Thursday, May 10, 2018

Levitium & Sky Cities

While I described a flying city in my current project, On Wings of Darkness, I dwelled upon ideas about how such marvels might be built. Here's one way, presented below, that helps explain how they work. Although this material is intended for the World of Calidar, it may be used pretty much as is with the World of Mystara. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

Calidar, Mystara, Levitium

by ArtAndJoy

Levitium is a magical gas native to Calidar. In its natural form, it binds with fine grain, metamorphic minerals broadly known as cloudstones. It is believed that levitium is related to Calidar’s world soul, the result of high pressure and heat permanently binding its magic to the mineral. Similar in appearance to white, blue, gray, or black marble, it can be carved and polished, but it is a bit more brittle than true marble. Levithium alters the physical properties of objects with which it is bonded, causing them to levitate. Its concentration determines how high these objects may rise through the atmosphere before settling at a certain altitude.

Cloudstones can lift additional weight (such as man-made structures, living beings, hardware, ice, snow, etc.) up to what their unenchanted mass should have been, without adverse effect on attainable altitude. Excess weight reduces altitudes cloudstones can reach. Loads twice a cloudstone’s unenchanted mass prevents it fully from rising. Additional enchantments or air anchors are often needed to stabilize cloudstones and prevent them from rolling over or drifting.

Cloudstone deposits generally lie deep below ground. Seismic activity may accidentally release cloudstones, often leaving rubble-filled chasms or lakes where a deposit was exposed. During eons of Caldwen’s existence, many such monoliths have risen and now wander the skies at the whims of winds. It isn’t always easy to tell natural clouds from these boulders as they often fly at the same altitudes. With time, they erode, break apart, and lose their levithium, gradually returning to the surface in an endless cycle. 

Most of the cloudstones in Caldwen and Araldûr have already been extracted. Few other regions operate mines, especially in Narwan and northern Belledor. The business of salvaging airborne monoliths is brisk, lucrative, but dangerous because sky-dwelling monsters or pirates may have already claimed them. Wind storms sometimes drive cloudstone debris, peppering imprudent skyships and their crews. Other vessels actually use nets to capture wandering rubble, like they would fish in the sea. Naturally, the greatest deposits of cloudstone still lie beneath the Dread Lands, largely untouched.

Calidar, Mystara, Levitium

by Nikulina-Helena

Natural cloudstones, especially if mined from pristine deposits feature the best concentrations of levitium. Caldwen’s capital city’s Upper District is built with large blocks and slabs of mined cloudstones. Small stones and gravel may be ground and made into bricks and cement. Cheaper, but less effective, these are used predominantly in Arcanial’s Middle District. Levitium can otherwise be extracted from cloudstones. Mixed in an alchemical solution, it can be absorbed in dry softwood, like pine, such as that found in the Lower District. It is the cheapest levitating product, but also the least effective and durable. This process is incompatible with hardwoods and metals, from which skyships are generally constructed. Navigating vessels, therefore, require separate enchantments to enable flight, which is a lot more expensive considering time, skill, and the number of spells needed.

Some monsters on Caldwen are naturally imbued with levitium, which flows in their flesh and blood. These creatures consciously master their levitation abilities, vectoring it in order to control their flight despite the absence of wings or other propulsion method. Some are better than others. Their blood may be used as a component for potions of levitation.