Kraken's Guide to Trade

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Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by night_druid » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:55 am

OK, a lot of discussion lately on the SJ FB page regarding trade, helms, and the like, and instead of reposting things, I'm just going to put all my thoughts together into a light document on the matter. So here's the first part, a bit about Power Types typically used in wildspace. It covers just the helm types commonly used by humans/demi-humans; no orbus and the like. Just tossed this together this afternoon, so probably lots I didn't cover or need to clarify/expand upon. As told by my favorite scalawag, the Kraken. ;)

I have ideas for sections on merchant families/coasters, and on common trade vessels as well.

Ship Power Types
The most important aspect of a spelljammer is its power type. That is, what propels it through wildspace? From magical sails to the grand, throne-like devices that are known as Spelljammer Helms, there is a wide range of ways for a ship to get about. Here are the most common devices a body can expect to encounter when traveling the stars.

Splendid Sails
The cheapest, and most common, means of propulsion for a spelljammer are to rig a ship up with Splendid Sails. These are magical sails, sometimes made from kindori hide, that do not require a spell-caster to use. They are reasonably cheap; the cost to outfit a tradesman with a full set is far less than the price of a true spelljamming helm. The downside is that ships operating with Splendid Sails cannot land or take off of any object larger than a small moon. The sole exception is flat worlds, where ships with Splendid Sails can sail to the edge of the gravity plane for the purposes of landing and taking off. Ships using these helms are limited to travelling between asteroids, small moons, nebula, flat worlds, and orbital cities. Many merchant vessels outfitted with Splendid Sails will never land on worlds, but instead travel between cities orbiting those worlds. Goods are traded to local merchants, who in turn use helm-equipped galleons or teleportation to transport merchandise to markets across the world.

Splendid Sails are most typically seen on vessels of 45 tons or less. In theory they can be used on ships up to 100 tons, or perhaps even more, but most captains wealthy enough to operate squidships and heavier prefer to use true helms. It is a matter of pride to some, while others reason a more practical reason that the ability to make planetfall is worth the cost. Even still, many a hammership captain will keep a spare set aboard ship as an emergency power source should the helm be disabled or destroyed.
The majority of ships consistently using Splendid Sails are merchant vessels: dragonflies, wasps, eelships, tradesmen, and lampreys. They are also used on salvaged groundling vessels such as caravels and even galleons as captains remove the helms that brought them into space and install them on more rugged ships. Splendid Sails are frequently used by inexperienced adventurers who are native to wildspace. These first-time adventurers are often rich enough to purchase a small vessel, such as a dragonfly or caravel, but too poor to afford a true helm, so settle for a set of Splendid Sails. Pirates, too, use these sails, but only until they can pillage something better. Splendid Sails are also favored by those ships lacking enough spellcasters to power the vessel at all times.

Ornery Oars
Rarer than Splendid Sails are Ornery Oars. These are favored aboard “galley” style craft, with banks of oars jutting out of the side of the craft. Such ships are rare in wildspace, despite their popularity with many groundling cultures. The presence of so many oarsmen put too great a strain on an air envelope, and many captains will either ditch such ships for sail-powered ships, or convert the ships to use sails and gaining valuable crew quarters and cargo space where the oarsmen used to sit. Ornery Oars are frequently used on traditional rowboats, a cheap alternative to using helms on such small and fragile ships. Ornery Oars suffer many the same limitations as Splendid Sails, being unable to make planetfall on all but the smallest worlds. Although Ornery Oars are said to be able to move ships up to 100 tons, and possibly larger ship, they are rarely seen on ships larger than five tons. An exception is the Moray Eel, a ship type out of the Maelstrom that is an evolution of the more common Eelship.

Furnace
Ancient devices from the earliest days of spelljamming, Furnaces are an unpopular means of travel. These helms take the appearance of a throne with a small, stove-like chamber built under the seat. They provide magical movement for ships by consuming magic items. Scrolls, potions, magic daggers, wands, and the like are often sacrificed. Furnaces are frequently used by groundling adventurers who discover the devices hidden away in dungeons and have resources enough to feed minor magic items to the furnaces for their first few voyages. Furnaces are also used as backup helms on some ships, particularly those outfitted with Splendid Sails. Such a setup allows for ships to make planetfall whereas with Splendid Sails alone, they could not. Ships with Furnaces typically keep a small basket filled with minor magic items by the helm, to be fed into the device when needed.

Spelljammer Helms
True helms are the beating heart of wildspace trade. Every merchant vessel, warship, and pirate ship worth its weight has at the very least a minor helm. True helms allow ships to make planetfall, providing the link between wildspace and groundling cultures. Any ship can be equipped with a true helm, from as small as a flitter to as large as an elven Armada. In practice few ships smaller than 20 tons are equipped with true helms, and only the richest merchants can afford to equip their vessels with one. Warships, particularly those of groundling nations, almost always have helms as their primary power source. Pirates are a mixed bunch, with more successful bands possessing one while others make due with Splendid Sails.

All Spelljamming Helms operate by tapping into the mind of spellcasters, turning their ability to cast spells into energy to propel a ship. The helmsman merely has to sit in the throne-like device for it to activate. The attunement is instantaneous, and prevents a spell-caster from using their memorized spells for an entire standard day. Some groundlings, particularly those with no knowledge of Spelljamming, view Spelljamming Helms as cursed, spell-stealing items, rarely learning of the true treasure they had discovered. There are unfortunate tales of some enraged wizard destroying Spelljamming Helms they discover in a fit of rage. Truly tragic tales, I tell you.

There are two classifications of Spelljammer Helms, major and minor. The main difference is that major helms are more efficient at converting the spell-casting abilities of a spell-caster into spelljamming energies. Inexperienced spell-casters see little difference, but for arch-mages and high priests, the difference between the two can be astonishing. An archmage using a major helm can propel a ship to truly astonishing speeds.

Spelljamming Helms are further divided into Types. A Type I helm can handle ships up to 25 tons. A Type II helm is able to move up to 50 tons. Type III helms are rare, and can handle up to 100 tons. I have heard rumors of even more powerful Types, but such devices are as rare as artifacts. The more tonnage a Type can move, the rarer it becomes. Most Type I helms are used aboard merchant vessels, tradesmen in particular. Type II helms are frequently used on light warships and larger merchant vessels. Dragonships, squidships, and small hammerships most commonly use Type II helms. Type III helms are reserved for the wealthiest merchants and heavy warships. Hammerships, elven Man-O-Wars, Octopuships, and elven Armada most commonly use the Type III helms.
Interestingly, many ships use inexperienced spell-casters to pilot their ship, preferring to keep their more powerful spell-casters away from such devices. They reason that the loss in speed is a more acceptable sacrifice to the loss of the greater spells an archmage can hurl at an enemy. Other captains will use their more powerful helmsman to boost the ship’s speed, trusting their catapults and ballistae to make up the difference in magical firepower.

Lifejammers
A rare choice, a lifejammer operates similar to a spelljamming helm, save that a creature’s life energy is sacrificed in exchange for the ability to move a ship through wildspace. Lifejammers are usually recognizable as throne-like devices hooked up to coffins. The coffins are where victims are placed. These helms are rare on merchant vessels; they are far more commonly used ships owned by particularly sadistic pirates, reavers, and monstrous races such as neogi and orcs. I have encountered a few desperate merchants who, by strange circumstances, come into ownership of such helms, and modify them to use creatures such as scavvers and pish to minimize the ethical problems of using these helms.
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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:39 am

Very nice.

Are you going to be adding other helm variants (like Death Helms) or is this a cut down selection of what might be found on trade ships?

I'm pretty sure there was something in Spelljammer canon about the Elven Navy only landing flitters that didn't have proper spelljamming helms on them. So there must be some sort of device that can get a flitter (if not other ships) up into Wildspace.

I think I've seen mentions of something called a "non magical engine" with a sphere full of morning dew used as an example.

There should be some devices that will get a ship off of a world...but not allow it to accelerate to spelljamming speed. (I think they would go well with the sails and oars you invented for Hackjammer.)
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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by night_druid » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:07 am

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:39 am
Very nice.
Thanks! :)
Are you going to be adding other helm variants (like Death Helms) or is this a cut down selection of what might be found on trade ships?
Death helm, probably not. I intend to focus on trade ships. I think I might add something about helms created via spells.
I'm pretty sure there was something in Spelljammer canon about the Elven Navy only landing flitters that didn't have proper spelljamming helms on them. So there must be some sort of device that can get a flitter (if not other ships) up into Wildspace.
One thing I might add is a bit about elves using magic similar to Splendid Sails (Splendid Wings, perhaps?) on flitters and like craft that doesn't work once they land on large planets.
I think I've seen mentions of something called a "non magical engine" with a sphere full of morning dew used as an example.
Non-magic engines are basically rockets and such that cannot achieve SJ speeds, so I sorta see their influence as rather negligible. Useful for sargossos, not much else.
There should be some devices that will get a ship off of a world...but not allow it to accelerate to spelljamming speed. (I think they would go well with the sails and oars you invented for Hackjammer.)
I suppose; I think I prefer teleportation to orbital cities but I'm open to suggestions :)
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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by Jaid » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:44 am

depending on how heavy a flitter is, a sufficiently large number of castings of levitate could get you back into wildspace :P

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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by night_druid » Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm

Part II of Kraken's Guide to Trade, this time he tackles the issue of landing a spelljammer. Not really rules-heavy, but I do introduce some ideas I've had for a while on how to handle landing basically a flying ship, touching on issues like beaching and cradles for spelljammers. Mostly just collecting a lot of these ideas in one spot.

And as a side note, its official, tradesmen can make landings. So says Nightdruid, so it becomes law. :mrgreen:


Landing a Spelljammer
To the untrained eye, spelljammers are limited to two forms of landing on a planetary object – that is, they can land on hard surfaces aka Ground, or liquid surfaces aka Water. Some rare ships are even capable of making ground or water landing. This is a very limited view of where spelljammers may dock. An experienced free trader such as myself know that dedicated spelljamming ports have many ways of getting around such troublesome limitations to allow the maximum number of ships to visit and trade.

Ground Landing
The spelljammers that may easily land on hard surfaces generally have an insect-like hull, such as the dragonfly and wasp. More exotic animal-like hulls often have the ability to land on hard surfaces, with some being watertight and buoyant enough to make water-landings as well. As a rule of thumb, insect-like hulls cannot land on water as they are not built watertight enough to prevent severe leaking that will sink the craft.

Ground landing seems simple enough, but can be perilous to the inexperienced. Most spacehands think that ground landing is as simple as levitating over the landing site, and then slowly dropping until the ship touches ground. While this is true in many cases, it is not always this simple. Firstly, the ground must be level. An inclined surface can prove disastrous for ships such as wasps and dragonflies, as shifting weight of cargo in a ship’s hull can cause the ship to roll. Typically a helmsman can detect if an incline is too steep at touch-down and reposition the ship or even find a more suitable landing site. On rare occasion, a ship or two has been sent rolling down a hill by the inattentiveness of a green or exhausted helmsman.

Another danger to be aware of is that the ground must be solid enough to support the weight of the spelljammer. The ground should be fairly dry, lest the ship risk getting stuck in the mud. Digging out a wasp that has gotten stuck in waist-deep mud is perhaps the most unpleasant task I have ever participated in. How lizardmen navigate landing wasps in their swampy homelands, I will never know.

A final danger to be wary of is wind. Insect-like ships often sit high off the ground, typically ten to twenty feet up, and rest upon spindly legs. While even the most top-heavy spelljammer can resist a fair amount of wind, gale-force winds are strong enough to tip over most ships. Such ships either need to evacuate an area before a storm hits. If evacuation is not possible, the crew needs to tie the ship down with many lines to anchor points around the ship. Ships laden with cargo are less prone to being tipped over by strong winds than ships with empty cargo holds.


Beaching
A form of ground landing is beaching. Groundlings often beach ships such as longboats, galleys, and even on occasion, galleons. Spelljammers too can be beached, and even normally water-landing craft can be beached with little risk of damaging the ship. Ideally a beach will be sandy, which is easiest on the hull of a craft, but in a pinch stone pebble beaches may be used as well. Beaching using water-landing craft involves removing sails and any rigging from the underside of the hull before gently settling down on the beach. The sand or pebbles will give enough to cradle the ship. Most of the fish-like ships favored by humans, including the tradesman, squidship, and hammership as well as the Shou dragonship, can all be ground-landed in this fashion, causing no damage to the hull. These ships have nice shallow hulls that aide them considerably when making a beach-landing. The cuttlefish-like ships such as the octopus and cuttle command can be beached with considerable care, yet still risk damage to the tentacles.

Ground Landing-based Facilities
Arboreal Docks
Largely restricted to elven worlds, arboreal docks are docks that are more grown rather than built. The branches of very large and magical trees are woven together to create cradles that spelljammers and set down on. Almost any ship, including elven Man-O-Wars, can make use of arboreal docks. Be warned that the elves have mastered these docks to such a degree that should they so choose, they can use the vines and branches to entangle a ship much like the priestly spell. Trying to fight elven port authorities while freeing a ship with axe and spell is not a prospect any captain wishes to engage in.

Cradles
Most popular in desert climates where there is no water for water-landing craft to set down, cradles are a half-cylindrical dock that a ship can rest in without damaging the hull. Cradles come in many shapes. The most basic form is a series of large wooden blocks with a half-circles carved into it, wide enough for ships as big as hammerships to rest in them. A ship needs one block per 50’ of keel length. Blocks are excessively heavy, requiring many strong backs to move. Other cradles are made of stone and completely immovable. One system favored in Wayspace is the Sand Cradle. A ship sets down over a special pit filled with sand. The sand is then slowly removed from the pit by means of valves at the base of the pit, with the ship slowly lowered into a stone cradle over the course of an hour. Sand cradles are used mainly for the largest water-landing craft and ships under repairs.

Pit Docks
Some ports create artificial pits wide enough to accommodate even large spelljammers and deep enough to shelter said ships from the wind. Pit docks are 200’ to 300’ across and can be up to 100’ deep. They are most popular in dry climates where water tables are deep underground. The walls of the pits are lined with passages to the surface and warehouses within which merchants can store valuables.

Stone Circles
Ports that cater to ground-landing spelljammers will designate a large field for such craft. A common practice is to use colorful stones arranged into a circle, visible from above, as points where ships can land safely. Circles are 100’ to 300’ in diameter and are a helpful guide to the helmsman and crew. The stones often double as anchor points, either magically shaped into cleats or have iron cleats bolted into the stones.

Water Landing
Landing by means of large bodies of water is the most common form of landing for most spelljammers. Virtually all of the fish-like ships, including tradesman, squidship, and hammership, are capable of water-landings. Cuttle-like ships such as the octopus and cuttle-command cannot make water landings, as their designs are not water-tight and have too many windows below the water-line. All terrestrial vessels such as caravels, galleys, and galleons, may make water-landings, of course.

A common misconception is that the tradesman is incapable of landing, ground or water, but this is not the case. The tradesmen hull is perfectly capable of making water landings. However, so many tradesmen are equipped with Splendid Sails and thus cannot make planetfall at all. It is from this fact that the misconception that the tradesmen cannot land arose. Those tradesmen equipped with true helms can and do make planetfall, although not as commonly as larger ships such as squidships and hammerships.

Human-built spelljammers often have shallow hulls. While these ships can indeed make water landings, they are built for wildspace travel, not water. On the water, they suffer from poor speed, maneuverability, and seaworthiness. Rough seas will swamp and sink most spelljammers. Captains are therefore loathe to put in at ports that force spelljammers to land well out of sight of the city and sail in.

Few crews and helmsmen are skilled enough to put a ship down close to a pier without causing damage, either to ship or pier. Therefore, almost all water-landing craft make it a habit of landing just outside a harbor, and then employing sails or oars to enter or leave the harbor. As the rigging on many ships are designed for wildspace travel and not catching the winds of terrestrial world, some ships employ sea-masts. A sea-mast is merely a temporary rigging system, often employing a small mast bolted to the deck designed to provide limited mobility via wind. Other ships rely on tow-vessels to pull them into dock.


Water Landing-based Facilities
Lagoons

Lagoons are employed by inland ports that have enough water to create artificial lakes, but not near an open body of water. Lagoons are often a mile or more across, to give ships room to land, and then be towed into dock by long lines. They are deep enough to accommodate even galleons, but shallow enough that should a ship sink, recovery is fairly easy without requiring too much magic beyond a few potions of water breathing and a spare helm to strap to the wreck. Whenever possible, there are inflows and outflows to circulate the water and keep algae growth to a minimum.

Cloud-Landing
Perhaps the most unusual means of landing is cloud-landing. While this may seem a completely ludicrous idea, it is surprisingly common. Some clouds have more substance than others. There are even clouds that can support whole castles and cities! The largest of these clouds, found around some air worlds, are the size of kingdoms. So-called solid clouds are the domain of creatures most at home in the clouds – cloud and storm giants, silver dragons, avarials, and the like. On occasion they welcome visiting merchants looking to trade in exotic goods.

Solid clouds are very strong, but have quite a bit of give to them. Thus a ship merely needs to lower itself down onto a cloud, and the cloud will form a cradle without any harm to the hull. Ships that can land on either ground or water can make cloud-landings. There are very few ships that are incapable of making cloud-landings, most commonly due to excessive rigging or immovable sails below the gravity plane. The elven Man-O-War and armada as well as the neogi ships are some of the rare vessels that cannot manage cloud-landing.

Orbiting
The captains of very large ships, that is, ships of seventy tons or more, often prefer not to land their ships at all. They instead will put their ships in a stable orbit around a planet and then make use of a smaller “launch” equipped with a spelljamming helm to make planetfall. Orbiting allows the chief helmsman to take a break, as no power is needed to keep the ship flying around the planet. Launches are most commonly ten tons or less – dragonflies, mosquitoes, flitters, and like craft all make excellent landing craft. Transferring cargo by this means can be slow and thus not preferred by merchants. Adventurers and militaries prefer to orbit their ships-of-the-line rather than risk damage when passing through an atmosphere or landing their craft in dangerous territory.

To minimize risk, most captains will use scrolls with Create Helm spells to power their launches, and make use of their less skilled spellcasters to pilot such craft. Only a truly rich captain has two helms to spare, and no sane captain would leave the main ship powerless while taking the only helm to the surface with a small crew.

The battle dolphin is a prime example of a ship that makes use of orbiting, with a built-in caravel. The design is relatively new and has not yet become popular. Should it prove popular no doubt new designs will appear making use of having launches built into the hull in the same manner.

Orbital-Based Facilities
Orbital Docks

Groundling kingdoms seeking greater trade with wildspace nations may build orbital docks. An orbital dock can be as simple as a large flat stone asteroid a few hundred feet across to city-sized fortresses. Famous examples include Dragon Rock above Toril, and Highport above Pirtel. These facilities allow ships that cannot, or do not desire to, make planetfall, to dock near the planet and off-load cargo to middle-men. From there, cargo is transferred to the planet’s surface by means of ships equipped with spelljamming helms, teleportation, or even sent down by specialty spells that mimic feather fall or levitation but with much longer durations.

Levitation Docking
Only available in the mightiest of magical kingdoms, levitation docking involves areas above a port where a ship can dock with a hovering pier. The magic keeps the ship from falling, even when its helm is powered down. The docks are readily available for any ship to use, save for vessels with the most extreme of rigging that prevent use of any sort of docking facilities. Helmsmen can detect when a ship has entered into a levitation docking and it is safe to power down the helm. As powerful magic is involved with creating such facilities, owners tend to show off their creations with elaborate, colorful illusions guiding ships to port, with lights that change from red to green to indicate when it is safe to power down a helm. Such lights are often completely unnecessary, yet the ports like to use them regardless. Levitation docks may be found at any altitude, from a few dozen feet above a major city to drifting with the clouds. In the case of high flying docks, they are most commonly attached to the marvel that is flying cities.
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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by Lord Torath » Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:36 pm

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Ground Landing
The spelljammers that may easily land on hard surfaces generally have an insect-like hull, such as the dragonfly and wasp. More exotic animal-like hulls often have the ability to land on hard surfaces as well, with some being watertight and boyant enough to make water-landings as well. As a rule of thumb, insect-like hulls cannot land on water as they are not built watertight enough to prevent severe leaking that will sink the craft.
Consider alternate phrasing, so you don't have two "as well"s in the same sentence. Also missing the "u" in "buoyant". "..as well, with some also being watertight and buoyant enough to make water landings."

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Another danger to be aware of is that the ground must be solid enough to support the weight of the spelljammer. The ground should be fairly dry, least the ship risks getting stuck in the mud.
"lest", not "least". And "risk" should be singular here.

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Such ships either need to evacuate an area before a storm hits, or tie the ship down with many lines to anchor points around the ship.
Rephrase so the ship is not tying the ship down. Perhaps: "The crew must either take the ship and evacuate the area before the storm hits, or tie the ship down..." Alternatively: "Such ships either need to evacuate the area... or their crews must tie them down..."

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Beaching
A form of grounding landing is beaching.
"ground landing"

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Cradles
..., cradles are a half-cylindrical dock that a ship can rest in without damaging the hull.
plural vs singular agreement. "A cradle is a half..." or " cradles are half-cylindrical docks"

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Cradles come in many shapes. The most basic form is a series of large wooden blocks with a half-circle carved into it, wide enough for ships as big as hammerships to rest in them.
plural vs singular agreement. Change to "...blocks with half-circles carved into them...".

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
One system favored in Wayspace is the Sand Cradle. A ship sets down over a special pit filled with sand. The sand is then slowly removed from the pit by means of valves at the base of the pit, with the ship slowly lowered into a stone cradle over the course of an hour.
This seems like a very time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Re-setting for the next ship (moving all that sand back into place) would be worse. You wouldn't want to do this several times a day. Maybe this is only used in repair yards, where the ship is going to be there for a week or more?

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Sinkhole Docks
Some ports create artificial sinkholes, wide enough to accommodate even large spelljammers and deep enough to shelter said ships from the wind. Sinkhole docks are 200’ to 300’ across and can be up to 100’ deep. They are most popular in dry climates where water tables are deep underground. The walls of the sinkhole are lined with passages to the surface and warehouses within which merchants can store valuables.
Is this really a sinkhole? Maybe call them "Pit Docks". Sinkholes are generally caused from unstable ground and subterranean water flow. This seems much more deliberate.

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Water Landing
Landing by means of large bodies of water is the most common form of landing for most spelljammers. Virtually all of the fish-like ships, including tradesman, squidship, and hammership, are capable of water-landings. A common misconception is that the tradesman is incapable of landing, ground or water, but this is not the case. The tradesmen hull is perfectly capable of making water landings. However, so many tradesmen are equipped with Splendid Sails and thus cannot make planetfall at all. It is from this fact that the misconception that the tradesmen cannot land arose. Those tradesmen equipped with true helms can and do make planetfall, although not as commonly as larger ships such as squidships and hammerships.
This paragraph starts out about water landings, but mostly talks about tradesmen. Maybe move the tradesmen stuff to a footnote?

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Human-built spelljammers often have shallow hulls. While these ships can indeed make water landings, they are built for wildspace travel, not water. On the water, they suffer from poor speed, maneuverability, and seaworthiness. Rough seas will swamp and sink most spelljammers. Captains are therefore loathe to put in at ports that force spelljammers to land well out of sight of the city and sail in.

Few crews and helmsmen are skilled enough to put a ship down close to a pier without causing damage, either to ship or pier. Therefore, almost all water-landing craft make it a habit of landing just outside a harbor, and then employing sails or oars to enter or leave the harbor. As the rigging on many ships are designed for wildspace travel and not catching the winds of terrestrial world, some ships employ sea-masts. A sea-mast is merely a temporary rigging system, often employing a small mast bolted to the deck designed to provide limited mobility via wind.
Can spelljammers not move under helm power while half-submerged? I would think that would be easier than using oars or temporary sails. Could ports maintain helm-powered tugs to guide larger spelljammers into position? Such ports would naturally have higher docking fees.

I presume the sea mast would be unbolted and stowed prior to lift off.

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Water Landing-based Facilities
Lagoons

Lagoons are employed by inland ports that have enough water to create artificial lakes, but not near an open body of water. Lagoons are often a mile or more across, to give ships room to land, and then be towed into dock by long lines. They are deep enough to accommodate even galleons, but shallow enough that should a ship sink, recovery is fairly easy without requiring too much magic beyond a few potions of water breathing and a spare helm to strap to the wreck. Whenever possible, there are inflows and outflows of water to keep the water circulating and keep algae growth to a minimum.
Avoid repetition of "water" and "keep" in the same sentence. "Whenever possible, there are inflows and outflows to keep the water circulating and reduce algae growth."

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Cloud-Landing
Perhaps the most unusual means of landing is cloud-landing. While this may seem a completely ludicrous idea, it is surprisingly common. See, some clouds have more substance than others. There are even clouds that can support whole castles and cities! The largest of these clouds, found around some air worlds, are the size of kingdoms. So-called solid clouds are the domain of creatures most at home in the clouds – cloud and storm giants, silver dragons, avarials, and the like. On occasion they welcome visiting merchants looking to trade in exotic goods.
Major shift in tone in this paragraph. Most of this sounds very "text-bookish" with an impersonal tone. Then you've got "See, some clouds... whole castles and cities!" Do you want this change in tone?

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Solid clouds are very strong, but have quite a bit of give to them. Thus a ship merely needs to lower itself down onto a cloud, and the cloud will form a cradle without any harm to the hull. Ships that can land on either ground or water can make cloud-landings. There are very few ships that are incapable of making cloud-landings, most commonly due to excessive rigging or immovable sails below the gravity plane. The elven Man-O-War, neogi ships, and elven armada are some of the rare vessels that cannot manage cloud-landing.
I'd suggest moving the elven ships together. "The elven man-o-war and armada and the neogi spider ships are some of..." Also, perhaps include a paragraph about how to identify solid clouds?

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Orbiting
The captains of very large ships, that is, ships of seventy tons or more, often prefer not to land their ships at all. They instead will put their ships in a stable orbit around a planet and then make use of a smaller “launch” equipped with a spelljamming helm to make planetfall. Orbiting allows the helmsman to take a break, as no power is needed to keep the ship flying around the planet. Launches are most commonly ten tons or less – dragonflies, mosquitoes, flitters, and like craft all make excellent landing craft. Transferring cargo by this means can be slow and thus not preferred by merchants. Adventurers and militaries prefer to orbit their ships-of-the-line rather than risk damage when passing through an atmosphere or landing their craft in dangerous territory.
What are the typical power sources for these smaller "launches"? If they are helmed, does the helmsman really get a break? Ornery oars and Splendid sails won't work here.

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Orbital-Based Facilities
Orbital Docks

Groundling kingdoms seeking greater trade with wildspace nations build orbital docks. An orbital dock can be as simple as a large flat area a few hundred feet across to city-sized fortresses.
I'd change the first sentence to "may build orbital docks" (I suspect they have to contract with spelljammers to actually get the work done, but that's not necessarily relevant to spelljammer captains). "An orbital dock can be as simple as an asteroid with a large flat area..." Something to specify a rock in orbit, rather than a flat place on the ground.

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
From there, cargo is transferred to the planet’s surface by means of ships equipped with spelljamming helms, teleportation, or even sent down by feather fall or levitation spells.
I don't think levitation or featherfall would we what you want to use here. Those spells have short durations, and after you invent versions that last longer, you still have to contend with varying wind patters that will blow your cargo off course, possibly landing it in your rival's castle.

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Levitation Docking
Helmsmen can detect when a ship has entered into a levitation docking field, and when it is safe to power down the helm. As powerful magic is involved with creating such facilities, owners tend to show off their creations with elaborate, colorful illusions guiding ships to port, with lights that change from red to green to indicate when it is safe to power down a helm.
"Helmsmen can detect when their ship has entered a levitation field and it is safe to power down the helm." Shorter and more concise. Also, if the helmsman can feel when it's safe, the colored lights are completely unnecessary. Are levitation docks typically in-atmosphere? I mean a few hundred (or thousand) feet over a planet, rather than in wildspace?

Good work!

Jaid
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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by Jaid » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:53 am

night_druid wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:07 pm
Another danger to be aware of is that the ground must be solid enough to support the weight of the spelljammer. The ground should be fairly dry, least the ship risks getting stuck in the mud. Digging out a wasp that has gotten stuck in waist-deep mud is perhaps the most unpleasant task I have ever participated in. How lizardmen navigate landing wasps in their swampy homelands, I will never know.
well, obviously, first they build a landing area (even if people tell them it's daft to build a landing area there, the lizardmen will probably build it all the same, just to show them), which will probably sink into the swamp. then they build a second landing area, which more likely than not will also sink into the swamp. they just need to repeat this until one of them (probably around the 4th attempt or so) stays up, and then they have a landing are that they can pass on to their children :lol: ;)

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night_druid
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Re: Kraken's Guide to Trade

Post by night_druid » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:56 am

:) Horray, my favorite editors showed up! :D I'll go through your edits later tonight and clean up the article. Thanks guys!
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