Kal’Dea – The World of Myst
The World Before is gone. Whatever occurred there to bring about the great calamity that befell that place is lost to us. Spiteful gods, triumphant primordials, greedy dragons, or any number of possibilities exist, and perhaps it was some combination of those things. All that we know is that the World Before is no more. It was very old, and contained multitudes of people, rich culture, and powerful wonders after ages of prosperity. But the Shattering undid all of those untold years of accomplishments.
It is all flotsam now.
But life finds a way, and the world moves onward, if not always upward. The foundation of the World Before was cracked asunder, and all that existed was cast into disarray. The death throes of that realm pulled in many other adjacent planes, and for an age only chaos reigned. From the storming morass there emerged a new focus – the Dawn Stone. This beaming crystal emerged and became a new fixture in the Starsea, its light pushing out the madness and creating a space of serene order. As the Dawn Stone began to rotate, it shaped and molded this open space and crafted existence as we know it, a realm we call Kal’Dea.
Kal’Dea is a glistening cloud sea in the shape of an inverted tear drop. At its center is the Dawn Stone, whose brilliant energy lights the realm in splendor. Its rotation creates currents and tides in the Cloudsea that fills the entire realm. Dazzling clouds drift through a mother of pearl sky in a display of beauty unknown before the Shattering. But the sky that fills Kal’Dea is more than simply resplendent nimbus arrangements, it is also charged with magical potency. The air itself is charged with mystical energy, what we call Myst. Perhaps a gift from a dying god, the residual energy of the Shattering, a blessing from the Dawn Stone, or something else altogether, the Myst gives power and vibrancy to Kal’Dea. From the Myst all magic is born, amazing creatures are given life, and the mundane is charged with humming brilliance.
Floating – or more accurately flying – among the Myst of the cloud sea are the Isles. These are great chunks of rock, metal, or bone, or other material upon which the people of Kal’Dea live. Ranging in size from what would have once been a small state all the way up to a continent, the Isles are where we live our lives. They are varied landmasses: from barren wastelands to teeming wild spaces, from singular biomes to diverse climates. Those of us who live on these spaces are just as unique, whether we live in close knit nomadic tribes of related families or in the untold multitudes of grand urban cityscapes.
Each Isle has a central Shard Core which is what separates an Isle from random material. The Shard Core is an incredibly large and potent gemstone-like object which keeps the Isle in orbit around the Dawn Stone, while also providing additional energy and a common gathering point for material. The origin of Shard Cores is unknown, but many believe them to be particularly potent fragments of the World Before.
The Isles have unique rotational orbits around the Dawn Stone. Some go around ponderously, while others make multiple circuits at a rapid pace. Some Isles eventually lose their orbit due to mystical or mundane fluctuations and head towards the Cloudwall, where they are either torn apart by the powerful barrier of wind and force, or they punch outwards into the Starsea beyond and are lost to us. Still others fall ever downwards into the Roil and are crushed by the intense pressures of that blasted place. New Isles may also appear, most often through the Apex where the Cloudwall is calmest and the rotational currents can gently guide it into the Cloudsea below, though others may push through near lower regions. These new Isles are as varied as the current crop, though they have the added danger of being inhabited by Outsiders.
The chief political structures are the Centuriad and the Vaunted. The Centuriad is the oldest form of governance in Kal’Dea. Originally it was the alliance of the one hundred most powerful Isles, rising out of the calamity of the Wars of Folly to bring peace and unity. Each Isle has three senators who sit on the Dawn Council and decide important issues in Kal’Dea. While the Centuriad is traditionally thought of as numbering one hundred Isles, throughout history this number has waxed and waned over time. Currently there are 112 Isles in the Centuriad, with six more Isles applying for membership.
The Vaunted exists outside of the governing structure of the Centuriad. Comprised of the six Isles whose orbit makes them the closest in proximity to the Dawn Stone. They act as a security council for the Centuriad, handling critical information, organizational oversight, and time-sensitive responses that a wider legislative body could not deal with in times of crisis. The Isles who make up the Vaunted cede their representatives on the Dawn Council, so as not to use their power unjustly. Due to the vagaries of the Cloudsea, most Isles who end up being among the Vaunted are generally members for 5-20 years, but outliers have occurred.
Much of the travel and trade in Kal’Dea is conducted via Shyps. Shyps are craft which ply the Cloudsea delivering goods and people between the Isles. Made of whatever readily available light material is on the Isle of its manufacture, Shyps are able to sail the Cloudsea by way of gossamer Sayls. The Sayls absorb the ambient Myst from the air and channel that energy to the engines below. This effectively means that Shyps have unlimited fuel as it is drawn from the ever-present Myst. However, standard propulsion is somewhat ponderous, and in order to accelerate to higher speeds the arcane forces generated can quickly warp Shyp parts. This makes the expense of travel a function of the time needed to get somewhere, rather than distance and fuel. Often times Shyps which need to travel at high speeds (such as military, government, and emergency vehicles) keep a supply of spare parts below decks and change them out before they break down.
The two most well-known Isles in Kal’Dea are High Guard and Netherscape. High guard is the only Isle in Kal’Dea that does not move. It is positioned directly above the Dawn Stone and its four points are used as reference for time, direction, and other functions in Kal’Dea. It is also considered to be neutral ground for all Kal’Dea, and the center of the civil religion of the Centuriad.
Netherscape is positioned directly below the Dawn Stone and is an Isle which functions as a coliseum, battlefield, and entertainment complex. Its Shard Core provides no energy for sustaining life, but instead has created a super-dense structure that is nearly impervious to any might or magic that we know of. Because of this resilience, it has been turned into an enormous coliseum for entertainment and hosts visitors from all over Kal’Dea, as well as beaming out sporting events via viewing crystals. Its other function is to serve as the battleground between Isles which cannot resolve their differences through the Centuriad. The rules and etiquette of conflict on Netherscape are quite strict depending on the severity of the issue being resolved, up to and including full armies and death of combatants. This is because we Kal’Deans view open warfare between Isles as one of the most disgusting and vile taboos, and therefore this is the best alternative to avoid a repetition of the Wars of Folly.