From the Heavens, to the Far Deep
The World of Araea
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 phenomenon. Read more about BlightDespite 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. The Surface is a cold place, with temperatures frequently plunging below freezing all year. 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
The Inner Shell
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 a 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.
The Far Deep
The World At A Glance
The SurfaceSometimes called the Above, it is 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 ShellNestled 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 ShellMiles 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 DeepBelow 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 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-TrackerOne 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. 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
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 DeepIt 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
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 DeepThe 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.
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
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.