Steal This Hook!
Airship Action
By Doug Beyer

In the movies, the world of flight drips with drama: it's a world of stomach-churning stunts, devil-may-care pilots, bold midair rescues, desperate landing maneuvers, wild dogfights, and the melodramatically timed arrival of lightning storm fronts. So why not let the PCs fly those action-packed skies in your Eberron campaign? This edition of Steal This Hook! is packed with Eberron-style airship action. Enjoy.

Lord of Airships

About a month ago, when an airship flew its cargo of Riedran crysteel over the rocky peaks north of Kennrun, it disappeared. The same thing happened two months previous to an airship carrying adamantine. When House Lyrandar puts out word that they're looking for adventurers to fly a specially prepared airship to the same region, the heroes know they've found their next job. The airship they fly is bait -- it appears as a cargo transport ship and has papers logged in advance of its cargo manifest. The heroes can stay hidden in a secret compartment until the culprit shows his face. Meanwhile . . .

The Lord of Blades knows his last two airship thefts were bold. He expects the Lyrandar fools to set a trap for him. That's why he's not bothering to steal this one, but rather send it on an interesting test of piloting skills. He hopes to force it into a chasm full of dangerous outcroppings and narrow squeezes, and send a squad of warforged archers and wizards to pepper it with flaming missiles. Should the pilots aboard the craft survive that gauntlet, he intends to use the two airships he has already stolen to board and conquer.

Stowaways on the Wistful Wanderer

The heroes' tattered, basilisk-leather map says the treasure lies in Xen'drik. The trouble is that all harbor traffic out of Sharn has been shut down because sahuagin terrorism is at an all-time high. Luckily, one airship is steady enough to fly the whole way from Sharn to the Xen'drik mainland. The next trouble, though, is that this airship is the Wistful Wanderer, a gallant ship available only to well-financed explorers in good standing with Breland royalty. Luckily -- well, luckily nothing -- the PCs are out of options without a pile of gold and a note from the King. Unless. . . . Jimodan Runabout, a quiet dwarf friend of the heroes, hears about their intention to fly to Xen'drik. Jimodan proposes that the PCs stow away in the cargo he has been hired to accompany to the mysterious continent. It's a dangerous proposition, but the heroes have to get to Xen'drik somehow. And when Jimodan is found with his throat slit halfway through the voyage, the PCs are thrust into a dark plot a little earlier than they expected!

Exploring the Dead-Gray Clouds

In the unnatural gloom above what was once Cyre floats Aeba, a fugitive from another world. Aeba is an air elemental who has lost its way from Kythri, and its presence has caused the Mournland's dead-gray mist to swirl into a storm of mythic proportions. Most folk didn't even need that much reason to avoid plunging into the haunted air of the Mournland, but a half-orc airship captain by the name of Fled Grunlatch needs a crew to accompany him to find Aeba as soon as possible. Fled's motivation might vary from love (Fled must rescue his young son, who was swept up in Aeba's winds during his last mission) to greed (Fled seeks the location of a famous +4 longsword that, according to legend, would be revealed by a "haunted storm in the golem's land") to revenge (Fled believes Aeba is a manifestation of the living cloudkill spell that killed his father).

Flight of the Nightfarer

A promising, young, changeling magewright named Arz showed no emotion when he was expelled from the prestigious Sharn Academy of Shipwrights. Or at least, the human dean of the school didn't understand the subtlety of changeling facial expressions when she gave Arz the boot; perhaps he had showed emotion after all.

Still, no one could claim surprise when a load of soarwood and several critical elemental essences went missing from the Academy the following week. They immediately blamed Arz, and although inquisitives didn't locate the missing materials, Academy officials had no worries that an unsanctioned airship might be built by someone without a dragonmark.

And yet, two months later, confused reports surface of a black airship flying on a scarcely visible (air elemental?) ring, floating up silently to a tower in Holdfast in Sharn's Middle Wards. Could Arz have completed a new, stealthy kind of airship? Is he working in concert with some other force to help damage the Academy? Or is someone framing an innocent changeling?

Mini-Hooks

  • Two airships must fly close together during a driving storm to pull off a tricky midair cargo transfer.
  • The PCs must stop a thief from making an airship getaway with a fortune in letters of credit.
  • Talenta halflings seek polite foreigners to investigate the wreckage of an airship that crashed in the Plains -- and they specifically request the expertise of a divine scholar.
  • The PCs leave the skyport in a Thrane airship, but they must arrive in Droaam in a goblin air schooner -- they'll have to create a disguise for their airship en route.
  • The heroes and their airship are hired for a precarious sea rescue involving a burning elemental galleon, a cargo of throbbing cocoons, and a shoal of blood-crazed, spellwarped (Monster Manual III) merfolk.
  • Snow blows through the holes in the rotting hull of an abandoned airship in the Frostfell -- a ship that will have to become the party's escape route when an avalanche begins.
  • The army of Karrnath seeks adventurers to train as elite feather fall sky-warriors.
  • Armed with only a harpoon and the services of a friendly lammasu (Monster Manual), one of the heroes must bring down the airship that is escaping with the rest of the party -- and their Emerald Claw kidnappers.

About the Author

Doug Beyer spent a lot of time getting philosophy degrees until he figured out that he should just move to Seattle and become a web developer for Wizards of the Coast. Now he spends his days working on games and his evenings playing them. Doug uses the time normally allotted for sleeping to lurk on the Wizards.com message boards as his alter ego, WotC_Doog.


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