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The mothership is a powerful protoss capital ship.
- Protoss mothership commander(src)
Motherships are costly and time-consuming to produce. As a result, the protoss have begun constructing them in two stages, with the mothership core being the first step. The core itself can be used as a defensive and support weapon. Its hull, comprised of three slowly rotating wings, projects a tightly woven energy dome which allows for a life-sustaining atmosphere within the confines of the vessel, and turns harmful deep-space radiation into surplus energy for plasma shields and primary systems. The ship's hull plating is unusually thick, and its exact resiliency is unknown to Dominion scientists.
The mothership’s core itself has a similar barrier whose sole function is to keep the crew on the rest of the ship safe from the powerful energies it generates.
A single crew member can pilot the ship for simple warps. More complex operations require a crew. These vessels are designed for redundancy, and damage to a single wing won't disrupt its combat systems. Gaps between the wings don't hinder personnel movement, as short-range teleporters rapidly transport its crewmembers from point to point.
At the heart of each mothership is a huge khaydarin crystal infused with an incredible amount of psionic energy that quickly dissipates after being discharged in the gaps between the vessel's wings. By tapping into this energy, a mothership can warp or crack the very fabric of space-time itself. Once the mothership becomes fully operational, this dissipating power is absorbed by the wings and projected as a cloaking field that covers a wide area around the vessel. The mothership itself does not benefit from said field, but it renders nearby protoss forces, structures, and allies invisible to the naked eye. Sensor arrays are located on the wings, along with manned lookout points for long range surveillance. Motherships utilize inertial nullifiers in order to safely enter planetary atmospheres.
A single mothership can turn the tide of a battle. For combat, the ship is equipped with a purifier beam which constitutes its primary means of defense, firing in controlled bursts against air and ground targets. The devastating power of a mothership can wipe out squadrons of enemy ships in the blink of an eye or lay waste to entire planets. Other aspects of a mothership's interior include a waking chamber for its commander, crew quarters and a med-bay. A number of escape pods are also featured.
The motherships were designed by Juras, and constructed during the protoss Golden Age of Expansion as deep space exploration vessels, leading armadas of protoss ships through space. The Templar Caste successfully petitioned for modifications; the final design included weapons and some were eventually converted into military command ships.
Around 1500, a flaw was discovered in the khaydarin crystal cores of motherships, causing two to fail in the gravity well of a neutron star and leading to the deaths of 8,463 protoss; one of the greatest loss of lives in the Golden Age. In response to the tragedy, the Khalai Caste developed two inventions, the technology allowing the motherships to mass recall away from danger, preventing another disaster like the neutron star incident, and the arkship, a massive ship that could be used prevent a similar random tragedy from also befalling the Protoss Empire as a whole.
The surviving motherships were not recalled at the end of the Golden Age. Most were left at the farthest reaches of protoss exploration as titanic monuments and holy shrines, commemorating an honored way of life and a proud period of history. The crews were placed in stasis, although it was expected the ships would not be needed again.
The Fall of Aiur
The zerg attack on Aiur during the Great War reversed forced a re-evaluation. The motherships were recalled to service by high templar Erekul. However, it was too late for the ships to alter the course of the war.
Amongst the reactivated ships was Moratun, the original mothership and crewed solely by Juras. Moratun rescued zealots from a besieged colony before traveling to Aiur. The ship, and other empty motherships, arrived in Aiur's star system only after the Khalai evacuation to Shakuras. The ships were forced to find the Dark Templar homeworld by themselves. The fleet was manned by the few survivors that could be found. Rihod's mothership was not brought to Aiur, for fear it could be lost in combat.
The motherships were reunited with the protoss during the Interbellum and taken over by the Templar Caste. Since their return from deep space, they have become an important part of the protoss war effort and the Golden Armada.
Many mothership's were lost to the control of Amon during the End War, and the Daelaam was forced to engage them during the final assault on Aiur. After their activation, the Purifiers began to construct their own motherships to emulate their templar brethren.
The mothership is a high-value support unit. Only one may be deployed at a time. It frequently appears as a 'boss' in StarCraft II campaigns.
It behaves like the Arbiter: it cloaks and recalls friendly units, and may temporarily disable units. The ship's long ranged attack allows it to contribute firepower from behind the front; it may also fire on the move. The mothership is the only unit able to survive a direct hit from a nuke.
The mothership is suited for late-game scenarios. However, its use in multiplayer is curtailed by its high cost, position on the tech tree, vulnerability to focus firing, low mobility, and relatively low damage output.
The mothership core turns into a mothership, costing 6 supply.
Summons all units in target area (6.5) owned by the mothership's player to the mothership's location.
Does not share a cooldown with the nexus Mass Recall ability.
After a 4-second delay, warps spacetime within the target area for 7 seconds. Enemy ground units within the field are slowed by 50%.
This ability is available from Heart of the Swarm onwards, replacing vortex.
Increases attack damage of protoss air units.
Increases protoss air unit armor.
- +1 armor to shields per level.
Wings of Liberty
The mothership creates a Vortex that absorbs nearby units, allied and enemy alike, into it for the duration. The mothership will not be absorbed. When the Vortex ends, all affected units reappear around its location.
Units leaving the Mothership's Vortex are un-targetable and immune to damage for 1.5 seconds.
The area of effect is 2.5.
This ability is removed in Heart of the Swarm.
Legacy of the Void
In the Legacy of the Void single-player campaign, the player acquires Tal'darim motherships that have significantly different statistics and abilities from the motherships available in multiplayer play. The normal mothership is not accessible in the campaign, but several motherships are sent to attack the Keystone along with other ships of the Golden Armada.
The mothership core will be removed in an upcoming patch. With this removal, the mothership will be built directly from the nexus. Its photon overcharge ability will be removed. It will gain a recall ability separate from the nexus—units targeted will be recalled to the mothership.
Capture 50 enemy units in a single Vortex in a Melee game.
This achievement must be done in a Wings of Liberty game, as Vortex is removed in later expansions.
- Mothership (Maw of the Void)
- Mothership (Trouble in Paradise)
- Mothership (Night Terrors)
- Mothership (Dark Skies)
- Shield of Aiur
- The mothership's old "Planet Cracker" ability is based on the energy beam from the ship in the introduction video for StarCraft. That ship is the "conceptual anchor" for the mothership idea.
- StarCraft: Frontline: Thundergod depicts motherships as taking part in the purification of Mar Sara. This contradicts all other sources of information, which establish that motherships weren't recalled into service until after the Great War.
- Motherships are rarely, if ever, shown in wide shots of the Golden Armada in space. The one notable exception to this is the one being stood on in "Reclamation".
- A mothership was considered for Heroes of the Storm, where Probius would summon a mothership as his ultimate, warp up, and bombard his enemies with it. The concept for the ability was transferred to Alexstrasza.