The Backlash Physical / Metaphysical Law in The Calinan Sea | World Anvil

The Backlash

"Aleni's theory was that she could cut through the Backlash and shave a few days off the run back to Port Avadia. That theory was well and truly sunk - along with her, her ship and her entire crew."
-overheard in a taverna in Denato
  The Backlash is a meteorological phenomenon in the Calinan Sea that began in the aftermath of the Ashstorm, a cataclysmic volcanic eruption that took place 250 years before the present day. Rumours abound as to its nature, but at the absolute least, it has been confirmed to be as area of climatic irregularities, seemingly in complete contrast with how the weather is understood to work by natural philosophers. Further reports indicate that it appears to be a lingering aftershock of the Ashstorm itself, with terrifying stories from Avadian captains and natural philosophers about forces of elemental and supernatural chaos destroying all that approach.   The Backlash is located on the northwest Calinan Sea, covering the western Beyan Archipelago and ending roughly seventy kilometres south of the city of Denato.  

Historical Context

According to all reports, no effects matching the description of the Backlash existed prior to the volcanic eruption and explosion of the island of Tethos, now understood to be the cause of the Ashstorm. All reports and legends suggested the waters and weather around Tethos bore the same occasionally blustery but generally pleasant climate the rest of the Calinan Sea enjoyed prior to this. Nobody has been able to confirm for sure what the Backlash actually is, but natural philosophers from the Academy of Arikanda and the Druids of the Vessa believe whatever the chaos is, it stems directly from and appears to be a continuation of the Ashstorm.


The Backlash's manifestation appears to cover a radius of roughly one hundred kilometres, centred on the ruins of Tethos itself. Its first manifestation is a stark change in the climate that appears completely at odds with the waters surrounding it. While the climate southeast of the Backlash's epicentre appears to be a standard Calinan climate, the northwest 'half' of the Backlash's sphere is abnormally humid. Islands on the northwestern fringes of the Backlash are outright tropical in nature, more akin to Earth's South Pacific or Caribbean. This effect radiates out from the northwest, explaining the somewhat wetter southwest of the Arikandan continent.   Beyond fifty kilometres into the Backlash from any direction, the most striking effects of it can be encountered. From here to the centre of the ruins of Tethos, the clouds are perpetually inky black, leaving the area in twilight. Gale force winds and rogue waves batter the waters here, and bits and pieces of ash and pumice occasionally rain from the sky two centuries after the Ashstorm.   It is in that sub-sphere that the most prominent sign of the Backlash appear in the form of seemingly random strikes of copper-coloured volcanic lightning. The few Captains who tried to venture deep into the Backlash and retreated report that while the bolts seem sparse and distant from afar, as a ship travels further into the Backlash, the bolts suddenly strike much more frequently and almost appear to concentrate on vessels. Any vessels continuing to approach or failing to retreat are inevitably struck, with the bolts being powerful enough to outright incinerate a vessel.   Captains also report that the gales and rogue waves appear to intensify even further, with even more ash and pumice battering down, and rumours of ash cyclones and firespouts have been heard, although whether these are true or tall tales remain to be seen and nobody seems to have ever been close enough to verify these claims. Nobody can say for sure what lies at the centre of the Backlash, as nobody has ever returned alive.  

Speculated Causes

There are many speculations as to what is responsible for the Backlash. While there have been other destructive volcanic eruptions in the Calinan Sea and the Sapphire Sea, none appear to have had the perpetual, extremely destructive after-effects. The fact that it appears to be contained to a particular geographic range is also a factor that natural philosophers struggle to make sense of. Speculation abounds that the storm could be of magical origin, although druids, shamen and magi all maintain that such a powerful, wide-scale, perpetual effect is virtually impossible for a human spirit to conjure. The most prominent thories are;  
  • The eruption of Tethos is ongoing and never ceased.
  • Tethos' eruption set off a secondary cataclysm or chain reaction of some sort that continues to this day.
  • A failed experiment opened a rift on Tethos to the plane of Annihilation.
  • Demons invaded Tethos and either occupy it or were driven off but left the landscape scarred.
  • The Elemental god of fire, Balaros, was angered by the people of Tethos and continues to wreak his wrath upon them to this day.
  • A powerful magus has occupied Tethos and destroys anyone who dares approach.
  • Wealthy merchants deliberately caused the Backlash to induce a tropical climate, allowing them to farm sugarcane and other crops not readily available on the home islands.
  • The Avadian government deliberately destroyed Tethos, replaced it with a secret library or laboratory, and uses magical or alchemical means to keep everybody else out.
  The truth is unlikely to ever be discovered any time soon.
Metaphysical, Elemental

Cover image: by World Anvil


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