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Related pages - Alusian Economics - Merchant Halls & Accommodation - Merchants - Ships - Shipping.

Ships related content

The Use of Mage Current to expedite passage across the seas and the corresponding importance of Ship Strength. Effectively over-sped ships have a chance of failure if not corresondingly reinforced by ship strength.

Note Guild Meeting March 2008 - rules passed

    • Mage Current alters / adds to a normal ship movement rather than replacing normal movement
    • note to this effect to the spell description at the next book printing. Proposed addition is: Carried objects/entities are free to move within this volume normally, as in a non magical current. This movement may effectively increase (or decrease) their overall speed or allow them to exit the effect
    • reducing the speed increase granted by the spell to: 5 miles per hour (+1 / 2 full Ranks).

Ship Details / Descriptions

Skiff / Dinghy

A skiff is a small open boat with up to four pairs of oars and, often, a single sail. This category includes rowboats, tenders, the smallest sailing vessels and any boat carried on a larger ship. Skiffs vary between 10 and 20 feet in length, and have a draft of less than two feet.

River Boat

A river boat is a smallish boat which is wide and shallow, designed to take maximum cargo across placid waters. River boats are usually 18 to 30 feet long, although coastal and lake versions may reach 40 feet or more. River boats will usually have several sets of oars, for pulling upstream or manoeuvring at dock. The single, steppable mast will have one square-rigged, or two lateen-rigged sails. Square-rigged boats are slightly slower and have less manoeuvrability, but require significantly smaller crews.

Canal Barge

A canal barge is not really a boat, but merely a floating storage area. They have no sea-worthiness, and can only be used on lakes and canals, where they are usually pulled along the shore by oxen or horses, or towed by more elegant vessels. These floating warehouses may reach lengths of 60 feet, are flat-bottomed and often nearly rectangular.


A knarr is the merchant ship of the lands north of Destiny. The knarr is a one-masted square-rigged broad-beamed ship, with a single sail and a steering oar. There are no cabins; instead tarpaulins protect the cargo and men. They cannot sail against the wind. Fishing knarrs may be 20-30 feet, coastal knarrs are typically 30-45 feet, and ocean-going or long-distance traders may reach 60 feet in length.


A longship is the warship of the northern lands. They are long and slender, with a single square-rigged massive sail, and up to 20 oars on a side. They require very large crews, who double as rowers and assault troops. Minimal cargo space is available. They are usually shallow and flat-bottomed so they may be beached during an attack. They cannot sail against the wind. The Norden warships start at 60 feet, and a few may be longer than 100 feet, although seaworthiness and manoeuvrability suffer in longships over 80 feet.


A cutter is a one or two-masted coastal ship, usually lateen rigged, with a steering oar or rudder. It is designed to manoeuvre through shoals and reefs, and be easy to operate with a limited crew. Cabins are small or absent, and the vessels often beach or anchor at night. These boats, with regional variations, exist across the baronies and are used for fishing, short coastal journeys, smuggling, and other vital economic activity. Arabie dhows and Azurian xebecs fall into the same general class of vessel. Cutters are usually from 30 to 60 feet in length, but can be larger.


Cogs are a true sea-faring sailing ship, inheriting some of the characteristics of the knarr, but are better against the wind, and with more cargo space and freeboard. They are also single-masted and square-rigged, clinker-built, but have a keel, a square stern and rudder. They are slow, but very safe in high seas, and require few crew. Cogs are usually 40 to 70 feet long.

Large Cogs

The large cog is a scaled-up version of the small cog, with aft and fore-castles. It still only has one mast and a single square-rigged sail. It has a full covered deck and a hold. The great breadth of these ships, along with their simplicity of handling, makes them useful for bulk haulage up and down the baronies, but relatively few cogs are built over 100 feet, as the crew size grows too large, and the advantages over the more sophisticated carrack are lost at this scale.


A carrack is a three or four-masted sailing ship developed in the last century. It has a high rounded stern, with aft- and fore-castles and a bowsprit. It is square-rigged on most masts, and lateen-rigged on the rear or mizzenmast. The combination of sails gives flexibility, with the large square sales providing propulsion, and the smaller sails at bow and stern allowing manouvering and sailing across the wind. Carracks are the only proper ocean-going ships outside Destiny: large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and roomy enough to carry crew, provisions and also cargo for long voyages. However, the large superstructures of these ships make them prone to toppling in strong winds. Carracks are around 100 feet long.


A caravel is a small, highly manoeuvrable multi-masted ship often used for long voyages of exploration. It is a specialised kind of carrack. Because of its relatively small size, the caravel is able to explore upriver in shallow coastal waters, and it can be sailed with the precision necessary for inshore surveying in unknown waters. Using the lateen sails it can go speedily over shallow water, while with the square sails, the caravel is very fast. Its versitility, speed, agility, and power makes the caravel the best sailing vessel of its time. It generally carries two or three masts with lateen sails. It has the same rig as a carrack, with a foresail, square mainsail and lateen mizzen, but minimal fore- and aft-castles. Caravels are usually 60 to 75 feet long.


The galleon is a standard Destinian design. The Destinians have always been radically advanced in ship building. A galleon is a large, multi-decked sailing ship used for both military and trade. The galleon differs from the conventional carrack primarily by being longer, lower and narrower. Galleons are purpose-built warships, and are stronger, more heavily armed, and almost twice as cheap as a carrack, and are therefore a much better vessel. Galleons can also be rigged to sail with minimal crew; essential for taking prices or after casualties. Galleons are usually over 100 feet.


The nations past the Isles of Adventure are in an inland sea, with relatively peaceful waters. Dealing with high seas and strong winds is not as important as short-term speed for ramming. These factors led to a different kind of great ship, the trireme. This vessel is powered by three banks of oars, and is very narrow, as it has no sails and therefore need not sail into the wind. Triremes are shallow in draft, so may land on beaches, need few skilled crew, no wind, and are highly manoeuvrable in combat. Triremes are 80 to 120 feet long. Smaller vessels will have one or two banks of oars.


The galley is an advanced Lunar Empire trireme with a length of at least 100 feet, 18 to 24 oars, a single mast with either a square or lateen sail, and a square stern with a rudder. A cross between the galley and carrack, the larger galleass, with 30 or more oars a side, fore- and aft-castles and three masts, is currently being developed by the Azurian Empire. The galliot is a small, light type of galley, around 60-80 feet long. All these vessels need vast quantities of rowers, who are usually slaves or convicts.


The junk is a huge ocean-going vessel devised in the Orient. While far older in origin, it has similar properties to the caravel. The elliptical sails are lateen rigged, but have battens at regular intervals, giving more rigidity, flatter sails and more control of reefing. The holds are wide and up to 4 decks deep and have multiple water-tight compartments. It is said that Junks had the first rudders. Junks can vary between 100 and 300 feet long, and have between 4 and 8 masts. Smaller coastal junks are between 60 and 120 feet, and have 3 to 5 masts.

Elven Trimaran

The sea elves have ships consisting of three very long, thin hulls, and a platform joining them above the waterline. They appear to be very fast and manoeuvrable, with very large decks for troops, cargo, or deck parties. They are also very stable in high seas. It is unclear how this design works, as attempts to reproduce it have all failed. Presumably magic is used in the construction, but the ships themselves can be sailed without magic. They are usually lateen rigged, and often have multiple masts. They vary in size from multi-hull skiffs to hundreds of feet long, but are usually 50 to 100 feet in length.

Magical Vessels

There are a number of ships that can fly, travel over land, or otherwise behave marvellously. Each ship is unique, but is usually similar in appearance to the standard water-based vessels of the ship-builder’s culture. Crewing, manoeuvrability, and speed will usually be vastly superior to a mundane ship.

Magically Powered Vessels

While a magically created and powered vessel may theoretically be of any shape, the vessels formed are usually those familiar to the Adept. Creating an inherently unseaworthy vessel will have undesirable consequences on open water, regardless of the supporting magic. Powering a mundanely assembled vessel at extreme speeds can lead a vessel to stave in and scuttle itself under the extreme forces.

Other ships

Ships made of bound reeds, hundred-foot canoes carved from a single tree, rowboats of animal hide and many other peculiar boat types exist in other cultures. Most of these are either rowed or use a single square-rigged sail. Of other races, dwarves and halflings have no naval tradition, while orcs tend toward the simplest of galleys or longships.

Example Ships

While individual ships of each type will vary wildly, statistics for a typical example of each ship type is listed below. The crew size is a recommended typical size – less will reduce performance and increase risks. The speeds (in knots) are the optimal speeds sustainable for an hour, under moderately good conditions, with a full crew and master Navigator. A Navigator can usually maintain of 50%(+5/Rank) of the optimal speed (modifed for crew). Travelling faster than the optimal speed will put strain on the boat. Magical speeds without magical protection can rip a boat asunder.

Ship Size

Vessel Length Beam Draft Weight Usage Crew Size Cargo Tons Cost (sp)
Skiff 15 6 2 500 lbs anywhere 3 200
River Boat 30 11 2 6 tons river + lake 10 2,000
Barge 50 20 3 25 tons lake + canal 4 2,500
Knarr 40 12 3 10 tons coastal ocean 15 40T 4,000
Longship 80 16 4 35 tons coastal ocean 70 10,000
Cutter 40 15 4 15 tons coastal 12 5,000
Cog 60 24 8 80 tons ocean 25 100T 20,000
Large Cog 90 36 12 300 tons ocean 60 180T 50,000
Carrack 100 35 10 500 tons ocean 100 140T 100,000
Caravel 70 15 6 80 tons ocean + coastal 25 180T 60,000
Galleon 120 34 9 300 tons ocean 40 500T 140,000
Trireme 100 20 5 60 tons inland sea 120 20,000
Galley 130 26 6 120 tons inland sea 200 40,000
Junk 200 60 15 3000 tons ocean + coastal 500 N/A
Trimaran 80 60 7 10 tons anywhere 20 N/A

Ship Speeds

Vessel Masts Sail Type Best
Angle to
Oars /
Distance /
Skiff 0/1 either 6 70 2 3 40 5
River Boat 1 either 6 80 4 3 40 4
Barge 0 none -- -- 4 2 15 3
Knarr 1 square 8 90 8 3 50 7
Longship 1 square 9 90 16 5.5 70 7
Cutter 1 either 8 70 2 2 70 8
Cog 1 square 7 80 -- -- 50 9
Large Cog 1 square 7 80 -- -- 50 8
Carrack 3/4 both 9 70 -- -- 90 8
Caravel 3 both 9.5 60 -- -- 100 9
Galleon 3/4 both 11 60 -- -- 120 9
Trireme 0 square -- -- 50 6 60 6
Galley 1 square 9 80 80 5 80 6
Junk 3-8 lateen 12 50 -- -- 130 9
Trimaran 1-3 lateen 18 40 -- -- 200 10

Ship Usage

  • River Boats and Barges are used by all inland nations on rivers and lakes. The Western Kingdom, Eltrandor and Ranke have large river networks with several lakes. Alfheim uses (magically powered) canal barges.
  • Knarrs and Longships are used by the northern nations such as Norden and Svenway.
  • Coastal cutters are used by all coastal baronies.
  • Cogs are used by the less-adept seagoing nations. These includes Aladar, Aquilla, and Bowcourt.
  • Carracks and Caravels are used at sea by Ranke, Carzala, Flugelheim/Artsdorf, and Azuria
  • Galleons are used exclusively by Destiny and their colonies such as Bretonnia and Ebola.
  • Triremes and Galleys are used by the Lunar Empire and Ellenic States and other sheltered coasts.
  • Junks are used by the Five Sisters, Kin Lu and the coastal drow of Terranova.
  • Trimarans are used by the Elvish Isles.


The above data (especially the 'Example Ships' and 'Ship Size' sections) are approximate, and based on extrapolations. Some more useful information can be found in the following references, although they may also contain futuristic (1600+CE) or otherwise out-of-genre vessels: