Built to defend early spacefaring humans against attacks by humanoids and other enemies, these ships (which were primarily based on expanded groundling designs) were used by the faithful of Ptah. These slow and clumsy craft were often deathtraps for their crew, offering little protection from enemy fire, and as a result many riddled barges still drift in the flow and wildspace. The saving grace of the Barge of Ptah was that it bristled with enough weaponry to discourage all but the most determined attackers.
Traditionally commanded by the highest-ranking priest of Ptah aboard, the crew is divided into 3 shifts, each commanded by a cleric of 8th to 12th level. In fact, it is not uncommon for all officers aboard a Barge of Ptah to be priests. The bridge and helm, along with charts and navigation information, are typically located above the temple's great chamber and in the dome of stars. A backup helm is often found in a secret chamber below the great chamber, reachable only from a secret hatch beside the altar.
Ship Uses Edit
Templeship: These craft were designed as ornate, mobile temples in space that would defend and minister to the faithful, while seeking converts. Templeships were usually rich in treasure, taken as offerings and in payment for light ship repairs and healing. Templeships were famous throughout space as refuges for stricken ships fleeing from battles which had not gone well. Since templeships offered refuge to all (and from all - no shipboard fighting was allowed), they often ended up harboring criminals of many sorts, and it was not uncommon for a small black market to spring up aboard a templeship. Because of this, and the riches found aboard, many of the more powerful pirates and reavers in space targetted templeships. The armaments of these ships were steadily increased to deal with these attacks, and Barges of Ptah which still serve as templeships are typically veritable fortresses. Many of these have been fitted with 2 or more outriggers which add to the tonnage of the ship, as well as serving as mounts for additional weaponry, and additional superstructures added above and below decks are not uncommon either. The largest of these templeships approach 100 tons in size, and can carry more than double the weaponry listed above. A typical operating templeship will carry 10 wizards and 40 warriors, all followers of Ptah who serve as defenders and crew, as well as 10-50 priests of all levels, including a 'high opener' of no less than 14th level. This is in addition to any visiting ship crews. Templeships must renew their air envelopes frequently, since they often carry more men than the envelope can safely support.
Death Barges: Some Barges of Ptah are known to be operated by undead. Sometimes the crews are the undead remnants of the original crew of a templeship, often transformed into heucuva or mummies and perverted to the worship of Set, or another suitable deity. Other times the crews are simply raiders who siezed the craft during or after a battle. Such darkened templeships often appear as drifting derelicts until they are boarded by spacefarers looking for treasure or salvage, at which point the undead swarm from below-decks to attack.
Other Configurations Edit
Battle Barge: Some captured or salvaged Barges of Ptah are found stripped of religious ornamentation, and bristling with even more weaponry than a templeship would carry. These 'battle barges' are usually used to defend worlds and asteroid bases, and typically remain in a stationary orbit until enemies are spotted.
Cargo Raft: Salvaged Barges of Ptah are often stripped of all superstructure and weaponry, and used as bulk cargo haulers. The remaining crew quarters on these ships are cramped at best, and the decks are usually as crammed with cargo as the holds. A cargo raft can carry 45 tons of cargo, and typically operates with a crew of 20. These ships are popular in safer regions of space only, since they are clumsy, undefended, and fragile. Even in well-defended spacelanes it is not uncommon for a cargo raft to be given an escort to protect it from attack (usually the escort will also have its cargo holds stuffed in order to defray the costs of sending a second ship to protect the first). The owners of cargo rafts like them for the extremely large amounts of cargo that they can carry, but the ships are universally detested by the crews that serve on them.