Sertaria is a large, globe-shaped plane consisting mostly of open seas. Upon these waters float five massive continents, constantly in motion across the waters, perpetually drifting nearer to and further away from each other. This frequent movement has allowed cultures to develop upon each continent in relative isolation, as stable trade or military lines are nearly impossible to establish. It has also allowed for the development of a particularly odd feature of Sertaria:
Each continent has access to only three of the colors of mana.
This absence of mana is not absolute, of course. Planeswalkers, and even stronger mages, are still often able to access their full range of mana—for a while, at least. However, some property of the plane seems to slowly weaken original mana bonds, so an individual that stays for an extended period of time on a single continent might find themselves drifting into completely new colors. Furthermore, the cultures of each continent are, as a result of their isolation, likely to interpret the presence of a new color as simply being a variation of an old one. (For example, a Cyrean visitor to Ameran might conclude that their green mana had simply taken on a new, even more balanced tone to it. Rather than viewing White as a new color, in other words, they would understand it as a particularly odd shade of Green.)
The continents are: Afresa , Ameran , Cyrea , Faskeria and Gentev .
Afresa Style Guide
The People and Geography of Afresa
Kurvesh: The Kurvesh are the super-predators of Afresa; they aren’t afraid of anything (except for the large Kraken and Leviathans they share a biotope with). These large, muscular Merfolk are shark-like in appearance and have hardly any rivals in both strength and cunning. Kurvesh are solitary people, disliking the comfort of a group. A Kurvesh relies on his own wits and power and sees everything and everyone else as a potential threat. They live beneath the green waters of Afresa, occasionally coming on the small strips of land to raid a village or follow their prey. They have no weapons and do not build anything. If they need anything they simply take it, either with brute force or a cunning plan.
Treefolk: Like the trees on Afresa, the Treefolk are enormous. They tower above everything, except the largest trees. Fortunately for the smaller beings of Afresa the Treefolk aren’t predators and even like the company of other races, both sentient and not. They allow birds and spiders to nest in their branches and some even allow the snake people to weave small villages near the bottoms of their trunks. They will protect their fellows for as long as they provide small favors, stories and conversation. The Treefolk have no natural predators, except misguided Leviathans, and they do not hunt. All they need is water and the occasional sunshine. Treefolk do everything within their admirable power to protect the natural status-quo and will smite those who burn or destroy trees or poison the waters.
Snake People: The Snake People are the only ones on Afresa that live in communities. They do not do this because they enjoy the company. They have decided that the best way to survive in the hostile environment of Afresa is to stick together. The Snake People are hostile towards anyone outside their community, except when they have struck a deal with a Treefolk. They care little for anything that doesn’t directly ensure their own survival and will use and abuse trees, plants, animals and even other races. Most of their villages are ‘baskets’ weaved together from branches and bark. These villages can be found low, near the water, or high, on top of the canopy.
Faeries: These small, flying humanoids live high between the branches. They live in small groups to protect themselves better. Faeries love mischief, often more than their own lives and will sometimes die in attempts to annoy others. At other times they are genuinely evil, stealing food from a Snake village, luring a Kurvesh towards a Vedalken home… The Fairies of Afresa do not hunt for themselves, eating either plants or scavenging the game of others. Most others find them highly annoying, but generally nothing more than a nuisance.
Vedalken: Afresan Vedalken have mastered the art of Treeshaping. They can completely control the growth and shape of Afresa’s numerous trees. They generally live alone, but when a large scale Treeshaping project comes along they will join forces until the project is done. Some of these projects take so long that Vedalken villages have formed. These villages are within trees or made out of living branches or roots, given the shape of a house. The most common use of Treeshaping is clearing paths across Afresa. This allows Vedalken and other races to travel with ease across the paths in the canopy and near the waters. Do not mistake this for a civil service though. In order to fully understand Treeshaping practice is needed, and roads are easy and useful. Vedalken see the Afresan nature as a problem, since it impedes their survival. Their solution is to change nature to suit their needs and increase their survival.
Ouphes: Barely sentient the Ouphes live in small groups in hollow trees. They often fight for territory with Faeries and stay clear of everything larger than them. They have specialized in camouflage in order to avoid being eaten. They tell each other stories of the dangers of everything outside their trees and are unwilling to go further than three trees from their own home.
Land of Afresa
When viewed from above Afresa looks like an enormous green cauliflower. The large canopy leaves not even one spot of ground visible. Green as far as the eye can see. If you would go beneath this green canopy you would come across a large network of wire thin branches, widening the further you go down. At the bottom of this large forest is water, and lots of it. The water is green because of the algae living in it (the Kurvesh have adapted to this and have greenish tints on their skin). This enormous basin of green water is occasionally broken up by small pieces of land, sometimes barely large enough to contain a bush. Coming from beneath the water, going all the way up to the sky are the trees, their roots nested somewhere deep between the green depths. In the center of Afresa is the largest landmass, almost as big as a Gentev city. In the middle of this island lies the only source of water with no algae in it. The Thoughtspring. This water has magical ability attributed to it. It is said to increase the intelligence and magical abilities of those that drink it.
The food chain
The food chain dominates everything on Afresa. It decides whether you live or die, where you live, whether you have to run away or attack. Everyone and everything is somewhat aware of their place in the food chain, but this does not mean you stick to it. Most sentient races have ways of overcoming their place. (Snakes live in villages, Faeries are always on the move, Vedalken create walls of trees, Ouphes stick to what they believe is safe). The following list shows the place of a being on the food chain. Note the absence of trees and algae; they are so massively successful that they do not adhere to the food chain.
Tier 5: Most plants, some birds, small rodents, herbivorous fish . Everything on this tier serves as food for something. They cannot hunt themselves and rely on camouflage, speed and agility or some kind of spike or armor to protect themselves. If they lived anywhere but on Afresa they could become predators, but the Afresan continent is just to hostile.
Tier 4: Small spiders and insects, predatory birds, flesh eating flowers, omnivorous fish, Ouphes. The creatures on this tier actively hunt others, but are small, stupid or not dangerous enough to be hunted themselves. They have their niche in the biology of Afresa and stick to that. They generally behave the way you would predict and are easy enough to fool.
Tier 3: Vedalken, Fairies, Snake People, larger catlike, predators, large spiders, small Baloths capable of navigating the broader branches. This tier consists of most of the sentient races of Afresa. The creatures on this spot in the food chain are the most common dangers for a planeswalker that ventures in the Afresan forest. They are strong and/or smart enough to pose a real threat.
Tier 2: Kurvesh. Yes, the Kurvesh have a tier for themselves. They are probably the creatures best adapted to their environment and they fear pretty much nothing. They hunt everything, both in and out of the water. They are pretty much the winner of the Afresan struggle for survival.
Tier 1: Treefolk, Kraken, Leviathans. These creatures can be considered forces of nature. They are simply so large that nothing will mess with them. They can do whatever they please, no one is even capable of stopping them. There are legends and myths of large groups of Kurvesh hunting Kraken, but these are considered just that, legends and myths.
Gentev Style Guide
The People and Geography of Gentev
Gentev is a world in which only three colors of mana- , , and - exist. The climate, as a result, varies between livable extremes. In the Heartland( ), hot, dry plains give way to rolling, sandy deserts, spotted with oases that provide just enough water and food to support life. Most of Gentevan civilization gathers here. In the north( ), the highland is cold and humid marshland, where the rain never ends. And in the lowland( ), river basins support steamy jungles, filled with vicious, bloodthirsty wildlife and prone to long droughts and flash floods. This is the least civilized territory on Gentev.
The sentient races have adapted to their world’s harsh weather in various ways. Orochi( ), reptilian snake people, thrive in the hot deserts with rhoxen( ) and humans( ). Nezumi( ) rat people make their lives in the northern moors and vampires( A species all their own on Gentev) live wherever there are other sentients to feed on. But Gentevan vampires don’t suck blood. They dominate others in their own way.
Gentev: A World of Masters and Slaves
All sentient species live together under one culture, and all of Gentev society is dominated by an extensive system of rules and guidelines known as the Pistra. According to the Pistra, every single man, woman, and child must have a place in one of the five Varni: the hierarchal castes of the world. Your varna is decided at birth, and each oversees and rules the next.
The Varni of Gentev
The social structure of Gentev is like a pyramid: the smallest level sits at the top, while the larger, lower levels support it.
First Varna: The Ruling body ( )
This is the smallest Varna by population, and populated almost exclusively by vampires, this varna does little work, but commands the unquestioning obedience of every other creature in the world. The rulers of Gentev are fighting a constant quiet war of politics and assassination, struggling to “inherit” the land and people of their peers.
Second Varna: The Priesthood ( )
This is the next-smallest varna, comprised mostly of humans and rhoxen, oversees the spiritual needs of Gentev. The Pistra teaches that servitude to one’s superiors must continue even after death, and with the help of the priests and clerics, spirits often continue work after their bodies are destroyed, laboring beside their flesh-and-blood colleagues. Priests are also capable of directing a sort of artificial reincarnation, to keep certain valuable souls in place from life to life, sometimes for centuries. Very serious people, priests of Gentev are not the wise old scholars found on other planes so much as “spiritual engineers,” using the supernatural to serve the needs of their masters.
Third Varna: The Military ( )
Gentev is, in its most literal form, a world of peace, but cities often have quarrels with one another, and the masses don’t always enjoy their oppression, so a standing army is needed. The soldiers of Gentev call themselves Samurai: warriors who fight to the death-and beyond-for their masters. Of all varni of Gentev, this one is the most structured; the most rigid. Rhoxen not born into the Priesthood usually find themselves here, where their natural strength and bulk can be put to use.
Fourth Varna: Artisans ( )
Craftsmen, merchants, and other professionals find themselves here. All the work that requires training and expertise- smithing, tailoring, farming, etc., has a place in this varna. But the hard labor is usually reserved for someone else…
Fifth Varnra: Slaves ( )
The very bottom of the barrel. Slaves have no one left beneath them, so they often do the hard labor no one else feels like doing. Unlike other varni, which are set in stone, slaves can be bought, sold, and traded like currency. This can be done by their direct owners in the fourth varna, or through them by higher individuals. First-varna rulers often judge and compare the size of their influence based on how many fifth-varna slaves they indirectly control.
In this way, every Varna is controlled by those above them. For example, even the lowliest priest has power over the highest general; and in turn that general is controlled by both the Priesthood and the Ruling Body. And it is all enforced by the Pistra, and the oppression of the next lowest Varna.
In Gentev, everyone is someone’s servant. And if you’re lucky, you also have a few servants of your own. In addition to these five segments, the people of Gentev are further divided by jati- a unit of measurement from individual to individual. A master and servant are exactly one jata apart, for example. Each varna has a thickness in jati that varies from the others, and not all branches of command are exactly the same number of jati thick. The first varna, for example, is by definition only one jata- on person- thick, as is the fifth varna. Meanwhile, the third varna of military is twenty jati thick from footsoldiers to generals.[spoiler]In Gentev, everyone is someone’s servant. And if you’re lucky, you also have a few servants of your own. In addition to these five segments, the people of Gentev are further divided by jati- a unit of measurement from individual to individual. A master and servant are exactly one jata apart, for example. Each varna has a thickness in jati that varies from the others, and not all branches of command are exactly the same number of jati thick. The first varna, for example, is by definition only one jata- on person- thick, as is the fifth varna. Meanwhile, the third varna of military is twenty jati thick from footsoldiers to generals.
The Dissident Sect
There are those on Gentev who believe the Pistra is wrong. The Dissident Sect ( ) is a secretive group of rebels, comprised mostly of fourth- and fifth-varna workers, who fight to destroy the strict Pistra, believing that every living being should be their own master. They often destroy monuments, slaughter high-ranking officials, and generally use any means necessary to try to accomplish their goal.
The Angels of the Pistra
Military force and tradition aren’t the only forces holding the Pistra in place. Gentevan Angels ( ) service the first varna directly, from outside the hierarchy of the Pistra, making sure all the people of Gentev live by the laws of the Pistra in their day to day lives. They are powerful creatures and are not to be reckoned with.
In a world, rulers have a need to express their power and control over others. But without creativity or ingenuity, they have fairly few options to accomplish that task. The result is a world spotted with gigantic obelisks, hundreds of meters tall, built mostly by fifth-varna slaves, as testaments for future generations to the power of their superiors. These are the Monoliths.
Almost every city has two or three finished monoliths at the center, others in progress. And because they’re so large, it generally isn’t long before they’re hollowed out and used as living space, not so different from high-rise condos. The highest floors are always reserved for those highest in the Pistra’s hierarchy. Unfortunately, the monoliths are often targets for the Dissident Sect to tear down, so living in or near a monolith can sometimes be dangerous.
The Mechanics of Gentev
Death is cheap in Gentev. Many creatures are built to continue functioning even after their body fails them. Those creatures have the Spiritform ability, which reads as follows:
Spiritform N (When this creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may put a colorless N/N creature token onto the battlefield.)
On ordinary individuals from the fourth and fifth varni, N will be much lower than the creature’s printed power, often 1. On the dedicated samurai of the third varna, it will be equal to the creature’s printed power, to show that death hasn’t even slowed the soldier down. On second-varna priests, who generally have great inner strength and spiritual resolve, N will be greater than the creature’s printed power, sometimes much greater.
Gnetevan vampires don’t suck blood, but they can feed on life. Some vampires might have abilities that involve sacrificing spirits as a cost.
Many monoliths are more than just symbols of overcompensation. Some of them serve important functions. Some artifacts will have the artifact subtype Monolith. These artifacts will enter the battlefield with a set number of height counters, and will have various abilities that vary in magnitude based on that number. This will paired with various spells and abilities that can add or take away height counters from your monoliths or those of your opponents.
Gentev is, at its core, a world of takers. And some take energetically enough to kill. A few creatures, mostly first-varna vampires, will feature the Oppression ability.
Oppression (At the beginning of your upkeep, you may have target creature you control get –X/-X, where X is no greater than that creature’s toughness. If you do, ~ gets +X/+X until end of turn.)
It’s for just this ability that most printed slaves will be “bottom-heavy,” meaning they will have a higher toughness than power.
Ameran Style Guide
Life Imitates Art
Ameran, at its heart, is a world obsessed with emotion and self-expression. Every man, woman, and child in the predominant culture of Ameran is an artist of some sort, or at least aspires to be one. Art, in all its forms and media, is what Ameran is.
Ameranians build their culture around the concept of Craft. Although there is much dabbling and experimentation in Ameranian culture, magic and artifice are both passed on from masters to apprentices, with the expectation of the student eventually Crafting a great work: a capstone achievement that will justify their entire existence. The strain this puts on crafters is often enormous, as the communities they belong to expect much of them. The freedom associated with this task does counteract the strain, however, and any great work will garner the admiration of their community, regardless of its form.
Still, the great works tend to be magical or artificial in some form, so the plane focuses heavily on artifacts and enchantments.
Communities form around the most fertile regions of the plane, and usually center around a cult of philosophy, science, or art, led by a particularly influential thinker and their students, that often grow into the city-states that make up the world.
All of Ameranian culture revolves around Craft: the code to which all forms of art and science adhere. From music, painting, sculpting, acting, and pottery, to things like cuisine, architecture, and even prostitution, everything is practiced, perfected and stylized until it is art. Everyone on Ameran choses a Craft early in their life, and is taught and instructed by a master of the Craft until their great work is completed, at which point they become masters themselves.
The Phiggan Games
Craft encompasses all pursuits, including sport and even honorable combat. Every three years, Crafters all over the continent converge in the Arena to participate and view the Phiggan Games: where the best of the best compete for glory and for self-expression. This includes common sports, such as wrestling, fencing, javelin-throwing, and various Ameranian ball games, as well as some more unique Crafts, such as firedancing and golem fighting.
This Ameranian Craft is found nowhere else in the multiverse. Architects construct magical golems designed to be controlled from their cockpits, built to fight against one another in massive rings. The golems themselves are always being innovated, with such strange and experimental mechanisms as lobster claws, rotating knives, and even, during one legendary showing at the Phiggan Games, smoke screens.
The process of designing a golem, building it from the ground up, training with it, and finally destroying it on the battlefield requires an eccentric practitioner, even by Ameranian standards.
The Pantheons of Ameran
Religion in Ameran, unlike many other planes, is actually a casual affair. Dozens of different pantheons can be worshipped in the same city-state, and individuals may change their religion several times in their lives. Each religion recognizes each other religion as legitimate; the distinction isn’t in belief, but allegiance. On a typical day in Ameran, one could see two individuals walking down the street, trying to convince one another to “switch sides” and choose their own pantheon to worship, only to see the dispute end with each person formally changing their allegiance to the other’s pantheon as a compromise.
The People and Geography of Ameran
The landscape of Ameran is harshly beautiful, full of small, rugged mountain ranges and rocky valleys. Much of the continent is arranged in a series of archipelagos with occasional larger landmasses that support the fields and mountains. All of the land blends together harmoniously, in a beautiful and varied way.
Unfortunately, this type of environment is not perfectly suited to agriculture, and an absence of green mana means that aside from whatever sustenance people can gather from the sea, there is seldom an abundance of food. The landscape also makes travel and communication difficult, resulting in small pocket communities that are emotionally and culturally tied together strongly. Individuals on the plane are pulled in several directions- between their duty to their people and their desire for individual freedom and expression- and communities often come into conflict over their insular ideologies.
The sentient species of Ameran are varied and unusually long-lived. With the absence of green and black mana maintaining the cycle of life and death, it isn’t uncommon for an individual to live for 200 years or more. The isolated nature of the landscape also requires most people of Ameran to mingle together in the same communities. As a result, few cultures or even social circles are defined by species, but rather by Craft.
Humans One of the most populous races of Ameran, humans tend to take a more serious approach to life. They are quick to judge and quicker to anger.
Minotaurs Gruff and hearty, minotaurs of Ameran are different from their more violent, brutal cousins on other planes. An Ameranian minotaur is a lover of life, eating, drinking, and making merry with anyone anywhere. Even a perfect stranger can find an old friend in a Minotaur, it’s said.
Sirens The beautiful sirens of Ameran have a reputation as seducers and temptresses, and while this reputation may not be entirely untrue, they’re also wielders of powerful magic to enhance the emotions of others, including conviction and confidence, to friends, as well as panic and anxiety, to enemies.
Centaurs The centaurs of Ameran are nothing if not vain. On a plane where expression and creativity are prized above all else, they are revered as icons of beauty, virility, and power. Every Crafter finds something of merit in them. Sorcerers base chaotic and dynamic enchantments on the sight of centaurs in battle. Without a doubt, they are among the most respected beings on the plane. This reverence makes a decadent and loutish culture. The centaurs themselves are lousy artists, mediocre poets, and superficial musicians. They prefer to engage in their mad affairs, attend parties, and generally enjoy a hedonistic existence supported by the reverence of other races. When centaurs Craft using their native red mana, their creations tend to be unstable, violent, and sometimes cataclysmic. Their magic is that of self-expression, pure and simple, unfettered by reason, community, or even common sense.
Flamekin The flamekin are a passionate people in everything they do, often making day-to-day activities into dramatic affairs. They are generally easy-going and happy to coexist with anyone and anything, but they are adamant in what few beliefs they hold close.
Flamekin naturally emit a magical flame from their heads, shoulders, and joints at all times. And while it can be made hot to burn, this fire is magically cool and non-consuming. Flamekin as a species have taken advantage of this inherent talent to pioneer an art form unique to Ameran, simply called firedancing. Flamekin dancers spin and twirl in dizzying patterns at blinding speeds, causing tongues of flame to whip away from their bodies, forming elaborate, beautiful designs in the air around them.
Giants Giants are the longest-lived races of Ameran, some said to live for millennia. This, combined with the problems caused by their massive size (often as large as the entire buildings of smaller creatures) lead them to seek out solitude in the high, cold mountains of Ameran. There, they spend their time building massive giant-scaled temples dedicated to whichever pantheons they worship. Wandering these colossal, empty halls is a moving experience, unlike anything else the multiverse has to offer.
Homarids These humble crustaceans are the backbone of Ameranian civilization. They live apart from all others, in cities and villages at the bottom of the sea, hunting the many sea creatures of the Ameranean oceans, traveling into dry land only to sell and trade their meat and other wares to the land-dwelling races. This seafood is the single largest part of a typical Ameranian’s diet, and because of this monopoly, homarids generally enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. A homarid’s life is fishing, and sentimentality is seen as weak and frivolous. Craft is all but unknown to them, and they dismiss the creative works of their land-dwelling neighbors.
The homarid’s alien, almost monstrous lobster face is difficult to read to other races, if not impossible. This, combined with the race’s dismissal of all Craft, leads to the misconception among other Ameranians that homarids don’t feel anything at all- not an admirable trait in an artistic world. Other Ameranians are known to express contempt toward homarids, and even hatred. This bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you mentality creates an unusual dynamic between the terrestrial and aquatic cultures.
Incarnations These strange beings are the ultimate product of Ameran's artistic nature. Occasionally an idea or a craft is so brilliant that it transcends its origins and becomes an entity in and of itself. These beings are Incarnations--expressions of pure artistic genius made physical. They wander Ameran, acting as muses for new generations of artists and crafters. Occasionally, albeit less frequently, Incarnations can be seen wandering across the other four continents, expressing some aspect of that continent's nature. It is unknown whether these beings sprung up on the other continents or simply migrated from Ameran and adapted to their new habitat. It has been suggested that their power to inspire may influence the continued separation of colors on Sertaria, but the Incarnations are nothing if not cryptic, and unless they begin to speak directly to the other races of Ameran it is doubtful that such questions will ever be answered.
Mechanics of Ameran
A golem fighter who leaps inside one of their creations has functionally changed the state of a fight. The champion mechanic in Ameran is reinvisioned as the exiled creature piloting the new champion creature from the inside.
Artifact creature- Golem
Champion a creature.
Build Counters and Wonders
The giants of Ameran build massive temples in the mountains, and these temples often have helpful properties to a Planeswalker in trouble.
Wild Architect [mc]3rw
Creature- Giant Crafter
[mc]t[/mc]: Put a build counter on target land
Sacrifice a land with three build counters on it: Search your library for a Wonder card and put it onto the battlefield.
1, T: Add , , or to your mana pool.
Cyrea Style Guide
The People and Geography of Cyrea
Mutants are common on the entire plane, they have resulted from the tampering of Cyrea's abundant biomancers. While mutant is an all encompassing term, some mutations have become so common they are considered races on their own, and mutant is only applied to further deviation of these accepted stock.
Due to the nature of how they resulted most races of Cyrea have great variance in looks, with races being more broad in acceptance.
Elves are the greatest keepers of knowledge on Cyrea. They store their accumulated research within knowledge trees, which are monitored by elves that have been bound to the tree, now a living receptacle of knowledge.
Dragons on Cyrea don’t hoard treasure, not like on other worlds. To these intelligent, if aggressive and intimidating, creatures the greatest treasure is innovation. Dragons oversee some of the research facilities with leaps of ingenuity, and iron claws.
Faeries serve as the most common form of communication between the facilities. Due to their unique place in society, they are also the plane’s greatest gossips. Faeries have resulted in some of the greatest sparks of innovation because of their in ability to keep their mouths shut.
Foxes live closer to nature than most races on Cyrea, but this does not mean they do not seek to learn. Foxes often serve as explorers and guides to the ancient temples, bringing back hints of the ancient past, which become the groundwork for future experiments of other residents.
Merfolk researchers abound throughout Cyrea. And have a secret language all their own, not unlike whale songs. They are among the most prolific scientists among the plane’s races second only to humans (and maybe not even), and will also serve as messengers if a faerie’s gossiping would be a liability.
Viashino on Cyrea are not unlike their cousins on other worlds, except that like all races on Cyrea they pursue knowledge. Unlike the other races however viashino aren’t against taking it by force. Viashino are willing to ransack the land in search of the lost knowledge, or tear through research facilities for the latest spells, machines, or mutant creation.
Ouphes barely considered sentient by the other races, these creatures are most often seen as test subjects. Their similarity to the humanoid form, and borderline intelligence, makes them the perfect test subject before moving on to more advanced races. Not all Ouphes are ok with this treatment.
Geography and Culture
Cyrea is a mass of ever changing landforms. Islands can become part of the main land, and other parts break off. Mountains rise and fall, and forests ebb and flow like the tides. This changing landscape has buried the ancient facilities and ruins of the past, and with them the secrets and discoveries made by their long past inhabitants. The ruins, and ever shifting terrain, give rise to the need for explorers and adventurers to uncover the secrets of the past. Without these individuals and the secrets they uncover, many important pieces of research never would have started.
The landscape is dotted with research facilities. These facilities are marvels like little else in the multiverse. Vats with life growing, sparks and whirring machines, or spells being flung are only the beginning of what may be seen within these temples to learning. Each facility houses several researchers, archivists and experiments. Within these halls are the backbone of Cyrean society. Biomancers toil away at developing new adaptations to make each individual better. Artificers tinker away to develop the newest advancement for the world. Mages seek to break the very laws of reality, gravity, time flow, and anything else they think they can bend to their will.
Cyrea is defined by its science. Farmers select the best live stock to breed the best for future generations, while biomancers forcefully evolve the various species and races of the world solely to learn. There is no real concept of scientific method. Projects are done at the discretion of the individual, and tabled on the same whims. Nor is there much consideration of ethics, they only get in the way of learning and research. All that matters is if a project works or not. Failure only leads to stagnation, success to further research and more knowledge, so one must be pragmatic and focus on the success of the research.
Unbeknownst to most of the current inhabitants of Cyrea, they are not the sole pinnacle of the world’s studies. With Cyrea’s tendency to develop new magic, species, and technology quickly something invariably goes wrong. Every couple of millennia some experiment goes awry, time reverses too far, some weapon goes off prematurely, or even some beast is made that no one can keep control of. The world returns to its tribal roots, but only until the secrets of the ancients are uncovered once more, and the advancement begins again. And this cycle will continue until Cyreans can learn more from the past than just its blueprints, but for now Cyrea's greatest potential will remain untapped.
Faskeria Style Guide
The People and Geography of Faskeria
The Terrain and Climate of Faskeria
Faskeria used to be a peaceful continent of rolling hills and wide, lush wetlands. But the constant strain of Great War has turned it into a hellscape of blasted ruins, fields of bones, scrubland pockmarked by magical explosions, and mass graves coated in the white fungus known as The Pale. Smoke and ash from the fires of war, combined with the constant smoke of volcanoes have turns the sky greasy and dark. Light coming through this ceiling becomes harsh and cold. It turns the snow grey and the rain is corrosive and poisonous. The world outside the city walls is a war-torn wasteland, and inside, cities are slowly crumbling from disrepair.
The Races of Faskeria
Humans Humans are the most populous race on Faskeria, accounting for nearly half the total population. Humans occupy most of the aristocracy and higher political seats of power. Humans drive a great deal of Faskerian politics. Not only are they on Faskeria in the greatest numbers, but they also express the greatest diversity among their species. This means humans are not only distrustful and disdainful of other races, as is the norm on Faskeria. They dislike most other humans as well, depending on their creed, nationality, and skin color. Humans are a bit like a microcosm of Faskeria itself: arbitrarily divided and disjointed, to the detriment of all.
Kithkin Compared to the kithkin, humans are are open and welcoming. The kithkin can communicate wordlessly using the thoughtweft: a constant empathic connection between all kithkin. Living with this deep sense of oneness and trust makes them naturally fearful and even hateful of other species, to the point xenophobia in the extreme. Nearly all kithkin have gathered in one Kith-only nation: the Homeland of Belekith. They are dedicated to the enslavement or destruction of each and every man woman and child of other “lesser” races.
Rhoxen Rhoxen, like humans, are found in almost every Faskerian nation. Their great physical prowess makes them ideal infantry, and rhoxen have cultivated this into a proud military tradition. Many of the highest-ranking generals in Faskerian armies are rhoxen, and their stubborn, hardheaded nature contributes to the stagnant politics that drive Faskeria through perpetual war.
Goblins Goblins are a lower-class race in Faskeria, often serving as servants in the cities, or as anything from infantry down to catapult fodder on the front lines. If any goblin trait can be considered admirable, it’s their loyalty and dedication to their cause. Goblins are easily manipulated by inspiring propaganda, and most are ready to fight and die for their nation; many are even eager to do so.
Kor There is one race yet below goblins in Faskeria: the lowly kor. Their endurance, strong constitutions, pacifistic nature, and weak wills make Faskerian kor the ideal slave race. Kor’s lives are bought and sold, and much of Faskerian industry is driven by the forced labor of kor.
Vampires Vampires are not exactly a race of their own in Faskeria. Vampires are made by Olekians. Capital criminals in the country of Olek are made to suffer “vampiric banishment:” they’re turned into vampires, which puts them at the mercy of their wardens for two reasons: first, sunlight will burn them to ash in seconds. Second, they can’t survive without a steady supply of blood, and without it, they quickly turn into mindless animals. Whether the effective nature of this punishment as a crime deterrent outweighs the danger of creating powerful monsters is up for debate.
The Pale The Pale, or Mycelians when addressed as individuals, are arguably one massive organism: a sentient white fungus in the form of thin white humanoids. These individuals follow a hive mind and work toward one goal: engulf all of Faskeria. Other races see them not as a plague so much as a combatant. They’re just one more nation in the Great War. And unfortunately for everyone else, they’re built on the carnage the war creates.
The Process of Feeding
DAY ONE: The fighting begins. The two sides meet on the battlefield, sizing each other up. For most of the day, no move is made as no one wants to be the first to die. At some point, a brave soldier charges across the battlefield, and the rest follow. The opposing side charges to meet their foe and the fighting ensues. DAY TWO: As the death toll mounts, the bodies from both sides are piled atop one another, stacked away from the main battlefield. Trails of blood lead away from the staging ground to these still masses. The soldiers know what can happen if the bodies are left too close... DAY THREE: Slowly, evidence of the fungus begins to appear on the still, lifeless mounds of bodies. Small mushroom bodies have popped up on the hills, and each day a new site is chosen to dispose of the bodies, giving the old sites a wide girth. The fighting continues largely unabated, stopping only when the field must be cleared of the dead. At this point, the ground is slick with the blood of the slain. DAY FOUR: Movement comes from the oldest mass of dead. There is something living in there, growing, and the soldiers know it. Fear creeps into them as they watch the shivering masses. This will be the last day they fight here. The dead will be left. Those who survive will move to the new battleground, far away from here.
DAY FIVE: The battlefield is silent. The soldiers have moved on. New blooms of fungus have started popping up from the bodies left lying on the field. The mounds that have piled up are beginning to stir. There is a marked decrease in the size of the mounds. Soon they might disappear altogether. ONWARDS: Living beings have been born from the bodies of the dead, sentient fungus. They move from the field, drawn by the silent calls of their brethren. They will join the 'civilization' of the fungus, a strange living city in which they live. The bodies left on the field will be 'eaten', becoming food for the moving fungi and turned into soil for the plants. After a few months, all physical evidence that the war was there will be gone.
Individual mycelians can vary in appearance to the point that someone might not believe they’re the same species at all. A mycelian grows and develops consciously, and can decide how they’ll be shaped when they finish development. The hive mind usually decides how one mycelian will be formed: for infantry, tall with many appendages ending in sharpened chitin points. For rearguard: large and plated. And so on. All mycelians carry one small common trait: in the center of the mass of spore caps and fibrous stalks, a mycelians sports a remarkably realistic expressive human face. Soldiers fighting The Pale for the first time can be jarred and demoralized by this. And that’s probably the point.
The Dream War
The hive mind of The Pale is similar in nature to the thoughtweft. So similar, in fact, that an individual on one system can sometimes break through to the other. This interference is at its strongest when kithkin are asleep and their minds become open and receptive. The Pale will often psychically ambush kithkin while they dream, which can harm or even kill the kith in question. But the kithkin can fight back, and even harm The Pale in turn. This can often lead to skirmishes and even all-out wars across dreams. Kithkin, who already share their dreams, band together against The Pale in a world in flux. Lucid dreamers can make their wills manifest here, and both sides take advantage of this. Battles in dreams can often become spectacular and surreal affairs, but the fight is exactly as real as anything in the waking world.
Thoughts of the Deceased
In the Faskerian battlefields of night, which the Kithkin wage against The Pale, something quite astonishing occasionally happens. It is rare, but the thoughts of those ritualistically taken up by the Pale occasionally seep into the telepathic “conversations” between the Kithkin and The Pale. It leaves a distinct image to all who feel it. Young Kith are especially affected by it. The presence of an individual strain of thoughts in what they are taught is a mindless collection of fungi puts an impression on them that these are individuals, and it can break their spirits. Often, children who are affected like this go wandering off in search of those individual thoughts, never to be seen again.
Faskeria: A World at War
For decades now, Faskeria has been consumed in the Great War: a military conflict between all nations with a death toll in the realm of the absurd. Every day, armies of hundreds of men each collide on a plot of land no one particularly wants to control, and there are rarely more than a dozen survivors. The front lines haven’t shifted in years. Each faction’s goal is global domination, and no one can remember how the war got started. But no one is willing to end the war until their nation rules the world or no longer exists. The politics of Faskeria are just as stagnant as the front lines. No one is willing to agree to any demands or make any sacrifices. Diplomats and emissaries are often assassinated during the countless peace talks, and each one ends the same way: no side can see any viable option other than continuing this war of attrition. These diplomats are often acting under orders from their nation’s aristocracy, which is invariably concerned with only two things. First is that their extravagant and wasteful lifestyle can be maintained- a goal that’s getting harder to achieve every year. Second is the wealth and glory of their nation- a goal that is quickly becoming impossible. At this rate, all of Faskerian civilization is doomed to erode away into nothing. Faskerian religion centers around the concept of ‘Good Death’, meaning dying in battle, or in service to your nation. Politicians use this in speeches, generals use it as battle cry and priests spread this message in their services. People in Faskeria truly believe that dying for your country is better than dying a coward and believe the afterlife will hold vast riches for those who die in combat.
The Nations of Faskeria
The Kithkin Homeland
This is the xenophobic Kithkin nation, dedicated to putting kithkin at their rightful place in the world: above all lesser races. Kith live here, and no one else. The people of Belekith have been fighting two wars: by day, a war of steel and magic. By night, a war across dreams against the White Swath.
This nation is an ancient alliance of humans, rhoxen, and goblins. In a nation of proud military tradition, theirs is the proudest. Discipline and training are second to none, even among the famous all-goblin Suicide Squad. The civilians of Telaemar keep kor as a slave race, who serve as everything from labor in the fields to the upkeep of the aristocracy's mansions. Some wealthy parents even buy their children "pet" kor, who play with them, teach them, and generally keep them occupied and out of trouble throughout the day.
A relatively young nation founded by revolutionaries who overthrew their previous dictators in a bloody coup, Olek is quickly devolving into a new dictatorship all its own. Humans, rhoxen, and goblins live here. Capital criminals of Olek, rather than being killed or exiled, are given a more "humane" punishment: vampiric banishment. Criminals are vampirized through blood magic, making them dependant on blood rations and fatally vulnerable to sunlight. Then, they're cast into the Black Braids.
The Black Braids
The Black Braids are a vast, intricate network of underground tunnels and grottos. The Black Braids used to be a more traditional prison until rapid downward expansion broke through the continent itself, into a reservoir of pure black mana. Unspeakable horrors spilled through the mana into the material world and immediately drove guards out of the tunnels. Now, the entire complex has been abandoned, but Olekian vampires are still left there to be forgotten by society indefinitely. Rations of blood (or, occasionally, live prey in the form of kor) are left near the entrance every few weeks. It's unknown whether there are any unaccounted-for exits, or whether vampires have ever escaped through those exits. Or, for that matter, other, less savory things.
The Human League
Not one nation, but a coalition of several small, weak nations, composed mostly of humans. The League has agreed to an alliance to better their chances of survival in the Great War. But infighting keeps the League perpetually unstable. The region has an old and violent history, and the people of a given territory are generally distrustful of the people of any other territory. This means the League as a whole lacks initiative, and can barely defend its own borders, let alone gain any substantial ground in the Great War.
The White Swath
A nation only in its standing in the Great War, the White Swath is a fungus. The semi-sentient fungal humanoids gather together, communicating on a telepathic network similar to the thoughtweft used by the kithkin. The soldiers of the White Swath are built from the corpses of fallen soldiers of other nations, and they feed on the carnage of war. The Swath seeks only to expand and engulf everything it can; to "unify" Faskeria in its own way.
The Cinder Hordes
The Cinders of Faskeria are elementals who emerge out of the fire of wars. They have a loose organization and are only a nation because the other nations call them one. Their main goal is to feed the eternal war on Faskeria, in order to have it consumed by flames. They often offer their services to the highest bidder, fighting nations as mercenaries. At others times they raze cities or villages, just because they feel like it. One of the few poets of Faskeria compares the Cinder Hordes to a force of nature, similar to the eruption of a volcano, a view the Cinder Hordes love to cultivate.
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