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Porcupine Ship

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Porcupine Ship
Built By Goblins
Used Primarily By Goblins
Cost 27,000 gp
Tonnage 45 tons
Hull Points 34
Crew (Min/Max) 8/45 (total weapons crew: 4)
Man-Days of Fresh Air 5,400
Maneuver Class D
Landing - Land No
Landing - Water Yes (may leak badly)
Armour Rating 7
Saves As Thin wood
Power Type Pump furnace
Ship's Rating 2
Standard Armament Ram Mines

4 Light Ballistas (crew: 1)

Cargo 27 tons
Keel Length 85'
Beam Length 60'
Source SJR1 Lost Ships

The Porcupine Ship is a spelljamming ship built and used by goblins.


The pride and joy of the goblin fleets, the Porcupine is a primitive yet surprisingly powerful ship. It takes the appearance of a gigantic spiny ball tipped with conical ram mines and an aft wooden tail. A fan-like sail, controlled by a dozen or more stout ropes, is at the end of the tail. A solid oak or ironwood door mounts the top of the tail, through which access to the interior is gained. The globe is pierced by four large ballista gunwales and a score of smaller arrow slits. The porcupine is a close range fighting craft, able to deliver a deadly attack when within 100 yards of a ship, but weak against ships attacking at a greater range.

The Porcupine is grown rather than built. It is the seed pod of a rare plant found only in wildspace. The spiral-shaped plant is the created when a seed from the starfly plant accidentally falls into a planar rift in wildspace (such rifts are often at the center of flame rings). The plant takes root in another plane, but grows into wildspace. The core of the plant retains a circular shape, often a mile across. Two to six trunks grow off of the main trunk, spiraling out into wildspace. Lesser branches and twigs intertwine into a net between the trunks and main trunk, attracting tens of thousands of wildspace fish, animals, and even scavvers and krajen. Along the outer rim of the lesser trunks, along the gravity plane, spiny ball seed pods grow. When they mature, the balls disconnect from the tree and fall into the depths of wildspace. It is these seed pods that the goblins take and use for their spelljammers.

Near the time of maturity, the goblins prematurely disconnect the seed pods and hollow out caverns inside them. The largest of these seed pods produced ships of 45 tons, although smaller Porcupines are also possible. Weapons, a pump furnace helm, provisions, and a built wooden tail are added. Ram mines are also added, usually to every third spine. The mines are created by the goblins from a concoction of tree sap, leaves, and scavver blood. The mixture created has properties similar to smoke powder, such that it is usable in ram mines but too dangerous for smokepowder weapons. An exploding ram mine causes 3-18 hp of damage to any exposed crew within 30' of the impact point (save vs. spell for half damage), and 2-5 hull points of damage to the triggering ship. While most of the force from this explosion is directed outwards, the Porcupine is often damaged by the explosion as well. To avoid any damage, the Porcupine must save twice against normal fire. A failure on the first save means that some flaming shards explode into the compartment closest to the exploding ram mine, causing 3-18 hp of damage to anyone within that compartment (save vs. spell for half damage). A failure on the second save indicates that the hull of the porcupine has suffered 1 hull point of collateral damage. If a Porcupine takes a total of 6 hull points of damage from this cause, the ship must make another save vs. normal fire, or have some spines catch on fire (treat as any other fire starting at a 1 HP size). A new save is required each time another hull point of damage is taken from an exploding ram mine, such that it is possible for several fires to be burning on the outside of a Porcupine simultaneously due to exploding ram mines. Given how cheaply goblin ships could be created, a tribe could easily support as many ships as they had warriors to crew them.

The interior is a maze of small rooms and narrow corridors. The aft tail is the main cargo hold, where spare ram mines and booty is stored. The pump furnace is a large and bulky affair, often shaped like a large iron sphere with a grate and a pair of pipes leading out. The pipes lead out to the aft, blowing the blood red smoke out and past the sail. Chambers throughout the ship mostly serve as crew quarters, where as many as a dozen goblins sleep in ratty hammocks and keep their gear in leather sacks hung from pegs or nails. Tunnels are low, usually only 3' in diameter, and chambers are likewise crammed, with roofs only 5' high. Several tunnels and very small chambers are close to the outer surface of the globe are pierced with arrow slits or gunwales for the ship's four light ballistas. Each arrow slit has a light crossbow hung next to it along with a case with twenty bolts. The four ballista chambers are protected by thick wooden shutters that can only be opened from inside by means of a winch. Racks along the walls have spare parts for maintaining and repairing the ballista along with twelve to twenty javelin-sized spears for the ballista. The "bottom" of the ship has a fairly large hemispherical chamber where the goblins keep the wood for their pump furnace, which is often at least a ton or more.

The exterior appearance is of a wooden globe covered by a forest of spines, each 8 to 16 feet high. Some of the spines are capped by ram mines, while others may be burned or broken, a sure sign of a veteran of other battles. The aft tail looks like a large wooden box rammed into the aft of the ship, contrasting with the rest of the ship. A fearsome face is most likely painted on the front of the globe, usually resulting in a comical looking ship. Goblins landing their ships on water often found that the Porcupine leaked badly (especially if any ram mines on the lower half of the ship had been used), which resulted in the sinking of many Porcupines. To avoid this, goblins sometimes landed their craft on land by simply pointing their craft toward the ground and drive the lower spikes into the dirt. The grounded spikes keep the ship from rolling away unless hit by a very strong, almost gale-force winds. Unfortunately, the ship is ill-suited to such a landing, partly because it will usually result in the detonation of several ram mines (unless they have been very carefully removed prior to the landing), and partly because the frame of the ship cannot easily stand up to such a landing, resulting in 2-5 hull points of damage for the ship, even from a controlled landing.


The crew numbers given above are for human-sized crew. For goblins the minimum and maximum crew numbers are 12/90. Porcupines would usually carry between 50 and 60 goblins. This would usually not be the entire tribe, but since the ships were so cheap and easy to produce, a single tribe would usually operate a fleet of 2-10 Porcupines (4-5 ships would be most common). A unique feature of the Porcupine is the lack of a helmsman of any sort. The construction of the pump furnace is such that it cannot be controlled by a mage or priest. Instead, the magical smoke is the force that propels the ship. The goblins channel it out a pair of aft "tail pipes", which pushes the ship forward. Maneuvering is done by manipulating the sail fins, which affects the flow of the smoke. Because there is no helmsman, the goblins must post a pair of observers, one each at the top and bottom of the globe to watch were the ship is going. The observers shout orders to the eight goblins who man the sail. Two more goblins are needed to keep the furnace stoked and fully fueled. Despite the lack of helmsman, the ship maneuvers well in combat when crewed by well-drilled goblins.

Ship UsesEdit

Warship: This was the normal use for a Porcupine. Although individually weak, a tribe of goblins was usually able to field several of these ships, making them a menace to space lanes. Porcupine warships won battles simply by swarming and overwhelming their opponents. A Porcupine warship would usually carry 1-4 Arrows or Blades to serve as fighters and boarding boats. These small ships would be lashed to the top, bottom, and sides of the Porcupine's tail, and would invariably be powered by non-magical engines. When the Imperial Elven Navy began the First Unhuman War, thousands of Porcupine warships were easily destroyed by the elves. The great advantage of the elven ships was their ability to hit the Porcupines from a distance, whilst out-maneuvering them to stay away from the dangerous ram mines.

Trader: Some goblins actually used their Porcupines for peaceful trading rather than raiding. This was rare, however, since few races were willing to trade with them. In fact, the role of the traders of the goblinkin usually passed to the kobolds, who were much better at it.

Explorer: Goblin explorers were really just goblin raiders searching for new targets. As such, explorer Porcupines were identical in equipment to warships, and like the warships tended to travel in small fleets. This was an advantage in that a single ship could be sent to investigate a world while the rest of the fleet remained safe.

Other ConfigurationsEdit

Non-Goblin Crew: A Porcupine operated by a non-goblin crew will generally be greatly modified. This is typically done by removing the ram mines, building two sloping roof-surfaces on the top of the ship which rise to a central peak, and placing a pair of turretted medium ballistas on these surfaces. The ship is usually either fitted with landing skids, or has its lower hull properly sealed to prevent leaks when landing in water. This refitting reduces cargo space to 20 tons. A Porcupine modified in this manner will often be used as an explorer. This is because such a ship will usually only be used by inexperienced groundlings who salvage a Porcupine from goblin raiders whom they have defeated. Any other spacefarers will tend to use a Porcupine Ship only if they have no other alternative.


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