Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HMS Apollyon - Technology

Within the world of the HMS Apollyon many ancient technologies have been lost, and exist onlyas artifacts within the abandoned portions of the hull, in the hands of hostile entities or only as rumors.  Just as many new technologies have arisen from the passengers’ desperate struggle to survive.  Many of these technologies are attempts to duplicate the effects, appearance and uses of ancient artifacts, while others are the result of modifying artifact technology to new uses, and a few are wholly new.  Most of the stern dweller’s technological prowess has gone into aquaculture, net fishing, fish processing and maintaining ancient greenhouses – but some is more defensive in nature, especially in the fields of steam technology and animal breeding.

Below are some technologies unique to the Apollyon and of use to the flotsam that finds themselves forced into a career of scavenging:

Simple Contemporary Boiler & Plate Armor
The blacksmiths and greensmiths of the stern can make most muscle powered weapons, though they cannot smelt good steel since the abandonment of the forge to feral scrap automatons fifteen years ago.  Weapons made of scavenged steel are popular, especially boarding axes (usually with picks or claws opposite the blade for double duty as pry bars) swords, especially sabers and short basket hilted broad swords.  High quality bronze weaponry is more valuable than most steel as it resists rust and corrosion far better.  Good bronze is also much harder to scavenge and brings premium prices.

Mechanical weapons such as crossbows, spearguns and hydraulic assisted hammers are rarer but still within the abilities of stern town’s better artisans.  Bows are almost unheard of, due to the lack of wood, and the difficulty of using even a compound bow in the narrow confines of the Apollyon’s companionways.
Magical or techno-magical weapons exist in the hands of a few of the highest ranking officers in the stewards, the few remaining in the order of the ‘marines’ and amongst the most successful of the scavengers and passengers.

Stern town has the ability to make a limited number of firearms, through the efforts of its most skilled engineers.  Powder is in limited supply as the chemical industry among the crew is rudimentary.  This was not the case even three generations ago, before the last retreat, when breach loading, cartridge firing weapons were common.  Today only muzzle loading muskets and rifles are regularly available, though more advanced weapons are occasionally found and cartridges can still be expensively manufactured in limited numbers.  Muzzle loading shotguns are the most popular firearm among scavengers, though the semi-aquatic nature of the Apollyon and the dangerous noise generated by firearms makes even these guns fairly rare amongst scavenger teams.

Advanced and magical guns do exist, as the Apollyon’s ancient marine contingent was armed with durable gyro-jet rifles and grav-pulse flechette guns, though the last known one of these left the hands of the crew three hundred years ago in the doomed defense of the mid-ship machine deck.   There are rumors of even stranger weapons brought aboard by the numerous alien entities that have occupied portions of the hull in the last three eons:  radiation beamers, seeker parasites, horology shells, hell-splitters, necromantic bone rifles and conversion rays.   

Like weapons, the smiths of stern town can provide a coat of bronze or steel plates, chain mail or even a solid back and breast cuirass – though the price of scavenged metal is high.  Many scavengers avoid metal armor as it makes it difficult to swim.  Fiber armor and leviathan scale coats are popular, while ‘wetsuits’ of salvaged flex-plastic demands a premium price.

The original crew boasted armored suits of advanced material, powered by nuclear furnaces and rechargeable energy cells, both for industrial applications like cargo loading and working in the furnace rooms, but these are all gone now.  The crew has attempted to replicate these suits with varying degrees of success, both successful scavengers and most stewards wear some form of boiler & plate armor as these monstrosities are known.  Operating on boilers driven by scavenged lubricants or refined fish oils these suits can provide greater protection, strength and benefits such as breathing underwater to their operators.  Even the simplest fish oil driven exoskeleton over a coat of heavy bronze splints is unimaginably expense and takes months to craft however, and the cost of operation is frequently prohibitive.  Scavengers who use boiler & plate usually wear suits rescued from the sites of old battles and often bring the suits on their delves stored on pack hounds to conserve expensive fuel.

Companion Animals
The crew and passengers breed a wide variety of dogs, the most useful of which to scavenger teams are: pack hounds, vics and guard dogs.  Pack hounds are docile dogs up to 5’ at the shoulder that can carry a great deal of weight proportional to their size.  Guard dogs are fighting breeds, some truly monstrous, such as the web toed Barbet Noir – a 9’ long beast armored with rope like hair-mats and keratin spikes that can hold its breath for up to an hour.

Vics are the strangest of the companion animals commonly used by scavengers – there name allegedly originated as “small but viscous dog”, but after hundreds of generations of selective breeding they are hard to recognize as canine.  A vic is a beast with a huge jaw filled with rows of razor sharp teeth, much like a shark.  They are usually over 70% head and massive neck, with their tiny, almost vestigial, bodies barely able to support their weight.  Vics have been bred to remain placid in confined spaces, and turn suddenly murderous when startled or handled by anyone unknown to them.  A scavenger can carry a mid-sized vic in a sack and pull the beast out when threatened, flinging it’s frenzied form at an enemy.  The vic will attack mercilessly until slain (difficult due to their ferocity and the rubbery folds of nerveless flesh covering their thick skulls).  All manner of feats of tenacity are ascribed to vics and the best known lines such as the ‘undertown terrier’ demand premium prices.

Other animals successfully bred aboard the Apollyon include: monkey-cats, giant meat rats, meat dogs, huge flightless draft pigeons and numerous types of fish/crustaceans and amphibians.

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