3rd Edition Spelljamming Sidebar - 10/May/06


[[Air]]

In a number of cases the amount of time that the air envelope around a man-sized human-equivalent creature will last is given as 2d10 times ten minutes. For convenience this may be considered to be roughly equivalent to two man-hours of air.

Method 3: A ship's air is calculated in man-days. A ship has four months of air for its standard crew, which is one human-sized crew member per ton. Hence a ship has tonnage x 28 x 4 man-days of air at the start of its voyage, i.e. 112 man-days per ton. Note that a continually burning torch or equivalent (such as a cooking stove) will use as much air as a human-equivalent, but GMs may choose to ignore this for simplicity. Based on how many crew are on board, and if this changes, the number of man-days remaining can be easily calculated. When two bodies meet in space, and it is assumed their atmospheres have thoroughly mixed, add together the number of man-days each had remaining, then divide this between the two in proportion to their size.

[[Portals]]

While this will not normally be the case the GM may choose to define that the Locate Portal spell does not work within certain crystal spheres; it will always work in the Flow.

While divine power cannot reach into the phlogiston some of the Wildspace Domain spells affect it; this is also one reason why there is not a 'Phlogiston' domain.

[[Tactical Speed vs. Spelljammer Speed]]

Some people don't seem to realise the following:

[[Magic]]

Spelljamming is pushing the limits of what you can do with magic. It is apparently standard magic items, and apparently standard spells, that let you do far more than comparable items and spells can - move around immense objects at astronomical speeds. This is magic operating at its limits, and any spells that tinker with this magic, for example to enhance the SR, need to be very precise in their effects and limitations. In practice this means they only work on Helms with a single operating principle.

[[Create Helm Spells]]

Creating a helm - major or minor - counts as the casting of one spell, and therefore reduces the caster's effectiveness in using the helm for that day. Of course, this does not mean that another spellcaster cannot act as the helmsman, using a helm created by another person.

[[Divine Magic]]

All divine spellcasters get all the spells on their standard tables, which makes the question of how they get access to the standard Spelljamming divine spells under D&D 3rd Edition unclear.

Groundling spellcasters who are Spelljamming-unaware do not have access to the Spelljamming divine spells. There is a process by which these spellcasters can acquire access to the Spelljamming divine spells, which is ultimately defined by the GM.

For example: a priest of Ptah is told that the temple requires him to go on a long and difficult journey, beyond even the world. It is revealed that he will be going up, into an area called 'wildspace', and will travel through this to other worlds. So that he can do this he is now granted initiation to the secrets of travel through this place, and new spells will be granted by Ptah to allow this. And in future he will have access to these spells.

In another example: a priest of Grumsh finds himself aboard a spelljamming ship, in wildspace. When he prays to Grumsh to renew his spells he finds out that he has access to new spells! After a while he realises that he has access to these spells any time he is beyond the atmosphere of a planet (not on a size class B body or bigger).

The GM needs to decide when divine spellcasters gain access to Spelljamming divine spells, and if they will lose this access again, under certain circumstances. There might be a special initiation ceremony in some religions, or a (personal) revelation. Going to a crystal sphere where no worshippers of the power or god have been into wildspace before might mean some ritual or ceremony is needed before access is gained to Spelljamming divine spells in this sphere.

It is recommended that the default be that divine spellcasters who become Spelljamming-aware, and certainly those that go into wildspace, acquire the Spelljamming cleric spells. It is also recommended that they keep access to these spells. Further it is recommended that in most crystal spheres they retain access to these spells, even if the god granting them spells has never previously granted these spells to a divine spellcaster in this sphere.

[[Actions]]

Controlling a helm is a standard action, and using the extra senses provided by being a helmsman is a move action.

[[Powers and Gods in New Spheres]]

If the sphere is one known to the DM, or one which has its major powers already designated, then the Detect Powers spell will reveal if the priest's deity, or deities related to the one involved (either members of the same pantheon or with similar attributes and portfolio) exist. Two different war gods from different fantasy campaigns are probably sufficiently similar to justify a "related" status. However, a god of smithing may have no parallel in a world without developed metalcraft. In that situation, a cleric devoted to the smithing god would not find a power to recharge his spells.

If the sphere is new to the DM (ie, the characters just discovered it), and he has no clear idea what lies within, then roll on the table below for a possible response to the spell:

Die Roll  Response
01-10     Power is known in this sphere.  The cleric can recharge
          spells normally.
11-50     Power is unknown in sphere, but a related power exists. 
          The cleric may regain spells normally after contacting
          clerics of the related deity.
51-90     Power is unknown in the sphere.  The cleric may not
          regain spells above second level until contact is
          restored with venerated power.
91-00     Power is unknown in sphere.  There is a related power,
          but his relationship is not good with the cleric's
          power (whether through lack of knowledge, some ancient
          insult - imagined or real - or some other mysterious
          reason).  The cleric may not regain spells above second
          level until either contact is restored with his
          original power, or the cleric performs a great task for
          the new power.

While many powers will have similar portfolios and areas of interest (war, healing, agriculture, death, and so on), they are often at varying alignments. In one fantasy world a war god might be a positive figure, and therefore good and lawful. On another world, war might be regarded as a destructive force, and its deity is evil and chaotic.

There are a number of speciality faiths that exist only in space fantasy campaigns, including the Polygots, the Path & the Way, Ptah, and the Planar Churches. If there exists a space civilization of any sort in the crystal sphere, then these faiths will be represented somewhere in that system.

[[Optional Helms]]

Helm                  Arcane Price
Lifeboat Helm          25,000 gp
Deepspace Helm         17,250 gp
Living Helm           priceless

Static Generator        2,500 gp
Baghdad Battery         2,500 gp

Tactical Engine         5,000 gp
Gnomish Console Helm   25,000 gp
Electric Chair Helm    25,000 gp

Lifeboat Helm: This is the same as the standard minor helm sold by the Arcane, but is considerably more limited. This is always SR 1, and can only land on, but not take-off from, planets larger than size class A. Creating one costs 25,000 gp, takes 50 days, and costs 2,000 XP. The listed weight is for a heavy hardwood stool; some helms are heavier or lighter than this, and note that they are normally bolted down, though for lifeboat use they can usually be quickly unbolted.

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 7, and +16 save bonus.

Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Wonderous Item, Create Minor Helm; Market Price: 50,000 gp; Weight: 10 lb.

Deepspace Helm: This is the same as the standard minor helm sold by the Arcane, but is considerably more limited. This is always SR 1, and cannot safely land or take-off from celestial bodies larger than size class A. You might try and use one for for a planetary landing in a real emergency but you will almost certainly crash; you cannot take-off. Creating one costs 17,250 gp, takes 38 days, and 1,500 XP. The listed weight is for a medium-weight 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 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 6, and +16 save bonus.

Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Wonderous Item, Create Minor Helm; Market Price: 37,500 gp; Weight: 25 lb.

Living Helm: This is the same as the Major Helm effect produced by the Living Helm spell. This is a rare clerical magic item, which is only any use if the cleric's god is happy that they use it, and can only be used by clerics of at least 14th level, as only they have enough magical power to make it function. One other problem is that you can only stop using it if the helm is suppressed in some way, for example in the one round after a successful dispel, or on the death of the user - otherwise it is considered part of them. Living Helms can be made in a number of shapes, similar to a Crown of the Stars, but they can also take the shape of the conventional helm, i.e. a bolted-down chair. No cost can be given for creating one, as they are typically made by the direct divine intervention of a god with the Wildspace Domain working through a cleric of at least 21st level, and the process of creation may well cost the cleric their life.

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 6 (for the chair-shaped ones), and +24 save bonus.

Caster Level: 21st; Prerequisites: Craft Wonderous Item, Living Helm, divine intervention of your god; Market Price: priceless; Weight: varies.

Giant Hamster Wheel, Gnomish Multi-Bicycle, Power Helm

Some GMs may choose to believe that gnomes can produce means of travelling through wildspace that, while still highly unreliable, function by methods that do not require a standard Minor Helm to be hidden somewhere within them, and a gnomish spellcaster to operate them. The various items below give some examples of these, but of course as gnomes are involved no one would dare to suggest they could form the basis for any sort of 'standard'.

Static Generator: What these helms have in common is called a static generator (see Van de Graaff Generator) that powers a Voltaic Helm or Tactical Engine. A giant hamster wheel or gnomish foot-powered bicycles turn a belt drive that in turn drives the inner mechanics of the static generator. The static generator consist of a rubber belt that runs on two different rollers (plastic and aluminum) and two "combs" of wires, one is grounded at the bottom and the other, on top, is connected to a metal sphere. As the belt turns around the roller, it gets electrified and the upper comb of wires collects the charge.

Tactical Engine: In one of these the energy is discharged to a grounded metal target outside the ship through a glass tube. This process concentrates the force and the wave generated moves the ship. The tactical engine allows matter to be attracted at one end and repels the entire universe of matter on one end (Morton Effect). One SR per one giant hamster or 5 gnomish cyclist powering the tactical engine (maximum SR 5). The ship can move in any direction by discharging through several glass tubes located throughout the ship.

Voltaic Helm: These use electricity to power the helm. Most voltaic helms run on 50 five-foot tall amphora jar batteries. The battery (see Baghdad Battery) is composed of a clay amphora jar, an asphalt stopper, an iron rod through the stopper, copper surrounding the iron rod and grape juice (electrolyte). The helm can be directly connected to the static generator instead of using batteries. One SR per one giant hamster or 5 gnomish cyclists powering the helm (maximum SR 5). The sparks involved in the operation of this helm mean that it cannot be used in the Flow.

Baghdad Battery: One set of full-charged batteries is sufficient to power a Tactical Engine or a Voltaic Helm for about 20 minutes at SR 1, if there are no hamsters or cyclists providing power. Assume it takes about 20 minutes work by one giant hamster or 5 gnomish cyclists to fully charge one set of batteries.

Gnomish Console Helm: This is a voltaic helm, but uses a console to control the charging and discharging of the static generator. A Console Helm is a convoluted piece of a nightmare of a machine with it's bells, whistles and steam pipes. The helmsman is still able to use all abilities available to a standard spelljamming helm like 360 degree sense awareness, etc.

Electric Chair Helm: This is another variety of voltaic helm, also powered by a static generator, which has a heavy wooden chair with multiple straps and electrodes, allegedly to protect the helmsman from turbulence. This helm is entirely safe to use assuming there are no faults in the machinery it is connected to and, even then, the fuses should protect you! The helmsman has full access to all the conventional helm capabilities.

Hamsters and gnomish cyclists must be regularly replaced, preferably every hour, but a maximum of two hours, for best results. For every 15 minutes over the two hours of work the helm loses 1 SR. So you need 12 hamsters or 60 cyclists in two one-hour shifts per day for continuous flight at SR 1, or at spelljamming speed. Sensibly 8 spare hamsters and 40 spare cyclists.

There is a normal limit of three hamsters or fifteen cyclists, and an absolute maximum of five hamsters and twenty-five cyclists. Rather like the Series Helm. Again like a Series Helm there is one Helm (and static generator) per hamster or five cyclists. One helm is capable of moving 35 tons, two (or more) helms can move a maximum of 75 tons. Further helms beyond the minimum increase the SR, to a maximum of SR 5 for 35 tons, and SR 4 for 75 tons. If these were sold they would be priced as Series Helms.

Equipment weight and size should not be forgotten. Assume one ton per hamster wheel/cyclist equipment (we are talking gnomes here, you know, by golly) and one ton for the static generator. Also, if fitted, one ton for a set of batteries and one ton for the tactical engine or voltaic helm. The limit of space will normally set the limit for the giant hamster/gnome cyclist numbers and equipment set-up. It is up to the individual captains to decide how much is needed.


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