SS Unsinkable

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The SS Unsinkable is a swamp-dragon-powered steam boat owned by Chidder, who runs a smuggling operation out of Ephebe. The boat requires a group of players to work together in a chaotic, difficult mission to operate the boat, deal with the complications and dangers involved in the journey, and successfully bring the cargo to its destination across the Circle Sea. Success can reward the group with a share of ambergris, used to buy things from Niknax.

Each ship launch is an instance, so different groups can attempt a run at the same time. The mission is generally said to take at least an hour, though an experienced crew might get it done in 20 minutes.

As announced [1]:

The Ephebian smugglers need this rush delivery on the other end of the Circle Sea in four hours, and only the smuggler fleet's fastest and least reliable ship, the dragon-powered SS Unsinkable, can make it there in time.

To make it across, four players must cooperate to steer the ship, wrangle the dragons into behaving, put out fires and repair any holes in the hull, search the storerooms for supplies to do all of the above, and perhaps even fight off a sea monster - all while contending against the ever-changing hostile weather of the ocean.

Starting a mission

At first you need to be the leader of a group of at least 4 players. Say 'help' in Ephebian to Chidder and then 'yes'.

Once you succeed once (or more times) to reach your destination (with cargo?) and/or get higher skills and/or special equipment, you will then be able to start the mission with a smaller group or maybe even on your own.

Chidder says to Leader in Ephebian with a nautical Ephebian accent: Great!  We'll just get the ship ready.
Chidder goes into the tunnels for a minute, his shouted orders echoing out from the tunnel mouth, then comes back out.
Several smugglers carefully carry fragile-looking crates out from the tunnels, across the beach, and on board the ship.
Several smugglers disembark the ship and stomp back across the sand to the tunnels.
Several smugglers carefully carry wriggling swamp dragons out from the tunnels, across the beach, and on board the ship.
Several smugglers disembark the ship and stomp back across the sand to the tunnels.
Player1, Player2 and Player3 board the SS Unsinkable.
[starboard side of the upper deck]
 / \      
|   |     
This is about halfway down the upper deck of the SS Unsinkable.  It's not a large ship - the upper deck stretches about ten yards to fore and five yards to aft, with the giant paddlewheel behind the ship taking up another five yards.  A ladder here leads down through a hatch onto the lower deck.
The ship is floating peacefully at a standstill.
It is a warm backspindlewinter's midday with a gentle breeze and a beautifully clear sky.
There are six obvious exits: fore, aft, port, port aft, down and overboard.

The ship is not moving at first, for that you need to wake up the dragons. Don't do so until you are ready! Without proper wrangling the dragons will burn the ship and everything in it.

Rooms / Tasks / Skills required

Many skills are required to do things on the ship. This is a work in progress, many are probably missing and the exact uses and ranges need to be determined.


Everyone needs:

  • Adventuring.movement.sailing so you are not shoved into walls or into other rooms/overboard while the ship is moving (this is also easier while wearing appropriate footwear). Also, the ropes that you tie last longer.
    • The Smuggler's seaboots is the best, other boots probably help somewhat too. It is unclear if other seaboots help better than normal boots or if boots that are armour are better.
    • Without appropriate footwear you can lose traction, made worse when the boat is covered in ice, and this will cause you to be flung around - taking damage, being moved rooms.
  • Adventuring.acrobatics.balancing replaces the need for footwear, and high enough can even help prevent slipping on ice with bare feet. A 250+ balancing bonus is generally enough but you may still get flung around rarely. (Burden may influence this skillcheck?)
  • Adventuring.movement.swimming to swim overboard the ship for repairing the hull and to keep up with the ship if it moves when overboard. Being tied to the railing with a rope will pull you along, but your rope frays until it eventually breaks.

Exits on the ship:

port fore | starboard fore
   port - @ - starboard
 port aft | starboard aft

Ship steering

  • Looking at the compass in the cabin or the sun / stars gives you the ship heading if you have enough adventuring.direction.
  • You can get your position with adventuring.direction by looking at the charts in the cabin or when holding the navigator's sextant by looking at the sun / stars.

When looking at the ocean from the upper deck you see a map of what's around the ship two rooms away from the ship.

  • When on the mast, you see three rooms away, one more than from elsewhere.
  • Climbing up and down the mast requires adventuring.movement.climbing.tree.
  • Example from the mast:
You look out over the sea:
  ~~O       @ the SS Unsinkable
 -nn~n      P the Smugglers' Cove (starting point)
n~~~~O~     ~ the Circle Sea near the SS Unsinkable
$~~@~^*     H land
G~~P~~-     * an iceberg
 HHHHH      n a rocky outcrop
  HHH       $ some dire seaweed
            G a whirlpool
            v a backward current
            _ a coral reef
            ? dense fog
            = an ice floe
            O a giant turtle
            - some driftwood
            . some floating debris
            @ a wrecked ship
            ^ a forward current
            P a hidden dock near Ankh-Morpork (destination!)

Important note! When looking at the ocean, the ship is facing towards the TOP of the map! ^ The map updates as the ship turns a few seconds after you turn the wheel (if the ship is moving). Unless you then center the wheel you will keep turning.

Changing the ship's heading is done at the fore end of the upper deck.

Someone needs to be holding the ship's wheel to control where the ship is going.

  • There are five positions: leftmost | left | center | right | rightmost
  • You can turn the wheel up to 4 notches from leftmost (port) to rightmost (starboard).
  • You can also 'centre wheel' to go straight.
  • When you change heading stuff will go flying in the opposite direction all throughout the ship.

At the start of the voyage, the ship is facing completely hubwards. Thus, when looking at the ocean at the start you would position yourself like this:

turnwise-hubwards   ^  widdershins-hubwards
                 \  | /
      turnwise <- ship -> widdershins
                 /  | \
turnwise-rimwards   v  widdershins-rimwards

This next map shows the directions as we normally orient it in the terrains with the north upwards, the ship is going from Ephebe in the "west" (rimwards) towards Ankh-Morpork in the "east" (hubswards).

           turnwise-rimwards     ^      turnwise-hubwards
                            \    |     /
Rim ... (Ephebe) rimwards <- Circle sea -> hubwards (Ankh-Morpork) ... Hub
                            /    |    \
        widdershins-rimwards     v     widdershins-hubwards
                          (wash out beach)
centre [wheel]                                          Turn the ship's wheel back to centre position.
  hold [wheel]                                          Hold the ship's wheel to keep it steady in its current position.
  turn [wheel] <port|starboard>                         Turn the ship's wheel in a particular direction.
  turn [wheel] <left/port|starboard/right> by <number>  Turn the ship's wheel in a particular [notches] direction by multiple notches.

Engine / dragon wrangling

There are four swamp dragons:

  • Bitey the sky blue swamp dragon
  • Nugget the dark purple swamp dragon
  • Idiot the bright red swamp dragon
  • Aggy the pale green swamp dragon

Doing pretty much anything with the dragons, including looking at them to see their hunger and boredom, uses crafts.husbandry.animal.grooming and crafts gp. (You feel better at judging the moods of animals.)

  • A minimum of 200 bonus is suggested so you can see their needs and so they don't run away from you too fast.
  • At 250 bonus you see more precisely how bored the dragons are with numbers.
  • At higher bonuses the dragons misbehave less (or later), starting less fires.
  • Taking a dragon is skillchecked and requires crafts gp. They can also escape fast, especially when very bored.

You need to fill the boilers from tanks, since other water source do not work.

  • You'll probably need to refill the boilers on the way, so it is best to have spare tanks available. Also if you flush the water for a fast stop you'll need to refill.

Starts / stops the ship.

hit <dragon> [over the head] with <control rod>   Bring a misbehaving dragon under... "control".  By knocking it out.
This is an aptly named contraption for boiling large quantities of water into steam.  Its main body is a large iron barrel with around a dozen pipes running through it.  According to the large embossed symbols and arrows on the barrel, it looks like the Engine should be filled with water and then fire passed through the pipes to boil it.  Wide pipes lead out of the Engine into the ceiling and floor and a red lever is mounted on its side.
According to the dials on the side, it seems to be completely empty and cold.

Securing crates / people with rope

This uses the coils of rope and adventuring.movement.sailing.

You must secure the cargo if you don't want it to fly off everywhere and get damaged.

  • Best done before getting underway.
  • Ropes break after a while though, you need to secure the cargo again and repair the crates.
  • With a higher sailing your knots/ropes will last longer.

When you are on the top of the ship you can tie yourself to the railing.

  • You need to untie yourself if you want to go below deck. This needs to be done in the room you were tied.
  • As long as you are tethered it will pull you along when the ship leaves while you are swimming around trying to repair the hull, break the ice or cut the seaweed, at least for a while.
  • The ropes get damaged and will break off after too much abuse. If you fail to notice and fail to swim along you will lose the ship and wash up on the beach with no way back.
  • You can look at the rope in the room it was tied. When it is fraying you should untie and tie with another rope.
  • With a higher sailing your knots/ropes will last longer.
  • Note that even without the rope you will automatically try to follow the ship with your swimming skills.
tie <crates> down with <rope>             Tie some crates down securely so they
                                          won't slide around when the ship
                                          experiences turbulence.
tie me to [the] railing with <rope>       Tie yourself to a railing so you can
                                          safely swim around the ship without
                                          getting left behind.
tie <living> to [the] railing with <rope> Tie someone to a railing so they can
                                          safely swim around the ship without
                                          getting left behind.
untie <rope>

Repairing the ship / clearing the hull / fires

Carpentry to repair the boat or crates when damaged. This uses (at least)

You can use the repair syntax with the appropriate tools and materials.

Crates, doors and walls
repair [damaged] <crate> with <boards & nails>           Repair a cargo crate with boards and nails.
repair [damaged] <direction> door with <boards & nails>  Repair a door of the ship with boards and nails.
repair [damaged] {wall|walls} with <boards & nails>      Repair the wall of the ship with boards and nails.

From the upper deck you can leave overboard, swimming in the ocean around the ship. (Or washing out of the instance depending if you are tied and your adventuring.movement.swimming skills and the weight of your inventory.)

To prevent washing out of the instance you should tie yourself to the railing or stop the ship. If your rope breaks and you fail to swim along the ship you will wash out at the beach and have no way back to the ship.

repair [damaged] hull with <boards & nails>              Repair the wooden hull of the ship with boards and nails.
Things on the hull

You should also check if there's ice or dire seaweed (or something else!) that needs to be cleared from the ship.

The ship plows through a field of floating dire seaweed, some of which glows green and latches onto the hull aggressively!
cut seaweed with <weapon>

The SS Unsinkable's hull has a few patches of sea ice frozen onto it, dragging the ship down, and is in perfect condition.
break ice with <weapon>

In addition to the hull, ice will gather on the floors, which can cause the player to slip upon entry. Floor ice is broken with the same command as hull ice. Breaking ice uses fi.po (confirmed by TM).

Putting out fires

Small fires can be put out by stamping:

stamp out fire                                                             
stamp fire out

Using the fire bucket (filled with water):

pour <bucket> {over|on|onto} fire          Pour a bucket of water on a fire to put it out

Searching the storerooms

Many items can be found in storerooms A, B and C.

Carpentry repairs
  • carpenter's hammers (using a hammer from outside the ship also works)
  • iron nails
  • wooden boards
  • fire axes - smash doors or tables or the mast to make planks which can be used to repair stuff (smashing the table on the bridge might make navigation difficult)
  • fire buckets - fill with 2 gallons of water to pour on fires to put them out
Security / healing
  • coils of rope - you need lots of those to secure the crates and tie people to the railing and replace the ropes that break
  • box of bandages - bandage
  • old linen towels - tear to use as bandages, maybe to put out players on fire, dry yourself
  • juicy lemons - feed giant fruitbats
Dragon / engine
  • medium sized lumps of coal - dragon food
  • tins of shoe polish - dragon food
  • large brown bottles - dragon food
  • lemons - dragon food
  • rubber toy ball - dragon boredom
  • squeaky toy animals - dragon boredom
  • water tanks - fill engines
  • control rods - put dragons to sleep
Fighting monsters
  • arbalests - fired
  • arbalest bolts - ammo
  • steel-tipped harpoons - thrown
  • fire axes - thrown

Searching uses adventuring.perception. Higher skill can result in finding two of the item you were searching for.

  • Searching for something specific 'search <item>' seems harder than just searching, often you'll get something random instead.
  • Increasing int by holding a klein bottle seems to increase the odds of finding items instead of not finding anything.

As it says in the help file below, you must move the items outside the storerooms or they will just get lost again.

All items get taken away when you leave the ship area, so you need to search to get new items every time you start the mission. Some items from Niknax probably help for sailing.

Fighting off sea monsters

There are two monsters:

  • the sea serpent
  • the kraken

Both coil around the ship and start attacking living things on the top deck.

You can fight the monsters with either:

You determine that the arbalest is an extremely powerful triggered type fired weapon. It could be loaded with an arbalest bolt.

load arbalest with bolt

The steel-tipped harpoon is a polearm which can be used to stab. It would also make a good thrown weapon.

Monster fight:

  • The monster only attacks people on the (top) deck.
  • If no one is on the (top) deck, the monster wrecks the ship.
  • The monster leaves after you have done enough damage to it. This can take dozens of blows or two swamp dragons exploding.
  • Getting eaten just means you take damage. This can kill you if your health is too low.
  • If the monster catches you it removes your TPA or bug shield in one hit. Yes, even fluke ones. Yes, even if you cast it with uber skills.
  • Even the weakest TPA or bug shield will protect you from all damage once, then it's gone. You can go to the lower deck to recast it safely.
  • Evading the monster by going in the direction it's coming from to eat you will make you get eaten or strucked.
  • To hurt the monster you have to throw or fire when you get the chat about the monster's mouth being open to eat a player. This is also the time to run away if the monster is targeting you. While it is possible to do both, you might also get eaten.


While everyone taking part can do all the tasks, the boat is large and there are many tasks that come up through a journey, and so it is advised that members of a group follow certain roles and focus on specific tasks fitting their skills.

Dedicated essential roles
Description Location Deals with Tool(s) Action Skill(s) Failure entails
Captain /
Fore, upper deck Ship's wheel Sea, sun / stars, navigator's sextant Hold / turn / centre wheel, l sea adventuring.movement.sailing, adventuring.direction Ship hitting things, getting lost
Dragon wrangler
/ Engineer
Boiler room port / starboard Swamp dragons, engines Lumps of coal, tins of shoe polish, rubber toy balls, squeaky toy animals, control rod, water tanks, engineer's brush Placing / feeding / distracting / knockout dragons, (re)filling engines with water, emergency stop crafts.husbandry.animal.grooming Fire and smoke, wrong speed

These roles can be done by everyone, but most commonly done by what are called Deckhands, unless doing the mission with two persons.

Description Location Deals with Tool(s) Action Skill(s) Failure entails
Deckhand / Carpenter Overboard / below Hull / indoor walls / crates / doors Carpenter's hammer, wooden boards, iron nails, shipwright's hammer Carpentry repairs, adventuring.movement.swimming Water in the ship / sinking
Deckhand / Cutter and Breaker Overboard (hull), everywhere for ice Dire seaweed / ice Weapon (sharp for cut) Cut seaweed / Break ice ? fighting.melee.*, adventuring.movement.swimming Damage to the hull, inner walls
Deckhand / Firefighter Engine room, everywhere Fires (dragons, lightning) Fire bucket, footwear Pour bucket on fire, stamp out fire for burns Damage to crew / ship, death, sinking
Deckhand / Defender Upper deck Fighting monster Arbalest & bolts, steel-tipped harpoons, fire axes Fire <fired weapon>, throw <thrown weapon> fighting.range.fired or fighting.range.thrown Ship damage, sinking, death
Ropes & store rooms
  • The person with the highest adventuring.movement.sailing should tie all cargo crates.
  • Deckhands that will go overboard should tie themselves if they are not completely confident in their ability to swim to catch the ship. Might also help at low sailing bonus in case you fall off the ship.
  • Everyone should search the cargo rooms for the needed items after boarding.
Description Location Deals with Tool(s) Action Skill(s) Failure entails
Rope expert and Deckhands Railing / cargo rooms Crew on top, crates of cargo Coils of rope Tie cargo / people, look at ropes, when fraying untie & tie with new rope adventuring.movement.sailing Lost crew, cargo damage
(Everyone) Quartermaster Store rooms Items needed for everything else Quartermaster's shovel Search for items adventuring.perception Lack of items for other tasks
Support roles

Note that none of these roles are popular, you can do without them.

Description Location Deals with Tool(s) Action Skill(s) Failure entails
Relief Lower deck Fatigued crew Relief, Holy Sacrifice Give GP for tasks,, faith.rituals.special, faith.rituals.misc.self, faith.rituals.curing.self, Not enough GP
Doctor Crew stations Hurt crew Bandages / healing rituals / oak wands Healing crafts.medicine.firstaid / / magic.items.held.wand Crew death
Co-pilot Cabin Heading, position Sea, compass (sun / stars), charts, navigator's sextant Determine heading and position, assist navigator adventuring.direction Getting lost
Lookout Top of the mast, overboard Sea obstacles Climbing aids, Sacred Fins, Fishy flippers Guide ship (overboard for fog) adventuring.movement.climbing.tree, adventuring.movement.swimming Ship hitting more things


  • Adventuring.movement.swimming is only needed when you are not tied (or the rope breaks) to avoid losing crew at sea. This is a difficult check if you are holding things. This is a problem because that person is out of the instance and cannot help any more.
  • Everyone should search in the store rooms at the beginning and transport the items outside the store rooms.
  • Everyone able should fight the fires as soon as possible to keep the situation from getting out of control. Once the fire is out open the doors / hatches to clear the smoke.
  • Everyone needs adventuring.movement.sailing to not be thrown into walls (deals damage) and to other rooms or overboard while sailing and when tying ropes.
  • People not wrangling the dragons should avoid entering the boiler rooms for no reasons, because it causes the dragons to look back and start fires. You can stamp those fires out if you are fast enough, after you step into the room.

Dangers and events on the journey

Fire and smoke!
  • Swamp dragons that are not handled well enough will put fire to the ship. Use a control rod to put unused dragons to sleep, don't leave them unattended.
  • Lightning can strike the ship and start fires all over the ship!
  • If not extinguished fast enough the fire will spread and deal lots of damage to players (fire and smoke) and to the ship!
  • Open doors / hatches once the fire has been extinguished to get rid of the smoke.

Map hazards:

Giant turtle
You hear the distinctive sound of an angry giant turtle bellowing, followed by the rather less distinctive sound of a giant bite being taken out of the ship.
The ship abruptly starts spinning in circles.  After a few rounds, it manages to escape the whirlpool, heading in a different direction from before.
A loud thud sounds from the front hull as the ship runs something over.  It sounds like ice might be forming on the hull!
A ominous crunch sounds from the front hull, the ship shaking violently from the collision.  It sounds like ice might be forming on the hull!
A loud crunch resonates from fore, the ship shaking violently from the collision.  It sounds like ice might be forming on the hull!
The ship plows through a field of floating dire seaweed, some of which glows green and latches onto the hull aggressively!

Seaweed doesn't like ice.

You see some dire seaweed drifting off into the sea, complaining seaweedily.  Looks like it didn't like the cold.


You failed your mission because the SS Unsinkable sank.

Sinking happens if you pull the plug from the fore corner of the lower deck.

If you take too long (four discworld hours) it probably fails too.


You cannot use a broomstick to fly away when on the ship.

If you move away from the ship when already overboard you will lose the ship and find yourself at the (failure) beach.

  • The (failure) beach is always at the southern end of the Circle sea halfway between Ephebe and Ankh-Morpork.
  • The mission continues for the others, but there's no way to get back, unless (this is far-fetched) you were to track the ship instance back to the ship or you could find a way to fly/portal back, but this is probably not possible.
As you swim a little too far from the ship, a current catches you and sweeps you far out.  Soon, you can't see the ship any more, but manage to wash up on a beach before you drown.

If the group continues on, so long as you remain a member, you can still receive credit for the mission.

If the ship sinks, you will wash out to the same beach with around 10% hitpoints left and you will receive the Achievement: Sinkable.


Rewards are not fully recorded   research If this has been marked on a page, it's because there was something that probably isn't known, that the person who edited the page thinks could be found out. Perhaps you could figure this thing out, and be famous evermore. . It seems the monetary reward for each crew member is approximately &&&&&&&&&&+80000 AM$200, while ambergris seems to be rewarded to those with some number of missions under their belt as a "bonus".

See also