While the Eagle Carrier is the largest of the human-designed bird-ships, the Greathawk Dreadnaught is undoubtedly the most advanced, and in many ways the most powerful, of those designs. Only the most powerful nations can afford to operate these large craft, but they have repeatedly proved their worth in battle.
The Greathawk Dreadnaught has the shape of a gigantic, crescent-winged hawk. The hawk-like body of the ship is made of reinforced metal for armour and durability. An elaborate glassteel dome covers the hawk's "heart" and the bridge of the ship. The back of the Greathawk has a double-story, squat building that houses most of the crew and officer quarters, while also providing a platform for much of the ship's weaponry. The wings are articulated and used to aid in maneuvering the craft, being operated by machinery within the ship, powered in part by magic, and in part by brute force on the part of strong-backed sailors.
The same machinery that operates the wings of the Greathawk Dreadnaught is also used to operate the vessel's claw rams. These claws hang below the ship, but can be swung forward when needed. The design of the claw rams is based heavily upon the design of the ram-claws used by orc Scorpions, but has been refined somewhat. Each claw can make 2 attack rolls with a THAC0 of 14 against a target within grappling range. If only one attack hits, then a glancing blow is struck. Roll 1d4, with results of 1 or 2 causing 1 or 2 hull points of damage respectively, while a result of 3 causes 3 HP plus a Ship Shaken critical hit, and a roll of 4 causes 4 HP plus a Hull Holed critical hit. If both attacks hit, then the claw has grabbed the enemy ship. A grab causes 5 HP of damage, a Hull Holed critical hit, and allows the ships to be grappled until the controlling crew releases the ship. A determined crew can dismantle an enemy ship piece by piece using the claws, however it is more common for a Greathawk Dreadnaught to simply attack until it successfully grabs the ship, at which point marines will board.
The Greathawk requires a fairly large crew to operate. At the top of the chain of command is the captain, followed by the first officer, second officer, chief helmsman, second helmsman, third helmsman, navigator, ship's cleric, ship's mage, chief of security, master engineer, sail master, and quartermaster. The ship's machinery requires a dozen men to oil, operate, and maintain it. Including weaponeers and marines, the total crew carried by a Greathawk Dreadnaught is typically 100 men or more.
Ship Uses Edit
Warship: The Greathawk Dreadnaught is a powerful warship, which has proved its worth in battles with scro during the second Unhuman War. Easily a match for vessels in its general size class, the Greathawk is also capable of going head-to-head with much larger ships with a good chance of success. In many cases, the mere sight of a Greathawk Dreadnaught has brought about the surrender of a lesser craft. Some fleets use Greathawks as flagships, or as fleet-busters. In a few rare cases, more than one Greathawk Dreadnaught will be used in combination to smash through whole armadas of enemy vessels. Even when not operating in groups with other Greathawks, these ships are never encountered alone. A Greathawk Dreadnaught always carries a number of smaller craft, usually 2-4 Falcons, although Sparrows, Blades, Flitters, and Launches are also commonly carried. Usually about 20 tons worth of smaller craft are carried. In addition to the ships carried by the Greathawk Dreadnaught, it will usually be accompanied by 1-8 other warships.
Ship of State: A small number of Greathawk Dreadnaughts are used as ships of state. These vessels are used by important nobles and dignitaries as transports for diplomatic missions. Intended to impress, these ships are not subtle in the least. This is meant to be read as a message that the power sending the Greathawk is not to be trifled with. This message is rarely misunderstood.
Other Configurations Edit
Pirate Dreadhawk: Pirate versions of the Greathawk Dreadnaught are exceedingly rare, since the vessel is nearly impossible for even the best pirate bands to capture. Instead, those pirate Greathawks (known as Pirate Dreadhawks) that have appeared have been military vessels whose officers and crew have turned rogue. These ships are truly terrifying to merchants throughout the spheres. Pirates like to swap out the heavy catapults for 4 medium ballistas, and sacrifice 4 tons of cargo space to add an extra pair of medium catapults. Pirate Dreadhawks tend to carry large crews, usually 120 men at a minimum.