An Introduction to Etrea

A world primer

Etrea is a planet in the Celestial Spiral. It is understood to be the fourth planet from the sun, and is the only known celestial body to contain and support life.   Currently, Etrea is in a time period known as the Enervant Age, which is sometimes also called the Waking Age. This began with an event known as the Renewal, when divine beings attempted to strip the world bare and create it anew. The memories of its sapient inhabitants were wiped almost clean, leaving them only with snatches and dreams of what came before. The Renewal was not a perfect success, however, and remnants of the previous ages can still be found scattered across Etrea.   Etrea is also the colloquial name for what is known as the mortal plane. The existence of other planes is not currently general knowledge, though many myths and legends across Etrea originate from interactions with them.

An Overview of Sapient Beings

  It is generally accepted by scholars that the sapient beings in Etrea descended from a single, ancient species. Thousands of years of evolution, however, have separated these beings into four distinct species. Whilst the following is a rather simplistic overview of each of these - in practice, each species is actually split into multiple species - these four categories are broadly utilised in scientific and academic circles.    

Humans

Humans are the most prolific and widespread of the sapient species in Etrea. They are a diverse people, with myriad cultures and values.   Some humans live in large cities made of stone, some in smaller towns or villages, whereas others travel as part of nomadic tribes or spend their whole lives at sea.   Humans have very little magic compared to their numbers. It is estimated that less than five percent of the population has some kind of magical talent.
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Shapeshifters

Shapeshifters are humanoids that have the ability to transform into a second form. Whilst being able to shift into another mammal is the most common transformation, there are also a variety of avian shifters and some rare cases of reptilian ones.   Shifters tend to group together in tribes. These are most often comprised of those who shift into the same animal.   Some tribes, however, are formed of multiple animal types. There are also several mountain cities built by an alliance of avian shifters.
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Dragons

Like shapeshifters, dragons are humanoids that can transform their bodies into a second form. There are a variety of dragon species, each with their own unique features, but in general their second form is reptilian and large.   Dragons tend to stick to their own kind and, in some places, have completely cut themselves off from others. However, in other places, some dragon clans have integrated with humans, and are a visible presence in their society.   Dragons are the most magical of the sapient species of Etrea, with almost a hundred percent of their population displaying some kind of magical talent.
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Merfolk

Merfolk are humanoids that spend all of - or the majority of - their lives in the water. This is a broad category, and many merfolk separate themselves further into different species.   Many merfolk have a mixture of humanoid and ichthyoid features. Commonly, what would be legs are replaced by a long, powerful tail. The diversity of merfolk speciess, however, makes it difficult to describe what a "typical" merfolk would look like. In the far north, for example, exists a species of polar merfolk the size of whales.   Merfolk generally keep to their own kind, though this is often due to the logistics of living in or under the water than any isolationist tendencies.
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The Continents

 

Aenica

The continent of Aenica is the largest on Etrea and, as such, it boasts a large diversity of inhabitants and biomes. In the mountains, avian shapeshifters have created proud cities and human hill-tribes dwell in large networks of caves. Whilst the dryest desert in Etrea holds untold secrets, the humid jungles hide a history soaked in blood, and the swamps dance with mysterious lights.  

Caia

Also known as the Fractured Continent, Caia is made up of several distinct landmasses. A large mountain range snakes across the continent. The climate varies wildly between the extreme north, where the land is frozen almost year round, and the extreme south, which is hot and dry where it crosses the equator. The waters in the north are littered with islands, giving rise to a large variety of both isolated and seafaring cultures.
 

Oyekos

South of the equator, Oyekos is a war-torn continent split into two by a large mountain range. Once made up of many countries, the land to the north is slowly becoming swallowed by the ceaseless maw of the Hutsai Empire. North of the mountains, the land is made up of sandy desert, endless plains, and lush jungle. South of the mountains, the country of Koye is characterised by rolling moors.  

Sarsand

Sarsand is a rocky, wet continent, where it is more likely to be raining than not. Fifteen years ago, the power of steam was discovered in the country of Dryst. This country is currently in the middle of an industrial expansion which is slowly spreading out to the rest of Sarsand.  

The Jasperic Isles

A tropical archipelago, the Jasperic Isles is a region with diverse flora, fauna, and cultures. Whilst some islands have come together and formed alliances, others remain isolated from the rest of Etrea. There are also several underwater nations of merfolk who call the islands home.  

Viretia

The majority of the continent of Viretia is warm and tropical, though towards the south the climate becomes temperate and colder. Beyond the southern mountains, the country of Fluvansii struggles with particularly harsh winters.  

The Frozen North

The majority of The Frozen North consists of a gigantic chunk of floating ice known as The Expanse. Thick columns of ice, some miles wide, reach down to the sea floor, rooting it in place. The columns and underside of The Expanse are coated with bioluminescent algae, giving off an eerie blue glow.   A volcanic island chain seethes under a layer of ice and snow.  

The Barren

The Barren is a cold land of rock and ice. Contrary to its name, there is life here if one knows where to look.
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Other Planes

  The other planes of Etrea are both similar and different to the mortal plane. If you were to lay maps of all of them on top of each other, the coastlines would match up. However, everything else - climate, geography, fauna, flora, etc - is different. Where there are mountains on one plane, another may have the jawbone of some long-dead creature.   Across the planes, there are rifts or weak spots that allow things to slip between them. These are rare, and often well-hidden, and, as such, most of the mortal plane is not aware of the existence of other planes. However, denizens of other planes are common in Etrea's mythology and folklore.  
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The Divine Plane

The Divine Plane was the first plane created by Sin, the consciousness responsible for the creation of the universe. It is the home of (most of) the divine beings, the only living creatures created directly by Sin.   Each divine being has claimed a chunk of the plane for themselves. As such, the Divine Plane is a diverse place full of magic, wonder - and danger. These beings are responsible for the creation of many of the other planes and their denizens.
 

The Hells

The Hells are the home of the rest of the divine beings, who were banished from the Divine Plane by the others. These beings are generally responsible for the evils in the universe and the darker planes of existence.   Like their counterparts on the Divine Plane, each being has taken a section of the plane for themselves. As such, the Hells are just as diverse, though much more dangerous.   The divine beings of both planes are often worshipped as gods by the other planes, though rarely accurately.
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The Beyond

Also known as the Realm of the Dead, The Beyond is a place where spirits from the other planes pass to after death. These spirits often have no memory of their life before The Beyond, though there are exceptions.   Though The Beyond features - often inaccurately - in the afterlife mythoi of many cultures and species, where a spirit ends up is largely random. Several species of sentient beings call this plane home, ruling over or tending to the spirits that end up there.
 

The Faelands

The Faelands are a lush plane, brimming with flora, fauna, and magic. It is also home to a wide variety of sapient species, many of which are magical in their own right.   There are several places in the Faelands where the barrier between it and the mortal plane is thin enough to slip over. It is not uncommon for people from Etrea to find themselves in an unfamiliar place - or for those of the Faelands to go on an adventure.
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The Umbra

The Umbra is a chaotic realm where the strong rise to power on the blood of the weak. The divine beings often consider it to be the opposite of the Faelands. It is home to a variety of sapient species, many hedonistic, spiteful, or sadistic.   Like the Faelands, there are several places where the barrier between it and the mortal plane is weak enough for unsuspecting people to pass through. The denizens of the Umbra use this to their advantage, gathering slaves to further their own gains.
 

Ashtakh

Ashtakh is a realm full of darkness and eldritch monstrosities. Few sapient beings call this plane home, but those that do can perhaps only be described as monstrous.   In the dark, hidden places of Etrea, deliberate tears to Ashtakh exist, waiting for unsuspecting creatures to fall through.
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The Wastes

The Wastes is, as its name suggests, a blasted wasteland. It is the site of a never-ending battle between armies from the Divine Plane and the Hells.   Surprisingly, several sapient species call the Wastes their home, eking out an existance between the eternal battlegrounds.



Cover image: by FelixMittermeier

Comments

Author's Notes

Welcome to Etrea!   Etrea has been part of my life in various forms since I was about twelve/thirteen years old, starting with half a trilogy that will never see the light of day. It means a lot to me that I finally am able to share this world with others instead of keeping it all inside my head! :)


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Grandmaster KajetanWrites
Kajetan Krakowiak-Świątnicki
1 Feb, 2021 23:14

Love the placeholder shrimp :)

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
1 Feb, 2021 23:38

Thank you! I love them too, haha. :)

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
6 Feb, 2021 18:29

+1!

Transform your quirks, in your strength! Join the revolution and visit Phaldorya (Eng)
2 Feb, 2021 01:57

Yes please! I haven't read everything in Etrea so this is really appreciated.   I love the only recorded age being casually called "The Etrean Age." It just seems a bit silly to me for some reason, not that it's bad or anything.   Anyway. Such a cool article. Gotta love the shrimp and the image of dragons shifting between human and dragon form gives me Fablehave vibes and I love it.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Feb, 2021 02:07

Hahaha, you're right. I keep thinking about changing it but I haven't come up with anything better yet. ^^;   Thanks so much! <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
2 Feb, 2021 04:18

I'm liking the style of this world. Well done!

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Feb, 2021 13:01

Thank you! :D <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
2 Feb, 2021 04:27

I adore the layout and design of this article and it presents a very good overview of what to expect while reading the setting. It will be very exciting watching all the shrimps disappear, especially when it comes to the various different planes of existence.   I also really, really want to know more about the fact that there may be ORCA MERFOLK SIGN ME UP.

Author of Ravare.
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Feb, 2021 13:43

Thank you! :D Lots of art to make!   And yes, orca merfolk are definitely a thing. ^^

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
2 Feb, 2021 08:58

See this is what I was trying to go for with mine, Clean, clear, well laid out, and highly entertaining. Wonderful.

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Feb, 2021 13:43

Thank you! I've been meaning to redo this for a while so I'm happy it worked. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
2 Feb, 2021 13:00

I really love how you have formatted this article - it makes the entire thing so easy to read and it all flows so nicely. It sounds so interesting and I am fascinated by this renewal, as it was an aspect of your setting I had no idea about! Usually gods tend to go for a much more heavy handed reset (i.e murder), so the mind-wipe approach is so full of interesting possibility to me!   Awesome stuff as always, Emy :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others. Check 'em out!
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Feb, 2021 13:45

Thank you, Q! :D I'm looking forward to writing more about everything! :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
2 Feb, 2021 13:02

It's great to get an overview of your world! I also really enjoyed the theme song as I read the article.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Feb, 2021 13:44

Thank you! I'm so pleased with the theme song <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
3 Feb, 2021 06:03

Primers! ❤️   Nice and concise. It was relatively easy to read. Primers tend to be girthy and not that interesting. More of an info dump than anything else.   I'd say this is a valiant and good attempt at a primer. If I can get through it, it's fine. ;)   I really liked the bioluminescent ice continent. That's just awesome.   I admit my eyes glazed over a bit with the different planes. Not only is it a trigger for my inherent DnD dislike, but you stated that people don't actually know anything about the planes, so they feel like it was unnecessary to add them to the primer. But I am likely just missing how they are important to the world, in spite of not being known to its people.   Thumbs up from me, on the whole!

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
3 Feb, 2021 12:55

Thank you! :D   I wanted to include the planes in the primer so that people wouldn't be blindsided if I write articles about them, and also because they're connected to mythology. I get where you're coming from, though. :)

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
3 Feb, 2021 12:53

PLACEHOLDER SHRIMPS! I love this new format, and I'm so excited to discover about all these places!!

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
3 Feb, 2021 12:55

YES, SHRIMPS. Thank you so much! <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
4 Feb, 2021 01:31

This is a fabulous overview. Paints such a clear picture of the world, and it does so with an economy of words that's admirable. That's a skill I'd love to master.   Oh, and I also love the placeholder shrimp.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
4 Feb, 2021 01:42

Thank you so much! <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
5 Feb, 2021 06:31

Your introduction article is so nice! It is easy to read and has a very clean layout.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
5 Feb, 2021 12:56

Thank you so much! <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
5 Feb, 2021 12:10

This is a really beautiful article, excellent written and set-out. I'm always astonished by how multifaceted this world is. Every time I feel like I've learned so much about the world, I remember how vast, complex and almost unknowable it is. This article really portrays that.

Cait x
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
5 Feb, 2021 12:56

Thanks! It makes me excited to know just how much more I have to create. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
6 Feb, 2021 18:39

I love this primer and I need so much to improve the one for Phaldorya! It generally very good but I especially was impressed with the theme, it's awesome!!! I agree on Jacob to change the Etrean age that feels a bit weak, but the rest is simply very well done!

Transform your quirks, in your strength! Join the revolution and visit Phaldorya (Eng)
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
6 Feb, 2021 23:43

Thanks very much, Luca!! Yep, I agree with you both. ^_^

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
7 Feb, 2021 10:32

I suppose it is a very little defect in such a cool world!

Transform your quirks, in your strength! Join the revolution and visit Phaldorya (Eng)
11 Feb, 2021 11:09

Ah I love this article! It's taken me a while to get round to reading it - apologies for that - but it's such a wonderfully written and concise article. It makes me want to dive deep into so many different parts of your world now! And all those planes! This definitely feels like such a well thought-out world and it's so inspiring to see. One day I hope I can have a world that feels equally as solid and real!

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
11 Feb, 2021 11:16

Awww, thank you so much, AP. <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
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