Crosswinds Keep

By Darrin Drader

8/26 Faze
8/23 Raiders of the Silver Sky
8/21 Sailors of the Silver Sky
8/19 Crosswinds Keep
Astral Encounters Archive

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Crosswinds Keep and Environs

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Astral Encounters
Crosswinds Keep and Environs
By Darrin Drader

Sailors of the Silver Sky

To deter githyanki raids and other foes, Crosswinds Keep keeps five squidships in top shape and staffed with able sailors. These squidships were modeled after a ship one of the keep's visitors salvaged from the Pyre. [1] The keep purchased the ship and then, when it proved to be useful against the githyanki trading ships, they ordered more constructed and outfitted with a crew. The presence of these ships serves an important role in deterring the githyanki from launching an all-out assault on the keep. Instead, the githyanki pick off travelers and ships passing through the Elserryn Cluster in areas just outside the reach of the keep.

While Crosswind Keep uses their squidships to protect the keep and those within a mile of the keep, they fully recognize and accept the fact that they are not staffed or equipped to protect all travelers in their area beyond that point. Visitors to the keep recognize the dangers inherent in traveling the Astral Plane, and they are normally quite capable of defending themselves. Though the keep's squidships have come to the aid of another vessel under attack in the past, they do so only if they are familiar with the traveler and they have the available resources to do so without compromising the safety of the keep.

Squidships are normally staffed by the captain (which can be a character of any race or class, usually 7th-level or higher), and fifty 3rd-level fighters. In combat, squidships use their heavy catapult against their enemies. Should that prove ineffective, they normally try to board their opponent's vessel. Only under the direst circumstances do they ram.

(Click to Enlarge)
(Click to Enlarge)

Squidship: Colossal vehicle; Profession (sailor) +0; Spd fly 100 ft. (poor); Overall AC 0; Section hp 40 (hardness 10); Section AC 3; Ram 9d8; Face 125 ft. by 20 ft.; Height 20 ft.; SA ramming prow, 1 heavy catapult, 2 ballista; Crew 1 (carries 75); Cargo 25 tons (Spd 65 ft. if 13 tons or more).

*On the Material Plane, the squidship may employ either a major or minor spelljamming helm.

The most commonly encountered ship found sailing the astral winds is the tradesman. This ship is another design originally found near the Pyre, but it has been adopted by many of the astral merchants, and many of them have been heavily customized. The trailing fins of the tradesman help its maneuverability on the Astral Plane and serve as a source of decoration.

As the name would imply, tradesmen are normally used for trade in the Astral Plane. They frequent the inhabited chunks of matter and buy whatever wares beings may have for sale, then find buyers at the other settlements. In the Elserryn Cluster, several keeps and settlements have been established, and each stands upon a piece of matter pulled from one of the other planes or rests upon the body of a dead god.

In addition to their use as a trading vessel, tradesmen also serve as scouting vessels. Occasionally large convoys full of merchandise purchased or pillaged from one of the other planes travel through here. Tradesmen commonly scout out ahead of these convoys to provide information about any dangers that may lie ahead. Because of their relatively small size and agility, they can avoid most of the larger astral ships and report back to their convoys before problems arise.

Tradesman are also the most common personal transports. Although the Astral Plane can be crossed without the aid of a vehicle, many people feel less exposed and more protected when sailing the silver skies in their astral ship.

(Click to Enlarge)
(Click to Enlarge)

Tradesman: Gargantuan vehicle; Profession (sailor) +0; Spd fly 120 ft. (average); Overall AC 3; Section hp 40 (hardness 10); Section AC 3; Ram 4d8; Face 60 ft. by 20 ft.; Height 15 ft.; SA ramming prow, 1 light catapult, 1 medium ballista; Crew 1 (carries 50); Cargo 5 tons (Spd 90 ft. if 3 tons or more).

*On the material plane the tradesman employs a minor spelljamming helm.

Notes: Dungeon Magazine #92/Polyhedron #151 contains the d20 Minigame Spelljammer: Shadow of the Spider Moon, which is the D&D conversion of the classic Spelljammer Campaign Setting. While the ships are derived from the classic setting, this article uses the vehicle rules presented in Dragon Magazine #294 and the Arms and Equipment Guide. Numerous spelljamming ships from the original box set are converted for your use there. Spelljamming ships work just as well on the Astral Plane as they do in the Material Plane. While a spelljamming helm works in exactly the same way, ships also can be outfitted with sails to harness the power of the astral winds, thus making the spelljamming helm unnecessary.

[1] Just recently the original squidship found near the Pyre vanished. No word of her whereabouts has reached Crosswinds Keep, so now the crews on the remaining five squidships are more alert than ever in their duties.

Bringing the Parts Together

You may find that introducing your PCs to the keep by way ship could be dramatic. Perhaps they're traveling to the keep in the presence of someone known well by the keep inhabitants when the ship is attacked. Using the statistics in the next installment, you can provide foes to fight! You can also send your PCs on a quest to find the lost squidship. Who knows where it is and what dangers it has faced?

Coming in Part 3 of Raiders of the Silver Sky

You may be ready to introduce some foes to your PCs.

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