|Built By||Goblins (Kobolds)|
|Used Primarily By||Goblinkin, humans|
|Cost||3,200 gp (2,200 gp - includes cost of built-in greek fire projector)|
|Hull Points||2 (1)|
|Crew (Min/Max)||1/1 (total weapon crew: 3)|
|Man-Days of Fresh Air||120|
|Landing - Land||No (Yes)|
|Landing - Water||No|
|Armour Rating||4 (6)|
|Saves As||Metal (Thick wood)|
|Power Type||Non-magical or boat helm|
|Ship's Rating||1 or as per helmsman|
|Standard Armament|| Piercing Ram
1 Greek Fire Projector (crew: 3)
|Source||SJR1 Lost Ships|
The Blade is a small, short-range attack ship. Developed from the earlier, unarmoured Kobold Arrow, the Blade was primarily used in kamikaze ram attacks on enemy vessels in space-battles. Ogre Mammoths usually carried several of these ships as boarding boats, Goblin Porcupine Ships would often carry one or two for use as scouts, while Orc Scorpions often carried a few Blades to herd targets towards the claws of the parent ship. The kamikaze use of Blades began in earnest when the goblinkin began to be pressed by the elven fleets in the First Unhuman War.
A Blade is shaped much like an arrowhead, with the helm (or controls for the non-magical engine) amidships and the weapons platform topside. While the Blade was once used almost exclusively by goblinkin, they are now commonly used by many races in space. Goblinkin still favour the craft, while humans and halflings find it ideal for short-range uses. Giff and gnomes often use Blades as test platforms for experimental weapons and devices.
A single pilot is required to handle the Blade. Since the craft is intended for short-range use only, it is not uncommon for a Blade to carry more crew than its air envelope can safely support. A typical crew for humans or orcs would consist of a single pilot and a single weaponeer (the greek fire projector is generally a one-shot device, so reloading it is not considered a priority). Goblins and kobolds tend to have crews of 4-8 (except when being used as a kamikaze craft, in which case a single pilot is used, often in a fanatical crazed state induced by potions brewed by the tribal shaman), while ogre-operated Blades tend to carry as many ogres as can hang on to the outside, along with the pilot (a maximum of 8 ogres can be carried, but it is not uncommon for several of these ogres to lose their grip and fall away from the Blade as it maneuvers towards the enemy).
Boarding Boat: When used as a boarding boat, the Blade is usually stripped of any weaponry, although it is not uncommon for a light ballista to be fitted, firing a harpoon-like projectile with a line attached to aid in grappling with an enemy ship (range of this light ballista is reduced to 1 hex because of the line). The rails of the upper platform are usually lined with shields, boarding pikes, and armoured bins of oil pots ready to throw. The preferred method of boarding is to come alongside an enemy ship as would be done in any other boarding action, but the small Blade can also set down directly on the deck of the target. Since the Blade is top-heavy and lacks landing gear, a Blade which sets down in this manner is 50% likely to tip over at a 45° angle, causing anyone on board to save vs. paralyzation or fall to the side for 1d6 points of damage. Boarding boats usually use non-magical helms (although Rudders of Propulsion are ideal in the extremely rare cases when they are available), and are typically released from their mothership only when it has already drawn close to the enemy.
Ram: When used as a mobile ram, the Blade is virtually always equipped with a non-magical engine, and no weaponry. This is because a Blade used for this purpose is destroyed by the impact, unless it is ramming another very small craft. These Blades are typically packed with greek fire, oil, smokepowder, and other explosives and flammables. The crew will usually attempt to bail out just before impact, but survival is not likely. If the target is hit normal damage is done, plus 1d4 hull points of damage from the explosion, which creates a fire as normal.
Fighter: The original intended purpose of the Blade was to serve as a fighter, and many are still used in this capacity. A fighter Blade is typically armed and equipped as above, usually with a boat helm rather than a non-magical engine. These craft typically fire one shot from the greek fire projector (most fighter Blades mount single-use greek fire projectors, since the small craft cannot easily handle a full-sized projector), and then either retreat to re-arm, or use on-board archers to harass the enemy, depending on the inclination of the crew. In this use, Blades by themselves are little threat to most ships, but can be deadly when supporting a larger craft. Fighter Blades are particularly well-suited for dealing with other small craft, such as flitters, since the Blade's ram is highly effective against other small craft.
Scout: Many goblin and orc tribes used Blades as scout vessels, and it is not uncommon for many different groups to use them in this function today. Scout Blades are usually equipped with boat helms, although minor helms are not uncommon. Blades operated by goblins or orcs in this function are typically piloted by an apprentice shaman, who is assisted by 1-3 bodyguards. Blades used as scouts are intended to run away from a fight, and so they typically mount a light catapult which they can use at long ranges to discourage pursuit, and which can be filled with jettison-shot as needed.
Tug: Blades can sometimes be found fitted with minor or major helms, and used as tugs. These ships usually operate close to asteroid bases in dangerous areas, where they can rescue disabled craft, bring in wrecks for salvage, or simply guide incoming vessels through dangerous approaches. In some cases tugs will be used to tow a number of cargo barges through safe areas of space, however these tugs have the distinct disadvantage of being unable to safely land.
Escape Craft: While this is a use to which Blades are often put, it is rare for this to be the intended use of the craft. Usually a Blade carried by another ship will be intended as a boarding boat, a fighter, or a scout, but unless equipped with a non-spelljamming power source, these ships are often useful escape craft if trouble befalls the parent ship. In some cases, however, Blades may be carried for the express purpose of serving as escape ships. These ships are typically equipped with furnace helms or boiler helms along with a supply of appropriate fuel. This is because in an emergency it is highly possible that no spell-casters will be available to pilot a more standard type of helm.
Kobold Arrow: Not technically another configuration of the Blade, the Arrow is actually the original kobold design which the goblins adapted into the Blade. The Arrow (statistics are the same as the Blade except where given in parentheses above) uses the same basic configuration as the Blade, but lacks a weapons platform on the topside. Instead, the Arrow was designed with a built-in bottom-mounted greek fire projector. The wooden hull of the Arrow is unarmoured, and the craft is usually fitted with wooden runners to allow it to land on flat land. Arrows are now much less common than Blades, since they are no longer built in any large quantities. Overall the Blade is a superior craft, and the only real reason to build an Arrow rather than a Blade is that the Arrow is cheaper and easier to build. If this is the only consideration, however, most would prefer to build the even cheaper Kobold Dart, which was another later design based on the Arrow. Those Arrows which are used today tend to see use in the same roles as Blades.
Rigging Cutter: This variant is often used by goblinkin fighting under the banner of the scro. The first of these ships were modified Arrows, but the design has since been used on Blades as well. Rigging cutters are equipped and armed as normal fighters, and serve in the same role. The difference is that the side fins have been replaced with large steel blades. These blade-fins still serve the original function of aiding maneuverability, but also serve as rigging-shears, although without the possibility of working loose.