The first Scorpionships began in the sweeping badlands of some forgotten world where colossal scorpions dwelled. The orcs discovered that the iron-hard exoskeletons of these scorpions could be fitted with decking, and used the husks to build their distinctive spelljammers. As the orcs refined their shipbuilding craft, they learned to build new Scorpionships without need of a dead scorpion's husk, although the vast majority were built from these exoskeletons.
A Scorpionship is built from a hull of iron-sheen chitin husk or a frame of thick wood. Decks of duskwood, ironwood, or oak divide the top, main, and cargo decks. The workmanship is frequently shoddy and the ship is often in ill repair; orcs care little for the condition of their ship. Many patches identify a veteran ship. Rust, rot, and shoddy repairs plague many ships; more than one Scorpionship collapsed unexpectedly.
The ram-claws of a Scorpionship are each operated by a single orc. Each claw can make 2 attack rolls with a THAC0 of 15 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 2 HP plus a Ship Shaken critical hit, and a roll of 4 causes 2 HP plus a Hull Holed critical hit. If both attacks hit, then the claw has grabbed the enemy ship. A grab causes 3 HP of damage, a Hull Holed critical hit, and allows the ships to be grappled until the controlling orc releases the ship. A determined orc crew can dismantle an enemy ship piece by piece using the ram-claws, however it is more common for a Scorpionship to simply attack until it successfully grabs the ship, at which point marines will board.
Most spacefarers speak only of Scorpionships, and, with the exception of the goblinkin themselves and the elves who hunted them, are unaware that there were actually three distinct varieties of the vessel. The reason for this is that the scorpions who provided the frames for these vessels went through several distinct growth spurts in their lives. This resulted in the gargantuan scorpions shedding old exoskeletons to make way for new exoskeletons that had yet to fully harden, and could therefore withstand the creature's sudden growth. Old exoskeletons that the scorpions had grown out of littered the badlands of this world, and a great number of these were used to construct scorpionships (although a shed exoskeletonwas typically split into 2 or more pieces, rejoining these into one vessel was a relatively easy process).
The largest and rarest version of the Scorpionship (aside from a few custom-built ships that could reach 90 tons) was the ship that the orcs called the King Scorpion. These 60 ton heavy warships were generally reserved for the most powerful orc leaders. Typically a King Scorpion would be the flagship of a Scorpionship wolfpack. The King Scorpion mounted 1 medium ballista, 2 heavy catapults, 2 ram-claws, and a piercing ram.
It should be noted that even a spacefarer who is familiar with the different varieties of Scorpionships will generally have trouble telling them apart at a distance. This is because the ships all look virtually identical except for size, and it is often very difficult to judge scale in space. In fact, Scorpionships of all three varieties tended to use the same layout for the internal decks as well. This was primarily due to the simplicity of the structure, and the ease with which the orc workers could build the decks. As a result, the same deckplans can be used for the Scorpion Scout, the Scorpion, and the King Scorpion. The Scout uses a 5'x5' scale, the Scorpion uses a 10'x10' scale, and the King Scorpion uses a 15'x15' scale.
Below the top decks is the main deck, with a small bridge, the controls for the claw rams, and quarters for the crew. The eyes are made of crude, opaque glass and are often tinted red. Small incense burners hang from the ceiling, filling the bridge with arcane smoke. Star charts hang from the wall, usually on animal skins. The shaman or witch doctor watches over the lifejammer, constantly chanting to make the magic work. Behind him, a pair of burly orcs operates a series of levers and turnstiles that make the ram claws move (note that only one orc is required to work each ram claw regardless of the size of the scorpionship). The orcs practice operating the weapons, and are quite good at it. The room doubles as a galley, with a cauldron in the center of the room where orcs prepare their meals. The orc kitchen is quite crude, with only the bare necessities. Meals consist of a watery stew, jerky, and an orc deviation of hardtack. Heading aft from the galley/claw control room is the crew quarters. Dozens of bunks are built into walls, stacked four high. Bunks are a right of the strongest warriors; an orc must earn his bunk through combat. Those orcs without a bunk sleep on the deck or the cargo hold. The captain's quarters are located at the base of the tail, the only private quarters aboard the ship. The best trophies will be located in his room.
Below the main deck and opposite of the gravity plane is the cargo deck. This area is roughly oval shaped. Sometimes this space is subdivided into other rooms, such as an armory and brig for prisoners. The hold is filled with all manner of wares that the orcs might need or otherwise find interesting. A hatch offers access to the cargo deck.
A Scorpionship of any variety requires only a small crew. Triangular sails are strung between the tail and the legs. For the King Scorpion four orcs are needed to man the sails, while the captain shouts orders to coordinate their efforts. A sixth orc, a shaman or witch doctor, is needed to operate the helm. Scorpions reduce this to a helmsman, a captain, and two sailors, while a Scout uses a helmsman, a captain, and a single sailor. In addition to providing maneuverability, the sails serve a double purpose in blocking out hateful sunlight. The orcs keep the sails situated to block as much sunlight as possible. The remainder of the crew, usually about fifty orcs for a King Scorpion, thirty for a Scorpion, and ten for a Scorpion Scout, mans the ship weapons or waits for an attempt to board other ships. Larger than standard crews are not uncommon for ships on a raid, but conditions are abhorrent.
Ship Uses Edit
Heavy Warship/Flagship: A deadly King Scorpion would nearly always be the flagship of an orc wolfpack, commanded by the largest and most powerful orc leader in the band. The King Scorpion would always serve as the main combat ship of a wolfpack; when the pack attacked a single ship the King Scorpion would take the lead, and when a group of ships was attacked, the King Scorpion would always take on the most dangerous opponent. In the First Unhuman War the elves were able to defeat the King Scorpions only by swarming them with Flitters carrying archers and mages, since the ships proved to be more capable combattants than the elven Man-o-War, and were even dangerous enough to seriously threaten the larger Armadas.
Other Configurations Edit
The King Scorpion is not well suited for purposes other than combat, and this makes other configurations rare.