The Starsear Geographic Location in Istralar | World Anvil

The Starsear

You can tell where the border is without even needing your eyes. Can taste the thick iron tang of blood in the air, can feel the bitter smog forcing itself through your nostrils like a lusty maid's kiss.   When you're brave enough to look, you'll wish you hadn't. Red and raw, like the carcass of an animal torn open and left to rot; the land's good at making an impression. Most people who pass through swear off meat for a couple years after, if they don't... change.
Shiari scholar
  The Starsear is a heavily tainted area of wasteland located in the southwestern reaches of Takawaoku, bordering Shiar, Osori, and the Scalded Plateau. It is one of the world's most desolate areas, and draws frequent comparisons to the Sunari Wilderness due to the disturbing and desolate nature of both areas.   Locals avoid the Starsear at all costs, owing to the area's dangerous wildlife and disturbing effects on magic. Great swathes of the Starsear are hostile to all magic thanks to localised anti-magic or primal magic zones, and there is very little to indicate the difference between areas considered normal or - in local parlance - 'abberant'. Additionally, travelling beyond the outskirts of the blackened trees and ruined structures that make up the Starsear's creeping border comes with a heavy mental toll that applies to even those attempting to fly over the cursed lands. Those delving too deep will find themselves changing in ways that can never be undone.   Some emerge with great and terrifying power, their eyes seared black with the weight of what they found. Others emerge different, their minds shattered and pieced back together over and over, their bodies altered in ways no medicine has yet been able to understand. These tortured souls, whether they be granted curse or boon, are referred to as the Incarnadine. The name means "to be stained red" in the Common tongue, and refers to their tendency to wear the Starsear's same bloodied red upon their bodies - either through adapting the colour, or through the sluggish dregs of their dripping blood.


The continent of Takawaoku shelters its people under thick rainforests and around the life-giving waters of the Sea of Souls, ever resisting the Starsear's burning touch.
  The Starsear is a red, rotting wasteland - but it was not always that way. Blackstone ruins dot the landscape in a scorched reminder of what once was there, a number of them making no logical sense in their placement or architecture. Remnants, scholars claim, of the fallen world of Terra Arcana, and of however many other dimensions collapsed upon this point.   As is common for Takawaoku, rivers run heavily through the Starsear - some of them twisting and black and writhing with terrible life, some of them dessicated and dry. Immense spears of stone shoot out of the earth, displaced by blasts and explosions thousands of years in the past. This corruption of water extends all the way to the ocean bordering the Starsear - the red veins taint life within the bay to its south, and mutated aquatic creatures are often thought to have originated from there when they inevitably capsize travelling ships.  
The Starsear by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  Tall mountains border the east and west edges, corralling the Starsear's spread; to the north, red muddles with brown and green as the veins of corruption give way to the fresh life within Osori's borders. At the zone's centre lies its deepest impact crater, one of hundreds scattered throughout the immense expanse.   There are no records of what appears within this crater - indeed, only one scholarly record exists as proof of its existence. Explorers peering from the skies have confirmed this account in firsthand stories, but following up on the tales is challenging as those who lay eyes on this area of the Starsear seem to inevitably find themselves drawn within.  
Through the scrying orb, I watched the newborn Incarnadine stagger towards the largest crater I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing - larger, perhaps, than even the Heartforge of Iskaldhal. Thick black smog hung over it in a roiling mass, bolts of silver lightning scattering the occasional glimmer of colour through the dark skies.   For the first time in my career, I looked upon this horrifying scene and longed to go. For this was a mystery! A mystery that I could feel my very bones singing for - a mystery I am determined to solve, even now. As I write this, my preparations near completion. I will find out what lies beyond mortal sight!
— Shiari researcher; disappeared shortly after publishing their studies


The Starsear was once lush and green, much like the northern terrain surrounding Shiar. Its downfall began in the Era of the Divine, when the lack of immense geographical features proved it to be a tempting battlefield. It cannot currently be said what exactly happened upon this spot, but there are signs of craters and magic used beyond mortal ken. The work of the gods - or their Champions. The increased amount of demigod activity across Takawaoku, and its link to the amount of tieflings, aasimar, and other planetouched, remains proof that something draws divine attention to this continent more than any other - though whether the Starsear is part of that is not yet known.   It was in the fall of Terra Arcana that the terrain was burnt and warped to the degree it is today. Though not bearing quite as much damage as the Sunari Wilderness nor containing the cancerous, spreading taint of Tenaerul, the Starsear is one of the more vibrant examples of the other planet's fall. Despite this, the danger involved in studying it encourages scholars to avoid mentioning the accursed zone lest the strange allure begin to take on the form of an infohazard.   Local stories claim that whilst the Sunari received the brunt of the rage instigated by the Worldrend's singular antagonist, the Starsear was subjected to great amounts of debris from the planet itself - and that the red colour is the remnants of the planet's own blood. The appearance of large deposits of arcite within the border mountains suggests some genuine truth to this.  
The Starsear's Geography by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Starsear by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Alternative Name(s)
the Rotting Husk, the Bloodsands, the Crimson Wastes
Location under
Organisations contesting ownership of the location

Claimant Organisations

Various countries have attempted to settle the Starsear over time, usually out of an overabundance of ego or because they have been driven from every other safe corner they possess. None have succeeded, by current knowledge.
The Silkways do run very close to the Starsear, yes. We had no other choice that wouldn't ruin the train. I did have to veto the idea of going underneath them; Socoth doesn't always care about what happens to our mortal tools. I happen to prefer functioning equipment over whatever entertainment would be provided by watching all of our passengers mutate horrifically.   I think he enjoyed taking mortals out for walks across it before the Mask stopped our fun, actually.
— Belial, Archdevil of Hell and one of two owners of the Silkways

Cover image: The Starsear by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


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Grandmaster TheDumbOwl
Alex (TheDumbOwl)
4 Jul, 2022 13:05

If we weren’t a group of (vaguely) responsible champions with a mission to fetch the shard, I’d want to explore the hell out of this place. What an opener to the Summer Camp!

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4 Jul, 2022 13:30

I mean, given what your group is aiming to potentially do...

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Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
4 Jul, 2022 13:19

I'm really please to see I'm not the only one kicking Summer Camp off with a hostile hellscape! Absolutely love it.

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4 Jul, 2022 13:30

Oh excellent, I'm glad we're both kicking off with hellscapes! They're such a delight.

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4 Jul, 2022 13:21

Great article… really like the evocative prose, and the artwork too. How do you get to use Midjourney?

4 Jul, 2022 13:32

Thank you! I don't get to write the more gross prose too often (though I tried to not do toooo much here.. hoping there'll be a condition article coming up, haha).   Midjourney has a beta you can apply for on their site; I was lucky enough to receive an invitation fairly quickly, then when I'd tried their free tier, I paid for a premium tier. I believe you can pay for the premium tier at any time, even if you haven't received an invitation.

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6 Jul, 2022 12:32

Man, you way you describe the Starsear definitely helps paint a picture of this being some blasted hellscape. I love the descriptions and the effects of it, alongside the history you give it. It really wants me to know more about it.   Have there been ever any attempts to halt or downright push back the growth of the Starsear? Or is it a wasted attempt to even try and fix?

19 Aug, 2022 19:18

Thank you!!   There have been a variety of smaller rituals to keep it back, I suppose, but the issue is that anyone who goes too close runs the risk of becoming Incarnadine (there's another article on that one), and those individuals often outright undermine efforts to keep the Starsear's influence from going. Only deific intervention would likely help, same as in Tenaerul, but nobody's managed to get more than small protections up thus far.

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