The Void

The Following is an excerpt from Dark Dungeons, Chapter 15: Out of This World:

The Void

The void is the empty space between worlds. As the name suggests, it is completely empty, not even containing air.

Gravity

There is no gravity in the void away from large masses, so any unsecured object will simply drift randomly. Because of the lack of air, creatures with wings will find it impossible to fly; although magical flight still works.

Any mass in the void, from the smallest pebble to the largest planet or sun will have its own gravity. However, unlike our world this gravity does not always pull in the direction of the centre of the mass and is not directly proportional to the mass of the mass(es) involved.

Instead, the strength of the gravity around an object or group of objects is always the same; the distance over which that gravity acts is limited and based on the size of the object or group of objects; and the direction of the gravity is based on the shape of the object.

Strength

The strength of gravity is always simply the normal strength of gravity that is found on the real-world Earth. Within the gravity envelope of a planet, big or small, things fall just as expected.

Distance

The distance away from an object to which its gravity extends is based on the width of the object in the direction in which the distance is being measured. That’s less complicated than it sounds. Basically it means that the gravity envelope for an object stretches as far above the object as the object is tall, as far to either side of the object as the object is wide, and as far in front of and behind the object as the object is deep. The gravity envelope is therefore the same shape as the object but three times the size (and 27 times the volume).

However, there is a limit to the size of the gravity envelope produced by an object. The envelope will never be more than fifty miles deep no matter how large the width of the object is.

Direction

The direction of gravity within a gravity envelope is determined by the shape of the object that is responsible for the envelope. Each gravity envelope will have a consistent direction of gravity throughout, and if the shape of the object responsible for the envelope changes there may be a sudden flip from one gravity direction to another. Different parts of the gravity envelope will never have different directions. The three most common directions are point, plane and line gravity.

If the object responsible for the gravity field is roughly spherical, such as a planet, then throughout the gravity field gravity pulls towards a point in the centre of the object. This means that it is possible to walk all round the sphere without falling off.

If the object responsible for the gravity field is roughly cylindrical, then throughout the gravity field gravity pulls towards the central line of the cylinder. This means that it is possible to walk all around the cylinder without falling off, but it is possible to fall off either end of the cylinder. Anyone doing so would oscillate back and forth until they settled next to the end of the cylinder lined up with the mid point. The gravity envelope would prevent them from “falling” further, but there would be nothing to stop them drifting away in a direction perpendicular to the cylinder’s end.

If the object responsible for the gravity envelope is roughly flat, such as a ship, then throughout the gravity envelope gravity pulls towards a plane that cuts through the middle of the object. This means that it is possible to walk around on the upper deck(s) of the ship without falling off, and it is also possible to walk around on the underneath of the ship’s hull without falling off. However, it is still possible to fall off the side of the ship, and someone doing so would oscillate back and forth until they settled next to the side of the ship lined up with the mid plane of the ship.The gravity envelope would prevent them from “falling” further, but there would be nothing to stop them drifting either along or away from the ship whilst staying on that same plane.

In the case of large objects with unusual shapes, these may have different gravity directions at the Game Master’s discretion. For example a large hollow sphere might have gravity pointing towards the middle of its thickness, meaning that the inside and outside of the sphere can both be walked on; or a large doughnut shaped object might have gravity pointing to a ring through its centre, so that it can be walked around without falling off.

If in doubt, use the direction of gravity that seems the most sensible and convenient.

In any case, when a small object enters the gravity envelope of a larger object, the smaller object takes on the gravity envelope of the larger object.

Air and Breathing

The void itself contains no air of any kind. However, the objects within the void will normally be surrounded by an envelope of air that clings to them because of their gravity envelope. The air envelope is generally the same size as the gravity envelope.

Unfortunately for travellers, the air around a creature or object will go “bad” and become unbreathable if it is not replenished regularly. Large planets don’t have this problem—partly because of the sheer size of the air envelope around them and partly because they have whole ecosystems constantly replenishing the air.

Air quality is divided into three levels of quality: Fresh, Fouled, and Dead.

  • Fresh Air: Fresh air is healthy and normal. Creatures can survive and operate in it without problem.
  • Foul Air: Foul air is unhealthy, humid and smells bad. Creatures can survive in it, but will often be short of breath and take a –2 penalty to all actions that require rolls.
  • Dead Air: Dead air can no longer support creatures at all. Creatures trapped in dead air will suffocate to the point of unconsciousness over the course of 2d6 rounds and then die in another 1d4 minutes. Before unconsciousness sets in, creatures in dead air take a –4 penalty to all actions that require rolls.

A character who is about to knowingly enter an area of dead air can hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to their constitution before symptoms start.

The exact time it takes for a creature to foul its own air envelope to the point where it drops a level in quality (if drifting in the void) depends on a multitude of factors and variables; and is best abstracted to a roll of 2d10x10 minutes. Larger creatures take more air with them, but also use more air; so the result is the same.

Undead, constructs, golems, and Immortals (unless in Mortal Form) do not foul the air that they carry around, since they do not need to breathe, and they also take no penalties for being in fouled or dead air.

In the case of people on a rock or on a ship, the object that they are on will provide a much bigger air envelope, so it will last much longer before becoming foul. Although the amount of air in the envelope would be most accurately determined by the exact shape and size of the object and many other factors; it is best abstracted by the following (particularly for ships equipped with Sails of Skysailing):

For each ton of weight of the object, it’s air envelope will last one person 120 days. Horses and large creatures use the same amount of air as two people (or even more in the case of extremely large creatures).

The Create Air spell always maintains fresh air within its area of effect for the duration of the spell, but once the duration runs out, the air returns to its former fouled or dead state.

A person under the effects of a Survival spell does not suffer the effects of foul or dead air for the duration of the spell.

Movement & Travel

Getting to the void is easy. It can be done by simply flying up for long enough to reach the edge of the planet’s air & gravity envelope.

However, assuming that the campaign is set on an Earth sized planet, this envelope will be 50 miles deep; so while creatures flying under their own power may be able to fly that distance they are unlikely to fly that high by accident.

Ships equipped with Sails of Skysailing can easily fly such distances. However, they cannot necessarily fly at full cruising speed since they are fighting gravity all the way. It takes a ship a full hour to reach the edge of the gravity envelope regardless of the effective level of the pilot.

While doing such a take-off or landing, the ship can do other navigation at the same time. It can travel around the planet at normal cruising speed while ascending or descending.

Once outside of a gravity envelope, any form of magical flight will work as normal, although winged flight will not unless the creature’s description specifically says that it can fly through the void. Winged creatures that do fly high enough to reach the edge of the gravity and air envelopes will be able to feel that they have reached the edge and non-intelligent ones will instinctively go no higher.

Once in the void, the main difficulty with travelling through it is that the distances are so immense. The distance from one planet to another may be anywhere from 36 million miles to 3.5 billion miles or more; and the radius of a celestial sphere can be up to 7 billion miles. Getting from planet to planet is therefore only possible with magic designed for that purpose. Normal magical flying effects or items are far too slow to even attempt the journey. Even a simple trip to a planet’s moon is likely to be at least 200,000 miles.

Ships equipped with Sails of Skysailing are one of the few commonly found magical effects designed for such long distance travel.

The speeds listed for such ships in Chapter 12 are the speeds within a gravity envelope. Once a skysailing ship has escaped the gravity envelopes of nearby planets and is in the open void, it can accelerate to Voidspeed. Unlike the speeds achieved in atmosphere, voidspeed is not dependent on the effective level of the pilot of the ship. It is fixed at 100 million miles per standard 8-hour travel day. As with airtravel, the pilot of the ship can do a “double shift” if the need arises. See Chapter 12 for more details.

This immense voidspeed can only be maintained in a straight line. Any need to manoeuvre will cause the ship to drop to normal air speed. Similarly, entering the gravity envelope of another object will cause the ship to drop to normal air speed.

No encounters are normally had in the void, since the distances and speeds involved are so huge that the odds of two ships actually coming close enough to even detect each other are astronomically low.

When travelling from planet to planet, it is not necessary to calculate the exact orbits of each planet in order to find out the exact distance between them. Instead, simply use a standard “average” distance between each planet.

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