Airship Weapons

An airship’s weapons use the ship’s Firepower step to
hit and the Firepower Effect step to determine their effect
(usually damage). Airships can mix different types of shipboard
weapons, but must split the Firepower step among
them. For example, a drakkar with a Firepower of 10/13
can carry both spear throwers and net throwers, but must
split the Firepower step between them as if it were attacking
multiple targets (see the Fire maneuver, p. 121). When
firing weapons in this manner, the Effect step is reduced by
1 for each split. The sample drakkar therefore could have
used Firepower 6 for the spear throwers and Firepower 4
for the net throwers with an Effect step of 12 (13 – I) for
Ship weapons can fire once per ship combat turn (once
every six Combat Rounds). Thunderbolt throwers can only
be fired once before they must be recharged.

An individual ballista has a maximum Damage step of
12, unless special spears (tipped with living crystal, True
earth or such) are used as ammunition. The specific damage
done by special spears is up to the gamemaster, but
should be at least Step 16. When fired at a single character,
a ballista does its normal Step 12 damage.

Catapults most often fling stones. A hit from a catapult
stone usually does Step 13-15 damage. Catapults may also
hurl more exotic ammunition, including small casks of oil,
alcohol or other flammable materials that can be ignited by
fire cannon or dragon’s breath weapons. Typically, a burning
oil cask does Step 15 damage upon impact, and fire
does Step 8 damage to a wooden ship per turn until put
out. Some sky raiders even use ship-mounted catapults to
launch themselves at enemy ships, gaining a bonus equal
to half the airship’s Firepower step on a Great Leap Test to
reach the target ship. If multiple sky raider characters are
launched in the same ship combat turn, the ship’s
Firepower must be divided among them. When fired at a
single character, a catapult does Step 13 damage.
The airships of the Firescale moot (Distant Moots, p.
114) often use special catapult ammunition such as poisons
or acid. These types of catapult rounds typically do less initial
damage to the target, but the target often continues to
take damage for several combat turns after the munition
lands. A typical acid or poison catapult shell has a Damage
Step of 9-10, but does damage each turn for 2 ship combat
turns (or 12 Combat Rounds).

Dragon’s Breath
The damage done by the Dragon’s Breath weapon is
figured into the Firepower of ships on which it is used, and
so Dragon’s Breath does normal ship weapon damage
against airships. Dragon’s Breath weapons function by
using a True fire kernel and a command word to activate
an effect roughly similar to the Ninth Circle elementalist
spell Dragon’s Breath (pp. 75-76, ED Companion). Against
individual characters, the flames do Step 14 damage, and
two characters can be targeted at once. Victims of this
weapon catch fire, taking Step 7 damage each round until
the fire is quenched.

Net Throwers
Net throwers are intended as anti-personnel weapons,
and only do temporary damage to the ship’s Crew Rating
as the nets entangle the crew. A Called Shot (-3 steps) with
a net thrower can also reduce the target ship’s Firepower,
by entangling a weapon and preventing it from being
fired. Such shots would reduce a ship’s Firepower by 2
steps for one turn.

Spear Throwers
Spear throwers have a maximum Damage Step of 12,
unless special spears are used as ammunition (see Ballista,
above). When fired at a single character, a spear thrower
does its normal Step 12 damage.

Thunderbolt Throwers
Thunderbolt throwers have the equivalent range and
targeting ability of fire cannon, and gain a +6 step bonus to
the ship’s Firepower step for their Damage Test, but may
only be used once before recharging. The strike of a thunderbolt
thrower creates a deafening boom of thunder as
well, imposing a -2 step modifier to the targeted ship’s
Maneuverability for the next ship combat turn.

Fire Sheath
A fire sheath surrounds a drakkar with an elemental
shield that protects against fire cannon and flame weapons
such as Dragon’s Breath. It must be activated by a word of
command, usually known only to the ship’s captain and
mate. For each kernel of elemental air and fire used, the
sheath adds +2 steps to the ship’s Maneuverability against
such attacks and increases the ship’s Armor against all firebased
attacks by +5 for three ship combat turns, after
which time the sheath burns out and must be refueled (see
Airship Maintenance, p. 126).

The range at which ship weapons can be used is an
important factor in ship combat. Because airships can move
in two dimensions (vertically as well as horizontally), figuring
out range for the purposes of making weapon attacks is
somewhat more complex than in combat between waterborne
ships. The approximate range-short, medium or
long-between any two airships can be calculated by taking
the vertical distance and the horizontal distance between the
two ships and comparing them on the Airship Range Table
to determine the actual range. Round the distances between
ships to the nearest 50 yards when using this table. Numbers
in plain type indicate short range, numbers in italics medium
range, and boldface numbers long range. NA (Not
Applicable) means that the ship is out of attack range. All
ranges are based on the range of a fire cannon.
An airship can increase or decrease the range between it
and other ships using the Alter Distance maneuver (p. 120).
Fire cannon and thunderbolt throwers have the
longest ranges of all ship weapons, with a short range of
up to 100 yards, medium range from 101 to 250 yards and
long range from 251 to 500 yards. All other ship weapons
have roughly half the range of fire cannon (short range 50
yards, medium 51-100 yards, long 101-250 yards). For this
reason, crystal raider ships usually try to quickly close the
distance with an enemy ship while avoiding attacks from
the enemy’s longer-range weapons.
Standard range modifiers (p. 196, ED) apply to ship
combat. The range penalty is applied to the Firepower
Attack step, but not to the Damage step. These penalties
are in addition to any others that might apply to the Attack
step due to environmental conditions or other modifiers
described below, such as reductions to the ship’s
Firepower because of damage.

The question of firing ship weapons at a character (or
more likely, a creature or Horror) is bound to arise. The following
rules apply to those occasions. Characters can use
the Missile Weapons talent or skill when firing airship
weapons. The fire rate for a ship weapon is once per ship
combat turn, which is once per six standard combat
rounds, so characters should try to make that first shot
For anti-ship weapons like fire cannon and thunderbolt
throwers, remember that it takes considerable time
and effort to line up a shot, so unless the target is as big as
an airship, the attempt will be a Called Shot (-3 steps to the
Attack Test). A ship’s Firepower Attack step is based on
many weapons attacking in concert over a wide area. As a
result, the Attack Test is made using a step number equal
to half the maximum Firepower step. If the attack hits, it
does the normal Firepower Effect step in damage.
Other ship weapons used by the crystal raiders are
anti-personnel in nature and are intended to hit targets on
the decks of airships. A Called Shot is still required to target
a specific individual on board a ship, but the Firepower
Attack step is not reduced. The weapon does its normal
damage if it hits the target.
or Maneuverability reduced to 0), it becomes incapacitated
and can no longer perform any combat maneuvers. When
the damag~ ex~eeds the Destroyed Rating (or the ship’s
Armor Ratmg IS reduced to 0), the ship crashes to the
ground, and any crew trapped on board are considered
dead. On an airship, most adept crewmembers know the
Wind Catcher talent (p. 121, ED) and will try to leap to
safety before the ship crashes.
If a single attack penetrates the ship’s armor and does
damage that exceeds the ship’s Critical Threshold, the ship
takes a Wound, which reduces all of its Attribute steps by 1.
A Wound to the ship also reduces the Crew step, and
mdlcates that up to five percent of the crew has received
deadly injuries. A Wound to the Crew step received in
boarding combat, however, does not count as a Wound to
the ship. If a ship’s Crew Attribute is reduced to 0 by accumulated
Wounds, it no longer has a crew and is pretty
much useless.
When making Attack Tests in ship-to-ship combat,
keep in mind that Armor-Defeating hits are possible, particularly
when attacking with ship weapons like fire cannon
and thunderbolt throwers. In addition, the ratings of a
ship may be reduced by the effects of hazards encountered
while traveling (see Travel and Hazards, p. 119).

A ship’s crew can often affect the outcome of a battle by
using their talents and skills. The key talent or skill used in
airship ~ombat is Air Sailing (see Air Sailing, p. 118). A ship’s
captam IS usually at the helm of the airship, and can use this
talent to enhance the ship’s Maneuverability step, much as he
can enhance its Speed step (see Airship Speed, p. 118).
In order to enhance one of a ship’s Attributes, a character
makes an Air Sailing Test against a Difficulty
Number equal to the (modified) Attribute step he wishes to
enhance. For each success level achieved, the Attribute
increases by 1 step for a number of turns equal to the character’s
rank in Air Sailing.
In tight airship combats, members of a crew might use
the Talent Linking knack (p. 28, Magic: A Manual of Mystic
Secrets) to temporarily weave threads to the captain’s Air
Sailing talent for increased manueverability or speed.
When engaging an enemy in ship-to-ship combat,
characters may want to use magic and missile weapons to
target enemy personnel. All such attacks should be considered
Called Shots (-3 steps to the Attack Test), and are
made using range modifiers based on the range between
the airship and the character’s target. Most such attacks
take place at a range of approximately 50 yards, which for
most missile weapons is medium range (-2 steps on the
Attack Test, -2 steps on the Damage Test).

Airship Weapons

Earthdawn DirkVanleeuw