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  1. Tis private: a man may thus go to any coast in the world invisibly, without discovery or prevented in his journey.
  2. Tis safe, from the uncertainty of Tides, and the violence of Tempests, which do never move the sea above five or six paces deep. From Pirates and Robbers which do so infest other voyages; from ice and great frost, which do so much endanger the passages towards the Poles.
  3. It may be of great advantages against a Navy of enemies, who by this may be undermined in the water and blown up.
  4. It may be of special use for the relief of any place besieged by water, to convey unto them invisible supplies; and so likewise for the surprisal of any place that is accessible by water.
  5. It may be of unspeakable benefit for submarine experiments.

The enumeration of the benefits of a Submarine over surface ships, from Mathematicall Magick by John Wilkins, written in 1648.

Basic Information

A submarine is a watercraft that can submerge and move under water. Despite apparently being a ship correct usage (at least in English) is to refer to a submarine as a boat.

The first submarine was invented by Cornelius Drebbel in 1620, but it would be a few centuries before they became even remotely common. Other noteworthy early submarines include:

More recent military submarines:

Thus far, there has only been one incident of one submarine sinking another in combat whilst both were submerged1, and that was the sinking of U865 by HMS Venturer in 1945. For all the effort put into developing sub-to-sub warfare techniques, not much has yet come of it. For the sake of trivia, there is also only one recorded instance of a submarine being sunk by a battleship - that was SM U-29, which was caught surfaced by HMS Dreadnought and run down whilst attempting to dive.



Game and Story Use

  • Subs are useful for their stealth. They can run a blockade, conduct espionage or covert resupply trips, launch a devastating sneak attack, or play cat and mouse with a surface vessel.
  • A sub makes an interesting vehicle or mobile HQ for the PCs.
  • Subs have an inherent danger to them - the crushing depths and scarcity of supplies means any little problem can balloon up into a major disaster. Setting a scene or two in a sub is a nice way to up the tension for a while.
  • Submarines work for a variety of settings and genres:
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