Built much like a leaping horse, the Courser is a three mast light warship. The catapult is mounted on a turret in the forecastle, while the ballistas are mounted on the aftcastle. Officers quarters and a salon are found at the aft of the ship, while crew quarters, the mess hall, and a brig are found near the front. The ship's garppling ram is in the form of an articulated horse head in the fore, with retractable spikes to lock the vessel together with its target. Space aboard the utilitarian Courser is tight at best.
Originally designed by and for the Company of the Chalice shortly after they were founded, the Courser has since been refined and has been adopted by many different human factions. Coursers are particularly popular amongst the Pragmatic Order of Thought, and the Trading Company, although they are frequently used by other groups as well.
The crew of a Courser is universally military in nature, and usually numbers 15-20 men. A typical Company of the Chalice vessel will include a captain (a paladin of 5th-8th level), a first officer (the squire of the captain - a paladin of 2nd-5th level), a helmsman (a cleric of 4th-6th level), and a navigator (a cleric of 1st-6th level who will double as a backup helmsman). The remainder of the crew will be hardy men, trained to fight (warriors of 1st-3rd level). Other organizations using Coursers tend to organize their crews along similar lines.
Ship Uses Edit
Light Warship: Literally the workhorse of the Company of the Chalice, many other human navies have found the Courser to be an excellent combat vessel in its size class. Sturdy and well-armed, the Courser is versatile and capable of taking on larger ships with a good chance of success. Most military Coursers are effective largely because of the quality of their crews, however, since they are ideally suited to boarding actions, and tend to be manned with this in mind. The biggest drawback that the Courser faces in combat is a lack of maneuverability compared to most light warships.
Privateer: Coursers have proved to be effective pirate hunters, particularly in the hands of the Pragmatic Order of Thought. In this role, the Pots use Coursers in small fleets of 2-5 ships hunting down notorious pirates and slavers.
Piracy: It is quite rare to see Coursers in the hands of pirates, however a few such vessels have been reported. The grappling ram of the Courser, along with its hardiness, makes it a good choice for a band of pirates preying on medium or small trading ships. The fact that very few pirate Coursers exist also means that a pirate vessel can often surprise a target who might be expecting the ship to be manned by honourable knights.
Other Configurations Edit
Barded Courser: A common variant that is particularly popular for use in fleet actions, the Barded Courser is fitted with armour plating, increasing the AR to 3, but decreasing MC to a clumsy E. If operating on its own, a Barded Courser typically fares poorly due to its heavy handling, however it performs well in groups.
Zephyr: Another common modification to the Courser is to strip it of excess weight in order to allow for performance comparable to most ships its size. The resulting ship, known as a Zephyr, has MC C, but AR drops to 5. Zephyrs are often used on patrols and picket duty. In some cases, a Zephyr will also be topped out in order to further increase MC to B. Unfortunately, a topped out Zephyr requires a full 9 men to handle, with the result that such a ship will usually only see use in short-range defensive patrols. This is because adding more crew to the already cramped ship makes long voyages uncomfortable at best.
Unicorn: This version of the Courser replaces the articulated horse-head grappling ram with a stationary unicorn head with a long horn that acts as a piercing ram. It is believed that this variant inspired the Alicorn Star and the subsequent class of Unicorn-ships.