Clockwork Wonders
Cyran Gliding Boots
Part 5 of 14
By Wolfgang Baur

Thondred thought that nothing could make Forley cry; the man was a revenger of Cyre, a warrior from his blond head to his iron gut. But there he was, holding two strangely-geared boots in his hands, pointing at the scuffed button at their toes, sniffling. "They were just a fad in Cyre, part of the Cyran appreciation, for dancing. Gliding along the city streets, women, children street-gliding, even at the height of the war. Oh, you wouldn't understand."

Thondred shook his head. "I'm sorry, Forley. We all lost someone."

"Stupid boots," said Forley.

"So you don't want them, then?" asked Thondred.

"Keep your filthy paws off them," said Forley, wiping his eyes. He kicked off his hobnailed marching boots and his fingers quickly laced up the new ones. "They even fit."

Now largely forgotten except by a few of the survivors of the Day of Mourning, gliding boots were a very fashionable item in Metrol and Making during the last 10 years of the Last War. Both artificers and magewright shoemakers turned them out in dozens of variations, and they were the preferred footgear of young bravos and the most desirable debutantes of the city. Young people wore them to the "Gliding Balls" held to begin the social season in the fall. The boots never caught on in the other Five Nations, who considered them, like so many elements of the Cyran appreciation, frivolous at best and decadent and soft at worst.

Oddly enough, the goblins of Darguul love gliding boots, and they are said to have perfected a version with slightly tougher wheels for use in hills, streambeds, and in Marguul Pass. They claim that gliding boots are a goblin invention stolen by the Cyrans, but this seems unlikely.

Appearance

Though they are highly fashionable items, gliding boots are a bit cumbersome and awkward-looking. They have between 20 and 100 geared wheels on the sole and heel that control the glide, and a large wooden or rubber button on the toe (used for braking). They are laced up with heavy hooks and buttons to provide stability to the ankle. Many of the gliding boots sold to Cyran nobility are of soft calfskin dyed in bright colors such as red, green, or yellow.

Use and Powers

Gliding boots use ball bearings, small wheels, and a simple braking system to add speed and smooth motion to the wearer's steps, without becoming as difficult to control as ice skates or similar items. They enhance existing motion rather than requiring the wearer to learn a whole new way to move. As a result, gliding boots allow the wearer to make a 10 ft. adjustment in combat as a free action rather than a 5 ft. adjustment; this adjustment follows all the rules for the normal 5 ft. adjustment, and can be used 3 times/day. The boots add a 10 ft. enhancement bonus to the base land speed of the wearer when the wearer is moving down a slope or across a flat surface such as a road or trail.

Gliding boots add a +2 circumstance bonus to all Tumble and Jump checks made on solid ground. The boots must be able to glide for this bonus to apply; they don't work in heavy brush or in marshy ground, but are fine on streets, packed mud trails, boardwalks, stone dungeon corridors, and so forth.

Spellcasters can use gliding boots in combination with a gust of wind spell to travel at double their normal speed for a single round (the duration of the spell).

Limitations

Gliding boots are not serviceable at all times. When trying to move up a slope, the wearer moves as if in difficult terrain (movement halved, cannot run or charge). Gliding boots impose a -2 circumstance penalty to Climb and Swim checks if worn while attempting climbing or swimming movement.

Gliding boots are difficult to use when standing on a slippery flat surface. The wearer must make a Balance check (DC 17) to remain standing and to move on wet, icy, or otherwise slick surfaces (including the area of a sleet storm spell). On a slippery slope, a Balance check (DC 27) is required.

If kept properly oiled, they have no effect on Move Silently checks.

CL 2nd; Craft Construct, Craft (leatherworking or shoemaking), longstrider; Price 14,000 gp; Cost 7,000 gp + 560 XP.

Campaign Hooks

A gang of pursesnatchers may use gliding boots on a sloping promenade to make quick escapes; a reward is offered for their capture.

A noble in New Cyre may hope to hold a Gliding Ball, to restore some of the luster of Old Cyre to the refugees there. He asks the party to investigate a claim that the halflings of the Talenta Plains have acquired a shipment of a hundred such boots and might be willing to sell them.

About the Author

Wolfgang Baur enjoys steampunk anime and Cthulhoid fiction, and he is a co-author of the original Dark*Matter campaign setting as well as the upcoming "Expedition to the Demonweb Pits" campaign-adventure. He discusses adventure design at the Open Design blog {http://customadventure.livejournal.com type=external}.


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