Floating Islands Physical / Metaphysical Law in Journals of Yesteryear | World Anvil

Floating Islands

Giant floating islands made of albar rock that migrate with the winds across the world.

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  Throughout your travels you've noticed strange rock formations floating high up in the sky. You've yet to see one as small as an airship, in fact, most of them are so immense in size that they almost look like moon-sized islands drifting amongst the clouds.   The floating islands that come and go across the world capture the imagination of folks below who daydream of exploring them or building a big house on top of them.  



The floating islands emerge from volcanic regions when huge chunks of igneous rocks known as albar get hot from molten or geothermal activity. Albar contains pockets of gas that begin to agitate as it heats up and causes the rock to slowly begin to rise. The process can take thousands of years but can speed up during significant volcanic activity.   The largest rock formations have so much gas trapped in the albar that they rise from the ground and continue up into the sky once they are no longer tethered by other soil, tree roots, or rocks. The islands rise higher if they're bigger but begin to cool down and descend to an average altitude. From this level they may rise and fall a little during the heat of the day and cool of the night, and significantly more during seasonal changes.

Big holes

When an island emerges, a large pit or hole is left behind. The edges are dangerous and are prone to subsiding when it's fresh, and if there are any magma chambers or fissures beneath this can cause eruptions of lava, gas, and ash.   The smaller chunks of albar that broke off from the floating island as it emerged don't float up very high before cooling off and falling back down, so there are many albar rocks in the pits that can be gathered for industrial use.   While they don't float on their own, they're far from useless - using heat magic on them will still affect the trapped gas within the rock and cause it to rise. The largest of these are used in airships, but the smaller ones are used in transport to lighten heavy shipments and cargo.



Once they're skybound, the floating islands are impacted by the weather - particularly the winds. They drift and are pushed around by the air currents and can migrate all over the world, some ending up in seemingly eternal loops that act as a kind of travel route. Migrating birds have been known to hitch a ride on these islands to save their energy and use them as temporary breeding grounds.   The largest islands can cause problems when passing over agricultural regions because if the wind doesn't move them along they cast a giant shadow over areas of farmland, causing crops to shrivel and wilt without sufficient sunlight.


Not all islands stay in circulation forever - many end up being blown into the side of mountain ranges, either staying there or crumbling into smaller parts and rolling down the slopes.   The islands aren't moving at great speeds and though it's unlikely for two to bump into one another, it has happened on rare occasions.

Challenges and logistics


There are of course many challenges of living on a floating island: for starters you need to get up there - unless you can witness the rare birth of an island as it rises from the earth, you need an airship and a skilled pilot to fly up to one (and a return trip safely back down, too)! If the island is too high it may be impossible to ever reach it unless it sinks back down a bit.


The next problem is that there's no water on them, so unless you can keep the island below the cloudline and collect rain it will be as dry as dust up there! If you want plants and crops to survive there, you'll need a way to regulate their temperature with magic, or bring alpine plants that are used to surviving on mountain tops or cold regions.


Magic can be used to heat or cool the albar which can agitate or calm the gas trapped within it. The Academy of Arcane Sciences was the first to succeed in building and maintaining a structure on an island, and uses magic to control its flight with the help of rotating towers and giant propellers that they can spin using combined efforts of wind magic.   Their iconic campus is known as Academy Island and stops off in countries across the world for field studies.
Igneous rock
Albar   Islands of note
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Cover image: Zendu field by TJ Trewin


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Dec 19, 2023 07:12 by Mochi

I love this! I love that you've thought of different challenges floating islands can pose, and although it makes me sad there's no plants on floating islands, it makes sense xD <3

I hope you have a great day!   Explore the endless planets brimming with life of the Yonderverse! Go after creatures, discover new places, and learn about the people you find along the way.
Mar 19, 2024 18:25 by TJ Trewin

Some floating islands support plant life depending on their altitude! Though most of them will be rugged alpine plants :D

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Dec 20, 2023 00:53 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Oh no, the shadows causing crops to die! D: I love that you've really thought through the challenges of living in a world with floating islands. I love the albar is used in technology too. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Mar 19, 2024 18:25 by TJ Trewin

Thank youu :D

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Dec 28, 2023 14:48 by Rin Garnett

That Academy has one hell of a sales pitch. "Come to our school, it FLOATS". Has me sold on it tbh.

Mar 19, 2024 18:26 by TJ Trewin

Statistically and LITERALLY the highest quality of arcane education around!

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