Friday, July 1, 2016

Drop Pods of the Celestial Empire

The bulk of the Celestial Empire is centered on the midpoint of the Beanstalk, at an altitude of roughly 15,000 miles.  Climbing down is analogous to circumnavigating the world on a stairmaster.  Even if you've got the thighs for it, it's really time consuming.  Falling, on the other hand, is relatively low impact (initially, anyway) and a whole lot faster.  In a nutshell, the drop pod is exactly that - a modified hollow seed pod for dropping people and cargo to places farther down the g-well.  Don't ask me how they aim what amounts to a giant dandelion seed, but they seem to be accurate to within a couple hundred yards or so.

Game stuff:

  • While they can vary in size, these are roughly equivalent to ship's boats.  Cargo/Personnel capacity equivalent to anything from a dinghy through a small pinnace.
  • Due to assorted peculiarities in the laws of physics around anything as decidedly impossible as a live space elevator, pods fall at a more or less constant terminal velocity of 300 mph.  This means that they may end up falling for a little over two days if they go all the way to the surface, followed by some pretty rough (but non-lethal) bouncing.  Cavalry (and other mounted troops) may not take this very well.
  • The counterweight is actually "down" from the midpoint, so they can drop in that direction as well.
  • You're more or less on your own to climb back up, but supply pods can be dropped along your route.

The Beanstalk

From my Weird Stuff That Won't Get Played file:

Beanstalk - The climbing vine of any of a large variety of legumes.

Beanstalk - SF geek slang for a space elevator.

This one's both.  It's not exactly natural, but it is alive.  It isn't exactly an elevator as such - more of a bridge.  If you've got the time and inclination, you can walk all the way up the stalk to the counterweight.  This would generally take about three years to get to the main station at the halfway point (14,625 miles or so).  The thing about large foot bridges is that they are seldom unoccupied.  No, not trolls (mostly).  Medieval bridges were lined with shops and houses like any other street, just moderately cleaner (just as easy to chuck the refuse in the river as in the gutter) and often with mills in the stream.  The main stalk is hollow and has a horizontal cross section about 250' across, or about the same area as one of the original World Trade Center towers.  The assorted "floors" vary in height, but are usually less than 30 feet.  There are various types of passageway that allow access between levels - it's a living plant, but was designed by wizards (or someone sentient and a bit off, anyway).  There are also access points to the outside, where leaves the size of small baronies become archipelagos in the sky linked to the main stalk by their tendril.

The takeaways:

  • Live, plant-based wizard's tower.  Height not measurable by conventional means.  A little under 30,000 miles if you must count.
  • Surface area roughly that of Australia.
  • There's stuff living there.  Some of it's a little strange.