Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Ghostships

Hey look I stole a post from Patrick Stuart and then made it about viking ghost ships. All of the below ships died along with crew and captain, and now they're back to give you a friendly deathhello!

Click here to make your own ghost ship!

 

Hull

    3.   The broken bones of a thousand cowards. The ship itself cows from storms and violence.

    4.   Splintered, waterlogged wood. Held in the depths for far too long before raising.

    5.   Great rents line the sides of the ship. Thick ichor pools on the deck; the blood of the beast that slew this vessel.

    6.   Only half a ship, just barely skimming above the surface of the water. Will sink if becalmed.

    7.   A mangled fusion of two hulls. Sheer bulk carries this tangled mess through the water.

    8.   The burnt wood of the hull is strangely smooth. Clouds of ash eddy off the deck.

    9.   Moaning corpses are strapped to an approximation of a hull. Fragile, but spare parts can always be hunted.

    10. Tarry planks leaking black oil, staining the sea with the passing of the ship.

    11. Jagged spurs burst forth from every inch of the hull. Dead fish and whale entrails hang from the spines.

    12. Oaken boards frozen hard as rock. A gaunt mane of ice hangs from the gunwales.

    13. Great bands of rusted iron entomb this vessel; a ribcage around the bilge.

    14. The broken bones of a thousand warriors. No mere storm can break this hull.

    15. The planks of this ship pulse with unnatural life, twisting underfoot. The vessel hungers.

    16. Coursing with gravelight. St Elmo's fire gutters along the waterline and steals the sight of those that stare too long.

    17. A flowing hull of impure gold. Veins of mercury swim beneath the surface, sewing up cracks.

    18. The cruel curve of a leviathan skull cuts the water and leaves hungry currents in its wake.


Mast & Sails

    3.   Three mammoth's tusks hastily lashed together. The heavy mast shifts unsteadily.
    4.   A single oaken trunk. The sails are stained with algal blooms and slough water in all weather.
    5.   The sails flap weakly, great tears across their length. One large tooth remains embedded in the main-mast.
    6.   Only a sharp spike remains where the mizzen-mast once stood, torn away in some past battle.
    7.   Thick folds of sail hang doubled over the forking masts. The rigging is a jungle of rope.
    8.   When catching wind the burnt sails fill out with dark smoke, pouring streamers into the sky.
    9.   Tanned skin is stitched together for the sails. Thin runes are etched along the lines of scars.
    10. The sails hang thickly with black ooze, flicking tar as they buffet in the wind.
    11. Splinters cut out from the mast, little chunks of dead things caught in these spines and rigging.
    12. Frozen in shape, the sails twist tortuously about the sleet-swept mast.
    13. The mast is a solid lug of iron, thick nails holding fast the beaten-copper sails.
    14. This sailcloth is a treasure among sailors, cut by the souls of damned shipwrights. The mast is a giant's shinbone.
    15. The rigging hangs in nooses, grasping at the necks of boarders and dragging them into the nest of rope.
    16. The sails are visible only in moonlight, and becalm those that sail aft of this vessel.
    17. The mast is a gleaming rod of amber. The sail cut from a single piece of purest cloth.
    18. Membranous wings flap in place of sails, digging into the wind and propelling the ship toward its prey.


Figurehead

    3.   A pile of rotting skulls, nailed haphazardly across the bow. Shatter readily on impact.
    4.   Soft wood, shaped to a hippocampus' head, breaks away on impact and floods the struck vessel.
    5.   Lined with the teeth of some great beast, dripping with caustic venom.
    6.   A gaping maw in the hull that cuts into rammed ships. Bites deep into the enemy ship but fractures heavily on use.
    7.   Forking sharply to shape a wolf and a hawk, this chimera can ram twice before needing repair.
    8.   Blackened wood outlines the head of a dragon. Drips sparks at rest and spits flame when in use.
    9.   A hundred disembodied arms reach out to grasp at anything that strays too close.
    10. A pale leech forms the figurehead, spewing thick, flammable oil on impact.
    11. Twisting spikes like the shell of some deep beast. Fly off to pierce hearts and eyes when struck.
    12. A great hunting horn. When blown, unleashes a chill, biting wind and rains sleet on enemies.
    13. The stern head of a ram, striking with unerring force. This cold iron cannot shatter.
    14. The figurehead is a great claw, slamming down on the enemy ship to let the crew board readily.
    15. The plain wooden prow curls like a tree branch. Will grow its roots into a rammed ship, eating it alive.
    16. The figurehead is a mermaid. Arcs of green lightning leap forward hungrily from dead eyes.
    17. A stoic mask of gold. Slammed into a ship, its dull chanting shakes the hull to pieces.
    18. The beak of an ancient beast. Cuts steel as readily as water, and feeds off the death of ships.

Crew

    3.   Mewling weaklings dragged to a fate they do not want. Will swarm like rats when threatened.
    4.   Once-strong sailors, their power sapped by years beneath the waves. They bleed salt water.
    5.   Missing limbs and chunks of flesh. They wield spines and teeth and claws, harvested from their devourer.
    6.   Stitched together from pieces of different warriors. Always off balance, though they strike with great force.
    7.   Sickly, many-limbed mutants. Wield two weapons each, and the first-mate has two heads.
    8.   Charred skin aching as they swing axes and flaming brands. Will burn all prisoners alive.
    9.   Each has sacrificed a body-part to the ship, and knows their vessel like the back of their hand.
    10. Drowned in tar, they spew thick ooze on death. Fight with heavy cudgels and small hammers.
    11. Pocked with arrows, their bones growing through their skin. Aching to keel-haul someone.
    12. Must break from the ice binding them to the deck, but their blue skin is harder than leather.
    13. Metal plates are riveted to their bones. They wield shovels and pliers with deadly skill.
    14. Raised warriors, fighting with the skill of the living and killing with the apathy of the dead.
    15. The ship has no crew, and needs none. The deck bucks the unwary and living cargo topples on intruders.
    16. The ghosts of those that do not know they are dead. Fight with utter determination, and willful ignorance.
    17. A menagerie of exotic sailors. Jugglers, witch-doctors, strongmen, otherlings. Each kills in a different way.

    18. A crew of clones, all devout in their mission. They will raise their progenitor from the depths and drown the world.

Captain

    3.   A mouldy, lifeless skeleton slumps in the captain's chair. The crew's 'orders' were but their own madness.
    4.   The captain's quarters are a staircase to the bilge. A scummy pool of seawater hosts the waterlogged skeppare.
    5.   Flesh slews off their bones, half melted in the stomach of the fiend that ate them.
    6.   The captain has been hewn in two. They swing from the rigging like a demented ape, screaming at foes and crew alike.
    7.   Two ship-masters have been fused into a thick ball of agonised flesh, both heads nattering at each other incessantly.
    8.   Their burnt flesh crackles as they move. Hair and eyes are consumed by pale flames.
    9.   A cat of nine-tails loops off the exposed bone of their left forearm. Their missing hand is shackled to the ship's wheel.
    10. Thick tar coats the captains hair and blade, oozing slowly from the corners of their mouth.
    11. A spear runs messily through the skeppare's guts, tip rising from between their shoulder blades.
    12. A cold iron mallet is held in a frozen grip. Ice cakes their hair and forms where their bare feet mark the ground.
    13. A hollow suit of steel commands the crew with sightless stares. The suit fights bare-knuckled, spiked gauntlets raised.
    14. The captain is a true draugr, brought back to this world by will alone. Dark magic writhes around them.
    15. The ship is its own captain. The rudder turns on its own whims; to win the vessel you must prove yourself its better.
    16. Curlicues of light outline the form of an old pirate, flickering across the deck, ghostly broadsword in hand.
    17. Jewels and silk drape the ship-master's form. They have sailed for a hundred years and plundered heaven itself.
    18. They stand in silence absolute. They are the spawn of Calypso and of Kraken. Beware.




So you can roll 3d6 for each ship 'stat' and then.... figure out some kind of actual ship combat system? Or just roll a d16 and.... hmm. Make a d16 out of balsa wood and go for gold?? Or yeah, read all the 8's together and make your party fight a ship full of damned slavers, burnt in the fires of their branding. Whatever floats your longboat.


Of course, rolling 3d6 for a whole bunch of ghost ships doesn't actually make a lot of sense. Though, yes, you won't be overwhelmed with leviathan harbinger vessels, you're going to end up with a lot of tar-covered, burnt-out spike-ships and the charm will rapidly wear off. Mostly it was nice to have a writing prompt that forced me to try to build a sense of scale into the ship archetypes I developed.

I guess if you wanted to develop one of these systems for real use you'd have to flesh the central entries out with boring variations on wood selection and tracery. Probably interesting once you start looking at wikipedia articles, but not really the kind of aesthetic hook a player might be hunting for.

Still, maybe next time I'll give the generator actual weighted probabilities for making an adventurer be true to their stats. Thanks for reading!

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