View Full Version : [3.5 Eberron] Airship Questions (My player STAY OUT)

2010-08-21, 09:36 PM
Lately, I've been thinking about how airships would've been used in the Last War beyond simple troop transport/deployment. The only weapons they could mount (or that I'm pretty sure Eberron's developed) would be ballistae, blackpowder cannons and possibly Magic Missile turrets.

Then I remembered something that was mentioned in an off-hand manner in one of Keith Baker's novels; I think it was the third novel in the Dreaming Dark trilogy. In that, one of the characters asks another one to make something called a siege staff. Nothing beyond the name is ever mentioned, but my guess is that it's a magical device designed to break through siege fortifications; castle walls and such.

I may be jumping to conclusions, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're essentially Wave Motion Staves. From there, it's not too hard to imagine that some airships would've had some on-board to destroy fortifications that a siege staff on the ground wouldn't be able to reach or for ship-to-ship combat as a last resort (something designed to bring down stone walls would be kind-of overkill on an airship made out of soarwood).

What got me thinking about this was the published module, Voyage of the Golden Dragon. The titular airship, the Golden Dragon, was originally built during the war as a warship; the largest ever built, designed to deploy troops and elemental carts straight into battle while being large (and possibly armoured) enough to survive the punishment it would take in the process. A lack of funds prevented it from ever being finished so what had been built of it so far (the hull and various other components) were put in storage.

After the war, House Lyrandar looked into reviving the project, but re-purposing it as a luxury cruise liner. It's the largest airship ever built, so large that it requires two fire elementals to keep it aloft (one for propulsion like on a normal airship and a second for lift - presumably there's too much extra stuff on-board for the soarwood to cope with on its own). A water elemental bound inside the ship makes the two fire elementals work harder, increasing the speed of the ship beyond what the two fires could achieve on their own.

I'm planning to run the module in an Eberron campaign I'm running now (although we won't get to that stage for a while), but I'll be re-writing parts 3 and 4 of the module (3 feels tacked-on and 4 doesn't work without 3), but how the ship relates to siege staves comes after this module.

Somehow (I'm still working on the details), the party will have to assault a fortress the Lord of Blades controls in the Mournland. It started off as a tower with a planar connection to Shavarath (I think the tower's mentioned in Forge of War) but the LoBster's heavily modified it since then with Warforged spellcasters working in shifts to expand it with Wall of Stone and Stone Shape. The party will have to use the Dragon to attack and I was planning to have it be returned to a warship using some of the older components left in storage from the original project's cancellation. Including high-powered, rechargeable siege staff turrets.

The players won't have control of them, however, and their firing will purely be plot-controlled though since one of my players is a swordsage who likes the Mighty Throw manoeuvre, I may have the option of hurling enemies into the staff blasts as they go off (the ship will be under near-constant attack from boarding parties as well and they'll be busy keeping the enemy away from the bridge and any doors leading into the ship). I'm asking all this (and I apologise if any of the above seems superfluous) because I'm wondering if this might be going a bit too far.

2010-08-22, 12:26 PM
That sounds... awesome, but what do you mean by going too far?

2010-08-22, 04:13 PM
If by 'too far' you are worried that it does something way too powerful for the setting or that your players will hijack it to take over the universe with Death Star cannons... I don't think so.

It sounds like the Siege staffs might be really powerful magic items that are difficult to move or use in personal combat but can be used to target castles or other ships.

Maybe they are something like a naval cannon, a big bulky thing that is hard to aim at individual people and goes off a round or two after you 'light the fuse' so its only really good for targeting objects that don't move or are so big you can't miss. Plus, if you players try to snag one and drag it around it'll weight several tons, not be designed to carry around in the field (the wheels are good at moving on a flat surface or locking in place so a moving airship doesn't toss it around... dragging it on the ground will get it stuck really fast), and be so awkward to operate that they will be unable to use it against enemies... maybe blow a hole in a wall but thats it main purpose.

Perhaps there are various types of Siege Staffs. They all incorporate what looks like a mass of magic wood to fire (and maybe are powered by something like magic gunpowder... lets just say its something that the players won't have easy access to. Like it shoots dragonshards that are enchanted to use as ammo) and they fire powerful spell effects to target enemy structures.

Earthshake Siege Staffs - Fires a powerful earth transmutation effect that shatters rock and causes a minor eartquake. Really good at breaking apart buildings... maybe like a long distance 'stone to mud' effect with an earthquake tossed in. Rarely causes any damage to nearby people unless they get hit by debris or fall off of things.

Elemental Flak Siege Staff - Fires a shell that explodes into a cloud-like mass in the air. This cloud dampens all flames or fire-like effects and also messes with air magic. Elemental airships that use fire or air elementals to move are stuck due to the flak messing with their ability to fly. They still hang in the air due to the soarwood keeping them aloft but they can't navigate. Repeated hits may damage the spells keeping the elemental bound to the ship and possibly free it if the shell hits the elementals ring directly.

Terror Cloud Siege Staff - A controversial weapon from the war, it fires at the ground and explodes to create a huge cloud of necromantic gas. It nausiates anyone who crosses it and forces them to witness nightmarish sounds and visions. Prolonged exposure causes mental damage, makeing soldiers unable to tell friend from foe, makeing them unable to sleep or think straight, and it causes negative energy damage. People caught in the gas could die from exposure or by attacking eachother, those that escape the gas are often confused and attack anyone around them, imagining their friends to be rotting zombies.

Its one of the nastiest weapons created during the war and its use is illegal now... although using it on the minions of the Lord of Blades could be justified if you plan to use up all the remaining ammo that was stored away.

Firelake Siege Staff - Another particularly nasty weapon. The shell fired from this starts conjuring massive amounts of Alchemist Fire where it lands, spraying it in all directions. It creates a large area of burning, sticky fire that damages anyone who moves through it. Anyone who goes through the affected area takes ongoing fire damage for a few rounds. Also good for burning through wooden structures.

Force Blast Siege Staff - Fires a powerful bolt of force, similar to a magic missile. While not at accurate as a traditional Magic Missile, these blasts are good at taking out incoming flying enemies. They can also be fired at building or airships. Their 'homing' ability only works on airborne enemies that are of small, medium or large size. For ground enemies or objects the size of an airship they lack homing capacity and must be aimed by hand. They are best as anti-aircraft or anti-flying weapons but still make decent weapons for attacking larger ships or castles, just don't expect them to target individual people or components of a structure.

classy one
2010-08-22, 05:27 PM
As a general comment on how airships were armed I would use the seige weapons found in Heroes of War (or was it Battle?). They have ballistas and catapults of all sorts of magical varity.

As for the module itself, it is one of my favorites to play and or DM. It has good hack and slash, political intrigue, old fashioned dungeon crawl on a forgotten land and tops it off with 2 air combat. And it is a laughing point for more Xen'dirk adventures.

I usually give the pirite's ship to the PCs if they didn't nuke it to hell. I don't see how you can put the LoB into this when it has nothing to do with Mournlands. Xen'dirk is such a big part of the module that I think not including it would hurt the experience.

And Xen'dirk is a DM's wet dream.

2010-08-23, 08:47 AM
@Awnetu: Too far as in 'too powerful for the setting'. Granted, the PCs might be around level 15-odd by the time we get to it.

@Randel: Interesting ideas, I was just going to have them as generic Beam-Of-Death weapons, but I might be able to do something with the different types you came up with. I also don't have to worry about them keeping them; they won't be revealed to the PCs til just before the battle starts and by the end of it, the Dragon will be sacrificed to ensure they get into the LoBster's fortress. If you've seen the 15th episode of Gurren Lagann, I'm wanting the Dragon to go out as epically as the Dai-Gurren did. Though the LoBster's fortress won't have a giant hammer-arm for the ship to crash into.

@classy_one: I'll see if I can find that book, might be something there I can use. As for why I'm wanting to remove the Xen'drik plot, it's because the PCs'll have already been on a Xen'drik dungeon run thanks to Grasp of the Emerald Claw. Plus that part of VotGD feels too much like the designers thought "Well since they're in Xen'drik, we may as well have them raid a giant ruin while they're there." Like it's only there because the PCs happen to be in Xen'drik.

Also, the LoB won't be turning up in VotGD or any of it's re-written sections; he'll be turning up in a custom-written adventure that happens after VotGD and will work to tie up the plot from the original modules (The Forgotten Forge and its follow-on modules). The PC's will still be working on-board the Dragon when the Lord of Blades makes his move, hence why the massive airship gets dragged into the battle.

The campaign'll also be ending with the LoBster's defeat and I've already worked out an identity and backstory for him to explain why he's doing all of this. Won't be revealing how the Day of Mourning happened, though; that'll stay a total mystery. Because of its end, the PCs won't have much chance to explore Xen'drik beyond it's use in Grasp of the Emerald Claw and possibly in a semi-short timeskip at some stage (one of the players has expressed a desire for a magic location to be altered and inserted into Xen'drik, suggesting that a few months of 'off-screen' downtime would allow his character to do some exploration of Xen'drik).

2010-08-23, 10:25 AM
I think it was explorer's guide to eberron that has a bunch of sample elemental vessels. One of them, the storm ship, was essentially an ocean based battleship complete with elemental powered weaponry that relied on a dragonmarked person to fire x/day with no limit on how many different dragonmarked people could use it x/day. I think some of the others may have had information about how they were defended as well.