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Tanu Ship Designs

From their first steps into wildspace, the Tanu were struck by the multitude of designs for spacecraft, in particular the unique designs that were known as racial icons of spelljamming. Always eager to distinguish themselves from others, the Tanu sought design ideas with which to represent themselves among the powerful spelljamming races.

After much thought it was decided that the great sea creatures of their home world would be the models for the Tanu spelljamming designs. After the Paring and the reversal of evolution for the native life of Arkaela, the seas became the domains of the gigantic beasts which arose from the devolution of their smaller cousins. What better forms for the Tanu to use to strike fear in the hearts of foes and gain respect from their peers than these?

Note however, that the Old Ones' servants of the sea are not used for design ideas.


The first Tanu ship design was the Triop, modeled after the creature of the same name, a self-reproducing, armored water beast that hunts the Arkaelan seas. They are often referred to as 'sea wolves' as they sometimes hunt in packs and attack far larger animals, devouring them to the bone in a short time. They are also capable of laying in suspended animation should their water body dry up, reanimating again centuries later when the water returns.

The Triop is the armored workhorse of the Tanu fleet, a mostly-enclosed design that relies on heavy armor plating, a devastating ram, hidden weapon turrets and excellent maneuverability to destroy much larger ships. There is also a larger version, the Mega-Triop, whose increased weapons capacity and durability make it the Tanu exploration vessel of choice; this ship will also be the command vessel of most Tanu armadas in space.



The next design the Tanu adopted as their own was the Manta. While there are giant rays that swim the Arkaelan seas, the concept originally came from a sighting of the great ship Spelljammer itself, during a battle with illithids near the Specter in Greyspace. So impressive and awe-inspiring was the mighty vessel, and so quickly did the mind-flayers abandon the fight and vacate the area, that the gape-mouthed Tanu knew this was a shape that other races would respect. Shortly afterwards the first Tanu Manta was launched from Arkaela. Though not as enclosed nor as maneuverable as the Triop, the Manta can stand toe-to-toe against an Elven Man-o-War in battle, with its heavy weapons and ram.

The same shape is also used for what amounts to the Tanu Flitter, the Skate.




Impressed by the large weapons platforms of the established races, the Tanu realized they, too, needed to field a large-size vessel to guard its far-flung colonies and stand against the great battlewagons of their enemies. The starfish was chosen to form the design idea for the Star Class ship. Able to pry open the shells of giant clams which could swallow a humanoid whole, and able to survive dismemberment of their limbs, the starfish became the template for the largest Tanu-built ship.

Due to the high upper limit of ship tonnage which a Tanu psionic helm could power, Andraxas instructed his ship architects to push the vessel's size as far as one could go. Thus was born the behemoth of the Legion Fleet, the Star-class vessel. Assisted by their gnome allies, the designers created a modular system whereby the entire ship's structure could be assembled with only 75 distinct part components needed in the proper amounts. This does not, of course, include ship accoutrements such as the elevator engines, communication tubes, weapons, etc. However, the effort of creating an assembly line of such parts, all milled with precision, is incredibly costly and difficult; at present, only one of these great ships is planned for each crystal sphere the Tanu inhabit, and each ship receives a name indicating what sphere it guards. Currently there is the Doomstar {named for both Doom's Gate city and the God of Doom himself} in Arkaelaspace; the Greystar in Greyspace; and the Morning Star {named for Abbadon, the Dark Angel of Morning} in the Astromundi Cluster. The Dragonstar of Krynn is still under construction, and there are plans for ships to be stationed in Vodonispace and Greatspace as well.

STAR class vessel


The Tanu Legion tends to avoid Toril's sphere, as their adventures there have not been entirely successful, and also because settling efforts there have met with failure. Further efforts are not planned at the moment, as the deities of the sphere have placed enough stern resistance in their path that Andraxas has withdrawn, if for the moment.

However, during their time there the Tanu met with one success: the capture of the Batship which prowled the Tears of Selune. After this freakish vessel decimated a number of Tanu ships, the Legion returned with their numbers bolstered by one of the thirteen Dreadknights. With its powerful magic, the evil spirit led the successful capture of the Batship, and the Tanu had their revenge. The Dreadknight removed the cursed box helm from the ship and set it adrift in deep space, and the Mega-Triop Warsong of Arkaela returned home with the gutted hulk of the Batship in tow. Placed in the hangar of the Dimensional Vengeance, the Legion engineers copied its dimensions and added their own flair, and produced the Tanu Dragonship. While sticklers may say the vessel more resembles a wyvern, the Tanu pay a silent homage to dragonkind and veer from their usual path of piscine design by travelling in this fearsomely shaped ship.



As the years passed, and Andraxas' people grew in power, it was inevidable that there would be new ship designs, created by the god's own worshippers to increase their races' power. The first character-engineered design comes from the very king of Mount Bluetop himself, and is tailored for the inhabitants of that colony, predominantly dwarves and gnomes. A powerful battlewagon and ship-taker, the Great Dwarven Axe graces the fleet commanded by the dwarven King Otar of Bluetop.



The Palantir

The Tanu have created a psionic item for use by their craft as a communication device, one which far exceeds the normal range of telepath-to-telepath mind contact {one light second}. The Palantir usually appears as a lump of black Tanu glass, affixed in some secure location aboard ship. The speaking stone requires touch & the expenditure of 1 psi-strength point to communicate {sending the same amount of information that a telepath coud provide} for one round, but it may tune into any or all other palantirs within the same crystal sphere. To receive does not require any expendature. There is also a straight 40% chance to directly contact any psionic with the Telepathy discipline if his "mind signature" is known by the sender, within the same crystal sphere.

Tanu Accelerators

Impressed with the advanced weapon known as the Accelerator, but unwilling to rob his ships of movement in order to mount one of these weapons, Andraxas called upon his Wizard School, headed by the mage Zaroth, to create some alternative. The result was the Tanu Accelerator. Utilizing a high-level spell known as the High Accelerator, Tanu engineers constructed a large, swivel-mount weapon very similar in size and action to Arcane version of this weapon. Range, mounting space requirements, and damage are all identical to the Arcane weapon, but the cost is exhorbitant, limiting the distribution of this weapon to Star-class vessels first, followed by Dragonships {which perform vital space patrol functions and can only mount a few light weapons}. Creation of a single Tanu Accelerator requires at least 2 months time and nearly 200,000 gold pieces in rare materials. Needless to say, they are a rare thing to see.


Tanu Psionic Helms

Eager to equip his people with spelljamming technology, and unwilling to rely on the vagaries of mage-operated or illithid-based series helms, Andraxas has contracted the Arcane to research and construct a spelljamming helm operated by psionic strength. The result is the Psi-helm, and the God of Doom has paid the Arcane handsomely to guarantee that only his race will be sold the new devices. He has since ferreted out the secrets of their construction, and forges them, one at a time, in his hidden Forge within Mount Vormidurth.

Psi-helms are powered by psionic strength points in the same way a normal helm uses spell potential. When a psionically operant being seats himself in it, all his psionic points are drained to provide power. The helm then generates ship rating points based on the character's highest level of mastery divided by two {the equivalent of a major helm}, multiplied by a percentage expressed by the character's psionic strength.

To simplify: {Highest Mastery Level /2} x {Psionic Strength}% = SR

The result is rounded down to the nearest whole number. Please note that this assumes a maximum of points are possessed, and should the PC have used any psionic points before taking the helm, this is figured into the percentage of the formula, with the lowest mode {attack or defense} being used.

Examining as an example, Magnus the cleric, a 13th level Tanu with 84/84 psionic strength. A psionic from birth, he yields 13/2 = 6.5 points, multiplied by 84% = 5.46, which allows him to provide a total of 5 SR for his ship. For him, this is almost as efficient as if he were using a magic-based helm.

However, characters with higher psi-strength yield better results. Vespasian, a 20th level Tanu assassin has a psi-strength of 170/170. In a psijammer helm, he would yield 20/2 = 10 times 170% = 17 SR points, rounded to the stated maximum of SR 10! This is an improvement over his use of a spelljamming helm, which would not operate for him at all. However, if he takes the helm after psionic combat leaves him with 80/68, he provides only 7 SR.

Psijamming helms do have their drawbacks, the most obvious of which is that it strips the helmsman of all his psionic points, leaving him totally defenseless should he cease physical contact with the helm. While seated, the psijammer is protected by a constant Thought Shield generated by the helm, but each time the mode defends against psionic attack directed at the helmsman, points are subtracted from the SR percentage on an defense-for-point basis {minimum SR is always 1}. Also, the helmsman is subject to `spelljammer shock' and all other combat effects exactly as for a spelljammer helmsman. They cannot utilize any disciplines or attack modes while psijamming, though any activated prior to taking the helm will expire after normal duration.

The upper limit for the size of a psijammer ship appears to be in the 300 ton range.

While not a common practice, a perusal of the Player's Handbook shows it is possible for a number of psionically endowed creatures to link minds in order to provide a `boost' to psionic operations. This effect, called meta-concert, can be used to augment a psijammer helm's output. As in combat situations, the psionic individuals link in series, from weakest to strongest, with each individual providing 20% of his strength points to the next person in the chain. The character receiving the final lump-output in the chain {the `executive'} controls the functioning of the ship, and defends for the entire series, i.e. any psionic attacks directed against him affect the whole metaconcert.

The drawbacks of this operation are that all links in the concert are drained of their strength points and will be defenseless once the concert is broken. On the upside, during meta-concert it is possible in this operation to direct any of the psionic attack modes possessed by the executive against enemy individuals all over the vessel, so long as they are in physical contact with the ship. Each such exercise drains one SR from the ship, which will not be regained until a fresh helmsman takes over


Cloaking Psi-helms

Always industrious, Andraxas has begun manufacturing his own psi-helms, with an added bonus: the ability to cover a Tanu ship with an illusion of non-detection similar to the discipline Invisibility. This cloaking ability lacks the possibility of detection before attack {lacking the rainbow distortion effect of elvish helms}, but they subtract 2 SR from the cloaked ship {elvish naval cloaks drain only 1 SR} while in operation.

These cloaking helms are extremely costly and difficult; only one can be produced per month, and cost about 1,000,000 GPs in arcane materials.


It should be pointed out that the Tanu Void Legion has one standing order, a kind of Prime Directive that all void sailors are aware of, known simply as the Helm Law: any Tanu ship or helm captured by or found in the hands of non-Tanu must be recovered at all costs, or destroyed. There is no reprieve of this order; the Tanu crew must recover the lost vessel and its psionic helm or perish in the attempt. Andraxas will not allow his psijamming helms {especially the cloaking version} to fall into the hands of others, and would likely turn his own attentions to the matter should he be made aware of them by a worshipper.