TRANSPORT IN VAARN

Skiff – a lightweight hover-bike, kept aloft by a sky-seeking stone. Skiffs are generally propelled by an engine at the back of the craft. They are fast and nimble but unstable, and can be lethal when they malfunction. Used by outlaws, Hegemony rangers, bounty hunters, and anyone else who needs to make a quick getaway. 

Art by Egor Kudashkin

Wind-barge – a wooden cargo ship, built around a large sky-seeking stone. These floating barges are used by the merchant guilds of Vaarn to transport goods across the blue sands. Some are elegant and ornate vessels, while others are heavy and utilitarian. Wind-barges have no engine, or mechanical parts at all – their sails catch the desert winds and carry the barge aloft. They are unarmed by ancient custom, although it would be a foolish merchant who ventured into the wastelands without guards onboard.

Iron Mule – a model of synth that must once have been in mass production, for they are commonly found across Vaarn. Iron Mules are boxy, crude automata with four powerful, restless legs. They are known for their extreme endurance and hardiness, and also for their clumsiness, stupidity, and the nauseating rocking motion of their gait. Normally used as pack animals, but can be ridden in extremis. 

Basically a Boston Dynamics robot.

Autochariot – rugged wheeled conveyances with synthetic minds. Autochariots are valuable possessions, as they are able to drive themselves without the intervention of their passengers, and will obey complex verbal instructions. Due to their sapience, autochariots are very difficult to steal, as they are famously loyal machines, and will not accept a new master until their old one has died or verbally released them from service. 

Dune-Skuggy – simple, crude desert vehicles that run on guzzleine. Dune-Skuggies are hacked together from whatever metal their maker could steal or scavenge, usually nothing but a seat protected by a roll-cage, bolted to a roaring smoky engine that drives four ravenous wheels. Skuggies are fast, rough, and loud, and their owners are usually the same. 

Warcrawler – relics of some long-forgotten conflict, Warcrawlers are enormous biomechanical tortoises with hollow shells that once acted as mobile fortresses. They are demilitarised and disarmed, and now crawl 100-year circuits through the deserts of Vaarn, according to some inscrutable logic of their own. Warcrawlers host small communities inside their shells, and are usually glad to welcome passengers, if you don’t mind a months-long journey between towns. 

Sandworm Sled – gaining the trust of the sandworms of Vaarn is a lifetime endeavour, but some Faa-walker tribes have managed it. Sandworm sleds are one of the best ways to travel across the deepest trackless ergs of Vaarn’s interior. Sleds vary in size, from two-man raiding sleds pulled by amaranthine death-worms, to enormous clan-hall sleds that house entire Faa families and are drawn by adult grandworms. Such transports are only practical in the interior deserts, and cannot be utilised in the stony badlands of southern Vaarn. 

Camel Train – camels are still considered a practical choice of desert mount, even in this late red era of Urth. War camels, fitted with mirror-armour and implanted flechette cannons, are used by nomad raiders and Hegemony troops alike, and camel trains are one of the cheapest ventures a Vaarnish merchant can finance. 

Weeping Lizard – for journeys in the northern mountains of Vaarn, where flickering sky-lattices of hard light make flying untenable, and frequent earthquakes demolish roads and bridges, the Weeping Lizard is favoured as a steed. Named for the toxin it extrudes from its tear ducts when enraged, these truculent black pseudo-geckos can carry their passengers up surfaces as sheer as glass, and can leap across nauseating distances with their powerful back legs. 

Cacklemaw Mauler – a barbarous variant of the skiff, manufactured by the Cacklemaw matriarchies of the deep desert. Maulers are heavy, armoured skiff-bikes fitted with a spinning thresher blade at the front of the vehicle. Their pilots use them with great skill to ride down unfortunate victims and tear them to shreds as they flee. The heavy blade-weight at the front of a Mauler makes it difficult to drive if one is used to more conventional skiff.

Ornithopter – antique flying machines that stay aloft by beating their wings. These craft range in size from small military attack craft that whirl and dart like hummingbirds, to great stately pleasure-thopters that have the aspect of languid bronze dragonflies. Ornithopters are primarily used in Vaarn by the Hegemony as troop transports and for deep-desert scouting.

Vimana – coveted remnants of a more enlightened age. The Vimana is a flying cocoon of golden energy and hypergeometric force that responds to the merest intentions of its pilot. Vimana move swiftly and silently, with little regard for the laws of physics, and their hulls of folded hyper-light are nearly impossible to damage with kinetic weaponry. Rarely seen in the wastelands of Vaarn, being reserved for Hegemony Exaltants and the Consul himself, but if enterprising vault-raiders were to uncover a Vimana beneath the sands, it would be a prize that many would kill to possess.

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