One of the few ships designed for the giff (the design was actually made by a human shipwright hired by a group of giff, but the plans have spread to several different giff organizations which have built a number of the craft), the Great Bombard resembles a single-decked groundling bireme, and indeed such a craft actually served as the frame for the first of these ships. The rowing banks are planked over, and the prow is removed and replaced with a huge bombard of cold iron banded with steel rings, which runs half the length of the ship. The bombard is also typically capped with a great brass blunt ram, which is usually ornately sculpted, often in the shape of a giff's head. Great Bombards carry pre-measured tin drums, each of which carries the 20 charges of smoke powder needed to fire a single shot from the great bombard. Any critical hit against a Great Bombard has a 10% chance of igniting the powder stores, inflicting 3d10 x 5 hull points of damage (this is greater than normal because, in addition to the prodigious amounts of smokepowder carried for the main gun, the giff crew will usually be carrying considerable additional powder for their personal weapons).
Although the design is based on a groundling ship, the Great Bombard is badly unbalanced by its main weapon, and when landing in water it will tend to capsize in all but the most calm of waters. As a result, Great Bombards usually dock only at asteroid bases, and stay away from large worlds.
The crew numbers given above are for human-sized crew. Since the Great Bombard was actually designed for use by the giff, it can be handles by only 10 of the large, powerful creatures. The four chief officers aboard a Great Bombard are the respected captain, the noble helmsman, the puissant crafter, and the master gunsman. The master gunsman is responsible for firing the bombard. The puissant crafter is responsible for maintenance of the weapon. The noble helmsman does not actually man the helm (since giff are unable to cast spells, and are thus unable to power standard helms), but instead is in charge of the hired human or other individual operating the helm. The respected captain, of course, gives the order to fire. The remaining giff on board (typically a total of 20 giff are carried) are assistants to the ship's masters, as well as being responsible for the ship's maneuverability, keeping the gun clean, reloading the gun, forming boarding parties, and manning the light ballistas when neccessary (although these are considered sissy weapons). The respected captain is the ultimate leader of the giff, but he will almost always be acting on the orders of whomever has hired the giff as mercenaries.
Ship Uses Edit
Mercenary Warship: Virtually all of the two dozen or so Great Bombards which are known to exist serve as mercenary warships, hiring out their services to the highest bidder. The Great Bombard is the giff super-weapon - a mobile platform with a big gun on it, capable of knocking most of its opponents into the next crystal sphere. As the ship is dominated by its gun, so too the captain and crew are dominated by their need to acquire enough smokepowder to fire the great bombard. As a result, Great Bombards must be continually employed as mercenaries in order to afford the huge weapon's ammunition. Great Bombards are usually hired by factions with small or non-existant fleets of their own, as they are often used as intimidation weapons more than anything else. In large fleet actions, the Great Bombard is almost as great a danger to friends as it is to foes. The Great Bombards in known space form a loose brotherhood of giff known as the Cult of the Gun. All captains are members by the very act of possessing the Great Bombard, and one captain will never fire upon another for fear of damaging the weapon.
Other Configurations Edit
Gunship: When possible, and when sufficient smokepowder is available, the giff will replace the light ballistas with typical bombards, mounted on turrets. The giff greatly prefer this version to the standard configuration, but it tends to be impractical due to the scarcity of smokepowder.