|Built By||Groundling Humans|
|Used Primarily By||Giff|
|Crew (Min/Max)||24/85 (total weapon crew: 78)|
|Man-Days of Fresh Air||10,200|
|Landing - Land||No|
|Landing - Water||Yes|
|Saves As||Metal (hull) or wood (deck)|
|Power Type||Major helm|
|Ship's Rating||As per helmsman -1|
|Standard Armament||26 bombards (crew: 3)|
|Source||War Captain's Companion|
The Clipper is the most advanced sailing ship found on any known world. It has three central hull masts, one aft mast, and a bow mast, with several lateral sails between the masts. Regardless of the fact that it has 29 individual sails, Clippers still suffer from poor handling in space due to their groundling construction. The ship's heavy maneuvering also diminishes the effectiveness of the helmsman, with this loss of function translating into a 1 point SR penalty for any helmsman (to a minimum SR 1).
The first Clippers were designed by a groundling nation using giff mercenaries, and were intended as powerful warships, mounting the weaponry seen on most spacefaring Clippers. Most of the few groundling cultures that now produce Clippers, however, use them as fast, well-armed trading ships, typically mounting about two dozen ballistas. In space, however, the Clipper is not effective in this role, since the strengths which allow it to perform so well in the water are its unsurpassed speed and maneuverability; qualities that it loses in space. As a result, the Clipper sees virtually no use in space by humans, who prefer purpose-built vessels. The giff, however, love the design, using it in its original bombard-heavy configuration.
Giff mount 12 bombards on each side of the main deck of a Clipper, giving it a truly devastating broadside attack. The giff also enjoy the fact that the ship's groundling construction can lull unwary attackers into a false sense of security, and they delight in pretending to be helpless until an enemy comes into close range of one of the Clipper's flanks. The few enemy craft who survive such a tactic never close with a Clipper again. The bow and aft of the Clipper have one turret-mounted bombard apiece. These were installed after the giff lost several ships to wiser pirates who chose to stay out of the Clipper's side firing arcs.
There is one deadly drawback to these vessels. Whenever a fire critical hit is suffered by the Clipper for any reason, the vessel must make an immediate save vs. non-magical fire (using its metal rating). If this save fails, the fire immediately guts the deck, exposing the smokepowder stores below-decks. The next round, the ship will explode into a fireball so large that any ship in the same hex must make a saving throw vs. fire or suffer the effects of a 17d6 fireball. Additionally, if any attempt is made to land on anything other than water, the ship must save vs. crushing blow. If this save fails, the ship's hull cracks open, and the smokepowder stores will erupt in the same manner as if they had been ignited by fire. This includes any crash with another ship.
A typical Clipper carries a crew of 70. Since the giff are incapable of spelljamming themselves, they hire human mages to man the helm (usually invokers who are fond of spells that create explosions and loud noises); however the rest of the crew will be made up of giff. A crew of 70 of the large giff strains the air envelope somewhat; however it allows the ship and bombards to be fully manned (since they are larger and stronger than humans, each giff can do the work of one and a half men). Like any giff-operated vessel, a Clipper has a rigid chain of command, in which each giff knows his place.
Heavy Warship: Clippers are the heavy warship of choice for the giff, although they are expensive to build, equip, and operate, making them fairly rare. Whenever possible, Clippers operate in packs of at least two. This allows them to operate in concert to ensure that a broadside attack can be made by one Clipper against a target in the front or rear firing arc of another. This practice has greatly diminished their losses since it was introduced.
Command Vessel: The Joint Chiefs of the Giff General Staff (JCGGS) use Clippers as command vessels for their fleets. Unlike the Clippers used as warships, which are typically hired out in pairs, those Clippers which have been designated as command vessels will only be hired out if the employer wishes to hire a fleet of 20 or more giff ships. Such a fleet would include 3-6 Clippers, one of which would be a command vessel. A Clipper command vessel will be commanded by a giff admiral, who will be a fighter of at least 13th level.
Merchantman: A small number of Clippers in space are used by groundling humans as traders in the same fashion in which they are used on oceans. These Clippers do not typically carry bombards, and instead mount 12 light ballistas and 12 medium ballistas, with 6 of each type on the port side and on the starboard side. Sometimes a medium jettison will also be mounted on the stern castle to deter pursuit. A Merchantman Clipper can carry 40 tons of cargo (38 if a jettison is mounted), making it a respectable hauler. Despite this, the drawbacks of handling such a ship in space make the Merchantman Clipper very rare.
- Spelljammer reference: 1072XXX1902
- TSR reference: TSR 1072
- ISBN: 1-56076-343-4