Clockwork Wonders01/29/2007

The Xen'drik Flying Boat
Part 9 of 14

"That fan at the back, we can use that as a weapon, right?" said Jozan.

"No, that's what moves it forward," said Agostino. "I have the instructional diagrams right here and they say--"

"Don't the sails move it forward?"

"Well, yes, but you see--"

"So we can use the pointy mast as a ram!" said Jozan. "We can ram a dragon midair!"

"If you try anything stupid, I swear I'll toss you overboard, Jozan," said the artificer.

"Some people have no sense of possibilities."

The Xen'drik Flying Boat is an automated sailing ship that also flies when it is powered by arcane energy. The design is full of quirks, and only a handful such boats are still known to be functional. They are believed to be items of giant manufacture, as their masts and doors are all built to larger-than-human scale.


The Xendrik flying boats are seaworthy, 60 ft. long dhows with two lateen-rigged masts, a narrow rudder for water navigation, a main deck, and a rear castle. It has a profusion of pulleys, and spider-silk ropes raise, shift, and lower the sails. The ropes are treated with waterproofing wax. A mechanical mirrored light is available for cutting through dark or foggy conditions.

The rear castle contains not only a gigantic fan but also a second rudder, a huge one more than 10 feet square, mounted directly behind the fan. This is an aerial rudder, meant to shift the boat's course quickly in mid-air.

In flight, the flying boat deploys two additional masts and rigs their sails automatically; these are telescoping metal sails that project horizontally from the keel, and their sails are relatively small compared to the main sail. However, these outrigger sails are not primarily for providing speed; rather they are used for turning (when the right or left outrigger is opened, the boat often pivots around that sail more quickly than it could around the main sails) or for chases, when all sails count.

Use and Powers

A Xendrik flying boat can move as a normal dhow on the ocean, showing no sign of its flying ability. A fly spell cast on the boat's wheel will allow it move at 40 feet per round with average maneuverability in the air. A mass fly spell increases that to 60 feet per round and good maneuverability. Artificers have a greater understanding of the boat's functions, and thus any 2nd level or higher artificer spell can cause the boat to fly as if an overland flight spell was used. Any 5th or higher artificer spell can make the boat act as if a mass fly spell was used.

When a spell's duration runs out, the flying boat returns to the surface as if affected by a feather fall spell. It and its passengers suffer no damage from landing on either water or land. Coming to rest on any land causes the boat to tilt sideways, and everyone on board must make a Balance check DC 15 or fall off and suffer 2d6 point of falling damage.

While the flying boat has no offensive capabilities (though shipboard weapons could be mounted on one), it does have two powerful defensive measures: charged rails and a series of spring-loaded deck plates. Both act as traps.

Charged Rails: CR 4; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (shocking grasp, 3rd level wizard, 3d6 electricity); multiple targets (any creature touching the railing during a boarding action); Search DC 16; Disable Device DC 28.

Spring-Loaded Deck Plate: CR 5; mechanical; proximity trigger; automatic reset; Reflex save DC 20 avoids; spring platform (throws a Medium or smaller creature 10-60 feet in random direction, throws large creature 5-30 feet in random direction); Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 25.

CL 15th; Craft Construct, Craft Magical Arms and Armor, fly, permanency; Price 80,000 gp; Cost 40,000 gp + 3,200 XP.

Campaign Hooks

Recently, a Xen'drik flying boat was dismantled with great care, rebuilt, and reenchanted by artificers in the Lhazaar Principalities, who seek to use the design to create swift privateering vessels capable of raiding the Mhor Holds and roving over icebound seas north of Karrnath. Those plans must be stopped.

A flying boat is found adrift at sea, its crew missing entirely. The ship itself seems smarter and more effective than most others of its kind, and the construction new rather than ancient. Is someone building such vessels as living constructs? Are they a freak result of the Day of Mourning, a ship that slaughters its crews? The adventurers is asked to investigate the ship and follow the trail of its log book back to its last port --- in Xen'drik proper.

About the Author

Wolfgang Baur is a prominent adventure designer, with adventures published in all major campaign settings. He discusses adventure design for his patrons at the Open Design blog. The first Open Design project, a clockwork and necromantic adventure called "Steam & Brass" was released for the use of a private audience in October.

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