Sunday, July 1, 2012

Airships in Retrospect -- Updated July 25th

The question came up multiple times about airships and submersibles not being listed specifically with Dominion Stats.  So, without further delay, here's an approach that should elucidate the matter.  I devised mechanics to calculate how many ships among an established fleet should be surface vessels, airships, or submersibles.  Naturally, I'm not going to re-post all existing dominion stats.  Instead, I listed below the fleets of the few realms already covered, which provides an opportunity to compare them.  In the future, however, I'll incorporate some or all such fleet data to dominion stats, space-allowing.

To accomplish this, I relied upon several factors already extant in dominion stats, such as basic fleet data, magical ability, seafaring profile, and general military focus. Another three were added:  affinities with the elements of air or water, and a general fleet development strategy.  Here's the data, with additional comments following.

Total Fleet Size:  number of ships as per original dominion stats.
Average Ship HP: by the book (Rules Cyclopedia) taking into account various ship types in a navy and their numbers.
Best Fighting Force: indicates how many of the highest level marines are available in a fleet.  This one isn't perfect (yet) because it won't add up separate groups of marines if more than one qualify.  I'll have to manually correct the entry.  Leave it to the art/science of using Excel formulae!

July 25th Update -- Added comparative statistics from the Realms of Vertiloch, Theranderol, and Arogansa.


The next five entries are various factors I use to profile realms and, in this case, their naval capabilities.

Naval Strategy: There are five basic choices here--1. Surface Only, 2. Surface Mostly, 3. Airborne, 4. Submersible, and 5. Combined.  The last four are relative to the ability of a realm to build any airships or submersibles in the first place.  A realm might purchase or lease such vessels, but it's up to a DM to make this decision.
Fanciful Submarine, Andrew George Brown 1950-1982

The last three entries are self-explanatory.

The five basic factors profiling a realm are weighted differently during calculations.  Initially, each runs from 1 to 5, 5 being best.  Affinity with the Elements (Air for airships or Water for submersibles) receives an x4 modifier.  Magical Ability comes next with an x3.  Seafaring follows with an x2, and Military comes last with no modifier.  A realm with a combined total of 30 or less enjoys neither airships nor submersibles.  Otherwise, the ability to build either is proportional to how much higher than 30 that score is.

Quibble time:   I'm sure some of you will argue about the basic factors.  Seafaring gives an idea about how adventurous a culture may be, how good and eager it is at building ships and thinking in terms of naval strategy, etc.  It's not just about surface vessels and their use.  It also reflects the general population's culture rather than that of its elite or its rulers. 

Ambur's wizards are content with mountain observatories and such, but they're very, very good with star charts, so they do set foot on ships, if reluctantly, to look at stars from a different angle, knowing there's little chance getting altogether lost at sea.  Their problem is that they have a small fleet: naval warfare isn't exactly their focus (sorry for the pun.) 

Floating Ar is actually a bit of joke, paradoxically.  Amburian stargazers like to poke fun at their neighbors about this.  The truth is that Floating Ar yields some of the worst navigators in Alphatia (oh, horror!)  Their original culture isn't one of fearless and uncanny seafaring, far from it--that's why they primarily build ISLANDS, not ships!  This explains only in part their "hopeless land lubbers" qualifier.  The vast majority of Ar's population is made of peasants, serfs tied to their lands and who harbor little or no desire to set foot on any ship:  where there's a noble, there's a knout--and airships usually carry lots of nobles, therefore it's best to flee in the opposite direction, given the option.  Airships eventually became an unavoidable necessity to reach Ar's amazing levitating world, but exploring faraway skies isn't really their stuff.  So, the secret is out: Haldemar is the exception confirming the rule.

As regards Floating Ar's fleet, I had stated earlier that 100% of their fleet was airborne, and I'll stick to that.  Technically, the system I devised only identifies 29 out of their 32 ships as airborne vessels, and that's because their seafaring ability isn't the best and their military aura remains somewhat lackluster.  But, given Ar's nature, it makes sense to override the system entirely, as I'll do for the same reasons whenever I get around to analyzing Aquas.     

Haven is doing alright.  Havenites aren't fantastic seafarers, but their demography and wealth more than make up for it.  Plus their ships look really, really snazzy, although Haven's shipbuilders may have gone a tad overboard using lace and sheers for sails, heavily adorning and gilding hulls, and giving a generally spotless and gleaming appearance to their ships.  Haven has lots of decent marines and adopted a "Combined" strategy, which means they have a good number of airships and submersibles (in addition to the 12HD water elementals in their navy.)

Limn spends extravagantly on its armed forces and, consequently, commands a respectable fleet given its relatively limited resource.  Its lack of affinity for the element of air does not permit Limn to maintain a fleet or airships, but its  "Combined" strategy provides a few sturdy submersibles instead.  On a one-on-one basis, warships of Limn are actually better than those of Stonewall, which is Limn's main goal.

Submariner --
Stonewall fares a little better than Limn in that it benefits from a much higher population base, which affords the realm a bigger navy with both airships and submersibles, with a lesser burden upon its revenues.  Stonewall's primary worry is to protect its shipping lanes, allowing merchants to bring their supplies safely and at the lowest cost possible.  With neighboring Stoutfellow completely ignoring naval matters, pirates have exploited the otherwise unguarded gap, if not based their nefarious activities in some halfling village along the coast.  It is a lasting point of contention between Stoutfellow and Stonewall, the latter accusing the former of deliberately closing their eyes on the matter and scuttling any further discussion.