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Old 10-24-2016, 10:21 PM   #1
CraigM
 
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Default Banestorm Navies

Question: given the established setting information and the default GURPS magic rules, what do you think the navies of Banestorm would look like?

(I'm aware of the Pyramid article on magical navies; some of it is applicable, some of it less so)

A few points:

* Only Araterre has TL4 shipbuilding, but the existence of magical provision, navigation and weather control renders ship technology much less important.

* While the idea of screws with permanent motion enchantments is tempting, the default Magic rules make these ruinously expensive. Weather wizards are much cheaper, so expect sails to continue.

* Weather magic should substantially influence ship design. Much of age-of-sail shipbuilding was concerned with the compromise between downwind speed and upwind reaching ability. If you can guarantee that the wind will always be aft, you can get away with a pure power square rig; no need for staysails and less need for drag-creating and draft-increasing deep keels.

* Weather magic also reduces the need for ships to be built to cope with bad weather. Lighter, faster, roomier ships; giant cockle-shells with massive square rigs.

* OTOH, zombie-powered galleys provide an option that can almost match weather-wizard sailing for speed and surpass it for endurance.

* The grossly overpowered Essential Wood spell makes it easy to produce either super-tough or super-light ships. However, if naval action is focussed on boarding, ship durability may not be very important.

* GURPS magic is sharply range limited. Casting spells directly upon a ship half a mile distant is simply not feasible. Therefore, expect magic to be focussed on weather, ship and crew buffing, and projectiles. Ballistae firing enchanted missiles are likely to feature.

* Flaming projectiles are an obvious tactic, but magical fire extinguishing is an easy counter.

Personally, I'm not sure what the logical development of Ytarrian navies would be. At a guess, though, I would expect ships to be mage and sail powered long but shallow-draft square riggers. The merchant ships made from wafer-thin Essential Wood, the warships made from thicker planks of the same material.

Combats may involve maneuvering contests (if one side wanted to avoid a fight) that are primarily contests of mage fatigue and powerstone supply. Actual combat is likely to focus on boarding (armoured essential wood warships are easier to capture than sink, while for those preying on merchant shipping capture is the whole point), with a preliminary ballistae bombardment aimed at reducing mobility and subduing the crew.

What did I miss? Would there be any substantial difference between the various national navies apart from the obvious Abydosian necromantic tendency and the slight tech edge to the Aralaise?
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Old 10-24-2016, 10:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

A properly designed sailing ship is fastest on a beam reach, running is much slower.
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Old 10-25-2016, 04:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigM View Post
Question: given the established setting information and the default GURPS magic rules, what do you think the navies of Banestorm would look like?

(I'm aware of the Pyramid article on magical navies; some of it is applicable, some of it less so)

A few points:

* Only Araterre has TL4 shipbuilding, but the existence of magical provision, navigation and weather control renders ship technology much less important.
Are any of those common? Remember that in Kromm's vision of the setting (and apparently one paragraph in GURPS Banestorm) only the spells from the Basic Set are common knowledge. And anyways, low-tech shipbuilding and rigging limits people so sharply, and versatile mages with lots of FP are expensive.

Zombie-powered galleys are likely to have manoeuverability issues and burn through living crew like flies, and of course none of the major religions approves. I think that rowing is an IQ skill, and zombies have IQ-2 and Cannot Learn.
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Old 10-25-2016, 06:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

Also remember that in the places where you really need to manoeuvre [approaches to and exits from harbours, busy rivers full of snags and sandbanks, narrow straits] you may have competing weather magic, and that the dangers of the Great Ocean include magical abnormalities. In my vision of the setting, if I allowed Essential Wood, a ship of very thin Essential Wood would start to develop mechanical problems as soon as it sailed into Low Mana or No Mana, and would attract nasty sea monsters from the Great Ocean hungry for the purity of its substance.
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Old 10-25-2016, 06:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

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Originally Posted by Purple Haze View Post
A properly designed sailing ship is fastest on a beam reach, running is much slower.
With running you can't go any faster than the wind speed; once you reach that, the speed of the wind relative to your sails is zero, and so is the propulsive force. With reaching, you're at an angle to the wind, so the component of the wind velocity vector that's at right angles to your heading isn't diminished by your speed. It took me a long time to learn that—a lot of books on sailing don't discuss the basic physics!—but once I did a lot of things fell into place.

Of course, if you can magically control the wind, you can also direct it to blow at the optimal angle for reaching.
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Old 10-25-2016, 07:50 AM   #6
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

Also, remember that a merchant navy and a military navy have different requirements. While a merchant navy may be able to get around with just wind wizards, a military navy will need to be able to handle being outgunned by enemy wizards (or even just dealing with parity)

The wind spell is actually really cheap to cast: a 50 yard radius for an hour is a single energy point, can be cast with just magery 0, and requires only two spells past the basic set. So in some ways its an ideal career for a lazy (or talentless) Magery 0 individual. A skill of 11 may even be sufficient to be effective.

But banestorm campaigns tend to have varying levels of magic, so a lot depends on that. Ships of essential wood are probably over the top, as are a number of combat applications, but there is no reason not to hire a wind wizard. There is also room for a magical tradition of ship's wizards that teaches those kinds of spells.
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Old 10-25-2016, 08:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Are any of those common? Remember .
More than knowledge of how to cast them the rarity is probably availability of Mages _to_ cast them.

Assumptions that Mages are sufficiently common and sailing sufficiently important that everyone involved in shipbuilding and shiphandling will have all the mages they need are almost certainly not warranted.

The Megalan legions get by with much less high level magic and control of the legions adds up to control of Megalos.

No, Yrth is not the sort of ubiquitous magic setting where you'd see this sort of thing.
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Old 10-25-2016, 08:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
And anyways, low-tech shipbuilding and rigging limits people so sharply, and versatile mages with lots of FP are expensive.
On the other hand, a lot of really useful magic items don't require mages at all and are cheap compared to the cost of a ship. Any ship leaving port without a Purify Water, Find Direction (or Know Location) and Extinguish Fire (or Create Water, the mist form is nearly as good for small normal fires) item has idiotic owners.

I've always wondered a bit why Predict Weather doesn't have an item too. Any tradition of nautically oriented enchanters (and it is one of the more stable markets for enchanters, simply *because* ships aren't cheap) should have cracked that one long ago too.
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Old 10-25-2016, 08:56 AM   #9
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Also remember that in the places where you really need to manoeuvre [approaches to and exits from harbours, busy rivers full of snags and sandbanks, narrow straits] you may have competing weather magic, and that the dangers of the Great Ocean include magical abnormalities.
As per ports, one would imagine there would be rules of harbour that would prohibit weather magic within x- distance of the harbour mouth, for that exact reason.
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Old 10-25-2016, 08:59 AM   #10
ericthered
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Default Re: Banestorm Navies

oh, another note: The geography of Ytarria lends itself into a division of "safe seas" and "dangerous seas", and most large-scale conflict will center on the "Safe seas". The Mare Medium and keyhole bay are on actively hostile borders, The Styx and Acheron are barbarian borders as well. Sahud as its own little inland sea.

In contrast, to the south is a giant, permanent, mana-warped storm, there isn't really anything worth reaching by sailing around the north to the west.

The east coast is worth sailing, but is the prime place for Araterrans to dominate and politically unified, unless you want to play up pirates or a megalan civil war.
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