What are the implications of including Age of Sail era ship technology in a magical medieval fantasy world that has no gunpowder?
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What are the implications of including Age of Sail era ship technology in a magical medieval fantasy world that has no gunpowder?
It implies Age of Sail ships are cooler than medieval ships. And its correct.
That's my logic. Sailing ships are cool. Acrobatic Captain Jack Sparrow fights up in the rigging are cool.
You bring up a really good point. The picture I posted was from this article which really hammers home the basic principles of warship design in that era. https://www.usni.org/magazines/naval-history-magazine/2019/february/74-perfect-age-sail-ship
Your idea about spell circles brings up a great point about flagships and large naval confrontations. I was also thinking for this setting (because I want to run a nautical campaign in an archipelago but am not very well versed in sailing tech) that in the absence of a spellcaster, one would assume that certain crew members would be skilled in using magical implements and spell scrolls to counter the worst the sea could throw at them, but such things would be a last ditch option due to their cost. If I were to rule out extra-dimensional storage being commonplace, that would still give a good reason for ships to be of decent size for troop or merchant transport.
The other question is how that technology gives various nations the ability to project their power and form empires, outposts, trade companies, etc. I would say the existence of monster ridden seas would certainly pose a limitation on this as even a ship with a wizard and a full crew could get taken out in a myriad of ways.
idk perchance what are the definitive elements of a good british epic fantasy setting?
75% of such a ship's deckspace and mass was dedicated to the guns and the infrastructure for the guns. I'm not sure the same deckplans would apply meaningfully to some other setting
for sure each ship would have at least 1 wizard and at least 1 apprentice though, not only for combat but for navigation. honestly most of the stuff that makes old sailing vessels interesting would be obsolete with magic.
they would probably use sloops and corvettes more than anything else. Small, super-fast vessels.
although perhaps a ship-of-the-line would feature a wide, flat deck for ritual circles. Maybe ships would be rated by what class of magic circle they could support.
>heavy ships-of-the-line have giant slate decks on which circles can be drawn with waterproof grease pens
>instead of gun hoists and cranes, the deck is cluttered with inscrutable instruments and giant, carefully-calibrated drawing compasses
>the crew includes dozens of ritual assistants, well-drilled in circle construction and chanting
>ships exchange volleys of thunderous magic orchestrated by the ship's Master Wizard, occasionally retreating into summoned rainstorms when they catch fire
Wouldn't even have to be a just wizard
Cleric of sea gods would also be wanted on a ship too
>What are the implications of including Age of Sail era ship technology in a magical medieval fantasy world that has no gunpowder?
Do you think there weren't sailing vessels in the medieval world, anon?
Or do you mean "for the ships themselves?" In which case pretty much nailed it. You'd probably replace most of the guns with ballistae and put onagers or trebuchets on deck, assuming there wasn't just a bunch of low-level mages available for pew-pewing.
Well galleys don’t seem as cool as sloops and carracks
>Well galleys don’t seem as cool as sloops and carracks
Knarrs, cogs, caravels, hoys, picards (yes, you missed the reference) all existed. Carracks also dated to the late middle ages.
Ok, those are some great suggestions
>Age of Sail
Don't do this. It's retarded.
Read the Aubrey-Maturin series. Watch M&C. Now imagine the all the beauty of those scenes lost because they exchanged all the guns with conjurers shooting fireballs like a goddamned fool.
why does it have to be fireballs? why can't it be rogue waves with screaming faces in them a la The Mummy, or flocks of burning crows trying to roost in your sails, or voracious mushrooms growing in the timbers of your ship so fast that sailors are caught and suffocated?
If I said fireballs were dumb, then why would you think that I would approve of this other stuff?
because fireballs are just fantasy rocket launchers and they're profoundly un-magical. that's why most people who don't like them, don't like them.
You wouldn't, because AOS ships are built around their armament. You would get sailing ships, but not of the kind you see in your OP pic, because those ships are built specifically to carry batteries of heavy projectile weapons.
If you don't use cannons your ships will look and work different, based on the threats and counters to those threats. Unless you want to just make your setting totally arbitrary in which case none of this matters just pick and chose whatever you want and exclude everything you don't.
>Unless you want to just make your setting totally arbitrary in which case none of this matters just pick and chose whatever you want and exclude everything you don't.
Basically do this. Don't worry too much about world building it to some sort of cohesive realistic thing. The more you dig into that the harder and harder its going to get to suspend disbelief. Tell your players its a swashbuckling adventure and run with it because trying to make legit age of sail, or sailing at all really, into an rpg experience is a fool's errand. Actual age of sail war was 99% routine drudgery and boredom with intermittent clusterfucks of trying to do routine drudgery while things exploded around you in ways you had no control over. Its a deeply hierarchical and compartmentalized method that took a very long time to set up and would have other very long times where the inevitable drew in. They were not fast ships.
These are good replies. The whole reason I had this line of thought is because I'm planning out a nautical game was was thinking "Well my players will have to get around and they probably will want a pirate ship." Then I went down the rabbit hole of thinking about how to work gunpowder and these types of warships into the setting or whether I shouldn't. I'll probably go with ships that have that era of sailing technology but aren't built as gun platforms
I’ve actually been planning to read M&C as it’s been recommended to me before and I’ve heard great things, even if he occasionally makes shit up. I’d have to go to way too big of lengths to justify not having guns. I’ll have to decide if I want medieval era junks/galleys/longboats in a no gunpowder setting or go full gunpowder with the age of sail stuff.
I really like the idea of specialized magicians who are storm singers and call upon the wind to help a ship. I think that happens in the earthsea books? However, I wonder how commonplauthey should be
I'm reading through them now and I've really been enjoying them. They'll make you want to drop the magic altogether and run pure age of sail.
He does make stuff up, but it's all based on real actions (mostly Cochrane's) and he never made any effort to hide the fact.
>Now imagine the all the beauty of those scenes lost because they exchanged all the guns with conjurers shooting fireballs like a goddamned fool.
The idea of British gun crews smacking a blindfolded witch tied to a pole on the arse to launch fireballs at the French, pulling her back to gag her so they can douse her now smoldering hair without getting cursed, rubbing bat guano all over her face, and then putting her back into position and removing the gag while the witch-captain readied his paddle for another spanking is, honestly, amusing.
>Read the Aubrey-Maturin series
Not a bad suggestion, but if you want a better look at the totality of the Age of Sail from the British perspective, the Alan Lewrie series is probably better.
It was free with ads (lol adblock) on youtube the other day.
Still is. I watched it today and I intend to watch it tomorrow.
If you have wind magic its really logical to have invent sails hell at that point flying ships arent too far off
>ships designed around their gun decks
>OP BTFO again as usual for these kinds of threads
That the DM just copied other RPGs without thinking
Why invent gunpowder when you have wizards? What if instead of Cannons we get 30-100 wizards, fill them with whatever drugs we can get our hands on, and strap them to gun carriages? Here's a trace of my idea. Just slap him with a riding crop and he'll shoot cannonballs.
who needs cannonballs when you can shoot fireballs instead?
Wizards, being educated, important, powerful people are not likely to put up with the hazards and inconveniences of seafaring and just teleport or fly where they want to go. A gun is a reliable and predictable instrument like a smith's hammer. Why would there be blacksmiths if magic could make things out of thin air? Sometimes you don't want to bother with wizards, and sometimes wizards just can't be arsed.
>Wizards, being educated, important, powerful people are not likely to put up with the hazards and inconveniences of seafaring and just teleport or fly where they want to go.
That's why we drug them. We were going to replace blacksmiths too, but they're unionized.
>Why invent gunpowder when you have wizards?
Because a 10th level wizard has at most 15 spells per long rest, at least in 5e.
A person can carry a LOT more bullets than that.
>magical medieval fantasy world that has no gunpowder
Don't do this shitty gay part.
Xebecs were a thing during age of sail, so... go fucking figure
Oh, a coincidence! I actually have a current campaign going on where my current players. They just got a ship, semi-similar to pic related, by burning the previous occupants who used it as a cargo (slave) ship.
The bottom deck, below the waterline, is for the 'cargo', middle deck above it, was for crew and storage. No gun deck because it's not a warship, but there are mounted arbalests on the main deck.
Passengers had semi-shared cabins in the front on the main deck, with officer's cabin the rear, right below the captain's cabin below the steering deck.
Because my setting runs on rule of cool (100% justified by each of them being a dream of the Godhead), gunpowder is a relatively recent discovery limited to one city (and, thanks to the players, to a grand mercenary company) (for now), but that's rapidly changing.
But because the city they're in exported grenades other cities will adopt guns soon, and also because this has all happened before: the First City had firearms and went to Hell, so there's artifact guns laying around.
Anyway, because one of my players wanted to be the Avatar, we use the ATLA homebrew, and so I made my sea gypsy-pirates air-elementalists so they always can get big speed on the blue seas.
Other morons use air- and waterbending for the same reason.
That's cool! Thanks for posting that. What system are you playing? Do you use a lot of ship rules or do you handwave most of it?
>Catapults (with or without flaming ammunition)
>Ramming to lock and mass melee boarding
>possibly trebuchets on larger ships
>Rowed spiked turtle ships
>manual pump-pressurized flame throwers
>spring loaded harpoon guns to drag down faster ships and reel them in for boarding
have a nice day you marvel-addicted consoymer.
They wouldn't exist; the ship of the line was optimized for broadside cannons. Ships would probably take forms optimized for boarding actions like earlier sailing warships or medieval galleys.
This. Also, a large wooden ship is going to be a perfect target for a fireball.
Alright retards, so Age of Sail ships wouldn't be built because they're built around gun decks and cannon armaments. So let's come up with what would be built.
Realistically combat vessels would probably be smaller. What's the smallest size age of sail ship that's fit for blue water sailing?
Wouldn't they still want large ships for transporting cargo? I'm assuming that they aren't using magic for mass transportation, because otherwise there just wouldn't be much reason for ships at all.
Well, yeah. You'd probably actually see trends very similar to modern times, where cargo ships tend to be the largest and warships, while still larger than pleasure crafts, are smaller by comparison.
In this theoretical setting are there any anti-magic counters for ships? Do large vessels have dedicated anti-magic sorcerer arrays? I'm thinking of basically the bigger your ship is, the bigger the anti-magic ritual area is and therefore the more effective.
Not necessarily. Pre-modern you want redundancy because mishaps and shipwrecks were more common.
Now, if you have spellcasters manipulating the weather, you might have ships that are as big as can be built from wood like modern container ships or tankers for those economies of scale.
It depends on how prevalent magic users are. I could see a lower tier mage conjuring up some wind or calming rough seas in the immediate vicinity of the ship, but the level of mage you would need to control weather would be pretty rare. Maybe if you had a cadre of lower level windspinners you could propel it
Magic sonar so ships don't run aground would be a big one, as would - as you say - localized calm weather around the ship.
Let me pitch an idea: the way magic works is the ships have ritual arrays. Basically, a group of mages working together to perform tasks over the ship. Larger ships have larger arrays so they maintain power scaling, and the best, most prodigious magical fellas are given roles as head mages on the real top of the line ships. They're effective enough to generally act on their own outside of a ritual array.
Magitech is gay, so I'd rather not.
It's not magitech retard, by array I mean a bunch of mages doing a ritual together. Normal magic but they're working in tandem.
I like the idea of a larger enchanted ship of mages taking the role of an aircraft carrier in modern fleets where they are the centerpiece and provide support to everyone else, but are also the biggest targets.
Any large warship would certainly have some kind of wards built in during its construction which could give it an advantage over the sloop of wizards zooming around
>Pre-modern you want redundancy because mishaps and shipwrecks were more common.
Not inherently. The biggest issue for larger ships was the sheer cost of making them and the bottleneck of skilled personnel needed to make them in large, meaningful numbers. Even in the age of Phoenician and later Greek dominance of the Mediterranean, there were large grain ships that sailed from Egypt to Greece (and later Rome) that were quite large by the standards of the day, and there are written examples of twin-hulled catamarans that had crews in the hundreds, room for massive cargo holds, and holds for at least 100 passengers in first class accommodations of the day, and could have up to 400 soldiers if being used for war. These were very rare and we haven't actually found any remains of them (which isn't surprising since the only remains we find of ships of this era is mostly their metal or ceramic cargos on the seafloor as the boats themselves have long since rotted) but they almost certainly did exist in at least some capacity.
They were, however, very hard to make, and the resources were difficult to source, and the skill needed to sail and crew oarsmen a ship of those sizes were difficult to acquire once the ship lost. It was much easier for smaller shipbuilders to make triremes, quadremes, and quinqueremes to sell to a single wealthy patron, and were still quite profitable. Large-scale shipbuilding became more common once there were large enough states and direct state investments to facilitate their long-term creation, as well as a large enough talent pool to draw skilled enough crew from.
These boats were not generally armed with a meaningful amount of ranged weapons other than bows or fire-throwers (risky and not often used), and were more "floating battlefields" designed to ram or grappel to the sides of other boats and board them (though there are at least some accounts of Egyptians using grappels to actually tip over other boats by yanking on them).
> twin-hulled catamarans that had crews in the hundreds, room for massive cargo holds, and holds for at least 100 passengers in first class accommodations of the day, and could have up to 400 soldiers if being used for war.
I remember seeing these on the history channel
They were pretty rare, and not the norm for shipbuilding, as they were ludicrously expensive for diminishing returns on effectiveness for anything outside large-scale bulk trading (which grain carriers already existed for) so they were really more the "superyachts" of their day for the very wealthy. Greek shipbuilding (and later Roman, though not quite) was overwhelmingly done by wealthy elites of the city-state financing their own ships to be built and paying the crews, rather than there being a "navy" or singular commercial entity that built ships on behalf of the city-state as a whole. These ships were used for war or trade (and piracy, especially among the Greeks) and so often favored flexible, fast designs that were effective for combat while not giving up much in terms of cargo or speed if possible.
Naval warfare of the day also highly favored maneuverability over all other factors (to an extent) as there weren't many long-ranged weapons in used during pre-gunpowder Europe that were reliably effective in naval combat except for fire-throwers, which were super dangerous and didn't really allow the attacking ship to actually plunder or capture its target, so they were rarely used outside specific use-cases. Two smaller, faster ships were better than one really big ship, because the smaller faster ships could pelt the enemy with missile fire and break them down over time or better maneuver the boat for a ramming attack, and quickly pull away if it seems the battle is no longer in its favor. There is no real incentive to build a giant gun deck with multiple cannons to sink another ship in a single volley, because that doesn't exist yet.
Forgot to mention - another reason these types of ships weren't super common aside from expense of construction and selection against size in favor of maneuverability, was that the overwhelming majority of Mediterranean ports of the day simply did not have docks large enough to accommodate them. They were very limited in where they could dock, and so ships built to this size either had to remain at sea or engage in risky docking strategies that were dangerous or de facto blockaded the rest of the port in the process.
Furthermore, these ships were more resistant to weather than smaller boats, but a rough storm could still capsize them, especially in the hands of an inexperienced crew. As per usual, the gravest threat to a ship was the sea itself.
None of these issues are inherently "required" for a pre-gunpowder nation to have (barring weather) but simply explain why they were mostly fringe-cases before the advent of gunpowder prioritized the size of a ship to carry more guns for more dakka.
Thoughts on the megaships of ming China?
I don't know all that much about them to be honest.
I do know that the various Chinese states did have strong, centralized states and that major industries were often state-commissioned or state built, so the production of massive ships is absolutely feasible with the natural resources of China and the plethora of wealth and trade opportunities in SE Asia, Japan, and Korea mean that large ships can be very useful for bulk trade. It was also common for them to ship around through the Straits of Malacca to trade in India (as the land route is blocked by, well, the Himalayas) and so naval trade to access both Indian and Western/Persian/Arabian goods was something the Chinese greatly valued. Junks make sense for trade for that purpose, as larger ships are better able to handle the open weather of Pacific, South China Sea and Indian Ocean proper, and stronger trade winds mean larger ships can more reliably use sailing power.
Supposedly their junks were way ahead of europe for a long time, until the government decided to turn inward after Zheng He's expeditions
big warships still had an advantage because they can carry more soldiers. without guns most fights are going to end by boarding, and it's hard to win a boarding action if you're heavily outnumbered.
True but if you make the magical effectiveness of a ship scale with the size as well then it reduces the chances of "lol our tiny sloop is all wizards your ship of the line all dies trying to get on board".