A light elvish vessel, the Schooner has all but vanished from the spacelanes since the end of the Great Hunt which followed the first Unhuman War. Prior to the first Unhuman War, the Schooner was one of the mainstays of the Imperial Elven Navy, along with the Archaic Flitter and the Archaic Man-o-War. Frequently used for light patrols, the Schooner performed well in peacetime, but it proved to be inadequate for wartime needs.
Midway in size between the Flitter and the Cutter (which was actually designed as an expanded version of the Schooner), the Schooner has found itself being replaced by those two ship designs. As the Archaic Flitter was being replaced with the modern Flitter, that craft became more attractive for light use. Simultaneously, the larger Cutter was introduced, and was found to be more suitable for most light-medium uses.
Unlike the Monarch-class Armada and the Archaic Man-o-War, both of which were actively retired by the Imperial Elven Navy, the Schooner has never been removed from service, however virtually no new hulls have been grown since the first Unhuman War. Instead, elven shipyards have generally focused on Flitters, Cutters, Men-o-War, and Armadas. As a result, any Schooner which is lost, in battle or otherwise, is likely to simply not be replaced, or to be replaced with another ship type.
As operated by the Imperial Elven Navy, a Schooner will have only two officers, plus 4-8 crew. The captain will typically be a fighter-mage of 5th - 7th level, who also serves as the Schooner's primary helmsman. The first mate, typically a fighter-mage of 4th - 6th level, serves as the backup helmsman and the navigator. The rest of the crew will be standard elves who serve as sailors, weaponeers, and as marines in the unlikely event of a boarding action. The total crew of a Schooner is likely to be six elves, since this is enough to handle the ship, as well as all weapons aside from the jettison (which will typically be loaded and kept at the ready to be used for a single shot if needed).
Ship Uses Edit
Scout: In many ways the Schooner is at its best when serving as a scout vessel, however this is the very duty which has caused the loss of most of these ships. During the first Unhuman War this was the primary duty of the Schooner, as it sought goblinkin vessels to be attacked by other IEN vessels. Throughout most of the war, this duty was relatively simple (if still fairly hazardous), since the goblinkin made little attempt to hide their movements. During the Great Hunt that followed the war, however, the goblinkin were fleeing in all directions, which led to longer and longer scouting missions taking place farther away from bases and elven-controlled space. During this time countless light Schooners were lost since the small ships, when isolated, were no match for even a single goblinkin vessel. As a result of Schooner losses during the Great Hunt, the IEN has since relied primarily on the larger and more expensive, but much more capable, Cutter as their primary scout vessel.
Messenger: While Flitters have always been the vessels of choice for elven messengers, Schooners were once commonly used for this purpose as well. Prior to the advent of the modern Flitter, standard IEN doctrine called for Archaic Flitters to be used for all intra-sphere messenger duties, while Schooners would be used for all inter-sphere messenger duties. When modern Flitters were introduced, those vessels became so common that most inter-sphere messenger missions began to fall to Flitters. Despite this, the Schooner is clearly better-suited to long-range messenger missions than the Flitter, since it is small enough that it is relatively economical, but large enough that it is fairly comfortable even on long voyages, and it is better able to defend itself from any hazards than a Flitter. Virtually all Schooners still in service can be found in this role.
Patrol: Prior to the first Unhuman War, Schooners were frequently used as patrol vessels, and the small ships allowed under-manned elven fleets to put out a credible number of patrols. As hostilities heated up, however, the deficiencies of Schooners in this role were brutally exposed, as even Schooners patrolling in pairs proved to be easy pickings for goblinkin reavers. Current IEN doctrine calls for all patrol missions to be undertaken by ships no smaller than a Cutter, and patrols by Men-o-War or Armadas are much more common.
Light Support: In fleet actions, the Schooner is sometimes used as a light support vessel. Standard tactics call for such ships to remain out of range of enemy medium and heavy weapons, while peppering the smallest enemy vessels with their light weapons, allowing the rest of the elven fleet to concentrate on the larger enemy ships.
Other Configurations Edit
Priority Shuttle: A small number of Schooners have been refitted to serve as priority shuttles to transport high-ranking officers to new assignments. These ships are intended to protect their passengers from attack, with evasion being the primary goal. To facilitate evasion, these Schooners are always equipped with major helms, and are topped out for MC A (although crew is increased to 5). In addition, the ship is equipped with an extra three light catapults. This weaponry is often enough to discourage any pursuit, while staying out of range of most enemy weapons. A Schooner operating as a priority shuttle will typically have a crew of 12-15 elves, plus the passenger(s), and will usually only be used for journeys lasting less than two months.