Mystaran Skyships in Spelljammer, Part IV: Gnomish Dirigible

The Oostdock Airship offered a number of challenges. As an airship, it is quite large, but with very limited usable space, and relatively fragile. This required some unusual statistics and features on the ship, although that should make this vessel a very interesting addition to a game.

Name: Dirigible

Built By: Tinker gnomes
Used Primarily By: Tinker gnomes
Cost: 300,000 gp
Tonnage: 100 tons (20 tons)
Hull Points: 20
Crew: 5/40 (gnomes)
Maneuverability Class: E
Landing—Land: No
Landing—Water: No
Armor Rating: 10 (Balloon) / 7 (Cabin)
Saves As: Cloth (Balloon) or Thick wood (Cabin)
Power Type: Gnomish helm
Ship’s Rating: As per helmsman
Standard Armament:
1 Medium ballista (360°)
Crew: 2
1 Medium catapult (360°)
Crew: 3
1 Medium jettison (A)
Crew: 3
1 Gnomish sweeper (360°)
Crew: 3
Cargo Capacity: 10 tons
Keel Length: 180′ (Cabin 40′)
Beam Width: 40′ (Cabin 15′)

Description: The Dirigible was originally a gnomish design for lighter-than-air atmospheric travel, refitted with a spelljamming helm for travel through wildspace. The balloon consists of a series of wood and metal ribs over which a special silk cloth is stretched. Within this balloon are a number of air sacks which hold heated air, giving it lift within an atmosphere. In wildspace, these hot air sacks serve to increase the effective displacement, and thus air capacity and range, of the ship. The hot air supplied to these air sacks are heated by the helm, which is usually a combination of a nonmagical furnace and a major helm (75%), with the remainder integrating a furnace helm instead of the major helm. Either way, heated air is supplied to the air sacks through a series of pipes that also feed the turbines used for movement and maneuverability.

Beneath the balloon is a small cabin that houses the primary living quarters, machinery, and cargo areas of the vessel. As it is designed for gnomish comfort, these cabins rarely have ceilings more than five feet in height, making it feel quite cramped to most other races. While five gnomes are sufficient to operate the vessel, other races who attempt to operate it without the assistance of gnomes require twice that number of crew. Besides the space in the cabin, there are extremely cramped (even by gnomish standards) storage space available along the keel line of the rigid balloon that can be converted to living quarters if necessary. This space is typically used to store material for patching both the air sacks and the silk skin of the balloon, as well as rope, canvas, non-perishable foodstuffs, and other necessary gear for a voyage.

Dirigibles are especially vulnerable to piercing weapons during combat. Unless weapons crew specifically target the cabin, 80% of shots strike the balloon. Ballista bolts that successfully strike the balloon deal no hull damage, but automatically pierce the outer skin of the balloon, and if a second attack roll against AR 10 succeeds, one of the air sacks is also pierced. The hot air system loses pressure when this happens, dropping maneuverability to F; should a second air sack also be pierced, maneuverability drops to G. Finally, since the system is artificially increasing the displacement of the vessel by storing air, any leak will slowly cause the ship’s effective tonnage to shrink by one ton each hour until the leak is repaired. For detailed record-keeping purposes, assume two days of air are depleted each round.

Normally the Dirigible sports no weaponry, but a turret-mounted medium weapon can be installed on the promenade platform above the balloon, or a medium jettison can be installed on the lowest deck. There is no space for more than one weapon, and the balloon’s structure cannot hold a heavy weapon.

Ship Cards:



The Promenade deck is where any weapons would be mounted. The gravity plane runs roughly though the center of the balloon, thus the cabin below the balloon is reverse gravity. The cargo winch is designed to bring up cargo from within another gravity body, although it is typically stowed in such a manner to take up little space during voyages.


Out with it then!

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