The Codex of Editable Wisdom


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Skiff and frigate in Ultima V


Using a frigate in Ultima VI

The frigate is the ship of choice in Britannia when it comes to sea travel. This huge ship is built for extended travel at sea, and is armed with powerful cannons in order to deal with seaborne monsters and pirates. Crews have the option of either raising the sails and hoping that the winds are right, or using the rows supplied with the ship for slower, more precise movement. Since a frigate can't enter shallow waters, each comes with a skiff for such situations, which is included in the price when buying the ship from the shipwright.

Frigates have been a part of the series since Ultima I, but only starting with Ultima V was it possible to buy them (before, they could only be captured from pirates). This was also the first time that skiffs were supplied with a frigate. By the time of Ultima VI, skiffs were not standard fare on the frigates, but they had gained the ability to sail everywhere.

Frigates were seen no more after that time, due to engine limitations reducing ships to simpler design. However, the intro to Ultima VII Part Two shows that actually the Avatar's ship is supposed to be a frigate.

Lore Edit

When a frigate docks near you, you can commandeer it - if the crew will accept you as a seasoned sailor. Otherwise, they'll turn the broadsides on you.

- from The Second Age of Darkness (Ultima II)

Ships are very scarce. The Pirate fleet has sunk most of the regular ships. When thou hast a ship, thou needst to maneuver it. To sail a ship, one must learn the ways of the winds. Thy ship may not sail against a wind, but must tack around it. Watch out for sudden shifts in the wind for the wind is a fickle elemental force.

- from The Book of Play (Ultima III)

Visiting island communities requires travel by ship. Despite rather outlandish rumors of people wandering the heavens in great airships, sailing on water is the fastest and most popular long-distance mode of transportation there is. The most common watercraft on the ocean are frigates. Tall, stately three-masters, the frigates cut through seas swiftly and smoothly. They generally have a two-level open deck and a below-deck with a forward cabin, rear bunkroom, and centre cargo hold. Most ocean going frigates are built to accommodate heavy cannons for broadside fighting and have two gangplank gateways on each side.

- from The Book of Lore (Ultima V)

Several of the port towns along the shores of Britannia boast ofcraftsmen renowned for their dedication to the construction of safe, dependable sea vessels. Whether you need a small skiff to get upriver, or a mighty sailing vessel for open sea travel, the local shipwrights will be more than happy to discuss terms. It is wise to pay attention to information about local sea and wind conditions before setting out in a new craft.

- from Compendium (Ultima VI)

Trivia Edit

  • In Ultima II it is only possible to command a frigate after acquiring blue tassles.
  • In Ultima IV, the Wheel of the HMS Cape can upgrade a frigate's hull, from its standard 50 HP to 99 HP.
  • In Ultima V, the plans of the HMS Cape were found to again upgrade the ship, this time to improve its speed.

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