely possible that the Dragonfleet’s true nature may not even be known; the party may believe it is dealing with the pirate leaders, never knowing that the pirates are mere puppets of the dragonships.

An interesting item of note: while the dragons were once wholly evil and matched the normal alignment of their type, over the long centuries the dragons have all migrated to a Chaotic Neutral alignment. The dragons will attack anyone, good or evil. They are fierce foes of ogres, whom they blame for their current state, and will take any opportunity to attack ogre ships. The Dragonfleet was bold enough to attack such heavily defended locales as Lionheart and Vodonispace, although in both instances they had a specific goal or objective. In these cases the dragonships will be loaded with twice normal crews and carry as many weapons as possible.

The Dragonfleet is ancient, probably the oldest active band of pirates in all of the Known Spheres. It has been engaging in piracy off and on for several thousand years. It has journeyed to some of the most distant spheres ever explored, and beyond. The sheer amount of booty the dragonships have acquired in all those many centuries must be staggering, although no hoard that can be linked to the Dragonfleet has ever been recovered. Sages debate on if the Dragonfleet has dozens of stashes scattered throughout the Known Spheres and beyond, or if they have a single stash on some remote, distant planet or moon. Some legends linked to the Dragonfleets speak of some remote world with seas of gold and treasure so deep that the dragonships can swim in it. Such tales are likely exaggerated but at the very minimum, a dragonship will have treasure type E stashed in their cargo hold, and the larger ships will have treasure type H. This represents only a fraction of the Dragonfleet’s wealth.

It is entirely possible for the PCs to find itself aligned with the Dragonfleet by common goals. Perhaps the Dragonfleet learns that the PCs has come into conflict with a powerful lich in possession of a magic item the Dragonfleet desires. Thus it might send a Plunderer, loaded with pirates, to attack the PCs’ ship, causing severe damage to the ship but sabotaging its crews efforts to slay the PCs, allowing it to be captured as a “prize”. The PCs, not realizing the true nature of the dragonship, would take possession of this powerful and interesting vessel as its ship to complete its adventure. Once the lich is defeated and the treasure is secured aboard the ship, the dragonship would reveal its true nature, escaping the PCs’ control and taking the treasure to the rest of the dragonfleet. Or perhaps the PCs are engaged in a conflict with the Steelspace Ogres; the Dragonfleet may attack the ogres out of pure spite for their ancient foes and indirectly aid the PCs.

Of final note, there is but one thing that the Dragonfleet desires above all the riches in wildspace: a lifting of the curse. Takhisis bought their loyalty with a promise of lifting the curse, although she reneged on the promise when the Dragonfleet failed to produce the grand victory in wildspace that she craved. The dragonships blame the poor quality of the mercenaries she forced them to work with, but ultimately left Krynnspace dejected and betrayed. Their desire to reclaim their true dragon forms is so great that they are willing to make similar bargains in the future with anyone who can prove they have the power to lift the curse.

Suggested Means of Lifting the Curse
• Everything the dragons have stolen must be returned, or donated the charity
• They must seek the forgiveness of a lawful good ogre Shukenja of 18th level or higher
• The Radiant Scepter must be recovered from the Tomb of the First Emperor and presented to Hono no Kunshu.
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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by Jaid » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:51 pm

evil creatures attack other evil creatures all the time. doing so does not make you neutral. being evil does not imply that you get along with every other evil thing you encounter, any more than being good would imply that you get along with every other good thing you encounter.

that doesn't mean the dragonfleet are not chaotic neutral, but generally speaking if they're ok with casually murdering people to get their way, they probably aren't neutral ;)

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Re: [Krynnspace]The Dragonfleet

Post by The Dark » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:19 pm

Another possible visual inspiration for the dragonships would be the Korean geobukseon, which was an enclosed, semi-protected galley with a dragon's head at the prow, and between 100-120 feet long and 30-40 feet wide.

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