Skyships have been in use throughout the world of Erathia to varying degrees for centuries. They were fragile and uncommon until a few decades ago when the development of hex crystal technologies allowed them to become widely used in magitech realms. The Concordance and the Sovranty benefit directly from interplanar trade coming from the Kirinal Concordance Zone, allowing their cultures and techonolgy to advance rapidly.
Other nations world-wide seek to keep up with the evolving magitech nations. Most trade with the Zone while a few engage in undercover piracy and theft from Concordant merchants. As a result, there has recently been a rapid development of skyship technology worldwide fueled by the arms and technology race.
The Original Skyships
In a world of magic, there have always been individual mages who convert sea ships into flying vesels. Gnome tinkers and mad inventors have long known the secrets of hot air balloons. Their technology was never reliable, and their flying vehicles were unique one-offs. No one could ever make real fleets of flying machines.
The elves, however, always knew how to make fast and reliable craft capable of flying in the sky and even into space. Just before the beginning of the present Mortal Age, they controlled a vast empire in the stars. They gave it up for unknown reasons, settling back into their home forests. They allowed their living starships to go fallow deep in hidden groves like the one in Taur na Cair.
The Age of Magitech
The reliable energy from hex crystals has led to the advent of an Age of Magitech. Miracles once reserved for the wealthy and the magically gifted have become available to a wider population. A few short decades ago, 50 or 60 years, the civilizations of the Zone began producing reliable skyships by converting ocean sailing ships into flying ships.
Now skyships are built exclusively for flight. Not all ships actually use expensive hex crystals to fly, but the new methods have allowed skyships to use different methods to achieve buoyancy and propulsion.
How to Make a Ship Fly
Skyships are incredibly expensive costing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of bilog. On top of that, the cost of flight and propulsion aren't included in the base cost. The most efficient, and expensive, way to make a skyship fly is to install a hex crystal helm to manage flight and to propel the ship. The imaginative engineers and artificers of the Zone and Sovranty have come up with many other methods to power air ships.
Flight and Propulsion Options
- Hot air balloons: The least expensive and most fragile option. It only provides lift, no propulsion.
- Zeppelin: The same as balloons, but less fragile and more costly. They also need a propulsion method.
- Propeller Engines: This basic form of propulsion can be powered by magic or alchemical methods.
- Elemental Rings: Providing both lift and movement, bound elementals were used in previous ages. This method is reliable, but the possibility of releasing an enraged elemental by freak accident always exists.
- Hex Crystal Helm: Large pieces of cut hex crystal are crafted into a helm that is attuned to other crystals studded into the hull. Specially trained spellcasters, the helmsman, focus their magic into the helm, enabling the ships to fly.
- Wood of Telperion: The rarest method uses the magical wood of the elves sacred tree. They closely guard its use, only allowing elves or their close allies to use and keep it. Ships not specifically engineered to use the Wood run the risk of shattering to pieces mid-flight.
Classes of Skyship
Skyships have become increasingly common in the skies over the Zone and western Krosia. They come in a wide variety of types, usually separated into civilian and military uses.
The most common skyships are the slow dumpy barges that haul freight between cities and neighboring nations. Most resemble flying barrels and are just as nimble and easy to fly. Balloon barges with simple propellers provide cheap freight over small to medium distances.
Large slow cargo ships are the next common type of ship. They carry larger cargoes, and even passengers, between nations and continents. They fly faster than most boats sail, with the benefit of being able to go over land that ships have to go around. The nations around the inland sea of Reaver's Deep especially enjoy the freedom of bringing their goods overland to ports that had been closed to them.
Hex crystal skyships are still so expensive that only the very wealthy can afford to own one. Ostentatious gold-plated sky yachts fly from Molndal to the Zone. The magisters of Kiris especially love to flaunt their black skyships as their transport of choice between their lands in the east and their Enclave in the Zone.
Skiffs and Taxis
In the cities of the Zone, small sky skiffs and flying taxis are available to fly passengers within the slice they are in. For a price, they will transport their customers between the cantons of the Zone.
These ships are valued by the sky forces for their speed and maneuverability. They perform hit and run missions or lead expeditions around the world, or between worlds, for the nations they serve. Most soldiers aspire to become the dashing captain of a sky force frigate.
These large warships bristle with arcane weapons and knights mounted on griffons, giant bats, and quetzals. Most of them serve at the Kirinal Pit, their weaons trained into the Manifest, on the chance that the plane that appears contains hostile armies or far realm abominations.