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The Skygems

by Bruce Heard

The artifact's power is received through a gem that is located inside the ship's altar. It is called a Skygem. The amount of lift that can be derived from the artifact depends on the size of the Skygem. The original crystal receives powerful blessings at the Holy Citadel of the Heldannic Knights before it can function. A priest of Vanya is needed to activate the Skygem when it is placed inside the altar. The Skygem also needs to be reactivated if pulled out of the altar. The size of the Skygem governs what priest level is needed to activate it (100 carats per experience level). The activation itself only requires a bless spell.

The Skygem is consumed by the power it channels at the rate of one carat per day and per ten tons of lift. For example, the Sturmkondor requires up to 300 tons of lift --it would require a 30-carat Skygem to function for a day, or a 2,520-carat Skygem for three months (a huge gemstone weighing about a pound). Therefore a 26th level priest is needed to activate this large a Skygem. New Skygems generally allow for three months of continuous use. Atmospheric navigation is expensive since it requires continuous lift, while space travel can be much more economical since constant speed can be maintained once it is achieved. For security reasons, very few warbirds have a spare Skygem, for fear of the warbird falling to enemy hands. When the Skygems is reaching the end of its usefulness, it begins to turn into a common lump of crystal.

The ship's chapel is generally well guarded since the removal of the Skygem switches off the telekinetic force supporting the ship. If this happens, the ship descends toward the surface at an increasing speed. If the power was switched off at up to 300' altitude the ship lands with minor damage, its wings and tail offering some lift and control. Between 301' and 3,000', the ship is likely to take serious damage and casualties among the crew, but remains repairable. Between 3,001' and the planet's Skyshield, the warbird's wings are ripped off and the ship plummets to the ground; it and its crew are all doomed. In space, the warbird may still use its sails (provided Mystara space is breathable or "Solar Winds" are blowing). Depending on how strong these winds are, Mystara's gravitational pull may yet doom the warbird if it can't pull free.