In our campaign the twin riverferries of Turtleback Ferry had a role of special importance--they conveyed the PC's and iconics back to Magnimar en route to Sandpoint to stop the Stone Giant invasion.
Thus I've had the opportunity to flesh them out a bit. Since it's unlikely any developers have notes lying around to contradict this I thought it would be fun to toss out for any other detail obsessed DMs to include as they see fit.
The two ferries, as mentioned in Hook Mountain, are fashioned from the shells of giant turtles slain by one of the town's founders and made into riverboats. I imagine them as well polished luxury ships like the paddleboats of Mark Twain, each with a soot burping golemwork engine crafted by visiting engineers from Janderhoff, turning a paddlewheel far below decks. There's a fat cargo hold on the bottom tier and two balconies facing front for passengers to watch the river float by. Atop and toward the front of the turtleshell is the wheelroom and captain's quarters and a small balcony for a couple of people to look out from the topmost point of the ship. Within there are a variety of accomodations from shared bunkrooms to lavish staterooms. The main dining hall features various nautical accoutriments hanging from the walls and a long banquet table for special guests to enjoy fine meals.
The Meandering Heart is captained by Ernell Snoka, a weathered old leatherfaced man with a hardworn face, bulbous nose, and downward jutting spike of a beard. He dresses in a shoddy version of official captain dress uniform with a big leather button across coat with eppulets and tassles. His wife serves as the hostess and runs the galley and her many kids, all near carbon copies of one another in decending age serve as bellhops, waiters, and whatever other polite manual labor as required.
Her sister ship, the Sonorous Run was up until recently captained by a hefty dark-skinned man named Hamrin Valest, however with the destruction of the garrison at Fort Rannick, he has taken a post with the new staff as Bailiff to oversee reconstruction and to keep order amongst the peasantry. In our game, he was promoted temporarily to Constable when the group left to defend Sandpoint due in part to his close friendship with the iconics, but also his stern ruggedness and proven dependability. Now his young brash daughter Lavia has taken over as captain and everyone is a little worried.
Anyhow these are just my own thoughts, but I'd love anyone else to run with them if they're interested. I thought it a little meat to the intriguing little bits of detail offered in the town overview.
Was the trip to Magnimar a one-off or do the Turtleback ferries routinely make that trip?
I imagine they ply the rivers in both directions, but the upriver trip is SLOW, since it's just the golemwork paddlewheel fighting the current--so they probably only offer to take people downriver (about 9 days to Magnimar) rather than the horrifically long backjourney which would just be faster to walk.
Not sure but never thought the turtle shells would be big enough for more than a few people to ride on them and ferry them around the lake and across the rivers. I mean even if it was a colossal sized giant snapping turtle (Tome of Horrors pg 435) it wouldn't have a shell big enough to carry more than a few paying customers and their cargo and horses. I would keep it simple and backwood style with rough construction. Of corse I keep seeing problems with this book anyhow so nothing new here.