Airship Primer

Legends say the twelve skies of Amyr are laden with untold treasures and adventures. Great motes of earth hang suspended in tumultuous skies hiding ruins of an ancient past; a testament to a terrible catastrophe. Great beasts of wing, scale, and claw terrorize vast territorial domains. Upon the decks of swift galleons born to the skies, the great houses of men ply their trade while sky pirate fleets prowl in search of easy plunder. And above them all, the Turbulent Ether pulses unseen beneath the clouds hiding untold treasures and danger.

Exploring the twelve skies can prove to be a lofty endeavor. The most important tool for the would-be sky captain is the airship. While airships come in a variety of classes and forms, the following details the most common class of ship: the Galleon-class Airship.

Galleons of the Sky Primer


The galleon-class airship is considered a medium sized vessel in comparison to other ship and structures. The typical galleon airship is visually comparable to its waterborne counterpart complete with mast & sails. Differences occur depending on the ships means of locomotion. For example, an airship powered by a residium furnace and propeller system typically sports two or more large propellers in its rear, while an airship empowered by a bound fire elemental is typically surrounded by a ring of flame. Typical airship composition includes the following five individual levels: the upper deck & mast, an open-air main deck, the mid deck, the lower deck, and the storage hold. Each deck is home to a variable number of compartments, except the open-air main deck which typically houses the ship’s siege armaments. While constructions can vary, the typical galleon-class airship hosts a structural frame composed of floatstone mined from various sky isles or suspended motes of earth. Over this frame, the inner hull, mast, and decks are composed of a strong wood, while the outer hull is composed of wood reinforced by iron. At the core of this system, an arcane residium furnace attached to a complex rear propeller system is used to provide locomotion. The residium furnace burns small quantities of residium to both regulate the buoyancy properties of the floatstone frame and power the rear propeller & rudder system. Regulation of the buoyancy properties within the floatstone frame through arcane manipulation provides hovering capability as well as up/down motion. The rear propeller & rudder system provide steering as well as forward / backward motion. All of this can be controlled at the airship’s wheel typically situated on the upper deck. The ships mast & sails are generally used to provide added momentum in the face of favorable winds or for emergency propulsion.

II.Airship Stat Block

Hit Points: An airship’s hit points indicate the amount of punishment it can take. A vehicle reduced to 0 hit points or fewer is destroyed, and creatures on board the destroyed vehicle are knocked prone in their current squares. The airship is considered Out of Control as it begins its plummet to the earth.

Spacing: Represents the airship’s spacing on the chase scale.

Airship’s Armor Class (AC): 10 + Helmsman’s Profession (Pilot) Skill Bonus + Airship Armor Class Bonus (+2)

Airship’s Fortitude Defense (Fort): 10 + Helmsman’s Profession (Pilot) Skill Bonus + Airship Fortitude Bonus (+5)

Airship’s Reflex Defense (Reflex): 10 + Helmsman’s Profession (Pilot) Skill Bonus + Airship Reflex Bonus (+0)

Hardness: Represents how well an airship resists damage. Whenever the airship takes damage, subtract its hardness from the damage. Only damage in excess of its hardness is deducted from the airship’s hit points.

Structural Reserves: Analogous to a character’s healing reserves and represents a ship’s capacity to conduct emergency repairs. Structural reserves can only be recovered by purchasing supplies equal to 1% of the airship’s value per point of structural reserve.

Reserve Value: This value is equal to ¼ of the airship’s hit points.

Flight Speed: An airship’s tactical combat speed (given in character scale) determines how far it travels when a pilot uses a move action. A pilot who uses two move actions can move a vehicle twice its speed.

Overland Flight Speed: This value is used to determine an airship’s overland speed. The overland speed can be determined using the tables located in the Players Handbook (pg.261)

Determining Upper Deck, Mid Deck, and Lower Deck Ship Compartments

Refer to the Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook (pg. 14) to explore airship compartment options. One deck compartment slot is comparable to the Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook stronghold space (ss).

Determining Main Deck Armaments

An airship’s main deck slots are dedicated to mounting siege weapons. Galleon-class airships are capable of mounting Military Light Siege Weapons. Common siege armaments are detailed below.

III.Arms & Equipment

Military Light Siege Weapons
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Price Weight Group Properties
Ram, Normal +3 10d12 Siege Heavy Critical
Ballista +2 3d6 20/40 500gp 800lb Siege Load Standard
Cannon, Light +2 5d12 40/80 1000 gp 1000 lb Siege Heavy Critical, Load 4 Standard
Trebuchet +3 6d6 20/40 1000 gp 1 Ton Siege Heavy Critical, Load 8 Standard
Military Heavy Siege Weapons
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Price Weight Group Properties
Cannon, Medium +2 8d12 40/80 2000 gp 1 Ton Siege Heavy Critical, Load 4 Standard
Cannon, Heavy +2 12d12 40/80 4000 gp 2 Ton Siege Heavy Critical, Load 4 Standard
Item Cost Weight
Ballista, Bolt 1 gp 10 lb
Ballista, Grapple Harpoon & Rope 2 gp 10 lb
Cannonball, Roundshot & Powder 10 gp 10 lb
Cannonball, Grapeshot & Powder 10 gp 10 lb
Cannonball, Chainshot & Powder 10 gp 10 lb
Trebuchet, Stone 1 gp 50 lb
Supplies & Equipment
Component Source Location
Adventuring Gear D&D 3E – Arms & Equipment pg.21
Clothing D&D 3E – Arms & Equipment pg.29
Jewelry & Accessories D&D 3E – Arms & Equipment pg.30
Edible Goods D&D 3E – Arms & Equipment pg.31
Commodities D&D 3E – Arms & Equipment pg.40
Hirelings & Crew D&D 3E – Arms & Equipment pg.62 – 63
Ship Compartments D&D 3E – Stronghold Builders Guidebook pg.14
Wall “Hull” Augmentations D&D 3E – Stronghold Builders Guidebook pg.38
Wondrous Architecture D&D 3E – Stronghold Builders Guidebook pg.71

IV.Skills & Feats

New Skills
Skill Key Ability Class Skill for…
Profession (Pilot) Int None, requires the Helmsman feat.
Profession (Shipwright) Int None, requires the Shipwright feat.
New Feats
Name Prerequisites Benefit
Cannoneer Gain proficiency with ranged siege weapons and allows ranged siege weapons to be used with ranged weapon attack powers.
Helmsman Become trained in a new skill, Profession (Pilot). The helmsman may use melee attack powers during ramming actions
Shipwright Become trained in a new skill, Profession (Shipwright). The shipwright make emergency repairs


An airship crew team is composed of a five man team. This team is made up of four sailors or experts led by an officer of specialized ability. The crew team leader generally determines the capabilities of the crew while the remaining crew members facilitate undertaken actions. It is not uncommon for crew teams to change function during an engagement. While crew teams undertaking deck crew and workman crew functions generally remain stable, teams charged with airship defense commonly switch between marine crew and artillery crew functions.

Crew Types
Function (Officer) Description
Deck Crew (Captain; First Mate; Helmsman) Responsible for maintaining general control of an airship during flight. One deck crew team is required to maintain an airship’s flight control
Marine Crew (Raider) Responsible for defense of the airship and the assault of opposing ships. The number of marine crew teams generally varies depending on the function of a ship
Artillery Crew (Cannoneer) Responsible for the operation of an airship’s siege equipment. One artillery team is typically devoted to each of an airship’s siege weaponry
Workman Crew (Shipwright) Responsible for the care and general maintenance of an airship and its engines. One workman team is generally assigned to an airship
Reserves Spare personnel kept on hand to replace primary crew team loses

Crew Activities

Pilot & Deck Crew Actions
Action (Action Type) Cost Difficulty Action Details
Forward Move (Officer) Move Action None Move forward up to airship’s speed
Reverse Move (Officer) Move Action None Move backwards up to 10ft
45 Degree Turn (Officer) Move Action None Change the ship’s facing by 45 degrees. Requires at least 1 square of movement beforehand
Ram (Officer) Move Action None Move forward up to the airship’s speed and into the target’s space. The initiating airship receives half damage while the target airship receives full damage. The target airship may make a save to ½ damage to both vehicles.
Quick Turn (Officer) Move Action Variable Make a 45 Degree Turn without prior forward momentum or make a turn greater than 45 Degrees
General Crew Actions
Action (Action Type) Cost Difficulty Action Details
Melee Assault (Crew) Standard Action Varies Melee assault against opposing airship crew
Ranged Assault (Crew) Standard Action Varies Ranged assault against opposing airship crew
Extinguish Fire (Crew) Standard Action Variable Attempt to extinguish or diminish on-board fires
Cannoneer & Artillery Crew Actions
Action (Action Type) Cost Difficulty Action Details
Fire Siege (Officer) Standard Action Varies Conduct an attack with ranged siege weapons
Load Siege Engine (Crew) Standard Action Varies Load Siege Engine
Raider & Marine Crew Actions
Action Cost Difficulty Action Details
Launch Grapple Lines (Crew) Standard Action Varies Grappling attacks against opposing airship
Cut Grapple Lines (Crew) Standard Action Varies Escape opposing airship grappling attacks
Pull in Ship (Officer) Standard Action Varies Pull opposing grappled ship closer
Boarding Action (Officer) Move Action None Move crew onto opposing adjacent airship
Ranged Boarding Action (Officer) Move Action None Move crew onto opposing nonadjacent airship
Shipwright & Workmen Crew Actions
Action (Action Type) Cost Difficulty Action Details
Emergency Repairs (Officer) Standard Action Varies Use airship’s structural reserve
Extra Push (Officer) Standard Action Varies Surge the airship forward 1 square


Ship-to-ship battles in the Twelve Skies usually play out as fights between the crews and passengers of the ships involved. A typical fight starts with ranged siege combat between ships, followed by missile combat between ship passengers, before ending in boarding action and melee combat. Such combat usually ends with one side surrendering or being slain rather than with a vessel being destroyed. Few intelligent adversaries want to destroy an enemy airship outright. They’re worth far more as plunder than as debris. [1]


Airships are very large and can occupy a significant amount of area in character scale, so chase scale is typically used for ship to ship combat. Chase scale utilizes 50 foot squares to represent spacing. In chase scale, most airships occupy a space 1 square wide and 2 squares long. [2]

Facing & Firing Arcs

An airship’s siege armaments are generally mounted on its sides, making its firing arcs quite limited. Half of an airship’s armaments can fire only to the ship’s left, while the other half can fire only to its right [2]

Getting Started

It takes time to get an airship ready to sail. Typically a galleon-class airship at rest requires approximately two rounds of crew preparations before the ship is ready to disembark. [2]

Piloting an Airship

An airship’s pilot must use a move action each round to steer the ship on its course. During that move action, the ship moves its speed (Usually 1 square in chase scale or up to 12 squares in character scale). The pilot can also choose to use his attack action to attempt additional maneuvers. [2]


During ship-to-ship combat, an airship moves about on the same map grid used in normal combat. An airship can move only during the move action of its helmsman; basic movement requires no skill checks. [2] & [3]


Airships can be attacked just like other objects. Some conditions (such as being knocked prone) have special rules when applied to vehicles. Any conditions from the Player’s Handbook excluded from this section have no effect on vehicles. If an effect allows a saving throw to end a condition, a vehicle makes one at the end of its controller’s turn (or at the end of the vehicle’s turn if it is out of control.) A driver or pilot can use a move action to allow a vehicle to make an additional saving throw during his or her turn. [4]

Condition Description
Immobilized An immobilized vehicle cannot move except by a pull, a push, or a slide effect.
Prone A vehicle subject to an effect that would knock it prone instead takes 1d10 damage and is slowed (see below) until the end of the next round.
Restrained A vehicle that is restrained is immobilized and cannot be forced to move by a pull, a push, or a slide effect. If the restrained condition is ended by the escape action, the vehicle uses the driver’s or pilot’s relevant skill modifier.
Slowed A slowed vehicle uses the standard rules for this condition (PH 277).


  1. D&D 4E The Planes Above pg.20
  2. d20 Past pg.21
  3. d20 Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook pg.191
  4. D&D 4E Adventurers Vault pg.21

Airship Primer

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