A Brief Look at the Shards and Other Things of Interest
The Shards: The Shards are a collection of separate bodies of rock and earth that float in a sea of air. They float out of the divine will of Õemag, the first god. Upon them various flora and fauna exist. Most of the weather of the shards spirals down from the upper shards, where the goddesses Gulmé and Ilifinsata create rain and winds.
The shards spin in a clockwise direction. Locations are often described as being ‘spinward’ or ‘wakeward’ of a current location, and if they are closer to the shard’s axis of rotation, they are described as ‘hubward’. The opposite of hubward is ‘rimward’, which refers to the mythical edge of the shards.
The Solar Hearth: Covering a great deal of the sky is the fiery Solar Hearth. Within it the gods make their home. Eimag Solær is the Steward of the Celestial Home, and he welcomes the souls of the virtuous Dead who are brought to him by Thyrang, the Storm Dragon. The souls of the virtuous live on the Solar Hearth, and within it they find paradise. Some of these dead souls choose to serve the gods. The Solar Hearth is also sometimes called the Solar Disc, or simply the sun.
The Beneath: At the opposite end of the shards lies a place where darkness and shadow take on a strange substance. The Beneath is a roiling darkness, a place where light never penetrates. The Beneath is also a place of great cold.
The Beneath is anathema to all life. Indeed, in the Beneath, so far from the lands of the gods, divine miracles such as raising the dead become harder, and perhaps impossible as one continues to descend.
The Beneath corrupts or twists all who live near it. It is said that the deeper one goes into the ever-increasing darkness of the Beneath, the worse this effect grows. Some say, however, that if one can endure the wrack of such a descent, there is something beyond the Beneath, a place of great power and magic that makes the trip worthwhile, if you survive.
The Beneath consumes souls. Those who die there do not go on to their reward in the Solar Hearth. Furthermore, the Beneath perverts the bodies and souls of the dead, creating the parody of life that is the Undead. The closer to the Beneath one goes, the more undead can be found lurking in the cold reaches.
The Beneath rises every few hundred years or so, and evil surges up to try and destroy life and goodness. In the aftermath of such Risings, shards are dragged into the Beneath, graveyards spill forth their hungry dead, and foul creatures walk the land.
Splinter Realms: When Õemag first began to create the universe, he had many failures. When he destroyed himself so that he might leave a creation that might withstand the Beneath, he left behind him many unfinished things, including unfinished worlds. These are the Splinter Realms, planes or places incomplete, often missing things we in the Shards take for granted, such as hope, love, sky, or dreams. The creatures that live here are sometimes called ‘outsiders’, but are more commonly called devils, demons, or fiends. Some Splinter Realms are places without darkness or shadow, and some races make their homes there. Some gods or kageshin use these bright Splinter Realms as estates, or hidden bases.
Kageshin: The kageshin are shadows of the gods, parts of the god’s personality clothed in flesh. The are both the god’s will, and the god’s hand. However, sometimes a kageshin embodies more of a god’s personality than the god wants it to. Sometimes, a god's flaws and fears are more prominent in their kageshin. Kageshin, though part of a god, are not in constant union with the god. Being clothed in flesh seperates the kageshin from the center of the god's divine essence. The kageshin were meant to walk among men, but ages ago they brought great ruin to the shards. Since then, they work more subtly. Some say that all dragons are kageshin of Thyrang, the dragon-god of destruction.
The Thousand Things: Õemag made one thousand things of wonder before he made the Shards. These things were destroyed, scattered, or stolen by the Beneath. No one knows what they might have been, but some may exist, hidden amongst the Shards.
Elemental Gems (also Binding Gems): Many magic items require elemental gems. These are flawless gemstones of rare size that can harness the power of an elemental’s soul. These gems are hard to find, and many a prospector has been able to retire after finding a particularly large vein of such stones. Elemental gems are used to allow the skyships of the thinking races to fly. The larger a gem is, the more powerful an elemental it can bind. It is considered bad luck to bind an elemental in gems that do not resemble their native element, and so rubies are most often used to contain fire elementals, sapphires are used for air, emeralds for water, and onyx for earth. Other less valuable gems can be used to bind elementals, but experts warn that such gems do not bind the elementals as strongly.
Should a binding gem be cracked, shattered, or chipped the binding will weaken or dissolve completely, freeing the elemental. Disaster usually follows such unfortunate events.
Binding gems are used in skyships, magical items, dwarven mining machines, and other uses. Binding crystals are not overly common, as they are expensive and the Pentatra jealously guards the spells necessary to create them.
Shard Transportation: Spells that allow flight or teleportation are the most convenient and expensive modes of travel in the Shards. The manx use balloons and the rare skyturtles to travel from shard to shard. Flying mounts, such as griffins, pegasi, hippogriffs, giant eagles, and so forth are also highly prized, and most often found in military service as steeds for knights and paladins.
The most common form of transport is the skyship, a skyfaring vessel that flies from shard to shard through an enchanted elemental gem, within which is bound an air elemental. The design of skyships vary from nation to nation. The fastest skyships are said to be those of the Free City of Mezzona, while the Ælven Empire boasts the mightiest war vessels.
Aberrations: Also called the Children of Madragat, the aberrations are the offspring of the accursed Lust Goddess. They often surge upwards to higher shards when the Beneath Rises, or pass through the Dark Ways to other shards.Time: Time is measured in years since the last Rising. Thus, 255 A.R. (After Rising) is 255 years since the last rising began. Risings can last anywhere from a few years (the First Rising) to a few months (the Second).