From the Heavens, to the Far Deep

The World of Araea

  From the irradiated wastelands of the surface to the unknown darkness of the Far Deep, the world of Araea is one of extremes. Against all odds, life has taken root beneath the ground in vast caverns and labyrinthine tunnels. The din of civilization echo in polluted and crowded pockets. The bold and the desperate brave the unexplored dark in search of glory and gold. Even after centuries of crawling through the dark, much of Araea remains shrouded in mystery... And peril.   Araea is a bleak and dangerous world, where life hides in unfathomable depths from the gaze of uncaring stars.      

The World At A Glance

 

The Surface

or the Above, the world beyond the caverns and tunnels. The Surface is an inhospitable place, with few places for frail humans to survive. But the blighted lands are not devoid of life, home to terrifying beasts like the Mahu'ca.  

The Outer Shell

Nestled close to the Surface above, in the Outer Shell, where settlement clump around the shafts and ravines still shielded from the irradiated storms.  

The Inner Shell

Miles beneath the earth and far removed from sunlight, life in Araea has taken root and infest every nook and cranny it can. To survive is to struggle and citizens of the great cities of the deep that toil in polluted caverns or claw food from anywhere they can.  

The Far Deep

Below even the Inner Shell's most distant tunnels, the Far Deep begins. It lies at the very deepest places known, vast and terrible. It is a place of myth and legend - as well as frequent death.      

The Surface

  The Surface is the land beneath the uncaring stars. It is a world of jagged mountains and wind-swept deserts, of irradiated wastelands pocketed by star-strikes and storms that rage across continents. It is a land where only the bold or crazed seek their fortune.   The Surface of Araea is a barren place, where water is scarce saved in the form of massive glaciers. There are no oceans, only rivers and small lakes or toxic swamps. The most common terrain across the Surface are rocky and desolate. Much of the surface is lethally irradiated, making travel dangerous. Travelers frequently wear charms said to ward of the Blight, typically with poor results. Canyons or sinkholes sometimes break into the tunnels and caverns of the Outer Shell, where civilization can enjoy the benefit of sunlight or a nearby glacier while remaining relatively shielded from the dangers of the Above.  
Blight   Radiation is a constant hazard on the surface. Entire continents of the planets are shrouded by lethal storms and even the most benign lands of the Surface are still tainted with poison. Called "Blight" by the denizens of Araea, it is a poorly understood and frequently lethal phenomena.   Read more about Blight
  Despite the dangers, the Surface is not empty. Rare pockets of life thrive along the edges of the glaciers or in unrecognizable forms in the cosmic-blasted mountain peaks and irradiated valleys. Nomadic tribes of exiles and mutants eke out a terrible existence in the wastes, while strange lights in the night herald the arrival of strangers from beyond the stars. Towers of white stone have been sighted deep in the blighted wastes where no one could or should survive.   Few human structures grace the surface world. Those that do belong either to prospectors, explorers or star-crazed cults. From hunting camps hunkered down in valleys ringed by hills that keep the blight and winds out, to lonely cult-observatories that gaze out into the cosmos, humanity are only visitors on the Surface.    

desert_ruins

by Jorge Jacinto

    The Surface is a cold place, with temperatures frequently plunging below freezing all year around. Temperatures reach their highest point in the Season of Fire, for a brief temperate climate accompanied by sweeps of heightened radiation and blight-storms. They drop to their lowest in the Season of Dark, when much of the surface becomes encased in ice and darkness.  
The Howling Plains   A great stretch of the equator is dominated by a great, flat plain that may in some unimaginable distant past been the bottom of an ocean long since worn down by meteoric barrage and eroding winds. The storms are near constant now, giving the plains their name. Particularly dangerous are the irradiated dust-storms, with winds that can flay the flesh from bone.
     

The Outer Shell

  Just beneath the skin of the world, the Outer Shell go only a few miles deep below the surface. Half-way between the true depths and the dangerous surface, it has neither the riches or unique ecosystem of the Inner Shell nor the blight-riddled host of terrors of the Surface. The caverns here are smaller than those deeper down with tunnels winding for many miles between them. Like the surface, water is scarce and usually come in the form of trickling streams or rivers from glaciers that lie above. Those who settle here do so near one of these precious sources of fresh water, sometimes forced to venture to the Above in search of ice.    

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by HeeWann

    Other dangers make the Outer Shell a daunting place to live. Earthquakes, meteorite impacts or sudden sinkholes all threaten to crush settlements or cut them off from vital resources. Shifting patterns of radiation cause the Blight to sometimes creeps down into the tunnels or pollute their streams. Still, there are opportunities here for the daring. Most business ventures in the Outer Shell are for the rare resources that can only be found on the Surface. Danger does little to discourage these sorts of enterprise, no matter how many fail.      

The Inner Shell

  Deep into the dark and far from the sun, the Inner Shell is the most populated region of Araea. A vast subterranean world, the Inner Shell is home to caverns that stretch for miles, tunnels large enough to fit giants, mushroom as tall as men, rivers of magma and subterranean oceans. At the highest points of the Inner Shell, the caverns taper off and the tunnels become smaller as they approach and merge with the Outer Shell. The opposite is true as the Inner Shell approaches the Far Deep, where the caverns grow monumental in size and ever more alien.  
The Abyss   While the Inner Shell is home to countless underground lakes and rivers, the Abyss dwarfs them all. An underground ocean of titanic scope and depth, the Abyss is a world unto itself and there is life in the inky black waters.  
  Different layers of ore and rock create an rich tapestry of color and texture, painted with lichen and bioluminescent fungi that create pools of light in the vast darkness. Quartz and crystal, sometimes growing to enormous proportions, create great and tangled spires, while dying magma vents leave behind vaults of obsidian.   Temperature and climate vary greatly between the stretch of the Inner Shell from cold, wet and unpleasant to unbearably hot, with everything in between. Radiation is rare in the depths though not unknown, but the pollution from cities and human filth more than make up for it.   Cities and villages have grown to fill the space in the forking, twisting tunnels and the large caverns. Cities are sprawling, disjointed things, separated by chasm or connected through labyrinthine tunnels. But for all their size and industry, civilization remains very much a flickering light, surrounded by a vast unknown dark.    
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Bio-Caves by Josh Eiten
     

The Far Deep

  Beyond the Inner Shell and following miles of shafts or ancient magma tubes, deep into the world lies the Far Deep. It is an alien world, where titanic cthonic worms to the much-feared mind-hunting Shrikes stalk nameless lands. The caverns and tunnels of the Far Deep are the largest and most expansive, with bottomless chasms and hollow sprawls mingling with rivers of black ice and fire.   For every truth, there are ten legends about the true nature of the Far Deep and what it contains; from the birthplace of the world to a paradise to those who can push past it. Like the Surface, the Far Deep draws explorers, prospectors and adventurers with enough coming back with wealth and glory to perpetuate the cycle.    

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by Piotr Dura

The Surface
Geographic Location | Aug 18, 2019

The Surface of Araea is a blight-blasted wasteland of barren deserts, frigid arctics and terrible monsters. Only the brave meet these dangers to carve fortune from the wasteland.

   

Blight-Tracker

  One of the most feared hazards of the Surface is the radiation that taints the land or spreads far and wide through furious dust-storms - the people of Araea known it as Blight. It is poorly understood, surrounded by superstition.  
tool2.jpg
by Jens Jonsson
  Blight-Trackers have spent their lives mapping where the land is tainted and learned how the dangers shift. They make maps from magnetic sand, study patterns and have through trial and murderous error gained a rudimentary understanding of Blight. This knowledge makes them an invaluable addition to any expedition that seeks to brave the Surface and they know it well when negotiating their price.   Read more about the Blight-Trackers  
Star-Chasing   Rarely has mortal danger done much to deter the greedy and there is no better example then the business of Star-Chasing.   Star-Chasers seek the sites of meteoric impacts to harvest the fallen celestial. Often, they're left with little more than ice, rock or meteoric iron but sometimes they get lucky. Some rare few come home with Starsteel and their fortunes are assured.   Read more about Star-Chaser
           
The Outer Shell
Geographic Location | Dec 31, 2018

The Outer Shell is the name of the caverns closest to the surface and in some cases just below, peeking up onto the sky through jagged fissures or deep shafts.

     

Life in the Deep

  It isn't easy to survive in the underworld, where food and light are always scarce. Underground lakes and rivers hold herds of blind fish that feed off the detritus of others and are in turn hunted. Lichen and fungi support floating jelly-fish and insects in every variety of prey and are preyed upon in an endless cycle. Every corpse is food and nothing goes to waste.   As the caverns widen and grow larger, so does the life they support, while bioluminescent flora, magma vents and glowing crystals provide both light and heat to all the things that dwell below. The greater the depths, the grander the caverns.          
The Inner Shell
Geographic Location | Apr 7, 2019

The Inner Shell lies far below the touch of sunlight, deep within the earth. Here, the caves are vast and the seat of humanity can be found in an dark ocean of wilderness.

   

Cities in the Deep

  The Inner Shell is home to the largest centers of population in Araea in the form of powerful city-states. Only at these depths are there enough resources to sustain a larger population - and even then, just barely. Food and water are constantly in short supply. In a year of bad harvest, even the wealthy go hungry and the poor face even worse fates.   Cities in Araea sprawl in all directions. They are noisy and chaotic: with no seasons, no day or night, there is always movement and life. Mushrooms must be harvested, metals mined and caverns expanded. There is never time for rest.    
Tuiwas - The Hole cover
by Ubisoft - NWN
   
Mharaji   The largest and most powerful of all city-states is Mharaji. Thousands of souls share the city, ranging from wealthy nobles to impoverished squatters. The city straddles a gorge that leads directly into the Far Deep, a fact that nearly saw the city destroyed in its past. Mharaji's size and wealth make it nearly ungovernable and it is a patchwork of local powers.   Read more about Mharaji
         
The Far Deep
Geographic Location | Feb 16, 2019
 
Deep Roads   The Inner Shell is not always a continuous whole. Tunnels crack and shift, entire caverns collapse or flood, the path from one point to another may no longer be as easy as it once was. For this reason, travelers are sometimes forced to make their path through the Far Deep to reach another part of the Inner Shell.

Comments

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8 Jul, 2018 17:50

You paint a really rich picture with this that makes me want to dive in and explore all of these locations. My only suggestion would be to try to tighten up the writing here as you move a lot of the description of those areas to their own articles.

8 Jul, 2018 17:51

Thank you and thank you for the feedback!   Yeah, I'll keep that in mind. Maybe chop this one up into more summary-like bits and move the details into their own articles and expand there.

8 Jul, 2018 17:58

I think it'd read much more smoothly, though as a disclaimer I am the sort to personality try to keep articles under 1k. The less scrolling the reader has to do the more likely they are to read it all.

13 Jul, 2018 11:48

Agreed. If an article is too long, people are likely to skim or skip it.   I'll probably return to this after summer camp, but until then, perhaps breaking up the block of texts with some more images might help?

13 Jul, 2018 14:32

Certainly!

8 Jul, 2018 17:54

The level of detail here is amazing. A lovely, diverse, and rich world in which to build upon...well done indeed! Great use of the artwork, though I feel like something could have been done with the right-hand sidebar. I know it's always difficult to find the right 'material' to place in there to 'fill out' the article, perhaps some of the quotes and/or excerpts? Overall, a wonderful article and you should be proud!

8 Jul, 2018 18:12

Wow, thank you! :)   I'll keep that in mind, especially when combined with the comment above. Maybe put links to more detailed articles in the sidebar, or example location excerpts?

8 Jul, 2018 18:36

Something. I've often filled the sidebar with other graphics that I want to show, but don't necessarily 'fit' into the main body of the article. Or I place personal quotes or excerpts, or you can use it to expand on an aspect of your article. Maybe there's a region you are really excited about and you want to go into further detail that could segue into another article...having something like that in the sidebar could be handy.

13 Jul, 2018 11:51

Yeah, that's a great idea! Thanks! I'm going to see if I can find any good images or chunks of fact to populate the sidebars with.   I'm thinking starting with a sidebar intro to some of the differences in Araea compare to most worlds. No trees, no dogs, no birds as we know them. That might be a good side panel to start with and fill out with images and bits/bobs. What do you think? :)

8 Jul, 2018 18:43

At the risk of sounding like I'm parroting everyone else, I love the amazing amount of detail you have in your article! I can't wait to read more of your world :D

8 Jul, 2018 19:41

Thank you! That definitely encourages me to keep writing more for it! It'll be very interesting to see what parts of the world people gravitate towards! :D

9 Jul, 2018 07:24

Congrats on your feature in the Week 1 Roundup for Summercamp!

9 Jul, 2018 07:26

Thank you! :D   I was very surprised! But pleasantly so!

9 Jul, 2018 07:32

It's a lovely article, though! It deserved to get a little attention ;)

2 Dec, 2018 21:19

It looks nice, I'l be reading the rest of the Araea texts soon :)

11 Feb, 2019 12:36

Thanks!

4 Dec, 2018 21:41

Really nice and informatic read, my friend! But you have some then/than-mistakes in there as well as some typos. Not much, though.   Your world reminded me on fallout at first, but I learned quickly, that yours is way more dangerous and diverse.   I will continue to read further!   Big love!

11 Feb, 2019 12:15

Thank you <3

5 Mar, 2019 05:58

I like how you've adapted the hollow earth theory to this world. I thought you could elaborate a little more on the dangerous of living underground, just as you emphasized the radiation of the surface world. Likewise a good use of pictures and links, but the mostly grey writing on a dark background made it a struggle to read. Was this colour choice meant to simulate how difficult it is to get around in your world?

5 Mar, 2019 13:50

THanks for the comment!   But no, that's not a color choice. Could you perhaps take a screenshot of how the text looks for you, please? It looks pretty good on my end, so I wonder if it may be a difference between screen setups, or if it's the same and I'm just not seeing it. :)

5 Mar, 2019 13:59

You may be right. I opened it in chrome and it was a lot more readable.

6 Mar, 2019 12:06

If I would have to describe the article in one word is, awesome. Great detail, interesting places, great wording and well much much more, a job well done here dude. I am kinda wondering what resources are there to be found on the surface that gives a good reason for people like blight trackers to traverse it

11 Jun, 2019 13:19

It varies a lot: meteorites that crash on the planet carry metals, while some of the critters are edible or otherwise useful. Other places are significant in themselves: lakes of chemicals, or obsidian from volcanic eruptions, and so on. Stuff like Starmetal or the Pahu Worms.   Wealth, food or weird stuff, essentially!

6 Mar, 2019 19:46

Ok so first off I found one error here.   "¬†Different layers of ore and rock create an rich tapestry"   A rich tapestry I think :)   Now to the article. I've read this one before I do believe. The layout is pretty good. lot of article blocks though that can be a little intimidating. This seems to be an intro to the geographic regions, yeah? I think just using links would be alot better, not that its bad. As I've cone to know more about this world it got far less overwhelming but part of me sees these blocks and it kind of has a correlation to adds on a blog post. That is essentially what they are so its not a big deal but it can break immersion a tad. That's just me tho. Youve done it on many articles with no hiccups like this so it could just be the day for me XD. The prose was just fine, and did draw me in. I didnt skim too much either though I had a few moments wherein did simply because I was somewhat familiar with the topic of the section already.   Not too long but in the last person on WA to make a statement on length.   I am curious as to why you made this article when you already have an introduction. It's a lot of info so that's probably why but I was curious. The things that really make ne wanna read more are the mysteries particularly the far deep, which is my question. What riches and good in particular are achieved and brought back. What could justify the cycle of such dangerous delves?

11 Jun, 2019 13:29

Thank you for the feedback! :D   And I actually wrote this article before I wrote my other one. This was the first article written for Summer Camp. I decided to make another one to talk more generally about the setting, but didn't want to have one article that was over 3000 words. So I split it in two!