“As the daydreams grew longer, the distinction between what was real and what was imaginary grew less. Soon I existed in a blissful world of my own creation.”
― Fennel Hudson
In our last entry we introduced the Cidrian Shards, a vast number of worlds floating in a rarified space around a central star. This benighted void, known as the Scintillance, is all that remains of what was once a single world and was somehow broken in ages past. Only dragons and the intrepid sailors of the sky ships call the Scintillance home, and all the other people claim one shard or another as their own.
Let’s take a look at one such shard. One that is large enough to provide adventure, but not so huge that a character would feel insignificant. One with secrets of its own, and opportunities for players to carve their own paths to glory and power. We call this place Almeri.
Of all the shards drifting through the Scintillance, Almeri is far from the most distinctive. It is smallish, measuring only 4,000 miles on the equator and maybe twice that on its egg-shaped axis. Nor is it one of the most visited locations. In fact, it seems little noticed by those who traverse the Void and almost unheard of by those who frequent the Gates the connect so many worlds.
Its isolation may be one of the most distinctive features of the Almeri shard. That, and the abundance of sturdy, lightweight Hartwood trees that tower over the landscape in many of its temperate regions. It is this wood — molded to the dragon-bone core — tat form the decking and hulls of most of the skyships that ply the Scintillant seas.
Another major feature of Almeri is the Thessalan Expanse, commonly known as the Middlesea, that encompasses the entire shard around its midsection. This wide-open waterway splits the world between north and south, and with no landmass to slow their progress is prone to large, violent storms that lash its coastlines.
The major continent is also known Almeri and it lies south of the equatorial band. Most of the shard’s inhabitants are here, as are the major political powers. The mighty Venetine Empire holds sway over much of the land, although its power and control have been fading from weak-willed emperors and factional in-fighting over the past centuries.
While the Venetii falter, others rise to claim their lands. The wizards of Sycorax — the godless realm — have seemingly stopped their endless squabbling and have begun challenging the Endless Empire on its western fringes. While to their south, their borders are threatened by the wild Uglauth tribes.
The elves of the vast Arástavar control the harvest of the Hartwood, and maintain tight control over advancements not their lands. While not aggressive, their formidable skyships and strike teams of griffin-riders defend their borders with impunity. They willingly trade with the lands of men, but they do not give up their secrets easily.
North of the stormy Middlesea lie the islands and rugged coasts of the Einen — fierce dark-skinned warriors and daring sailors of the frozen seas. But even they fear the Kivilim who live beneath the cliffs and snow-capped mountains above the fjords. These are the dwarves of legend, the small, broad, bearded bearers of the secret of steel. Their skill is unmatched, and their greed is nearly as great. They will not share their secrets, but their wares can be had if the price is right. While dwarves can be found in many mortal kingdoms, the working of the Kivilim is held in highest regard. It is said that even the giants bow to their skill.
Beneath the surface of Almeri lies the Shadowrealm of the goblins. There are three monstrous cavern complexes known to surface-dwellers, but the crystalline interior ways is a secret known only to the goblins and their ogre slaves. Some goblin groups live quite close to the surface — and the strength of their word makes them values trading partners — but little love is loss between these two worlds.
Next: Up close and personal