The Monarch-class Armada is an obsolete version of the more standard elven Armada. Monarch Armadas are essentially very similar to more standard Armadas, except that the 'butterfly body' of the craft has been straightened and expanded, giving the craft a somewhat bloated look, and considerably increasing the ship's tonnage without increasing the length. The wings have been flattened so that their upper surfaces can be used as landing platforms for Flitters, but once they have landed, the Flitters are housed internally in a huge hangar bay, unlike the modern Armadas which simply carry their Flitters on top of and hanging underneath their wings. This hangar bay takes up half of the Monarch's cargo space, and is intended to carry 50 Flitters (the 2 Monarch-class Armadas operated by drow tend to carry a number of different craft in their hangar bays, most of which have been modified by the drow). Forward of the hangar bay is the ship's main bridge, while the auxilliary bridge with the backup helm can be found to the aft of the hangar bay. The rest of the usable portion of the Monarch is made up of an internal 'citadel' which houses crew quarters, and other essential ship functions. Several gunnery platforms are found throughout the ship, but a Monarch actually carries relatively few large weapons for a ship of its size. Large portions of the internal areas of the Monarch are not usable, since they are filled with a honeycomb-like crystalline substance which maintains the vessel's structural integrity.
The Monarch is, in many ways, a superior vessel, but there are a number of significant reasons why the design was abandoned after only about half a dozen craft were built. First and foremost amongst these reasons is the crystalline internal structure of the craft. In order to achieve a craft the size of a Monarch-class Armada from the fruit of the starfly plant (which is the basis of most elven ships), significant magical changes needed to be made to the plant's internal structure. The result of this was a ship that does not have the natural resilliency of most elven ships, and which cannot heal itself in the manner of most elven hulls. Instead, while the ship remains alive, any damage must be repaired through a combination of standard repairs and magic (typically using Mending or Plant Growth spells). It is possible for all repairs to be made magically, but if an attempt is made to perform repairs in a purely mundane manner, the ship must save vs. crushing blow for each hull point of repairs to be successful. A failed save means that the effort has been expended to perform the repair, but the ship's honeycomb structure was damaged in the process, resulting in no significant progress. If the save is failed on a natural 1, then an additional 1d3 hull points of damage are done to the craft.
The second major reason that the Monarch design was abandoned is the fact that the ship cannot be powered by a standard major helm, even the most powerful varieties. Instead, the ship must be powered by a far more expensive series major helm. Since the Imperial Elven Navy is one of the very few space organizations which is able to produce major and minor helms themselves instead of purchasing them from the arcane, the idea of having to rely on the arcane for series major helms did not appeal to the admiralty. In addition, one of the regulations of the IEN requires that each command vessel carry a backup helm, which is not overly onerous on a standard Armada, but a Monarch's need for a series major helm made the carrying of a backup an incredibly expensive proposition.
Finally, the Monarch-class Armada is able to carry more Flitters than a modern Armada, but not to the degree that would be expected from a craft that is twice the tonnage of a standard Armada. Unlike a modern Armada, this carrying capacity cannot be increased by carrying Flitters outside the main body of the ship, since the series major helm, as installed and arranged by the arcane, cannot move any extra tonnage over and above the 200 spacial tons of the Monarch. In addition, the Monarch actually mounts fewer large weapons than the modern Armada. While this can easily be remedied by the simple installation of more weapons, this must be done at the expense of cargo space, which is already effectively limited to 50 tons by the hangar bay. Alternatively extra space for weapons can be hollowed out from the honeycomb structure of the hull, but this is dangerous, since it will result in penalties to the ship's AR, and possibly penalties to ship saving throws.
As a result of these drawbacks, the Monarch-class Armada was quickly discontinued. The existing Monarchs were sent to hidden locations, where they were to be held in reserve against the day when they might be needed to bolster elven forces. Unfortunately, drow spies determined the locations of two of these Monarchs, and managed to steal them. When the IEN discovered the theft, the remaining Monarch-class ships were returned to service, largely to prevent them from falling into the hands of enemies.
The Monarch-class Armada tends to carry a crew which is virtually identical in size and organization to that of a modern Armada. The Monarchs which are in the hands of drow, however, follow a much looser command structure, with crew positions determined largely by politics and the whims of the most powerful priestesses aboard.
Ship Uses Edit
Command Ship: All Monarchs, whether operated by the IEN or by a drow nation, are used as command ships. Despite their drawbacks, the huge ships are powerful and impressive. Monarchs serve well as command vessels, leading fleets of lesser ships. The only thing that varies from Monarch to Monarch tends to be the number and nature of the ships which it leads. This fleet includes the craft that the Monarch itself carries, but also includes numerous other ships.
Other Configurations Edit
Drow Monarch: The Monarch-class Armadas operated by the drow have been slightly modified to serve their purposes. In most respects the Monarch, with its enclosed hangar bay and lack of exposed decks, was already well-suited to the light-hating drow. These ships have been changed somewhat from their original configurations, however, with the addition of protective domes over the bombard turrets, and the darkening of the portals on the ships. Providing similar domes over the fore and aft gunnery platforms has proved impractical, due to the difficulty of coordinating the openings in the domes for the multiple weapons which may be firing at multiple targets.