Sharn: The Cauldron
The airship docking port is a single room that occupies the entire top floor of Lyrandar Tower. The walls of this massive chamber are 30 feet high, and the domed ceiling rises to dizzying heights. Four lifts located in the center of the room allow easy access to the docking port from the levels below. Two massive, 20-foot-high doors pierce each of the four walls. Each door opens inward to reveal a balcony from which hangs a massive, fork-shaped dock.
The balcony doors are normally kept open, regardless of the weather. A permanent magical field keeps out the chill wind while allowing passengers to enter and exit their ships. The doors are closed only in the rare instances when the city is under attack. (Adamantine Doors (8): hardness 20, hp 400.)
Each balcony is equipped with a powerful light housed in a compact light station (lighthouse). Powered by a lead sphere bearing a permanent daylight spell, the light is backed by a concave mirror that reflects the light outward. The operator of each small light station scans the sky for approaching airships. When its dock is available, the station acknowledges a ship by maintaining the light on its sails for several seconds. Upon receiving this signal, the airship glides in beside the balcony from which the signal originated. After tying the ship into place, the attendants drop a ramp from its deck so that passengers can embark or disembark. The ship remains airborne at all times, even while docked. The ring of fire encircling the airship is safely beyond the reach of the dock, so it poses no hazard to people standing there, or to the structure itself.
In addition, each balcony is equipped for skycoach docking. Skycoaches often approach the balconies when their drivers see approaching airships, then wait there for disembarking passengers who want a quick ride to another part of the city. Such convenience usually costs up to double the going rate for such services.
Although the tower has eight docking ports, no more than four are typically in use at any given time—two for arrivals and two for departures. The other ports are reserved for periods of heavy traffic or emergency dockings. Occasionally a damaged ship puts in here for repairs and has to stay for an extended period, blocking off the dock where it is moored at great expense to its owner. Ships owned by House Lyrandar, however, can stay in port indefinitely at no charge.
At any time, hundreds of shuffling people—most of them standing in long lines—are waiting to board the next airship. Along the north and south walls are two large areas filled with chairs. Together, these lounges provide seating for more than five hundred people.
House Lyrandar provides refreshments, such as fruits and water, free of charge to the waiting travelers. The safety of the airship passengers using this docking port is of paramount concern to House Lyrandar.
No fewer than fifty guards (primarily 3rd- to 5th-level fighters and 3rd- to 5th-level wizards and clerics with typical arms and armor) patrol this room at all times. Two fighters wearing armor under their robes and a wizard wearing austere gray robes and goggles of detect magic are stationed at each airship gate. This group is charged with spotting any dangerous magic devices that embarking passengers are attempting to bring aboard the ship. Ranged and melee weapons of low and moderate strength are allowed on board with the passenger, provided that each such weapon is secured in its sheath with a peaceknot.
Passengers embarking on one of House Lyrandar’s ships must undergo strict security checks. Any magic items that the wizards on the inspection teams cannot identify or that they deem overly dangerous are confiscated and placed in one of the ship’s locked cargo holds, then returned to their owners upon reaching the destination. A few airships owned by other houses do not employ such stringent safeguards, but their passenger lists are normally much more exclusive.