Airships are a combination of a balloon and a ship. Essentially a floating vessle that obeys the same restrictions as their sea-faring counter parts, the airships are a product of human and gnomish invention. Airship design and construction is strictly controlled by the Gizerad . They control all air traffic in Arland and will destroy any unsanctioned aircraft without a second thought.
Airship technology and its development started with the Elves, was eventually re-created by the Gnomes and then copied by the Humans. Dwarves do not believe in leaving the ground. Elven technology could not be replicated - not even by the survivors as the instructions to create such complex enchanting matrices were lost with their civilization.
The Solonari elves explored the concept of levitating platforms for many years. It is suspected that their original efforts to develop the technology of an airship came from learn how to levitate and maintain altitude the ships that were designed for water. Eventually the technology was perfected in the floating towers and fortresses they created to maintain superiority over their domain. However, once portal technology was perfected, the need to physical travel distances was no longer needed and the existing air fleet was used to move only small distances once their network of gates was established.
- Sky Barge: Many of these airships were destroyed in the Witchgate Wars leaving only a few relics here and there within the ruins of their settlements. The most common airship discovered within these ruins are the Elven sky barges ; essentially a long, open-air platform that was designed to move cargo and personnel to locations not connected to their network. Sky barges are approximately twenty feet wide and nearly sixty feet in length as they were designed to move large amounts of cargo. Some smaller variations (twenty by forty and ten by twenty) have also been found.
- Sky Chariot: The second most common airship are the sky chariots. These were two person vehicles which could be used to scout an a
- Main article: Creation of Gnomish Airships
rea or potentially provide support as needed to the sky barges.
The first airships were of gnomish design and construction. They consisted of a large, wooden-hulled sailing vessle that had the central masts removed and a large balloon (in early models) anchored to the boat by a large net. The balloon was filled with a form of methane originally found in the Great Green Sea. By the lift created from the balloon and forward thrust created through a large gem anchored at the rear of the ship, the original airships were difficult to steer and were continally having problems with maintaining altitude.
Over the years airships have evolved into a half-dozen different shapes each according to a specific need. Below you will find the basic types of airships found in Arland.
- Main article: Zeplin
- Main article: Airship Skimmer
- Main article: Airship Carrier
Line Runner Airships were only possible after the discovery of Twarc by Abalard Manaspark in 865 KR .
PathrunnersPathrunners are the newest of airship design, invented due to the discovery of Twarc by Abalard Manaspark ; a gnomish artificer and wizard. Pathrunners differ from the original model of airship in that they do not need large sacks of air to remain aloft. Instead they use large Twarc crystals which naturally lift them off the ground due to the reaction with ambient arcane energy. Pathrunners are also faster than the original designs when they travel along Mage-Lines also called 'Pathways'. Similar to how nautical ships travel faster when they follow faster currents, Pathrunners travel faster when they move within the borders of the a mage-line. There is no 'direction' of a mage-line so ships can run in either direction with equal speed.
On average, a pathrunner ship can travel seven times faster than a Carrier of equal size. However, pathrunners could be built nearly twice as large as a carrier as there was no concern for over-burdening the balloon.
Pathrunners have a standard crew of a captain, pilot, and nearly two-dozen crewmen and can easily accomodate another two-dozen passengers and cargo.
Known Pathrunners include:
ScoutsScouts are the non-balloon equivalent of a Skimmer. They can comfortably accomodate a crew of six with additional cargo space or less than comfortable quarters for an additional four passengers. Scouts are used by the Gizerathi to move quickly throughout the land and, due to the size, can be concealed in a protective bubble of a shield or invisibility spell.
Known Scouts include:
SkiffSkiffs are the lighest of all of the 'new' fleet of airships used by the Gizerad. Skiffs appear to be little more than small boats who have been equipped with a Twarc crystal and control orb to give it the ability to float and travel in a particular direction. There are no other decks and the craft can accomodate between four to six people.
Skiffs travel at half the speed of their larger cousins, the Scout and are slightly slower than the earlier, Skimmer version.
Known Skiffs Include:
- The Shrike
CutterCutters are a new style of airship that incorporates a lot of the elements of the larger vessels but has the speed of its smaller counterparts. Designed as medium-sized airship, the cutter can accomodate a crew of eight along with a dozen or more passengers and their baggage. Cutters were created to allow Arcane Houses some access to the Airship technology so that each of the houses could have some measure of air transport to and from Tor Gizad outside of the more 'commercial' shipping lanes. The Gizerath closely monitor the use of these ships so that they are not 'loaned out' to launch private wars which is against the Code of Gizad. It is said that the Gizerad permitted the Arcane Houses to construct the Cutters knowing that they may be needed for when the Witch War began. In fact, it was because of the Cutters that several Arcane Houses were able to save countless magi and their possessions from the fires of the Crusade. Using the Cutters to launch counter-strikes was forbidden by the Gizerad until the destruction of one of the Arcane Academies prompted the 'Black General' to defy the will of the council and strike back.
Known Cutters Include:
- The Raven
- The Black Star
- The Phoenix
The original limitation on gas-boyant Airship design is the use of the strange swamp-gas found only in the Methane Trees of the Great Green Sea . On regular intervals the balloon will need to be 'pumped up' with fresh gas to keep its lift. As the gas is available only in the trees and the trees are only found in the Great Green Sea, the airships are not found away from the area for long.
Additionally, the gas that fills the balloon is highly combustable.
Original-design airships travel at about the same speed as their nautical counterparts (approximately 60 miles a day or 2.5 miles per hour for an average warship) but the new Pathfinder-Class ships travel seven times faster (approximately 420 miles per day or 17 miles an hour) while on a Mage-Line. Scoutships, however, can travel upwards of 20 miles an hour on a Mage-Line.
Many human cities have embraced the use of the Airship for moving cargo and personnel. Unfortunately due to the cost charged by the Gizerad, it is not something that is generally available to the poorer sections of the public. Wealthy merchants, noble families and the like use the service often when needing to move material and the like. The Gizerad, however, do not permit the movement of troops for battle and will cut off any of the noble houses that try and move weapons or soldiers in their ships.
Cargo is often searched by members of the Gizerathi to ensure that they are not being used as a military transport.
Known Ports for airships include:
Ports typically are large cities with enough noble houses and wealthy merchants to make each trip worth the effort. Airship ports do not occur within the human lands (outside of the Azure Council) until well after 880 KR.
Those ports not generally open to the public without permission by the Gizerad or who have been closed by the Gizerad for political reasons.
These ports are not frequented by Pathrunners, rather they are only used by Scout and Skiff-class airships.
- Willow Dale (North Marches)