Discarded through flame and sorrow
ropships are single-use vessels designed for a sole purpose: providing a one-way journey, for a single person, to the surface of Excilior in a process referred to as excilation. As "vessels" go, they are the most basic of devices. They have minimal thruster capabilities, being only that which is required to perform on-the-fly course-corrections during descent. They are barely large enough to comfortably hold a single man. The inner pod contains modest cushioning, designed to (somewhat) mitigate landing impact. Forward thrusters slow the vehicle considerably before making contact with the ocean surface. Aside from the pill-shaped edifice that envelopes the descending passenger, the only other distinguishing outer feature is that of the heat shield. This shield not only protects the vehicle during atmospheric reentry, but increases the buoyancy of the enclosure once it reaches the planet.
The heat shield produces atmospheric burn adequate to make the vessel's descent visible to the naked eye from all countries bordering the Dropship Seia (weather permitting). Nocturnal descents are particularly spectacular. Although it is rare, cognoscenti estimate that the heat shield fails on approximately 0.2% of descents. When this happens, the vessel typically explodes in a luminous fireball. No casterway is ever reported to have survived such a spectacular and grievous failure.
A Temporary Life Raft
It doesn't much bother me that I can't remember most of my life. I'm only annoyed that the assholes who sent me here couldn't even be bothered to pack me a sandwich.
Lucian Ivray, Auld Cervian casterway, 488 AoC
he ship's buoyancy is a critical feature because every vessel that has ever descended to the planet has landed in the middle of the Dropship Seia. Although seasonal weather patterns can ultimately affect the casterway's trajectory, the prevailing westerly winds push nearly all arrivals to the east coast of the island continent of Islemanoton. Depending upon the weather, this floating voyage can last anywhere from 48 hours up to 2 weeks.
Given the typical weather patterns of the sea, more than 90% of all new arrivals eventually wash up on the shores of Vetri. Four percent end up on Catro. Slightly more than three percent first make landfall on Blepi - on the southern coast of the Dropship Seia. And fewer than three percent make landfall at Prielia - as those locations would require the casterway to float east (against typical weather patterns).
There is perhaps no more appropriate feature of the dropship than the fact that, within a short period of time, it will simply disintegrate. Like a turd.
Luiz Eynmann, Collian woodworker, 2331 AoR
erhaps the most distinguishing "feature" of the dropship is its consistent ability to disintegrate. Within a month of reentry, the ship will be nothing more than a discombobulated pile of parts. Within two more weeks, even those parts will have turned almost-entirely to dust. In the millennia since dropships have been seeding casterways on the planet's surface, cognoscenti have made repeated attempts to inspect these vehicles and "capture" any resulting technology they might contain. These efforts have, unfortunately, yielded absolutely nothing because A) the dropships contain very little in the way of advanced technology, and B) whatever secrets they do hold turn, quite literally, to dust, within weeks after each casterway's arrival.
A dropship has only minor propulsion systems onboard designed to course-correct during atmospheric reentry. The only point of the lateral thrusters is to ensure an accurate descent to the Dropship Seia.
Weapons & Armament
Armor and defense
Communication Tools & Systems
Dropships are equipped with absolutely no communication systems. Once the casterway has been placed in the vessel, the only objective is to get him to the planet's surface and never hear from him again.
It's generally believed that the vehicles contain at least some modest outer sensors designed to monitor the temperature of the outer heat shield during reentry.