Expeditions into the Silt Sea...

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...need help figuring out how I to send a group of players into the Silt Sea on an expedition - given the limitation of Silt Skimmers.  I'm thinking a large craft, perhaps on ski-like apparatus propelled by wind? The vehicle would have to be long and the weight distrubted evenly (and lightly) so that it did not sink into the sea of silt.

Also was thinkning of a blimp, but that is beyond the technology of Athas I think...

Ideas and thoughts appreciated!

Thanks! 
If you invent a new craft that can travel over deep silt, you should be aware that it throws an enormous wrench into the existing system where only Balic's psionic silt dromonds can cross much of the sea. You could present it as "this is an experimental craft that this wise old man invented!" but be aware that, if it works, it will forever change the power balance in the region, and therefore Balic would have a pretty keen interest in it, as it would threaten their monopoly on naval power.

However, the books are pretty explicit that pretty much ANYTHING will sink into the silt, big snowshoes or skis notwithstanding, unless affected by magic or psionics. That's why it's so deadly--you can't even "tread" in it if you fall in, but instantly fall to the bottom.

The easiest way would be to somehow attach the PCs to a Balican silt dromond on an expedition--a merchant using his influence to get the navy to lend him use of a dromond and its crew for a profitable expedition, maybe. Second-most-easiest would be for them to fly in some way, either through magic or on the back of a cloud ray or whatever (or crawling along the bottom in a giant worm or undead rezhatta or something). Coming up with a justification for an independent silt-travelling device, like you are pondering, will probably be difficult, but you could do it and make a campaign out of it--it will change the world of Athas!
I don't see why a blimp of sorts would be out of the question. After all, floaters use gas to bare themselves a loft. I wouldn't make it a simple blimp though, make it something creepy and weird - a  necromantic construct of some kind maybe.  It should be the work of some mad arcanist of some sort; nothing right minded folks would want to travel in (thus the need for adventurerers). As wax pointed out, there would be a lot of interest from Balic, and likely a saboteur on board ready to bring the whole operation down if it was too successful.

Another option you could try is having one of the smaller merchant houses come into possession on a map once used by a long dead merchant dynasty that operated out of Balic (or maybe even Guinenstal?) that outlines a lot of forgotten routes through the sea of silt.

Or give them a macguffin that allows them to create their own hardened roads within the silt. Nlathing as lame as a big "walk on silt" spell that can affect the vehicle. But perhaps a savant that can create "silt bars" beneath the surface of the sea. Still dangerous travel, but a lot more free wheeling.

Tom

 
That second option is great. There are tons of unmapped "mountain ridge tops" and the like under the silt; the giants know many more than even the Balicans (and use them to wade to islands that would otherwise be only accessible by psionic dromond), and having a map carefully detail a known ridge that goes right out to the remote island you want to send them to is a very easy and simple way to make it happen using a regular wheeled silt skimmer and without bringing in a world-changing technology.
Are the dromonds mentioned in 4th edition material anywhere or are they from prior edition material?
Part 8 of the adventure Dragon Crown (Desert Perils; A New Flotation Device) revolves around an air cleric who has captured several floaters and fashioned an athasian version of a hot air baloon from them.

Are the dromonds mentioned in 4th edition material anywhere or are they from prior edition material?

Silt skiffs and silt schooners are from the Prism Pentad novels (books four and five), but are statted out for 3.5 rules in athas.org's Athasian Emporium. They rely on the usage of a device called an obsidian engine (also described in Athasian Emporium). It seems to me that it wouldn't be too difficult to port it over to 4e rules.
Part 8 of the adventure Dragon Crown (Desert Perils; A New Flotation Device) revolves around an air cleric who has captured several floaters and fashioned an athasian version of a hot air baloon from them.



That's pretty funny, as that's basically the direction I'd decided to take.  Smile

Thanks! 
I delved into this a bit in my adventure "Isle of Death" in Dungeon #202 and was able to include the 4e version of a psionically powered silt skimmer that can traverse the deep silt via an obsidian sphere. I orginally called it a silt schooner to differentiate it from the standard silt skimmers but the name was changed in editing. Hope the info can be of some use.
My Dark Sun adventures published in Dungeon magazine.