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Thyatian Imperial Sky Dromons

by James Ruhland

One of the things salvaged from the wreckage of Joshuan's Almanac (and the ROE in general) were the Thyatian Skyships Adoria and Adrasteia, the first vessels of a Thyatian sky fleet. No details were given, leaving it up to folks to surmise what these and future vessels of the class might be like. After general discussions with a few people and some design work I came up with a ship type that would have evolved from the Thyatian seagoing warship, the Dromon, but with alterations in design (mainly the addition of an enlarged, enclosed stern castle; this is based in part on the fact that a long, thin design, while good for sea travel, is an inefficient one for a enchanted skyship.) This additional space, plus the lack of a need for oarsmen, increases the ships interior volume considerably over that of the Dromon. This stern castle is about 60' in diameter (with a width equal to the ship's beam). It is because of this shell-like enclosed stern castle that the Sky Dromon receives the designation "Cataphract".

The Imperial Sky Dromon is the first skyship class of Thyatian design. By 1016 a new class of Thyatian flying vessel is in the development phase (the Devil Ray Airship), though the first ships of this new class will probably not be commissioned for several years due to budgetary restraints. Below gives details on the Sky Dromon, its enchantments, and its weapons.

Imperial Sky Dromon (Cataphract)

Length: 180' (including 60' ram)
Beam: 30'
Depth: 30', plus 30' high stern "Castle", 2 decks plus 3 decks in stern "Castle"
Sails: Small ailerons only
Tonnage: 500 tons
Cargo Capacity: 100 tons
Lift Capacity: 600 tons
Lift Power: Float in Air & fins
Motive Power: Flight
Air Speed: 360' (120')
Manoeuvring Factor: 1
Hull Points: 240
Armour Class: 6
Armaments: 2 Water Fire projectors, 2 Automatic Ballistae, 1 Heavy Catapult, all with double normal range. Ram (always does maximum damage).
Crew: 10 (Captain, First Officer, Helmsman, Navigator, 6 Airmen)
Marines: up to 125

Enchantments: Ship is constructed out of Wood Form frames (20) enchanted with Float in Air, Flight, Climate, (comfortable for humans) Create Atmosphere, (interior areas can be sealed imperfectly) Resist Fire, (Ship and compliment immune to non-magical fire and lower damage from magical fire) and Displacer Field (Ship and compliment cannot be hit by non magical siege weapons, -2 to all attack rolls including ramming attempts, missiles will miss most of the time).

Cost: 1,240,000 gp not including spellcaster wages and other costs.

Ship follows general outline of Imperial Dromons (the water borne warship), with the stern castle enlarged significantly and covered (almost shell like). Stern castle houses most of the weapons and duty stations (bridge, etc) while main decks hold crew quarters (with no need for oarsmen, these are expanded for use in longer duration cruises). Artillery have increased ranges based on Thyatian weapons designed for use as air defences against Alphatian skyships. The ram is specially designed like that of the sea-going Dromon to cause maximum damage. Built right into the hull, it is exceptionally long and large to counterbalance the oversized stern castle.

The first skyship of Thyatian design, these ships form the base of the Thyatian airship fleet. They can be particularly effective operating in tandem with elements of the Retebius Air Cavalry. Winch-operated clamshell doors both atop the stern castle and in the rear of the ship (into the cargo hold) can provide landing areas for aerial mounts, extending their operating range without needing to land in (possibly hostile) foreign soil. Up to 30 mounts can be accommodated in this way, at the expense of cargo capacity (3 tons per mount). Riders would replace an equivalent number of marines. Ship must remain relatively stationary when launching or recovering aerial mounts.

Sky Dromon

Woodform 5th 20 300,000
Float in Air (+20%) 1st 20 100,000
Fly 3rd 20 180,000
Climate 3rd 20 180,000
Create Atmosphere 4th 20 240,000
Resist Fire 2nd 20 120,000
Displacer Field 2nd 20 120,000
Total: 1,240,000

Weapon Statistics

Neither class of Thyatian airship is nearly as heavily festooned with weapons as the Alphatian warships tend to be. However, the Thyatian weapons, due in part to their experience with ground-based air defence artillery, tend to be better, mainly due to increased ranges. These are non-magical siege/air defence weapons, but due to the care given in their construction they receive +1 non-magical to hit bonuses.

Automatic Ballista: These are winch-operated weapons with an overhead "hopper" containing up to 60 Ballista bolts at one time. This improves the rate of fire from 1 per 2 rounds to 2 per round. Enchanted explosive bolts are sometimes used against important targets.

Mangonnel: The Thyatian version of this weapon, which is similar to a Catapult, fires its shot on a nearly Flat trajectory. These are also winch-operated and can be fired 1 per 3 rounds. Globe shots filled With some dangerous substance (like pudding or green slime) are often used. These break on Impact.

Water Fire Projector: First employed against the Twaelar, Water Fire is a viscous alchemical mixture (containing pitch, resin, and napatha, as well as other ingredients kept secret by Thyatian alchemists.) The Water Fire projector consists of a mechanism (primarily a bellows-operated bronze tube with a tank containing the Water Fire mixture attached) for propelling the napalm- like substance at the enemy. Though Water Fire is not, technically, magical, due to the caustic nature of the mixture Resist Fire and similar affects treat it as if it were magical (reduce damage only, rather than providing immunity). Some surmise that this mixture was based on a similar Milenian substance discovered in Davania (Hinterlands) by the Thyatians, but as yet these rumours have not been proven.

Weapon Crew Range ROF Damage Enc Cost
Automatic Ballista 2 200/400/600 (Min: 0) 2/1 2d4+8 6,000 2,500
Mangonnel 3 400/500/600 (Min: 50) 1/3 3d4+8 12,000 5,000
Water Fire Projector 4 200/300/400 (Min: 0) 1/6 6d6+6 18,000 8,000

Note: Cost is what these weapons cost the Thyatian government. They are not normally available outside Thyatis, nor are they sold to non-government officials. Cost on the black market should be three or more times what is given above. Cost to adventurers seeking to acquire Water Fire ammunition should be equivalent to purchasing a potion.

Additional Note: a costly failed attempt at creating a man-portable version of the Water Fire Projector has proven, at least for the time being, that this weapon should be limited to use by trained Artillerists operating the safer, more reliable siege weapon version.