The Nightwind Voyager – Seagoing Ships in the Manifold

English: Sailing Ship in New England

When it comes to the Manifold, the vast majority of seagoing trading, raiding, and fighting ships are designed to work in the widest possible array of dimensions, with little reliable support, and a wide assortment of cargos. They trade in ambrosia and adamant, pirate treasures, magical goods, dragon bones, gryphon eggs, and a thousand other cargos – most small, tremendously valuable, and well worth taking to the routes between worlds to obtain, rather than sticking to the mundane trade of normal space.

Unfortunately, designing a ship to work – and to be repairable – in as many realms as possible means sticking to primitive technologies and materials as much as possible.

Thus the shipyards of the bustling Core Worlds turn out mighty fusion-powered spacecraft, equipped with bussard-fusion and jump drives, laser cannon, advanced computers, antimatter torpedoes, and negative-energy shields, for exploration and trade in normal space – and small, light, wooden sailing ships with shallow drafts (so as to allow them a reasonable choice of ports), copper or alloy sheathing, and black-powder muzzle loading cannon (or even ballista for the REALLY deep traders) for self-defense.

Sure, some of those ships will have supplementary steam (works most places) or fusion (works near Core) engines, or also use psionics or magic (good some places), or use breech-loaders instead of muzzle-loaders if they expect to have access to regular supplies of the appropriate munitions – but it’s wise to have your crew trained to work with sails and black powder; those work in the vast majority of worlds, and you may find more advanced systems taking those forms if you venture into a world that adapts you and your vessel to suit itself – which isn’t at ALL uncommon.

In terms of the Naval Combat Rules, most vessels in the setting are either Level One or Level Four.

The Nightwind Voyager is a three-masted light frigate – about as large as most seagoing ships of the Manifold get. Since Kevin can afford to spare no expense in pursuit of his whims (and has the raw, reality-warping power to force his ship to function even in the depths of the Manifold if he wants to make the effort), he’s equipped it with rather a lot of stuff – and is sailing a dedicated warship, rather than a trader-raider like most Manifold captains. That would normally cut into the cargo space pretty drastically – but he makes up for that by storing a lot of stuff in the crew quarters (and by not CARING if he makes a profit). The crew quarters would be pretty cramped for normal people, but with a crew of shapeshifting (and VERY obedient) Thralls with their own magic to adapt spaces as needed, that’s rarely an issue. That leaves him with plenty of room for his captain’s cabin and concubines…

The Nightwind Voyager: Augmented Light Frigate. 135 x 30 feet at the waterline, Draft 10 feet (unloaded) up to 14 feet (loaded). Level-I Military Vessel: Alloy-Sheathed Dense Hardwood (genetically modified farmed oak) Hull with Witchfire-Tempering (Universal DR 10), 450 Structural Hit Points, AC 14 (Base 20, size modifier of -6). Cargo Capacity 240 Tons, Cabin Space for up to 15 Officers and Passengers, Draft 10 feet (empty) 14 feet (fully loaded).

  • Speed: Superior/+2 (Astounding/+5 if boosted with Coretech engines).
  • Maneuver: Superior/+2
  • Crew: Astounding/+5 (it’s VERY hard to improve on a crew of 125 well-trained, boundlessly loyal and enthusiastic, inhumanely tough and fast, telekinetic Thralls).

Drive Systems:

  • Low-Tech Mode: Wind, three masts, requires 24 crewmen in combat conditions. Standard iron anchor and sea anchor.
  • Mid-Tech Mode: Steam, light boiler (the tank of fuel oil is good for about twenty-four hours at full steam, can burn coal or wood with minor adjustments), crew 8 (12 if burning wood or coal). Average (+0) speed if relying on this system.
  • High-Tech Mode: Fusion generator, rating-II force-field generator (+10 AC vrs physical attacks, +10 DR versus physical attacks, manipulate up to 50 tons of material, crew 2. Astounding (+5) Speed if operating on this drive system.


  • Low- and Mid-Tech Mode: Lookout and Spyglass, Sounding Line, Compass, Sextant.
  • High-Tech Mode: Radar, Sonar, IR/UV, Chemical, and various other systems, generally with a base range of about a mile (or to the horizon for radar). Computer piloting and force-construct assistance is available. Twelve probe/light-combat crew-support drones.

Weaponry and Defenses:

  • Low–Tech Mode: Light Artillery/Four light catapults and four light ballista, two of each starboard-forward and port-forward arcs mounted near the bows (6d6, Minimal Batteries, x1). In general, this is symbolic; in actual low-tech (and sometimes to supplement higher-tech) combat situations the ship generally relies on a “battery” of fireball throwing Thralls, rather than relying on barrels of “greek fire”, rocks, and pointy sticks.
  • Mid-Tech Mode: Light Artillery (black powder muzzle-loading cannon), Forward and Aft each 4x Light Chasers (Minimal Batteries, x1), Right and Left Broadsides each 12x Cannon (Military Batteries, x3).
  • High-Tech Mode: 2x Capital-Class Microfusion missile launcher batteries (Port, Forward, and Starboard Arcs, x5), Rating-II Force-Field Generator and Casamir Negative-Energy Generator (+10 AC vrs physical attacks, +10 DR versus physical attacks that also protects passengers from external attacks, energy-absorption capacity of 150 points recharging at ten points per round).

In terms of the Manifold… the Nightwind Voyager is one of the most powerful general-purpose oceanic warcraft that you could expect to see out and wandering around the Manifold, even if it doesn’t really look it. If it comes to fighting a few dimension-roaming pirates, or a swift raid in some low-tech world, or something like that… it’s ideal.

Of course, it’s still a Level I wooden ship. If you sail it into World War II, or into any other setting with dedicated Level II or Level III warships adapted to a specific local reality – or even take it up against a first-rate ship of the line from the age of sail – you can easily get into MAJOR trouble. Worse, even if you can warp reality enough to power up the Coretech shields, they may not be enough to get you out of it.

Kevin is still very pleased with his toy though.