Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone
The Panthalassa (“Cosmic All-Sea”) or Slipspace as it is known by traders, is an extra-dimensional area that allows ships to travel quickly between the stars via Aetherial currents; traditionally, this Aether is believed to be the breath of the Gods themselves. Most mariners liken the Panthalassa to the open oceans or rivers of a planet with currents, waves, and tides, but unlike sailing on the surface of an ocean, the Panthalassa has different strata that allow for different types of movement.
Travel in the Panthalassa is usually achieved with what is called a Slipsail, made from a special material that allows it to capture and accelerate the Aether. A ship traveling in the Panthalassa primarily uses this slipsail.
Slipspace is a roiling realm of Aetheric clouds and sweeping Aetherial tide, but many things exist in Slipspace beyond the sloshing sound of the Aetheric “wind”.
The Panthalassa looks like a mass of dark-violet rolling clouds in an Aetheral planetary atmosphere. Every so often a crackle of lightning illuminates the area, but it is generally harmless (at least in the upper reaches of slipspace). The “clouds” are in constant motion, moving in the direction of the current they happen to be in. The higher you are in Slipspace, the more light there is to see, even though there is no actual sun, and the deeper you go the darker and more foreboding it becomes.
The Panthalassa is warm like a spring night and is not a vacuum. A Hellene can stand outside and breathe and behave normally on his ship, although some complain of a musty odor or humid feel to the air.
In rare instances, captains have encountered whirlpools in the Panthalassa, violent abberations that spit fire, lightning, and poisonous gas out while sucking a ship in. Ships sucked in are thrown into real space in a random location in the universe.
Debris from old wrecks and ruined planetoids litter Slipspace, and it is not uncommon to see a drifting island of rock as one travels. On some of these planetoids, twisted plant life can be found and even strange animals in the upper reaches. The animals are generally nothing more than shades, and the plants neither grow nor die, trapped in an eternal limbo. Those marooned in Slipspace have tried to survive on these planetoids, but the fruit bland and tasteless, and the animal flesh is ashy and bitter. Such food can sustain a person, albeit barely, and prolonged ingestion leaves the imbibor with a sunken, ashen complexion.
Prolonged of several months at a time exposure to slipspace will eventually make the mind forget real space, and the being becomes, through a process known as “Lethe” what is known as a shade, a once-living thing that wants nothing more than to drag living things into their shared oblivion. Most shades stay on the ship they once crewed or live upon small black rocks that float through slipspace. Some float aimlessly on tides and currents, waiting for a passing ship.
The Panthalassa has a definite up and down, it is not three dimensionally free-form like normal space; there is a distinct sense of gravity. Without any force holding an item aloft, it will slowly drift lower and lower until it hits bottom. Likewise, a person falling off their ship would float gently down into the lower reaches until reaching the bottom. This can be dangerous especially if the ship is moving quickly through Slipspace. The poor soul’s only hope is that they find an island to cling to before they plunge to the depths.
The highest level of the Panthalassa is called the Shore and is relatively “close” to normal space. Stars can be seen dimly above. most commercial and civilian ships travel on this level of the Panthalassa, as it is the safest, usually free of creatures that inhabit the lower reaches and few strong storms. The current here is easily navigated and it is not uncommon to see hundreds or even thousands of ships entering and leaving systems on this level. Transceiver satellites often drop in and out of this level to send/receive messages as well.
The middle current of Panthalassa is called the Open Sea, and is a bit wilder but faster moving, as well as darker, than the shore above it. The currents here are less reliable and move at different unpredictable speeds. Dangerous creatures live amongst the islands of stone, as well as the occasional “ghost ship” found floating in the currents. There are no stars above, just the roilling purple clouds, while below the dark foreboding menace of firey explosions, lightning cracks, and Aetheric howls fill the sky. Skilled navigators can travel quickly in these fast moving currents, but some pay a price from unwanted guests such as harpies, sirens, or even the mysterious Kraken.
A boiling black miasma of Aetheric energy roars in torrential currents through the Nether Region of the Panthalassa. Ships move at astounding speed here, but have to navigate hazards of horrific creatures, lightning fire strikes, and large slow-moving islands of black rock, The Aetheric air howls around the vessel that travels this deep and the only visible light is that of the ship traveling here.
At the very bottom, Slipspace is rumored to have a “floor” like any ocean. Such rumors tell of a black wasteland littered with dark boulders shattered by lightning and the corpses of fallen sailors and their wrecked ships, with deadly creatures scurrying among the rubble intent on killing anything that survived the fall. These, however, are only rumors – no one has ever seen the bottom of slipspace and lived to tell the tale.