The Sky

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The atmosphere of Aether is divided into layers, based on composition, temperature, and ability to sustain life. Most islands are found in Middle Sky, with the frequency of islands becoming less and less as one moves farther up or down. Areas beyond Upper or Lower Sky are lethal, and require special gear and ship equipment to venture into. They do, however, contain exotic and undiscovered creatures and locations.

The Heavens

The Heavens extend from 23,000 feet up. Despite its lofty and welcoming name, it is highly lethal.

Because of the severe cold, an unprotected character must make a Fortitude save once every 10 minutes (DC 15, +1 per previous check), taking 1d6 points of nonlethal damage on each failed save. A character who has the Survival skill may receive a bonus on this saving throw and may be able to apply this bonus to other characters as well. Characters wearing winter clothing only need check once per hour for cold and exposure damage.

The thin atmosphere of the Heavens does not contain enough oxygen to sustain life. In addition to high altitude fatigue as described in Upper Sky, a character must also deal with altitude sickness. Altitude sickness represents long-term oxygen deprivation, and it affects mental and physical ability scores. After each 6-hour period a character spends at an altitude of over 15,000 feet, he must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or take 1 point of damage to all ability scores. Creatures acclimated to high altitude receive a +4 competence bonus on their saving throws to resist high altitude effects and altitude sickness, but eventually even seasoned adventurers must abandon these dangerous elevations.

Upper Sky

Upper Sky extends from 7,500 feet to 23,000 feet above Altitude 0. The air is colder than normal, and not nearly as thick.

A creature exposed to Upper Sky must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous check) every hour. On the first failed save, the creature is fatigued. A fatigued creature that fails a subsequent save becomes exhausted for as long as it remains in the thin air. After 1 hour of complete, uninterrupted rest in a normal atmosphere, an exhausted creature becomes fatigued. After 8 hours of complete, uninterrupted rest, a fatigued creature is no longer fatigued. After spending 3d4 days in Upper Sky, a character has acclimated and no longer suffers this effect. If he leaves for more than two weeks, he loses this acclimation.

An unprotected character in cold conditions must make a Fortitude save each hour (DC 15, + 1 per previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. A character who has the Survival skill may receive a bonus on this saving throw and may be able to apply this bonus to other characters as well.

Middle Sky

Middle sky occupies the area 7,500 feet to -7,500 feet above and below Altitude 0.

There are no special rules that govern middle sky. It is likely to be where adventurers spend most of their time, as this is were nearly all islands are found.

Lower Sky

This area extends from -7,500 feet to -23,000 feet.

Because of the thickness of the atmosphere at this depth, a creature exposed to Lower Sky must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous check) every hour. On the first failed save, the creature is fatigued. A fatigued creature that fails a subsequent save becomes exhausted for as long as it remains in the thick air. After 1 hour of complete, uninterrupted rest in a normal atmosphere, an exhausted creature becomes fatigued. After 8 hours of complete, uninterrupted rest, a fatigued creature is no longer fatigued. After spending 2d4 days in Lower Sky, a character has acclimated and no longer suffers this effect. If he leaves for more than a week, he loses this acclimation.

The Abyss

The Abyss is defined as anything below -23,000 feet.

Dark clouds swirl at this depth, concealing all below them. These clouds are poisonous and corrosive, dealing 1d4 points of acid damage per round to unprotected creatures. Objects receive this damage hourly, regardless of hardness. These clouds contain an inhaled poison identical to burnt othur fumes (Fortitude DC 18, primary effect: 1 point of Constitution drain; secondary effect: 3d6 Constitution damage).

The thickness of the atmosphere is debilitating. This functions just like the fatiguing effect of Lower Sky, except the base DC is 20 instead of 15, and a character can never become acclimated.