Built By Gnomes
Used Primarily By Gnomes
Cost 66,000 gp
Tonnage 30 tons
Hull Points 30
Crew (Min/Max) 20/30 (total weapon crew: 6)
Man-Days of Fresh Air 3,600
Maneuver Class D
Landing - Land Yes
Landing - Water Yes
Armour Rating 6
Saves As Ceramic
Power Type Major or minor helm
Ship's Rating As per helmsmen
Standard Armament Piercing Ram

1 Medium Catapult (crew: 3)
1 Medium Jettison (crew: 3)

Cargo 15 tons
Keel Length 120'
Beam Length 25'
Source Legend of Spelljammer, The

The Whelk is a spelljamming ship built and used by gnomes.


The Whelk is a grown ship, much like the elven Flitters and Armadas. In fact, the Whelk was developed by forest gnomes working with elven shipwrights, and using modified versions of the spells used by the elves to grow their ships. Whelks appear as spiraled sea shells dotted by sharp spikes along the whorls, traveling large-end first through the void. The graceful design of the Whelk is in sharp contrast to most gnomish designs, which tend to be hodgepodges of different ships and naval architectural styles, as if the designer was changing his mind as he built it (an impression which is often accurate). This is because the Whelk is not built by the tinker gnomes familiar to spacefarers, but is instead built by the more reclusive forest gnomes, specifically illusionist forest gnomes who enjoy a loose alliance with the Imperial Elven Navy.


The Whelk is designed specifically for gnomes, and no allowance has been made for larger crew or passengers - the quarters and passageways are gnome-sized and larger creatures must make do or sleep on the outer deck. A Whelk will occasionally carry one or more elven passengers, but this is rare, and the elves usually find this uncomfortable unless they are particularly short. The crew requirements listed above are the theoretical minimum and maximum for human-sized crew. A crew of gnome-sized creatures has a crew of 30/60.

The command staff of a Whelk is entirely made up of gnome illusionists - captain, helmsman, chief mage, and weapons officer - of levels 2-12. In addition there will be 1-4 additional illusionists of levels 1-6 amongst the crew. The rest of the crew (typically a total of about 40 gnomes will be on board) is made up of gnome warriors of levels 0-3. The command staff and other illusionists use their spells to increase the apparent dangerous nature of the ship (large monsters on deck, additional weaponry, etc.). Those of sufficient level may use Hallucinatory Terrain to mask the appearance of the ship, making it appear as a star field (although movement spoils this illusion). In addition to the crew, the Whelk will be home to either a family of normal badgers, or 1-2 giant badgers, who are used as watchdogs and pets.

Ship UsesEdit

Explorer: The original intended use of the Whelk was to serve as an exploration vessel, with the intent that the gnomish crews would coordinate their exploratory efforts with those of their elven friends on other ships. The Whelk's size (big enough to carry sufficient explorers and equipment for long voyages, but small enough to avoid too much attention) and ability to land on land or water make it ideal for this application, especially when combined with the abilities of the crew to camouflage themselves from any natives when necessary.

Warship: Although armed sufficiently to defend itself from casual attack, the Whelk is not truly designed for combat. Despite this, when the second Unhuman War erupted many Whelk captains came to the aid of the elves. The Whelks have proved surprisingly effective against the goblinkin, although this has been primarily due to the magical abilities of the crews rather than any innate combat-worthiness of the ship. Whelks using straightforward combat tactics against the goblinkin were quickly overwhelmed, and their crews slaughtered. Those who took full advantage of their crews' abilities to misdirect and confuse their enemies, on the other hand, proved to be invaluable, especially when used in concert with other ships. An unsupported Whelk is nowhere near as competent in combat, but is an excellent scout/spy craft. The success of these Whelks has led some gnomish captains to turn mercenary, hiring their ships out to the highest bidder.

Other ConfigurationsEdit

Warrior: This version of the Whelk is favoured by experienced veterans of many battles. Portions of the Warrior's shell are cut away in strategic locations to allow for better maneuverability, and to allow extra firing ports for large weapons. The portions of the hull are retained, and left in place most of the time (in this configuration the Warrior performs identically to a standard Whelk), but they can be removed and stowed prior to dangerous missions. When this is done, the ship's AR is reduced to 8, but maneuverability rises to C, and five ballistas are revealed. Usually this will come as a complete surprise to the Warrior's enemies, since the missing hull sections will typically be concealed with illusions. The ballistas used are usually light ballistas, but several ships have been known to carry medium ballistas, although this reduces cargo capacity to a mere 5 tons.


  • Spelljammer reference: 1065XXX1903
  • TSR reference: TSR 1065
  • ISBN: 1-56076-134-2