Mystaran Skyships in Spelljammer, Part I: Ship of the Line

Champions of Mystara, released in 1993 for BECMI D&D, collected the Voyages of the Princess Ark from Dragon Magazine into a boxed set that also detailed the skyships of Mystara, and included ship cards, much like Spelljammer did. While the ship statistics are reminiscent of Spelljammer, there are a variety of key differences. In a number of ways, they are more powerful than Spelljammers, being primarily enchanted vessels, but they are also incapable of the high-speed flight that spelljammers are capable of. In addition, due to their enchanted nature, the Mystaran skyships are often vastly more expensive and labor intensive than even a standard spelljamming vessel and a major helm. Tonnage for skyships are weight rather than displacement, and hull points are essentially the equivalent to hit points (ship-based weapons do not deal different damage to creatures and ships). As such, conversion of these vessels allows (and sometimes requires) a lot of leeway. In general, I jettisoned magical defenses and abilities that these ships have, and went for close-matches on hull sizes rather than calculating out the tonnage to precision; as I feel making the ships work within the extant vessels is preferable. In addition, each vessel has been converted to be “generic”; available for any Spelljammer campaign, without requiring ties to Mystaraspace. Of course, those incorporating Mystaraspace into their campaigns can use them as Spelljammer versions of the skyships.

The first vessel up for conversion is the Alphatian Man-of-War, which I’ve named the Ship of the Line, due to the primary way the ship would be used in battle. This sailing vessel is of similar size to the Clipper, but wider. As such, I made it 100 tons; while it should probably be considerably larger (heck, the Clipper should be too), it seemed a good compromise which also allowed it to not need a special helm. At the bottom of the post are ship cards; the front is an altered card using the original art designed exactly as the Spelljammer cards are, while the back contains the original deck plans. I hope to eventually redraw them so they incorporate gravity planes and specialized Spelljammer terminology.

Name: Ship of the Line

Built By: Humans
Used primarily By: Humans
Cost: 150,000 gp
Tonnage: 100
Hull Points: 100
Crew: 40/100
Maneuverability Class: E
Landing—Land: No
Landing—Water: Yes
Armor Rating: 6
Saves As: Thick wood
Power Type: Major helm
Ship’s Rating: As per helmsman
Standard Armament:
20 Light catapults (9-S, 9-P, 2-A)
Crew: 2 each
12 Light ballistae (6-S, 6-P)
Crew: 1 each
9 Medium ballistae (1-F, 1-FS, 1-FP, 2-S, 2-P, 1-AS, 1-AP)
Crew: 2 each
Cargo Capacity: 30 tons
Keel Length: 220′
Beam Width: 70′

Description: The Ship of the Line is one of the most heavily armed ships known in wildspace outside of those used by the giff. While modeled after a groundling sailing vessel, it is a spacefaring vessel through and through. The Ship of the Line is intended to be used with others of the same type, closely spaced into a battle line. Each vessel can then make a broadside pass, unleashing the brunt of its artillery in turn to pulverized an opposing fleet. Whereas some other ships are designed around a handful of heavy weapons, the Ship of the Line focuses on rapidly unleashing a large volley of smaller shot. In order to man all weapons, the ship typically requires more crew than the air envelope can comfortably sustain; as such most ships are used in defensive fleets rather than in battle expeditions. When it needs to travel long distances, the crew manning the port and starboard weapons usually pull double duty, as the vessel rarely engages enemies in such a way as to require both port and starboard firing arcs. In planetary defensive fleets, the Ship of the Line will often include a large number of marines to be used in boarding purposes.

The giff have attempted to replace the weapon contingent with a smaller number of bombards, but the structure can’t handle it, leaving the giff to stick to their similarly sized but narrower Clippers. Some ships have the majority of the weapons removed, typically all the light ballistae and all the light catapults except the aft-firing ones to increase cargo space to 50. Such ships are used as cargo haulers, but other ships specifically designed for cargo are generally preferred.

Ship Card:



The Mid Deck and the Cargo Deck should be reverse gravity decks. The stairs between the Artillery Deck and the Mid Deck should be replaced with ladders. Additional suggested changes to the above deck plans:
11.  Helmsman’s Quarters12. (upper right) OR 13.  Bridge and Helm
12. (Mid Deck, plus unlisted rooms between the 12s and 16)  Crew Quarters


2 comments on “Mystaran Skyships in Spelljammer, Part I: Ship of the Line

  1. Wow, this is a great project! Please keep them coming! I’m not currently running Spelljammer, but my daughter is interested, and we’ve got a campaign going in Mystara.

  2. Excellent ……love ship of the lines
    be nice if you could do 1st to 6th ships of the line and other sailing vessels
    my crew love the sailing ships……..and being humans…….they have no interest in the bugs and fish
    Im a secret whale ship admirer

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