E-Ships is a web supplement/preview for Bastion Press's Airships. It combines highlights of the full work with some materials that there wasn't room for in the final publication, including some logsheets for keeping track of your airships, and some glorious full-page pictures of specimen ships themselves.
It begins with an overview of what appears in Airships, a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, and then launches into its own content using the same sequence. The first chapter explores possible uses of airships within a campaign. The basic concept is that airships can be introduced to an existing campaign by the efforts of NPC inventors, who may well be regarded as nut cases by other people - or as military or commercial assets as a nation or merchant house exploits the advantages of this invention to transport troops or goods swiftly over great distances. Various ideas are presented outlining how both lone inventors and well-funded organisations might come up with the right concepts to develop airships within the context of a fantasy/mediaeval world... and already ideas are spawning as to how they can provide backgrounds, plot hooks or full-blown adventures...
This leads into a discussion of how common or rare airships should be in your world, and what the likely effects on society will be. There's also consideration of what more natural airborne creatures such as dragons might think of such an invasion of their airspace! Depending on what you want, you may wish to design airships into your campaign economy from the beginning or - using either a lone inventor/just a few model OR creating a remote area the players haven't reached yet that does use them in profusion - introduce them later on.
Chapter 2 looks at airship construction. This is a brief overview, a summary of the likely costs and other requirements: if you - or your players - want much detail, purchase the full book! This is followed by an equally brief overview of airship combat. Again, unless you are going to abstract the combat severely - perhaps it's an aerial battle your PCs witness from the ground - you'll be hankering after the full rules.
Next we have a fascinating series of ideas about how existing spells can be used in novel and exciting ways in the air - mostly ways of being very unpleasant to the occupants of rival airships! Well worth remembering if combat goes aerial, or in many cases, onto surface ships as well. Still, wary travellers are advised to keep featherfall handy.
A new Prestige Class, the Airship Saboteur, follows. This devious individual specialises in wreaking destruction on enemy airships, for which he needs to understand airship technology as well as stealth and combat. They know enough alchemy to create explosive substances - something you may wish to be wary of introducing into the campaign, as soon enough your players will realise that they can use explosives elsewhere as well!
Next come sample airships, ready made to be used in your game. Each comes with a glorious full-page colour illustration (not always much of a plan, alas - but the picture looks nice even if it isn't very much use for gameplay), a text description and a record sheet showing the vessel's statistics, etc. The thought of being able to hold one of these up and saying "You see this!" to the players is quite tempting.
It rounds up with an Airman's Lexicon, so that your NPCs can baffle the characters with jargon; and a couple of blank 'Airship Record Sheet' forms you can fill out and use for your own ships.
Well worth adding if you have already bought Airships, or an excellent taster - with enough information to let you decide if you actually want to use them in your campaign - if you have not. The inclusion of the material on the creation of the technology and the ways in which it could influence the economics and military situation within your setting is very helpful, and the material itself is well-thought out.
Return to E-Ships page
Reviewed: 14 September 2003