Series Helms and Series Major Helms

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Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:57 pm

Jaid mentioned the rules for Series Helms in his another reason to use hurwaeti crews... topic.

I remember someone mentioning a helm type called Series Major Helms a while back, and thinking it was fanon, but if I recall correctly, it's listed, but there are no rules for it.

Can anyone remember where the rules for Series Major Helms are?

What would be the same as a Series Helm? What would need to be bumped up.

Are there any other variants on Series Helms out there?
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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Jaid » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:54 am

series major helms are basically just multiple major helms linked together, in a way that the rules don't normally allow, accessible (as far as i know) only to a specific faction in astromundi.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Big Mac » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:45 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:57 pm
Jaid mentioned the rules for Series Helms in his another reason to use hurwaeti crews... topic.
I'm seeing people say there is an upper limit of 5 Series Helms in that topic, but I didn't remember that in Concordance of Arcane Space. So I thought I'd go have a skim-read of my books to see where that comes up.

I've found the section about Series helms on page 36 of Concordance of Arcane Space. There is no actual upper limit of helms stated here (only a general statement) but lets extract the canon facts from the write-up:

Fact 1: Series Helms cost 75,000 gp each
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Cost: 75,000 gp per linked helmsman
This is actually three-quarters of the cost of an individual Minor Helm (which costs 100,000 gp).

Fact 2: Series Helms were invented by the Illithids or invented for the Illithids by the Arcane
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms are the invention of the illithids (mind flayers), but the idea as been adapted for a number of races with spell-like abilities and no levels of experience.
...and...
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms were developed either by the illithids or by the the Arcane with the illithids in mind (accounts vary according to the situation).
This is one of these things where Spelljammer canon deliberately creates two mutually exclusive theories. In other words, sages do not know if the Illithids or Arcane created Series Helms, but assume that one of the two invented them.

(Perhaps the Illithids claim to have invented Series Helms and the Arcane also claim to have invented Series Helms. Or perhaps individual Illithids and individual Arcane claim their race invented them. Or perhaps the Arcane bought or stole the idea from the Illithids and told their customers that they invented them for the Illithids, as part of their sales pitch. It looks like Jeff Grubb did not want this nailed down.)

Fact 3: Series helms have since been built for some other races with spell-like abilities - but not beholders
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms are the invention of the illithids (mind flayers), but the idea as been adapted for a number of races with spell-like abilities and no levels of experience.
...and...
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:There are other series helms for those social creatures with spell-like abilities, except for the beholders, who have found their own solution.
So you can't just put any creature with spell-like abilities onto an Illithid Series Helm and have it move a ship. The helms have to be created specifically for the creatures.

And the terms "races" and "social creatures" implies sentient races that live in communities.

It's unusual that the Beholders choose to turn their backs on Series Helms that cost just 75,000 gp each to use Orbus that cost 300,000 gp instead, but I guess that means that Beholders do not like the idea of using Series Helms.

Fact 4: Series Helms look exactly like Minor Helms and Major Helms
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms look like the gamut of major and minor helms, running from simple-looking to ornate, but unlike the spelljamming helms, the series helms can be linked together, one to another, to increase their power.
This means that it is not possible to tell if a helm is a Series Helm, a Minor Helm or a Major Helm, from sight alone.

That might be useful to a GM who has PCs who want to raid helms from any ships they encounter. The PCs doing this sort of thing might pick up a Series Helm that only works for hurwaeti.

A GM might also have an NPC trader attempt to pass off a Series Helm (that none of the PCs can use) as a Minor Helm.

Fact 4: Series Helms can be linked...but don't have to be linked
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms look like the gamut of major and minor helms, running from simple-looking to ornate, but unlike the spelljamming helms, the series helms can be linked together, one to another, to increase their power.
The important word here is "can" - it says they "can be linked together" - not "they are linked together".

That means that you could have a ship with a single Series Helm on it. (It might be less common, but it isn't impossible.)

Fact 5: Each Series Helm adds an SR of 1 - empty Series Helms do not count
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:For each helm in a series manned by a mind flayer (or whatever creature the helm is designed for), the ship has an SR of 1. If there are three mind flayers in a series, then the ship has an SR of 3.
...and...
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Empty helms in a series are ignored in figuring SR.
This means that the number of Series Helms gives you the maximum SR for a ship. The GM should also decide (or roll) the number of Series Helms that are currently in use.

Don't forget that SR is only for Tactical Speed. At spelljamming speed, a level 1 helmsman on a Minor Helm moves a ship just as fast as a level 20 helmsman on a Major Helm. So some crews may have one or two helmsmen sitting on Series Helms while the ship is moving at spelljamming speed and only plan for the rest of the Series Helms to be manned for take off and landing...and combat.

(Having empty helms on an NPC ship might allow a GM to slowly increase the SR of an enemy ship during ship-to-ship combat. That could create a situation where the players find it hard to work out the capacity of the enemy ship, as it is improving while they are observing. :twisted: )

Fact 6: Illithids usually have 2-5 Series Helms
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:In general, mind flayuer ships will have between two and five sries helms, they they may not all be occupied.
This fact is specific to mind flayers, and says "in general". So it's not a rule - it's a norm.

There is nothing to say that the mind flayers can not have one Series Helm. And there is nothing to say they can not have six or more.

It looks like some of the people in Jaid's topic are suggesting that was nailed down elsewhere, but here - where Jeff Grubb first presented the idea, he didn't hard-code a limit of 2-5 helms. (Perhaps someone at TSR realised that the PCs could abuse Series Helms, if an upper SR limit was not applied.)

Fact 7: Series Helms stall if one helmsman is killed
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:If a mind flayer in a series helm is slain, then the series is broken for one round and the ship looses all power and movement.
I was thinking that Series Helms had an advantage over Minor Helms for things like spelljammer shock. But this is a weakness that Minor and Major Helms do not have.

I guess a GM should go for the "warming up the helm" rules if a ship is on the ground, while a helmsman on a Series Helm is killed.

Fact 8: Series Helms can kill all helmsman sitting in them, if one is killed
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Further, all mind flayers in the series must save against magic or be slain as well.
This is worse than the above fact. If a single helmsman gets slain, the entire set of helmsmen in the other helms might also instantly die.

I can see how this means that Series Helms are only really sensible if you have an entire crew of a race with a spell-like ability.

If you have a crew of 30 hurwaeti with 5 Series Helms and 4 are sitting on the helms and die together when one is shot during combat, there are still another 26 hurwaeti that could try to sit down and get the ship moving again.

Fact 9: Series Helms vary from species to species
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms vary from species to species, but in general are inferior to spelljammer helms, at best able to move 50 tons, on par with a minor helm. Their lower limit is a 5-ton ship; They cannot move items smaller than that.
That kind of suggests that Hurwaeti Series Helms would have different properties to Illithid Series Helms, but does not actually explain anything about how to extrapolate from the one example.

I think I'd be tempted to ignore this and house rule that all racial variants of Series Helms work on a 5-ton-to-50-ton range, but if you want to try to extrapolate rules for different races, I'd suggest going with a lower limit of 5-tons across the board and not going above 50 tons for the upper limit.

Incidentally the lower limit of 5 tons for Series Helms means that they can not be used with Rock Hopper Skiffs, (Wa) Locusts, Yawl Wagons, (Elven) Flitters, Catamarans, (Goblin) Blades, (Kobold) Arrows, (Neogi) Urchins, (Thri-kreen) Thorn-Ships, Wreckboats or Longships.

Fact 10: Series Helms have worse saving throws than Minor and Major Helms
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Series helms save against all damage on a 3; they are not quiet as tough as spelljammer helms, but almost.
I'd say this also means that people are slightly less likely to recover Series Helms in destroyed spelljamming ships.

Fact 11: Series Helms and Minor and Major Helms prevent each other from operating
Concordance of Arcane Space page 36 wrote:Spelljammer helms cannot working the same ship with operating series helms and vice versa, but a spelljammer helm can be installed on a ship that previously used a series helm without problem (as long as the two do not co-exist on the same ship. If they do, neither functions at all).
It's interesting that this says they can not "co-exist on the same ship" rather than say that they can not be installed on the same ship.

If actually bringing an unmounted Series Helm onto a ship with a Minor or Major Helm caused the spelljamming helm to shut down, that would make it difficult for people to transport Series Helms around. It would also prevent PCs with a spelljamming helm from raiding any sort of Series Helms.

I'm not sure Jeff Grubb meant for it to work that way, but if you are a GM concerned about PCs looting helms, you might want to consider making Series Helms cripple the PCs ship. However, I think this would be a risky house rule as it might prevent the PCs from towing a friendly ship, with the wrong helm...or it might cause a pair of grappled ships to cripple each other's helms. So consider this sort of option carefully.
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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Jaid » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:13 pm

the 2-5 series helm thing may not be a rule, but at least at the upper end, there is minimal benefit for breaking it, since the later cap of SR 5 *is* a rule. i would be inclined to say that series helms must have at least two as well, if only because you don't have a series if there is only one.

i would agree on your 5-50 ton requirements; it says they vary, but indicates that 50 tons is as big as you can get, and 5 tons is as small as you can go. note that some of those smaller ships have little need for series helms anyways, because they have other options.

it would be very easy to recognize that something is not a minor or major helm - just have a spellcaster touch it. if it's a helm, they'll lose access to all their spells. attempting to pass off a series helm as a minor helm is unlikely to work out very well. on the other hand, it might be interesting to see a gnomish series helm that bypasses the need for spell-like abilities because of gnomish engineering :P

i would argue that given series helms come in sets of 2-5 typically (and a single one may or may not be possible) means that you're actually more likely to recover at least some series helms from a wreck that was equipped with them :P

oh, and it should be possible to capture series helms, provided you have some form of extradimensional container like a hold of holding or a portable hole. obviously, that doesn't work in the flow or other areas where dimensional access is cut off though.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:28 am

The adventure "Mammoth Problems" in Dungeon #41 features an Ogre Mammoth powered by an "experimental series major helm."

However, rather than being major helms that operate in series, they're series helms that can move ships greater than 50 tons (such as the aforementioned Mammoth). I would suggest this should be called a "Major Series Helm" instead of a "Series Major Helm" to differentiate these objects. It doesn't define what the upper tonnage limit is (but there are 5, matching the possibly unnamed rule of five maximum in series).

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by The Dark » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:58 am

The maximum SR of 5 is in the War Captain's Companion, Book 1: War Captain's Guide, page 67, Table 5-12: SR Using Other Magical Engines.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Dalillama » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:14 am

It's unusual that the Beholders choose to turn their backs on Series Helms that cost just 75,000 gp each to use Orbus that cost 300,000 gp instead, but I guess that means that Beholders do not like the idea of using Series Helms.
Presumably Beholders can breed Orbi, and don't need to fork over any cash to anyone for them.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Jaid » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:16 am

as i recall an orbus is also needed to use the special weapon in a beholder ship as well.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Big Mac » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:30 pm

AuldDragon wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:28 am
The adventure "Mammoth Problems" in Dungeon #41 features an Ogre Mammoth powered by an "experimental series major helm."
Thanks Jeff. I'll go check that out.
AuldDragon wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:28 am
However, rather than being major helms that operate in series, they're series helms that can move ships greater than 50 tons (such as the aforementioned Mammoth). I would suggest this should be called a "Major Series Helm" instead of a "Series Major Helm" to differentiate these objects. It doesn't define what the upper tonnage limit is (but there are 5, matching the possibly unnamed rule of five maximum in series).
I agree with your fix. I'll use the term "Major Series Helm" for the 3rd Edition conversion (and go with my gut, based on what Dungeon Issue 41 says).
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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Big Mac » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:40 pm

Dalillama wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:14 am
It's unusual that the Beholders choose to turn their backs on Series Helms that cost just 75,000 gp each to use Orbus that cost 300,000 gp instead, but I guess that means that Beholders do not like the idea of using Series Helms.
Presumably Beholders can breed Orbi, and don't need to fork over any cash to anyone for them.
Presumably they can breed them...somehow.

From their stunted appearance and the fact that Arcane trade them, I was figuring that someone was capturing common beholders and applying some sort of process that mentally and physically drains the beholders, leaving them as shells of themselves that can then be magically turned into power sources for ships.

There is an orbus in SJA1 Wildspace and I was thinking of having the PCs find a way to revive it's mind enough for it to function as an NPC helmsman. I was figuring that an orbus would be blinded (in all of it's eyes) but would still be able to see (as the ship) while using helmsight as part of it's connection to the ship. And I figure that they would be underfed to keep them docile and dependent on their "owners".
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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Jaid » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:43 pm

iirc, the arcane buy orbii from people that capture them so they can resell them to the beholders (who are *extremely* picky about anyone else having one as i recall, so you may want to account for that in your schemes of controlling an orbus. also as i recall, the orbus needs at least one regular beholder in the circuit to power a ship, although that may be someone's homebrew that i'm remembering...

in any event, it would actually be shockingly easy to create an orbus for any decent leveled mage. heck, i wouldn't be surprised if leva was high enough level to potentially make one... all you need is to know what an orbus is (precisely what that means will vary from DM to DM, but most i've played with will agree that if you've met a monster, you know it well enough for purposes such as polymorph) and be able to cast polymorph other. throw that on some critter with negligible intelligence (like a mouse), and before long they'll believe they've always been an orbus, and will have the full powers of a typical orbus as well.

i would presume the arcane (the only people i know of that buy orbii; i suspect beholders would be more inclined to disintegrate you on sight) are quite picky about checking if an orbus they buy is created that way, mind you... the only things they can sell the orbus to have an anti-magic ray which will make it quite obvious if they've been sold a fake, after all. still, you could presumably use them yourself, provided you have a beholder to be in the circuit, which could either be accomplished by polymorph self perhaps (other is not recommended, since you run the risk of creating a probably hostile "real" beholder) or via simulacrum (provided you have bits from a real beholder to make a copy from; it's hard to say for sure whether you would also need reincarnate and limited wish for the simulacrum to function, however).

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Cromstar » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:27 am

The Monster Manual (I think that's where this particular text comes from) says this about the orbus:
Orbus

The orbus is either a genetically bred or a stunted and immature form of the standard beholder. It is only found in space aboard the tyrant ships of the beholder nations. It is chalk-white and lacks functioning smaller eyes. The central eye is huge and vulnerable, occupying most of the upper body above a small, toothless mouth. This eye has the normal anti-magic properties, but is milky white.

Despite their vulnerability, the orbi are the means by which the beholders travel through space. It is they that can funnel the magical energies of the other beholders into motive force – they are living spelljammer helms. There are 1-5 of them aboard any tyrant ship, and they are located closest to the hive mother, at the deepest point of the shell.

The orbi have their hit points distributed as common beholders: one third for the central eye and two thirds for the body. However, when attacking an orbus, 50% of the hits will strike the central eye, the remainder hitting the body. Both eye and body have the same Armor Class.
Based on this, presumably they are birthed by the hive mother like other beholders (either as-is or they are born regular beholders and then stunted to become an orbus). So, yeah, I doubt that the beholders buy them from the arcane because the arcane are the only ones who have them. That said, buying them from the arcane might be the only way (besides stealing them from other beholders) for a beholder group without a hive mother to get one.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by Jaid » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:39 am

that does support that there needs to be a regular beholder too, though; if they're "funnel[ing] the magical energies of the other beholders into motive force", then that means they need other beholders to funnel from.

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Re: Series Helms and Series Major Helms

Post by AxesnOrcs » Sun Sep 02, 2018 4:25 am

For what it's worth, in SJA1 orbi are noted to be intelligent enough to possibly be negotiated with and to not require another beholder to operate as a helm.
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