This guide covers Special Shipbuilding, used both to build ships and to modify existing ships.
Building a ship with SSB
To build a ship using SSB you will need 3 things: Skill, Parts and Ducats. To build any ship requires the Shipbuilding skill, at the required rank. To build a ship with SSB you need the parts that go into that ship - there are 5 parts: Hull, Sail, Gunport and 1 or 2 additional parts. Study the various data about the ship you're trying to build to work out what parts are required. The UWO database at ivyro.net is pretty good for what parts make what ships and skills.
Ship parts are classified as Small, Medium or Large, so you will see things like "Medium Row Boat" which is a hull used to make some standard-class galleys, or "Small Gaff sail" which is a type of sail used on light-class ships. Building a ship with SSB has one big advantage over buying from the yard or normal shipbuilding, you can "build-in" the first improvement (commonly called a "mod" in-game) for "free", producing a ship which is "1/5" (see the image above, which shows 5/5 - that ship has had 5 improvements out of 5 available).
To take a specific example: the popular Cruise Light Clipper (CLC) is made in Calicut using SSB. This ship cannot be bought direct from the yard, nor can it be built with normal shipbuilding (some ships can't be built with SSB, some can be both bought, built normally and built with SSB). In building a CLC it makes sense to add the Emergency Acceleration (EA) ship skill to it (skills are shown to the right of the improvements count in the image above). This can be done by including the correct parts in the build process. To build a CLC with EA would require:
- Medium Flush Deck Style Hull - the basic hull for this ship.
- Medium Gaff Sail - needed to give the ship EA skill.
- General Medium Gun Port - this part is required, on this ship there is no point using a better one.
- Antifouling Paint - the other part needed to give the ship EA.
- optionally, add another part to increase some ship stat. Middle mast, for example, would add some H and V sail.
Once you have all the parts, you can present yourself to the Shipyard Master at Calicut, click the "Special Shipbuilding" button, then select "build ship", select your hull and you should see a list of ships which can be built. If you can't see the list, and your Shipbuilding rank is sufficient, then you will have to invest more money in the city. In some cases, the ship may still not show up if the city development is too low. For example it is currently impossible to build the Xebec Tug in the Gama server: it is only built in Aden and the city development is presently over 9000 too low.
To build the ship you click all the parts so that they are placed on the build ship menu, then proceed to build the ship as normal (selecting capacity, giving it a name etc.).
Here's an example with screenshots, of a ship I built today.
This is the menu from the Shipyard master after you click SSB and then "Build ship". It shows the kinds of ship you can build with the hull(s) in your inventory. Note the SB ranks are shown in orange. This is because my actual rank is R9+1.
The next menu after you select the hull you wish to use, showing the ships you can build with that hull and their base specs and price. I'm going to build the Xebec Cruiser. Notice there is no choice of hull material, all SSB builds are the same in this respect
This menu shows a build you can't do: I didn't include a gunport. SSB ship builds have to have a complete quota of parts - mods after building don't. In this case I'm adding a large storm sail which boosts H sail and wave res, the ship should then sail in storms (it doesn't as stock)
Now I added the gunport (in this case, a General Large Gun port is sufficient as it's not a battle ship), the Next button is now available. Notice the list of effects from the parts: this is a sum of effects - so the durability is getting some from the hull and some from the Improved Rope. Normal success would hit around the midpoint of the range of values.
The final menu where you can set the capacity - this is the same as the normal ship building menu. Afer this you get the one where you name the ship and click "complete" to start the build.
One note of warning which applies both to this process and to later mods: never try to place 2 skills at once. Some skills require just one part to achieve - it's tempting to try for the "double" and get 2 for the price of one, but it doesn't work - and worse, there's no reliable way to say which skill will be applied, so you can waste parts and not achieve what you wanted.
Improving ("modding") a ship with SSB
In addition to the process outlined above you can also make improvements to an existing ship using the SSB system. Most ships in the game can have 5 improvements. The process requires a Netmarble Cash-only item, the Special Shipbuilding Improvement Permit (SSIP). Anything between 2 and 10 permits are needed per mod, depending on the ship and how many mods it already has. Generally, higher level ships and higher level mods require more permits. The process is almost the same: you collect the required parts, then talk to the Shipyard Manager, except this time, instead of selecting "build ship" you select the ship from your inventory which you intend to work on. Note, you can't mod the ship you're sailing, so you will need at least one other ship.
The differences in this process are 1) that you don't require a hull and 2) all parts are optional. You can make a mod which just adds 1 sail to increase speed, although this is a wasteful way to do it. Generally, you will make a mod to achieve the best effect you can. You also don't need the Shipbuilding skill yourself, you can fleet with a Shipbuilder near the yard and use their skill.
Here are a couple of screenshots from the mod process - I'm adding a second improvement to the Xebec Cruiser I made before:
The special shipbuilding menu where you select the ship you're going to improve. Note the 2 equipped ships at the top are greyed out. I've selected the ship I want to work on...
And here is the parts selection menu. I'm adding the parts for the EA skill, which for this ship are large gaff and antifouling paint. In addition I have another gunport (although that is now optional) and teak paneling. Although the original oak is stronger, teak is faster and this will be a ship for fast traveling not for fighting.
One major advantage in making mods is that, although mods have a required Shipbuilding rank just like building a ship, you can make mods requiring a rank up to 5 higher than your Shipbuilding rank. Thus if you are rank 7, for example, you can make mods which require up to rank 12. There is some thought that such modding "above" your normal rank may lead to more failures, although in my experience if there is an effect it is slight. This effect also seems to apply to SSB ship building, although I don't know if it is universal. I have personally built a R15 ship successfully with SSB, using my R9+1 rank. See screenhots above, showing the rank in orange. If it was within my normal rank, it's be white. If it's red, you can't do it, you'd have to fleet with a higher rank Shipbuilder.
"Failure" in a mod is represented by a low effect from the parts used: for example, a Painter rope offers increased turn rate, in the range 2-4. A normal success will add 3 turn, a fail adds just 2, while a great success adds 4. My experience is that failures are fairly rare and great successes even rarer!
Every ship in the game has a short list (mostly of 3-5) "Optional skills" which can be added to the ship using SSB, either during the build process (as with that CLC described above) or in a mod. All ships are restricted to 2 optional skills, so you have to pick the 2 you most like! As mentioned above, study the data to see what parts are required. Sometimes, the parts are hard to find or they may not even be available, in which case that skill is currently also not available.
In modding any ship which will be armed it is good practice to add gunports, as these increase the available cannon spaces, which, in turn, will allow you more cargo space. For a pure trade ship which will never be equipped with cannons, adding gunports is a waste of money as you only get the benefit when fitting more than the minimum number of cannons.
In addition to the optional skills described, each ship can also have one (and one only) "Original skill". These are created through the "build original ship" process which is similar to SSB modding. The important difference is that you don't require those NC shop SSIB permits, instead you need one or more "Original ship permits" which you acquire from the Secretary in your national capital, in return for 200 Patriot awards. This makes it not exactly an easy process, but it does mean you don't need any NC.
Each ship has a much larger list of "Original skills" to choose from, although not all skills available can go on all ships, even as original skill. In each case, parts and permits are required. In the case of original skills there is no "boost" to your shipbuilding, if the requirement is R15 you need R15.
The other difference with Original skills is that at any time, you can replace the current skill on a ship, simply by doing the Original ship build process again, with different parts. This cannot be done with Optional skills.
When it all goes wrong
If you set out to mod your new expensive ship and something goes wrong (it might be a failed mod, or maybe a mistake with parts leading to a poor outcome) there is a way to start over. This is another NC-only item, "Special Shipbuilding Dismantlement Techniques" and this allows the ship to be reset. This removes ALL the mods, and puts the ship back to 0/5. Obviously, not a cheap option - it's better to try to make sure the mods are right.
You've probably seen all the pretty-coloured "National" iron-plated ships. This is achieved with special coloured iron paneling (currently only sourced from treasure box etc) which is applied as one of the parts in a mod. Note that it makes subsequent mods considerably more expensive. For the ultimate effect, some people apply the paneling first, then use the dismantling permit described above, which resets the ship - however, the special hull material is NOT lost, so you can then start from 0/5 when making mods.
Adding extra mods
Lastly, many ships can have additional mods added. As far as I know, no ship can have more than 2 additional mods. These extra mods are added at company colony shipyards, and require SSIB permits. A ship which was 5/5 can become 5/6 and even 5/7, allowing 2 more mods. There is, of course, a downside to this: it increases the ship's principal level by 5 - so for example, a level 52 Vaisseau (a battle type ship), if you added 1 extra mod, would become level 57 battle required. Adding 2 mods would make it level 62. Only the principal level requirement (adventure for an adventure-type ship, trade for a trade-type etc) is increased. Obviously, if a ship is already level 68, then you can't add mods as this would make it level 73, which would be above the (current) level cap.