Spelljamming - Ship Helms

 
Helm                  CL  Save  Price
Minor Helm           15th  +18  100,000 gp
Major Helm           17th  +20  250,000 gp

Forge                17th  +20  500,000 gp (initially; 100,000 gp per 13 months)
Gnomish Helm         15th  +18   50,000 gp

Artifurnace          19th  +22  priceless
Lifejammer           15th  +18   80,000 gp

CL: Caster Level
Save: Save Bonus

Gnomish Helm: They do not normally have a rated AC, hardness, hit points or break DC, but if the important bit is a minor helm then, once you locate it, you could use AC 6, and +18 save bonus.

Caster Level: 15th; Weight: 2200+ lb.

Gnomish helms should not function. That is, their very construction seems to defy the nature of thaumaturgical law. They are impossible. Of course, being gnomish, they work anyway. Like most products from gnome ideas, they include a large number of bells and whistles.

Essentially, Gnomish helms are a magical stirling engine. A self-sustaining steam engine that runs tirelessly, and does not need direct fuel once ignited. However, they are not exceedingly performant, and their size is unfortunate.

Gnomish helms are large, gaudy, ornate and overblown. They occupy at least 1 ton of space, and their SR is 3.

Minor Helm: Note that unlike most magic items Helms are very, very, tough. This is due to the immense amounts of magical energy needed both to make them, and that flows through them just to operate them. They do not normally have a rated AC, hardness, hit points or break DC, but you could use AC 6, and +18 save bonus.

Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Create Minor Helm; Market Price: 200,000 gp; Weight: 50 lb.

Major Helm: The listed weight is for a heavy hardwood chair; some helms are heavier or lighter than this, and note that they are normally bolted down.

Note that unlike most magic items, Helms are very, very, tough. This is due to the immense amounts of magical energy needed both to make them, and that flows through them just to operate them. They do not normally have a rated AC, hardness, hit points or break DC, but you could use AC 6, and +20 save bonus.

Caster Level: 17th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Create Major Helm; Market Price: 500,000 gp; Weight: 50 lb.

Each minor and major spelljamming helm allows the individual seated upon it to move a large mass through space by means of channeling spell energy directly into a motive force. This energy is somewhat useful for maneuvering the ship, but primarily it provides the push that makes the ship move forward (or backward). Maneuvering comes primarily from the ship’s sails or oars.

The power of the force is known as the ship’s rating. A minor helm converts such energy at a rate of 1 point of SR for each three spellcaster levels. A major helm converts at a rate of 1 SR for every two spellcaster levels.

At low levels, the difference between using a minor and a major helm is small. A third-level spellcaster will give his ship an SR of 1, regardless of whether a minor or major helm is used. The higher level the spellcaster, however, the more important the difference between using major and minor helms. A tenth-level Wizard, for example, can give his ship an SR of 5 with a major helm, but only an SR of 3 with a minor helm. A quick summary of levels is included below.

Ship’s Ratings using Major and Minor Helms

 
  Level of   Minor  Major
Spellcaster  Helm   Helm
     1         1      1
     2         1      1
     3         1      1
     4         1      2
     5         1      2
     6         2      3
     7         2      3
     8         2      4
     9         3      4
    10         3      5
    11         3      5
    12         4      6
    13         4      6
    14         4      7
    15         5      7
    16         5      8
    17         5      8
    18         6      9
    19         6      9
    20         6     10

Using a helm prohibits any spell use by that character within that 24-hour period. As soon as a spellcaster sits on the helm and becomes aware of the ship, he can cast no spells of any sort until after he has had a chance to rest and regain spells. In effect the helm “drains” the helmsman of all his spells the moment it is activated.

(In fact, this is not precisely what happens. The helm attunes iteself to the brain patterns of the character who activated it. Once in sync, the helm siphons away any magical energy the moment it begins taking shape, not all at once. But until the character can rest, thereby breaking the link, the energy invested in any spell he tries to cast is immediately drawn away by the spelljamming helm. This effect occurs regardless of range. Oddly, the helm can utilize the energy only if the character is seated in the helm. Why the helm can draw power from any range, yet gains benefit only from a helmsman actually in contact with it, is one of the foremost unsolved puzzles of spelljamming magic.)

An individual can use either type of helm for 12 hours without tiring. For each hour afterwards, the SR drops by 1, to a minimum of 1. After 24 hours, the individual using the helm will pass out and not be able to use the helm again until fully rested.

An individual seated upon a helm can talk and act normally. The sensation of using the helm is akin to being immersed in warm water. As a result of the magical nature of the helm, the spelljamming spellcaster using the helm can see things around the ship as if he were standing on the deck. The ship becomes an extension of his body, and responds to his demands in movement and maneuverability. The maneuverability of a craft is a reflection of both the spelljamming spellcaster’s ability and the maneuverability class of the ship.

A minor helm can move a ship of up to 50 tons. A major helm can move one of upto 100 tons. In reality, most ship designers keep their craft under the 50-ton range, though there are larger men-o-war and juggernauts that are larger than 50 tons.

Only one helm may be in service at a time, though often a minor helm is kept as a back-up, should something happen to the major helm.

Helms draw their magical energies directly from the user, and the speeds they can attain are determined by the level (or HD) of the individual. All helm-equipped ships travel at the same rate of speed over long distances, but their differences are apparent at the tactical level. In general, given two similar helms, a ship with the more powerful spelljamming spellcaster is the faster ship.

Helms can be easily installed in any ship, primarily by lugging them aboard and bolting them to the deck. The minimum hull size required for a helm is 1 ton.

If an individual is slain while using the helm, the ship looses all power until a new spelljamming spellcaster takes command. The ship will drift (at tactical speed – see Chapter 4) in a straight line until someone else takes the helm ot the ship hits something.

Major and minor helms are nearly (but not completely) indestructable; see above. Unfortunately, this protection does not extend to the individual seated in the helm. Diligent and crafty characters may find ways to destroy helms, but the process is not easy or quick.

Forge:

Note that unlike most magic items, Helms are very, very, tough. This is due to the immense amounts of magical energy needed both to make them, and that flows through them just to operate them. They do not normally have a rated AC, hardness, hit points or break DC, but you could use AC 6, and +20 save bonus.

Caster Level: 17th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Create Forge Helm; Weight: 50 lb.

Price:
500,000 gp (initially)
100,000 gp (running cost per 13 months)

Dwarves are, by nature, non-magical, yet they have large asteroid ships greater than those used by humans, elves or gnomes, powered by magical engines they call forges. These forges are huge foundry rooms at the base of the ship where dwarves work around the clock, building, carving, creating, and forging.

The basic idea of the forge is the same as the spelljamming helm: the conversion of energy into movement. In the dwarves’ case, the energy is not magical as much as it is creative. By building items with the forges, the dwarves generate the energy to literally move mountains across the sky.

A forge requires at least 200 cubic yards (2 tons) for every 50 dwarves involved. For every 100 dwarves at work the ship has an SR of 1. The fastest dwarven ships, therefore, are the ones that give up the most space to their forges.

The minimum size of a dwarven ship is 100 tons, with a maximum size of 700 tons (though these are rare). Attempts to transplant forge-based technology to human ships has failed miserably. The best that can be accomplished is that humans can command a dwarven mountain-ship with a full crew of dwarves. Both mountain and hill dwarves can be found in space. Apparently, no other race produces this type of energy.

A side effect of this industry is a large amount of tradable goods, as the dwarves mine their home to produce new energy and items. These range from small metal handcrafts and jewelry to swords, armour, and other weapons. A dwarven ship almost always has an incredibly well-stocked armory and is very well defended. For every month spent in space, the dwarves produce enough goods, metal, coins and swords to bring in 10,000 gp at the next landfall.

A negative side effect is that dwarven ships often become “finished”, with no new things to mine, chip, form or shape. At this point the colony abandons the mountain-ship and sets up home in a new asteroid, stripping the forge in the process. Such abandoned mountain-ships become the lairs of monsters.

Artifurnace: This cannot be made by conventional enchantment.

They do not normally have a rated AC, hardness, hit points or break DC, but you could use an AC 5, and +22 save bonus.

Caster Level: 19th; Weight: 100 lb.

An artifurnace is the ultimate stage of the development of the furnace – a magically-powered spelljamming device which draws its power from a magical artifact. Each is a custom-made device tailored to contain and siphon energy from a specific artifact. Because an artifact is practically eternal, the power derived from it is equally so.

Once installed, an artifurnace provides SR 5 for as long as needed. Both artifurnace and artifact are undamagable as long as they remain together (though the ship they are in is not). The artifurnace is destroyed if the artifact is ever removed, however.

Artifurnaces are extremely rare, on the level with artifacts themselves. They also have the difficulty of attracting the attention of those powers tied to the Artifact being used. Should an artifurnace be hooked up to, say, the Eye of Vecna, Greyhawk’s immortal liche will likely come looking for it (or send friends to the various spheres where the ship visits in order to recover it). No more than a double handful of artifurnaces are recorded as having existed, and almost all of them are destroyed or hidden. Where they appeared, they have created insurrection as every captain in the area attempts to seize it for himself.

Lifejammer: The listed weight is for a heavy hardwood chair plus victim restraint; some helms are heavier or lighter than this, and note that they are normally bolted down.

Note that unlike most magic items Helms are very, very, tough. This is probably due to the immense amounts of magical energy needed both to make them, and that flows through them just to operate them. They do not normally have a rated AC, hardness, hit points or break DC, but you could use AC 5, and +18 save bonus.

Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Wonderous Item, Create Lifejammer Helm; Market Price: 160,000 gp; Weight: 75 lb.

The lifejammer is a very specialised and evil type of spelljamming helm which feeds off the life energy of an individual placed inside (usually against his will). The lifejammer can function on any creature with hit points, but drains the life out of the creature placed within.

For every day of operation, the lifejammer sucks 1d8 hit points from the target. These hit points cannot be regained by healing while the individual is within the lifejammer. In addition, for every day of operation (or fraction thereof) the lifejammer’s victim must make a Fortitude saving throw DC 13 or perish. An individual with good hit points and saving throws is preferred, but a ready supply of weak characters can be just as useful.

A lifejammer engine gives the ship an SR as if the creature placed within was a spellcaster using a minor helm. A lifejammer drawing energy from an 8th level Fighter, for example, will operate as if an 8th level spellcaster was at the helm. Two lifejammer helms may be used in parallel to be able to spelljam a 100 ton ship.

Good races and characters are very reluctant to use a lifejammer except in emergencies, and then are careful to remove the character from the device before his life is endangered.

Spelljamming - Ship Helms

Mael'Ram HogarthAL HogarthAL