The Dragonborn are a warrior race. For their entire history, all of their advancements have been oriented towards combat. Any major developments in their culture, or in their technology, have come through conquest. They have become experts at stealing ideas from their defeated enemies. As a race, they are not known for their innovation in anything but warfare. The one possible exception are the magical ‘engines’ which lift their cities and their warships.
Long ago, on their home world, the dragonborn conquered a seafaring people. This introduced them to the idea of the ocean going vessel and to the process of shipbuilding. For hundreds of years they used this technology to spread conquest across their world. This continued until there were no enemies left to be conquered, save one.
There was an airborne race whose extensive kingdom existed in the high places of the world, far beyond the reach of the dragonborn. Though they are a winged race, the dragonborn do not have the capacity for true flight, and true wings only appear on those whose blood is purer and closer to true dragons. They turned to their goddess for a means of reaching their quarry. According to dragonborn legend, the great high priest of the goddess prayed for a full year before the ritual of creation was revealed to him. With this new magic, they forged the engine that would give them the power to lift objects into the sky. Since they already had fleets upon fleets of seagoing vessels, they simply fit the engines onto the ships, rather than create an entirely new type of craft. Hence the flying ship was born.
Though called “engine” they are not mechanical devices. They are large, rune covered blue stone streaked with white energy lines. The engines create a permanent magical field that hold the ships off the ground. They provide only very little in the way of forward propulsion. A good wind in the sails is still the primary means of propelling the sky ships. Operation of the engine requires one or two crew members, usually referred to as engineers. They maintain verbal contact with the captain whose commands range from changing altitude to adding some forward speed, or adding drag.
Destruction of an engine will cause the magical field to dissipate and the ship will fall to the earth. Some engines are more powerful and can add greater amounts of speed, and even allow some lateral control for improving maneuverability. Since their ships are still made of wood, however, they have learned not to make their adjustments too severe. Ships have been known to tear themselves apart in extreme maneuvers.
The creation of these engines is a closely guarded secret and kept exclusively within the Oder of the Five, the secretive and powerful organization of dragonborn magi. They have been the keepers of this ritual for over a thousand years.