If you are going to travel, do it in style! The masterminds behind Moebius Adventures have challenged us all to make travel more interesting and fun selecting it as the topic for May’s RPG Blog Carnival. My first article was about finding the right motivation for traveling and the second was about getting a little excitement on the roof of the Lightning Rail.
«Eberron: Rising from the Last War» includes a few pages about travel, emphasizing the innovative means of transportation this setting has to offer: elemental vessels, Lyrandar airships and galleons and of course the Orien lightning rail. All of these have something in common we can exploit to have a memorable encounter: their malfunction might involve a hazardous scenario and even a very angry elemental. So, without further ado, let me introduce the Lyrandar Airship.
For the non-initiated, a Lyrandar airship is a large sea vessel designed for air travel (pretty straightforward, huh?). It was created by the combined efforts of House Cannith, the Scions of Zilargo and House Lyrandar.
Constructing the Lyrandar Airship…
With the help of House Cannith, the gnome artificers and wizards of Zilargo have mastered the art of building elemental vessels. This is a complex process requiring detailed engineering, arcane skill, and rare materials from around the world. Building a new ship can occupy a single workshop for months as magic energy is painstakingly laid into the vessel’s hull. Such work requires the labor of many; it is not a task that can be undertaken by a lone wizard, no matter how much gold he or she has to spend.
Even though the gnomes guard their construction secrets carefully, both from strangers and from competing Zilargo workshops, their own knack for uncovering secrets has led to some standardization of certain designs, and by doing so, each workshop has developed a different specialty.
Before any elemental can be bound, a Khyber dragonshard of the largest size and finest quality is required. Elemental vessel production grinds to a halt without a steady supply of such dragonshards, and workshops with an order to fill will pay a handsome fee to adventurers willing to retrieve them from the world below. If a customer is capable of providing his own dragon shard, the cost of building a custom elemental vessel drops by 10%.
Airships and wind galleons require a second rare substance: soarwood. The buoyant timber can only be found on the island of Aerenal, and the elves carefully limit how much they harvest yearly. Airship production has been greatly limited as a result, and most workshops cannot keep up with orders for the new vehicles due to the supply limitations. Anyone able to uncover a new supply of soarwood for the gnomes would be substantially rewarded; even convincing the Aerenal elves to part with more than their predetermined quota would be worth a great deal.
… and then crashing it!
Remember that airships are naturally buoyant, so that most crashes result from the bound elemental driving the ship into the ground (by accident or, more rarely, from spite). If a rogue elemental can be suppressed or an uncontrolled elemental commanded in some manner, the ship should remain afloat. In rare instances, significant damage to an airship’s soarwood hull can negate its floating properties, though.
Having an encounter during free fall can fall into one of two categories: fun and realistic. Without trying to be overly complicated but at the same time trying to make it different enough from normal combat, here are some ideas you can use:
Moving requires an Athletics (DC 15) check to see if characters can keep balance. Failing has them have their speed halved. Failing by more than 5 has them considered paralyzed. The dash action can’t be used.
Increased momentum has some perks also: if you move at least 10 feet in a straight line immediately before taking the attack action, you either gain a +2 bonus to damage roll or push the target up to 10 feet away from you (if you chose to make a melee attack and hit). Ranged attacks, though, have disadvantage due to the strong upwind and you falling. Also all spell effects with an area instead of targets only last one turn. If you want, you can require an Arcana check with a DC of 12+spell level to calculate correctly for it to take effect where intended.
If the bound elemental hasn’t broken free and the wheel is unresponsive, you can have your heroes make an Arcana check (DC 15, DC 10 if they are dragonmarked) to realize that applying a mending spell to the command wheel can help. If the elemental has broken free, you can give him the benefits of a rage and advantage against banishment (after all, who knows how long has he been bound inside that shard!).
And some extra!
If you decide to run this in your campaign, I suggest to use the «Eberron Battlemaps – Airships» from Thomas Pedersen, available in the DM’s Guild. This is a collection of airship battlemaps suitable for Eberron. They are provided as JPEG files, with or without grid, and as an object, ready for use in Roll20 or other online platforms. Additionally, each deck of each ship is provided as a PNG object with transparent background. The maps include 4 airships of different sizes and purposes.
Don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went!