Planejammer: The Seven Stars
Ether Ship Power Core
Common knowledge is that a person moves in the Deep Ethereal by the power of their mind, vaguely similar to the Astral. Fact is, while the Astral is a place where nothing is anywhere, in the Ether everything is in the same place. This is a lot less abstract than the Astral, and therefore the power of the mind doesn’t bend perceived space around as well in the ether — therefore you are still limited by your normal pace, though you can let some of your essence boil away to move faster. In the end, this amounts to a variable amount of time you have to move between certain locations as you bend your mind to moving you, though because most people tend to think in terms of literal maps, eventually even something moving like the Body Luminous can move on “beyond” any reasonable travel time, because it’s out beyond the mental map.
This turned out to be a big problem in the construction of etherships. Fact is, minds can’t work together very well to bend the ether around, and a single mind in its own body can’t move something as big as a ship — or the sorts and size of cargo that a ship would be needed to move on any other plane. The “traditional” methods of spelljamming and actually sailing the currents of the Waveless Sea didn’t work, either.
Some bright berk, a wizard that the Etherfarers like to claim as a sort of proto-Etherfarer, figured out how to do it, though. You make the ship the mind’s body. Drawing on knowledge of the creation of golems, where an elemental spirit is bound in the artificial body, he called an elemental spirit and bound it into a matrix made up of gems and silver, and bound that to the ship. With the ship as the spirit’s body, and through proper coaxing (which later became “standardized” ethership controls) the wizard was able to propel his ship through the Deep. He wasn’t a stingy berk, either; he shared this knowledge around with others, though some say he came to regret it when the baatezu started using etherships powered by trapped ghosts, larvae, and souls.
Even though the ship has a mind to direct it, stabilized ether sails are still needed to help sail the Waveless Sea. Nobody’s quite sure why, though some suspect that it’s a matter of the ship needing to be partially of the ether to be able to move as fast as some of them can without shredding at high speeds like living beings do when moving faster than their own normal pace. It is noted that ethersailing is actually rather slower than moving on one’s own when it comes to hurrying to a specific spot, but ships are the only guaranteed way to stay together and bring lots of stuff along.
Ethership power core
Most ethership power cores are based upon the original design, that of a single or several gems with a special silver mount, within which an elemental spirit has been bound. The process is akin to that required to animate a golem. It weighs about 1 pound and is the size of a human fist.
Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, geas/quest, summon monster VI; Market Price: 12,500 gp.
Baatezu ethership power core
Not ones to do something simply when they can do it in the most depraved fashion possible, the baatezu have taken the principle of binding a non-sentient elemental spirit and turned it towards evil. The core looks similar to a normal ethership core, though it is made of gold instead of silver and the gem seems to have a faint reddish glow no matter what it originally was. In fact, the gem holds a bound soul, sometimes a trapped ghost but most often that of a mortal too foolish to not deal with the baatezu, or a larva or lemure that was chosen at random.
Caster Level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, magic jar, creator must be an evil outsider; Market Price: 8,000 gp (not normally available to be bought).