So as you may or may not know, I’ve had a specific approach on Stablehand up to now.
There’s a good bit I haven’t told you, and a lot more things I’ve told you about but haven’t actually explained […]. I’m trying as much as I can to only tell you things the main characters or other relatively ordinary people already know.
I have discovered that while this makes for a great story, it is a horrible way to gain fans and feedback in the early stages.
And so comes the worldspoiler primer. In it I’m basically going to
give up on trying to pretend I can pull off the “mysterious world is mysterious gee I wonder what the explanation for that could be wow what is up with that” thing […] and (without changing my plans for the actual story), just start by telling people all the background like in a conventional story
I will assume nothing in this. I’m literally gonna start from zero, apart from especially clear tumblr posts I’ve made. And I’m gonna go up to everything I have figured out but actual current story plot of the actual main character stories
(partly because they’re all in a bunch of little vague pieces in my mind anyway).
Obviously if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want any spoilers or doesn’t like to see worldbuilding explained all the way through before it’s relevant, this is not for you. My about tag might be a better place for you to learn about the story. But if you wanna know what’s up with Stablehand and its world and/or help me on it, and don’t mind background spoilers, I recommend you read it.
With that said, let’s get started. ~10500 words follow.
The basic idea
The Stablehand world is basically just an alternate earth. Two main things are a little different: the physics and the animals.
The physics of this world, to put it in the most familiar way possible, are magical. But I really don’t like to use that word. The thing is, people are so used to their world that they don’t even think of its strange physics as magic. It’s just physics to them, such that seeing you call it magic would probably yield about the same reaction as if somebody asked you by what magic a water bucket didn’t leak if spun around fast enough.
The world’s weird physics come from the fact it intertwines with a place called the Aether throughout. The Aether has a tendency to corrupt and make fantastical and surreal anything it touches, transforming it either temporarily or permanently into its own type of metaphysical “aethereal” matter. See cirque for more details.
Stablehand’s animals are halfway based on heraldry and mythology and halfway based on cladistics. The idea is to go beyond what typical fantasy stories do—just sticking in whatever looks cool ad hoc and maybe thoughtfully justifying it with ecological ideas if it’s a good fantasy story—and really actually attempt to imagine what these animals could really be like given little more than what we have to work with in reality. And the main thing we have to work with in reality is natural selection.
So, I put them in cladograms and design them based on the idea of clades and synapomorphies (characteristics shared by all descendant species of one ancestor, aka all members of a clade, if not overridden). Hexart dragons, for example, descend from a common ancestor with nycopterices, which descend from a common ancestor with pterosaurs. “Dracones” have membranous wings. “Eudracones” have membranous wings and six limbs. “Plumaria” have that, hard head features, and display plumage. Hexarts have all these characteristics, though hexarts start out with scales instead of plumage as a derived characteristic.
An important thing about Stablehand animals is that none of them are themselves magical. For the most part, they’re limited to scifi abilities: hexarts go through metamorphosis, camotarands have camouflage that changes kinda like an octopus but they’re clear-furred ungulates, flarefowl (this is tentative) hatch in routine forest fires. Reality is fully as amazing as fantasy if not more and I want to stress that in my animal designs.
Extra little differences
A few other differences are worth mentioning. For one, the layout, but that’s under places.
Another is the world’s “retrolark” aesthetic. I’ve attempted to explain that before, and will do a much better explanation for the guidebook later, so I won’t try to explain it here.
Another is that the world is almost completely feminist, to the point nobody even really thinks about gender roles. People have certain images of men and women in their heads that come up first, but it would pretty much never occur to anybody to tell somebody they shouldn’t do something (or should) because of their gender. Nobody even thinks anything of trans or nonbinary people. Wesbiegel, Grævonia is the one exception in the whole world, where there’s a very weird subtle bias against men and people are mocked for being ‘boyish’, inept, and unfocused. Nobody has any idea why this is, not even the other side of Grævonia.
So, I just went out of my way to stress that magic is just physics to people. Now I’m gonna tell you they have a name for using their world’s weird physics to their advantage anyway. Circumstantial manipulation, or cirque for short.
The idea behind cirque is that this world is “magical” in just one way: you can transform things into other things temporarily. But people can take advantage of that to do some pretty crazy things, if they work hard enough.
Cirque, at its most basic level, involves concentrating on an object and pretending you can project your mind into it and control it as if it were part of your body, then causing it to stretch or squash into its new form. Usually, when somebody is just beginning at cirque, all they can transform is objects very close to them, and not very dramatically. However, as they get better, they can learn to transform objects more far away, bigger, and into objects less similar to their starting form. Another thing people can learn to do is make objects stay in their new form until cirqued back, rather than immediately reverting as soon as concentration is withdrawn. (This is very important for people like technotranscendents, who can use it to fuse modifications into their body semi-permanently but also allow them to be removed for whatever reason, all without permanently altering either their body or the modification.) At the greatest extremes, cirque can allow the otherwise flat-out crazily nonsensical, like building a city literally in the middle of the sky without any supports but air (i.e., Techanopia).
Any given person may naturally have a better time cirquing certain objects than others, or cirquing them into certain things, or both; an object that works really well for a person is called a rôle object. There are entire factories devoted to making items called “cirque keys” made of a lot of different substances in hopes that it will make a good rôle object for a wide range of people and perhaps be able to do a lot of things.
For the most part, only humans can use cirque, as well as aethereals, being creatures pretty much based in cirque physics. Occasionally, a very crafty normal animal can learn a teeny bit of cirque—hexart dragons for one have been known to use it to make the ground around them spark, and start fires.
As cirque is a pretty routine part of the universe, most places make it a required subject to learn.
Attributes are a major gimmick and part of the story’s aesthetic. They’re not an intrinsic feature of the universe, but a thing introduced to the Aether that, because the Aether permeates everything, has incidentally seeped into everything. Each attribute is basically a personality type but also an aesthetic and a strategy of doing things, and a person may “be” that attribute by fitting any of those things, though the strategy part has the most weight. People can have any balance of attributes but are usually classified into 1 or 2 main ones.
There are eight Directed attributes and eight Undirected ones, plus Totality (all Directed atts or no atts) and Nothing (all Undirected atts or no atts). You may note that Totality and Nothing overlap in definition, and that’s because the Directed and Undirected attributes are paired; the Undirected attributes are supposed to be kinda like negative versions of the Directed attributes and vice versa, with a little bit of overlap in between.
Directed attributes are usually a positive thing to begin with, and fairly easy to use to one’s advantage, but they can sometimes be a negative thing, and Undirected attributes are usually negative to begin with, and not very easy to use to one’s advantage, but can sometimes be positive. Attitudes, though I’m still working them out, are gonna spell this out a bit better: any att can be used in an “Empowered” attitude but Directed ones are easier to, any att can be used in a “Lost” attitude but Undirected ones fall into that one more easily, etc.
I’m not going to describe every attribute here because that’s absolutely not a spoiler and the guidebook would be a way better place for that. However here’s a brief explanation I wrote for an RP, which should be fairly current.
The Aether, aka the Void
Separate from Aluma, the material universe, is a strange place formally called the Aether but also called the Void. It’s quite literally “the ether” as in when something goes “into the ether”, which is to say, it’s a place made of concepts, ideas, and metaphysics. Described another way, it’s a place outside of not just matter but existence itself, created by the fact nothing fitting that description should exist, and filled with the potential to contain everything that doesn’t exist.
The Aether is literally timeless, not only existing outside of Aluma’s timeline but having no timeline of its own (there’s an illusion of time for individual beings in the Aether, though the place itself doesn’t have it and it’s a mess for two beings to interact unless they consistently live in the same place for a long time such that they can share the same timeline). Instead of changing with time, the Aether consists of many linked “locales”, which as they start to experience a major change constantly bud off into new locales that have then always existed. Each locale is based on a particular emotion or idea; they each have an abstract name like “Progression”, “Imagination”, “Ambiance”, “Oblivion”, etc., and a different landscape and look. Depending on what their attribute is, they also have different kinds of aethereals in them. (The locales I’m defining for the story are almost all inspired by listening to libre songs, which will then act as their background music. Exploring the Aether in-story is gonna be pretty awesome; each character has a tendency to go to different locales because they have different personalities and stuff and for each character depending on what choices you’ve made before you get there and what you do in each locale, you’ll suddenly shift into different locales. It’s possible to get to any of the four bosses if you manage to work through the locale connections to where they are.)
All the “interesting” locales connect back to Origin, which connects back to the Primordium, the first locale ever which is basically full of a lot of nothing. The Primordium also connects to Endless Silence, a version of the Aether where nothing exists and no locales ever formed or ever will form.
Aethereals (also called voidbeasts or in their own language, Eterea) are basically living concepts that populate the Aether. I’ve described them as “the ghosts of things that never existed”; they spontaneously form out of locales and out of the Aether in general as the concepts/theme(s) that define them suddenly cohere together and gain awareness. As such, none of them have parents. All are asexual and genderless by default, though there are a few caveats: Vergozsya figured out how to become female, and a lot of aethereals are strongly connected to a trait aethereals have called a chroma (“light” or “dark” in a nutshell) that then becomes sort of like their gender. Most are blank-faced, notably lacking eyes (some may have sensors that look like eyes, for example being spherical, but are not actually eyes), and there’s a reason for that.
Aethereals, as living concepts, are largely not bound by material physics like the material creatures of Aluma. They can be wounded sometimes (sometimes things will just pass through them instead), but can often spontaneously self-repair. They don’t really need to eat or sleep. They’re not immortal per se, but ageless such that they have the potential to exist forever. They can hover through the air, transform themselves into substances like water (ex. Insulators) or fire (ex. Ostentators), shift into different locations instantaneously, and re-form their bodies into new shapes as they like, among other things (abilities can vary by aethereal of course). They operate on more of an emotional physics: stress or becoming emotionally lost can make them lose aethereal matter, which as they lose they will edge closer to death, at a certain point losing coherence and vanishing without a trace. It’s not uncommon for them to just suddenly “die” without warning, never to be seen again unless they spontaneously re-form “later”, and it’s entirely possible and common for an aethereal to be “born” and immediately “die” because forming is too stressful or it can’t become coherent fast enough.
Aethereals’ “emotional physics” strongly connect them to the Aether around them, which makes sensing and communication easier. Though most lack eyes and often other normal sense organs too, they pretty much always have a sensor for something called Aethersense which allows them to sense their way through the Aether over potentially over huge distances; the Postulator is notable for having giant winghands that give it a strong Aethersense. Aethereals’ language, Eterea, also benefits from the interconnected and idea-based nature of the Aether: regardless of what you are, you will just know what was meant by any given set of words no matter how ambiguous their literal meaning, as long as the words are spoken in the Aether; outside the Aether, they just sound like a foreign language. (I deliberately made Eterea use romance language roots hoping that most of my readers would go hey that sounds like something and it would help get the effect across.)
Within Aluma, nobody has any idea where aethereals come from or what they are, and as such they’re commonly called “mysterious entities” or “mystery beings”. They’re not a terribly common sight in most places, but in the Borderlands, a place where the Aether crosses into Aluma, they’re really common. (Few people actively know about the Borderlands though, given that the continent of Mitrokh it’s on is bleak at best and dangerous at worst.)
Within the Aether there are a number of different “elements” that things commonly form into, which correlate with attributes. Aethereals will often appear to be made out of the element that correlates with their associated attribute(s), though each element comes in many forms.
- Trainwork (Synthesis/Incongruity) is a clockwork-like material. It has two major types, Synthwork (ex. Synergiser) and Chaoswork (ex. Chaoswork chimæra).
- Aeonite (Unity/Eternity) is a mineral-like material. It can form into glassy crystals or more opaque things, or even subtly-mineral-like flesh occasionally, like on the Observers.
- Schemeshade (Machination/Clarity) is a smooth and largely featureless material. I haven’t totally figured out the details of it to be honest.
- Musecloud (Fantasy/Portent) is a cloud-like material that will also form into floating rocks and earth and similar things.
- Flowlight (Verity/Desolation) is a water-like material with a strong glow to it. Creatures made out of it are often restless and move around a lot.
- Empyrivoid (Faith/Compulsion) is… I haven’t figured it out too well, haha. But one thing it forms into is fluffy white feathers.
- Passionflame (Esteem/Ruin) takes the form of flames on its own, but can become a lot of other things.
- Forcewave (Will/Frustration) can look like plasma or weave-like representations of waves. The Conductor’s new design has large forcewave arcs coming out its back but I’m not sure I bothered to upload it.
- Omnissentia (Totality/Nothing) is kinda the generic material. It can be incredibly voidy on Nothing aethereals, or it can be featurelessly smooth and unreal and I guess a bit marble-like. Of course being the Totality material it can take on about any look.
Aethereals and Stablehand in general kinda have a strong theme of duality and this versus that. Attunements are supposed to sort of qualify that and also qualify the aesthetic side of attributes better by presenting several pairs of two extremes that you are either one, the other, both, or neither of. They’re supposed to make it easier to define what’s one attribute and not another, and also kinda give rules for creating different aesthetic variations of each MB “species”.
I keep reworking what the specific attunements are, except for one major one that has endured unchanged for a while which is Xai vs. Zed, or Chroma. Currently the lore on that one is that Xai things or “chiasmaligned” things gain strength from all that is “light”, while Zed things or “zetaligned” things gain strength from all that is “shaded” (Machination is strongly zetaligned while Faith is strongly chiasmaligned). It’s sort of like the distinction of introvert versus extrovert, when you use the “true” definition of introvert. The combination of the two is called Omega, and having neither is called Omicron. Another attune that’s remained fairly stable is Environment. A thing can be either “Envira” (organic-looking and/or feeling immediate empathy for anything living) or “Technica” (mechanical and/or not emotionally connected to life and more of an affinity for machines and ideas), though I haven’t figured out what the boths and neithers mean.
Mascots and spectrum hexarts
Mascots are a special type of aethereal, the first things with attributes to form “back when” the Aether was in Origin, each of them serving as the most concentrated expression of their respective attribute in all of everything that everything else of that attribute could be patterned around. In the Aether’s “current” state of completeness, the mascots don’t really have a set purpose any more, but as they’re powerful beings they’ve often found secondary “uses”.
Among them are Dà Jinhuáng, the “One Great Phoenix” (see Jinfèng), Xzhryxiel, the “Angel of Faith” (see Kris), Sophius, the “Superb Owl” and leader of the Sharps, and Vergozsya, the “Monster of Compulsion” (see Nassak).
The mascots of Totality and Nothing, Totalia and Nanta, both take the form of giant stars in the Aether that give life to Directed and Undirected aethereals respectively by radiating Direction and Indirection that strengthens them and makes them more stable. Aethereals can live without this when they’re in Aluma and the stars can’t reach them, but as aethereals lose aethereal matter whenever they take stress, they will be more vulnerable to running out and dying. (They can mitigate this by eating material matter and transforming it into aethereal matter.)
In addition to the main mascots, there is also another group of mascots: the spectrum hexarts. I haven’t totally figured out what’s up with them. They’re just kinda there? Each one hangs out in a special locale of its specific attribute and finding them will have some effect on the main characters, and that’s all I have on them so far.
Achroma is special among them because she’s an actual mascot proper, the mascot of Eternity. She was made by Endless Silence somehow linking into Origin; instead of the link sticking and allowing things to shift between the two locales, the link turned into a small ball of void and formed a glass dragon around itself that came alive.
There are four bosses each in a different part of the Aether, each with their own company-like organisation that performs different tasks (because individuals’ timelines sync like in Aluma when they stay together, the members all basically have to live at the organisation, but if they all do that, time flows almost normally within one other than it’s hard to tell how much time just passed at any given moment). All four bosses are coincidentally male, though there’s no real reason for that other than I wanted them all to be similar. (To clarify, they’re not bosses in the videogame sense.)
The bosses are essentially human-shaped aethereals, and have powers like aethereals. However, they’re almost human functionally. (No, I don’t know entirely what that means yet either.)
Stolen Heart has a dark jackal theme and worships “Anapa” (Anubis). He runs Kokorononai Enterprises, which is basically a scientific operation doing experiments on Aluma to figure out how things work. The majority of its members are male.
SH is highly logical, methodical, and objective, though not perfectly objective. He most aligns with Verity, Synthesis, and Nothing. He has no emotions, physically represented by having a void-filled hole in his chest instead of a heart, and often feels a strong sense that this void is eating away at his existence, but nonetheless perseveres on knowing it’s useless to think about his imminent demise too much particularly when there’s not much he could do about it.
Arkturuse (ark tu RU say) has a falcon theme and worships “Haru” (Horus). He runs Mega-Mierundaro Works, which… I need to figure out more but the idea is sort of that they’re trying to do good in Aluma and one thing they’re doing is making high-quality rôle objects (Esteem, Arkturuse’s main attribute, kinda revolves around using the qualities of things as a tool to be cool and effective). The great majority of its members are female—formidable suit-wearing women each themed after a particular bird, often a bird of prey.
Arkturuse is very vibrant and full of life, a grand gentleman who aims to inspire everybody. He most aligns with Esteem and Faith. He has no sense of logic, physically represented by having void-filled eye sockets, and as such has to perceive the world mostly through emotions (in place of eyes, he can “see” with his hands like a Postulator though). This often leads to him doing bizarre and absurd things, often things that ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ that he never even realises afterward aren’t a good idea; his members often don’t know what to do with him.
Aiyalam has a “bakuluki” (baku + saluki) theme and uses “Sutah” (Set) as his symbol, though he tends toward atheistic. He runs Sutahstruck Systems, where he is basically trapping aethereals against their will and trying to make them turn into as nightmarish weapons as possible. He doesn’t actually have any human members; all are aethereals, and most Undirected ones, like Chaoswork chimæras and Inquisitors. (Unlike his subjects, he treats the members okay most of the time though still not exactly warmly.)
Aiyalam most aligns with Incongruity and Will. He’s sort of the designated Big Bad, but amusingly, even though he likes to cause trouble and mess up the universe, he isn’t really a source of drama or plot ever. SH and Arkturuse usually just leave him to do whatever because usually, he will be more trouble if they mess with him, and the universe pretty much always survives his stupid little projects.
Also more importantly, his presence creates entropy in the Aether, which creates the variation necessary to form new locales and to create the illusion of time in the bosses’ places. Without him, the Aether would probably never have made it out of the Primordium; SH knows it’s a real risk that if he’s destroyed, thanks to the Aether having no time it might just destroy the whole Aether.
Dark Teapot is… well, basically a way to gracefully explain otherwise 4th-wallish stuff. He runs the Saucer Nexus, and keeps a strange “pet” named Ingenious (my author insert :p). In-universe, he’s the author of the Aluma Guidebook (a sort of manual that will be available alongside the story and basically consolidate all the kind of stuff I’m talking about here and spew endless streams about on my blogs in one place, also in a relatively spoiler-free manner). He also invented the Aether’s ‘internet’ as a local intranet-ish program called FolderView (which the recoded version of this site called Saucer Nexus Network will be themed after). Tentatively, I’m also considering having all the dialogueish options in-story presented in a FolderView-themed interface, with the implication part of how he’s getting all his information is secretly eavesdropping on everyone through that interface.
Dark Teapot most aligns with Machination and Unity, but a little bit with Esteem (more in personality than strategy). He’s quite literally a human teapot, being hollow and filled with flowlight, which via cirque he can separate into hot water and glowing steam. There’s a neat story behind that, but in short the Aether saved his life by turning him into an aethereal. He’s devoted himself to learning more about the Aether and the universe without altering it, and also providing a neutral place for people to chill out (he of course serves tea and similar things). He does not like to actively involve himself in anything, and as such doesn’t often interact with the other three, but the many Insulators that hang around the Saucer Nexus will gladly protect just about anyone in need of it.
Schemas and how a story ties together
Attributes, cirque, and something called a schema all tie together to create a character’s general style and theme and identity, and sort of generally how the character’s story shapes up.
One core thing characters start with is a symbol. A whole bunch of people in this universe wear a small symbol on their shirt, coat, etc., that represents them, with a colour that they may use for things as a main colour, accent, etc.; not everybody, but probably most people, adults included. (It’s sort of a holdover from the days of heraldry, with people instead of abandoning the idea of a family symbol shifting to individual symbols as people entered the modern era where individuality became more important.)
Along with the symbol the character will generally have some background stuff. Origin, preferences, etc. There will be some hints as to what the character already knows about themself and different directions they think they might go in, and these directions could well be options. However, they may well have secret or less-evident options that come up later, too. Basically one big part of characters’ stories is finding the option (the schema) that works the best for them, though often there isn’t a single best one; each one just works best for different things and allows the character to achieve different things.
The best way to explain schemas is probably to start with archetypes. Archetypes are kind of like character classes in RPGs, but also have a little of the notion of Jungian archetypes in them: various groups of people have certain templates of types of heroes, etc. they think are cool that each have certain abilities associated with them, and people will often emulate them, possibly tweaking them to create new archetypes. Once a person creates a “class” for themself, regardless of how much it’s based on an existing archetype, that’s their schema. To give an example, Kris is inspired by the Superpower archetype, and she can become several different Superpower schemas each with a different theme and ability set: “The Reticulated”, “The Adamant”, etc. She can also become things that aren’t a Superpower per se, which can be thought of as schemas off different archetypes.
Often once a schema is chosen (schematised to), the character takes on a new appearance via cirque, and usually stays that schema. In this universe schematising is associated with “coming of age”, and people are often encouraged to think about what kind of schema they want to create for themselves early on (getting a schema is probably stressed more than getting a job when I think about it). But, some characters like Sleipnir and Ssivyin frequently shift between multiple schemas, and it doesn’t necessarily mean their character is unfinished.
Direction and Indirection
A character’s improvement and attributes are tied together—as attributes can represent strategies, the character’s attribute balance can represent how good they are at things versus other things. As a character improves in Directed attributes, they can be said to gain Direction, while as they increase in Undirected attributes they can said to gain Indirection. For aethereals, Direction and Indirection are very literal things they absorb as different types of aethereal matter and become “charged up” with, while for material beings they’re more a state of mind. However because the Aether permeates Aluma, material beings can sometimes begin to see Direction and Indirection work the same way. A “high Direction” may shield them from the effects of Nothing matter threatening to destroy them; a “high Indirection” may make them more vulnerable, unless they have a Directed attitude for it that allows them to use it positively.
In addition to Direction/Indirection there’s also the Agent/Theme distinction (which is part of attitudes). Some characters have a very dynamic approach to things and do things with a lot of purpose and a desire to take things into their own hands, and these are Agents. Others are less focused and just kind of doing things, not necessarily with any set purpose. These are Themes. Aethereals come in Agents and Themes at the “species” level in addition to individuals being able to be either (aethereals incidentally also have archetypes the way I’m reworking them right now, which any species can be and will form into a different shape to schematise to it). And also, in the big picture, aethereals can be considered generally more Theme-like while material beings are more Agent-like. This is why aethereals are usually blank-faced: it’s associated with their general lack of purpose knowledge, and control. (Aethereals can gain eyes only when they become hyper-aware of the whole cosmos and how everything jives together on an intuitive level, a thing called “Visziya”. An aethereal with Visziya is a little scary.)
So, a character has backgroundy stuff, has their choices and abilities described by attributes and what rough direction those are heading them described by attitudes, and their overall chosen identity described by a schema that will have differing kinds of abilities associated with it. There is more to a story than that but those are the basic mechanics.
(This is not an exhaustive list at all.)
- Stablehand: One who commands animals. See Lance.
- Superpower: One with, well, outrageous powers, gained by exercising enormous amounts of courage to go beyond what is normally possible. Faith archetype. ex. Fuchsia.
- Originator: Somebody with the power to make stories happen by realising original characters. See Ariana.
- Sharp: Detective-scientist. Sharps devote themselves to solving problems and uncovering mysteries with science, always critical and never backing down.
- Navigator: One who is skilled at wading through harsh environments and the information available to them to efficiently find what is needed. They carry palm-sized spherical compasses that look like armillary spheres. ex. Nassak.
- Shifter: One with many forms, for whatever reason, who shifts between them semi-involuntarily but with skill may be able to gain control over it and/or use each form to their advantage. ex. Ssiv and Sleipnir.
- Soulful: people who infuse life into things through “soulful” music.
- Technotranscendent: One with the ability to merge with technology and use that to take their abilities to the next level.
- Biotranscendent: Like a technotranscendent but with features of living organisms. See Serval.
- Saviour: An aethereal or similar who is intent on saving all aethereals from their bleak existence. Mostly Yanha-specific, but SH, Arkturuse, or DTP could maybe also be a Saviour if they wanted to.
There are also a few very special archetypes.
- Boss: A high-powered human-shaped aethereal who manages an organisation. See bosses.
- Member: A member of a boss organisation. Will likely have special abilities specific to that organisation.
- Mascot: A creature that very strongly embodies an attribute. See mascots.
Stablehand has 12 main characters, a few of which are paired and one of which is semi-secret. Because it’s hard to talk about characters and not talk about their story at all, there may be a few teeny tiny spoilers for the actual story in this section inasmuch as finding out background they don’t know is sort of central to some characters’ stories (Lance, Nassak, and Sleipnir & Hughes come to mind).
Lance was originally supposed to be THE main character of Stablehand before I changed my mind and was like hey I want to have a bunch of main characters and a lot of cool female characters. His main attributes are Will and Ruin. He lives in Wesbiegel, Grævonia with his father, and is obsessed with two main things: oddly dark story vignettes and the idea of being a “Stablehand”. The first is simple to explain: he likes to occasionally make abstract but vaguely unsettling ink paintings that often involve lots of moody overcast dark colours, a troubled-looking figure of some sort, and/or a striking splash of blood. As for the second… well.
Historically people of the Stablehand archetype trained and used many different types of creatures as mounts and weapons, and most famous were the Hexestrians. The Hexestrians, specialising in hexart dragons, were kind of the designated heroes of Grævonia, and would act as a relief squad whenever… well, whenever there was any kind of trouble bad enough you needed dragon knights to get rid of it. They’d fight in conflicts but were mainly famous for delivering everyday people from danger.
Lance thinks the Hexestrians are really cool and wears his visorshade thing in imitation of the visorshades they’d wear, also trying to learn spear technique to match theirs. But nobody else seems to share his enthusiasm, often even mocking him for his interest and calling him “Stablehand” as if it’s a pejorative. Nevertheless, he refuses to give up on his dream. (The title came from the idea he’d gladly take that nickname and prove to live up to it by pulling through in tough situations, i.e., his fists don’t shake.)
Red is a hexart dragon, who was waiting in the wilds of Graevonia for a capable Hexestrian to team up with. (I haven’t totally figured out what she wanted to accomplish but maybe her goal was to unseat the Quack Faction from Corazón? See “Quack Faction” for more info)
Anyway she was on a mission of some kind, and when Lance finds her, she pretty much scoops him up and ropes him into it, not knowing that he… isn’t exactly the capable dragon knight she was looking for. Still, she is trying very hard to hammer it into him and try to get him to achieve her mission, though she can’t communicate her goal in words. She is a highly focused creature, mainly aligning with Verity.
Kate lives in Aeterna, Aeterna (the capital city) with her cousin Karl. Her main attributes are Synthesis and Verity (and alternately Esteem). She’s in the process of attending the local Sophius academy for Sharps, which she entered two years early, in training to claim her place among the other great detective-scientists of her age.
Kate is a very bright young woman, but also quite honestly a pain in the ass. She’s always extremely sure of her abilities and superior intelligence, and while she never assumes she’s right, she is quick to treat other people with disdain and as a rule of thumb assume they probably made errors and she’s more likely to be in the ballpark than they are. If in doubt, she can probably do it on her own, and other people’s ideas are probably not as good as her own. Also, if anybody likes anything that does not seem ‘mature’ or ‘intelligent’ enough to hold her interest, they are probably lesser people. Probably the best adjective to describe her overall is “closed-minded”.
Ironically, this attitude comes back to haunt her when applied to herself. Though on the outside she tries to pretend she is strictly into science and “realistic” things, inside she secretly likes more fantastical things, mainly the idea of a secret ancient tribe of theropod-bird-people; what she would really like is to have feathered wing-arms and a fluffy tail and join them. She can actually achieve this appearance if she gets good enough at cirque (this is her Esteem schema), but she would never be caught dead like that because then people would know she wasn’t the serious person she claimed to be, and she couldn’t put down other people’s “silly” obsessions. So, she settles for arm gloves that turn into wings.
Kris considers Kate a friend, and frequently drops in to visit. Kate generally reacts to her sincere enthusiasm with incredulous sarcasm, finding her Superpower obsession for one silly, but at the end of the day, she can’t deny Kris is great at boosting morale.
Kris lives in Easboro, Grævonia with her mother and older sister. Her main attribute is Faith. Her family is flashy but respectable; her mother is a jewellery appraiser and her sister is a local singer. Kris however is a little caught between wanting to be flashy and wanting to be some kind of action hero like Fuchsia aka “The Superpower”, a person who really existed but is now mainly known through a historical-fiction comic loosely based on her life. She really wishes she could have the insane courage of The Superpower and apply it to do amazing reality-bending feats for good, but of course, her life is nowhere near that interesting.
…Until she randomly discovers what sure appears to be a cape with Faith wings on it. Positive this is a sign she is going to be the next Superpower, she immediately goes and tells everyone (she’s a very enthusiastic and energetic person), none of whom can do more than smile or look at her weirdly. Nevertheless, she remains dedicated to her quest to become the next Superpower.
Kris and her family all have ties to not just the Faith attribute but its accompanying “religion”, in universe often phrased as them being “people of Belief”. Basically people have this idea of a great angel creature named Xzhyrxiel that they do things in the name of, but they don’t really care if it actually exists; the idea of having a great thing watching over them and supporting them in their cause, and believing in the power of that idea to push them forward, is enough.
Jinfèng lives in some part of Hinotoria. Her main attribute is Unity. She is a highly conforming person, never really caring for individuality and much more keen on being exactly what everybody expects her to be; what makes her happiest is seeing other people satisfied. All in all she just wants a simple life—sometimes she likes to just watch the scenery and lose herself in it.
Of course, what’s more than enough for her is never enough for everybody else. All her family and friends are always asking her about her hopes and dreams and who she wants to be (to which she has no meaningful answer ever) and saying she should do things purely for her own enjoyment more, and it makes her anxious to no end. She really just wants to exist and make everyone else happy, and how can she make everyone else happy if what they want is for her to focus on herself?
Her life changed greatly when the mythical great firebird Dà Jinhuáng, the matriarch of Hinotoria, appeared and gave her a scarf, telling her that she was the chosen one and to use it wisely. (Jinhuáng appearing is an extremely big deal in Hinotoria, so everyone immediately concluded this must mean she was really important and going to seriously change history.) She really really wants to carry out her mission as the chosen one well so as not to let anyone down, but literally nobody has any idea what she’s supposed to do.
Secretly, it doesn’t actually matter. Jinhuáng didn’t actually have anything in mind, and “chose” Jinfèng specifically just to see what would happen; she’s the type who believes that beneath the surface, everyone has a vast fountain of hidden potential that they could show if only given the chance to shine. She is an incredibly warm and caring figure, and will allow Jinfèng to summon her power to perform a lot of useful cirque techniques (often involving a heat/flame motif and usually named “Heat of X”), as well as generally just show up to guide and reassure her sometimes.
Ariana is the daughter of Magna Jin aka Vaheuhendi. She lives in Techanopia with the technotranscendent quatrumvirate, but has travelled to many different places; she has a massive collection of a Hinotorian magazine called The Spark that is basically kinda like National Geographic. She likes loud clothing and is always ready for new and adventurous things.
Ariana’s main attribute is Fantasy. She’s an Originator, a rare type of person who has the ability to make stories happen by causing original characters to become real. However she can’t control this ability. It just sort of… happens, with her only finding out later that her characters suddenly have always existed now. This is really convenient for her though, because she is absolutely terrible at describing or drawing anything, and this way the characters always come out way more on-the-mark of what she intended (with a huge number of perfectly accurate details she could never have thought of herself) than she could ever have done on her own. She’s great friends with most of her characters, who hang around with her in Techanopia and follow her on trips and stuff, but there are a few that have become problems. (I haven’t finalised what all her characters are but there are probably about 8, that seems like a good number)
Nassak lives in his own in a town in Mazzul, a remote and desolate but peaceful desert locale. He’s the son of Hadjeza the Wall, once the head of the formidable Mazzul Guard that worked and still works hard every day to keep monstrous Portensilisks from invading the town.
Nassak was born after Hadjeza was caught by the great Portensilisk leader Vergozsya—”The Monster of Compulsion”. Though Portensilisks are usually genderless and asexual, Vergozsya had discovered that by becoming female she could beget more Portensilisks to overrun the world with, namely by injecting eggs into hapless humans (hey, nobody told her that’s not how being female works). She first tried this out on Hadjeza to bring him down from his lofty hero position, which pretty much worked; not wanting to tell anyone he had essentially been raped by a monster snake and just born one of the things he’d been fighting all his life as a son, he fled. His one goal became destroying Vergozsya (who I tentatively see as having run away because she sensed him and not continued her plans in order to lie low).
Nassak, as a half-aethereal snake-man, has a strange affinity toward snakes and monsters in general. He’s a bit solitary, but doesn’t at all mind interacting with people, partly because as a Machination person, he’s good at adapting the way he interacts with people on the fly depending on what the situation requires. He’s fairly amiable and open, but also very serious at times, and not harsh on nonsense exactly, but will tend to ignore it. Sometimes he’ll assume a terrifying stone-cold face without warning if he finds anything particularly unamusing or annoying (never insult snakes in front of him).
Ssivyin (nickname Ssiv) is an Aeterna native, child of Blot Serval and Vair Severance. Their main attribute is Synthesis, and they really don’t like to be set in one thing ever, preferring to keep an open mind and decide what is best for each situation, or occasionally make compromises (for example, instead of coffee or tea, they will make “iced duck“, a combo of both). They have an item called the “Highland Cutter”, which can be worn as a shoulder accessory or transformed into bagpipes, and also has a handful of other functions (think Swiss Army knife).
Unfortunately, Ssiv has two big hindrances to deal with: being genderfluid, and having a rogue Observer named Ssiassi trying to take over their body (when crossing over into Aluma from the Aether, it accidentally and unknowingly merged with Ssiv, much to its frustration). Their gender will randomly change based on various things, and Ssiassi will sometimes act for them in a similar way to the gender changes. If they’re not careful, Ssiassi can overrun their body and replace them, but in general, Ssiassi’s personality and identity are just as messed up by Ssiv’s as vice versa so it isn’t fun for Ssiassi either.
Yanha (pronounced /janxa/) is an Insulator. It’s mostly just like any other aethereal that sprung up in the Void, but unlike other Insulators, it has a blue and white colour scheme (its name simply means ‘white’ in Eterea). It also differs from others in that it’s gained awareness of how incredibly depressing and meaningless it is to be an aethereal—its song “Ferdisza, Vahyuata, Morsza” (Stray, Empty, Die) is about this.
Yanha’s main attributes are Fantasy and Desolation. It’s basically searching for some “solution” to the great problem of aethereals having a shitty existence, though there really is none, and through this quest it can schematise into a “Saviour” archetype.
Sleipnir is a mysterious person whose physical appearance frequently changes. He has no identity or memory from before a few years ago, and as such has just sort of wandered the land taking odd jobs while trying to figure it out, not all of them legal. He generally kind of doesn’t care about his life, not really having any fixed identity to care about and also being really hard to track down when he’s almost literally a different person every day.
Sleipnir most aligns with Machination, Compulsion, and Totality. He notably has a wallet full of various cards that he can use to transform into specific appearances at will (where these cards came from or who these people are he has no idea; the fact some of them are credit cards with random names on them would seem suspicious, but others are like business cards and things like that). He also has a card that turns into a vehicle called the Vicious Cycle.
A lot of Sleipnir’s different appearances are female, but a little over half of them are male, as is his original form (see Kolonok).
Hughes (Cyaneas Hughes, Cyaneas = surname) is a large Aeterna native who follows Sleipnir around, and like Sleipnir, also lacks all but recent memories. He has a fondness for blues music and a sort of jazz/blues aesthetic, and most aligns with Faith, Incongruity, and Eternity. Generally, he has a cool, laid-back, not-that-serious character and somewhat enjoys just drifting around seeing different places and goofing around. He likes to say and do somewhat random and incongruous things, and sing both remembered and incongruous made up blues lyrics—mostly for his own entertainment but if other people like it that’s a bonus. Though he will deceive people or make confusing diversions to help Sleipnir escape, thinking little of it, his more natural tendency is to be amiable and honest. He can both be very silly and very serious and existential (his name/concept is kind of a double meaning: cyaneous hues i.e. blues of a blue sky, or of the blues and “feeling blue”).
Hughes is mainly following Sleipnir out of an assumption he must be important because that name resonates for some reason, but whether he is or not, has developed a sort of attachment to him and is committed to helping him stay healthy and out of trouble, ready to do a lot for him without even being asked. Sleipnir however is strangely unappreciative, and tends to act coldly toward him unless he’s providing some really necessary service, like helping him escape. This brings him pain, but Hughes refuses to believe that Sleipnir deserves to be left, or accept that although Sleipnir is probably the only one who can help him find out about his past he will never actually be any help. Part of it is because he has a great fear of being abandoned, and doesn’t want to be separated from his only real friend.
Hughes can and often does transform into a pied crow when he feels like blending into the background, or sometimes just “because”. People other than Sleipnir are more likely to see him in this form.
Era is the final, “secret” main character. He just sort of appears in all the other characters’ stories, with a different form in each one (each has a vaguely era-related name, like “Palezo” or “Anno Domini“), and if all the characters interact with him his story will be unlocked, showing him in his true form. Technically he is genderless; I call him ‘he’ because he likes to present as a male human
sona named “Erasthemus Errator” when interacting with the main characters.
Era, basically, is a glitch in reality. He’s an aethereal aethereal, a thing that was never supposed to exist—if you think of normal aethereals as taking shortcuts through reality/physics, he can take shortcuts through those shortcuts. This is why he turns up in all the stories—the nature of him has sort of allowed him to become unchained from spacetime and just float freely to wherever he wants to go. While “overpowered” could describe him pretty accurately, he has no interest in using his powers for either good or evil per se because he thinks that’s boring. He prefers to just sort of observe everything and sometimes mess with things just to see how much he can get away with. He’s a little bit of a rascal if you hadn’t figured that out.
I literally don’t know what kind of shit’s going to go down in Era’s storyline but one idea I had is Stolen Heart would find out about him and flip out (as much as one can without emotions :p) because the existence of something like Era was a Very Bad Thing for pretty much everything. SH would be like, powerless to do anything to stop him though (which by the way is saying something because SH, Ark, and Aiyalam are some of the most powerful aethereals there are).
I already wrote a post about the technotranscendents, aka the Techs. But quickly, they’re four techno musicians that act as the government of Techanopia, the city in the sky. (The Techs also have an expanded faction of technotranscendent followers, also called the technotranscendents, but those are never called the Techs.)
Blot Serval and Vair Severance
Serval and Severance have organisations in the Aether like the bosses, but are not technically bosses themselves (for one they’re not aethereals, just normal people). They’re both nonbinary, and parents of Ssivyin. Both once were part of The Fort before they ended up together and Sev dragged the two of them elsewhere.
Serval has the ears of his namesake and furred, clawed hands. He runs a faction called The Ocellated along with a few other humans and a lot of “besthommen”—animal people created by the organisation in an attempt to create a more perfect life form. There are many versions already, but the Ocellated are constantly trying to create better ones. Along with creating besthommen anew, they also work on techniques to allow regular people to transform into besthommen and redesign their bodies at will. (I haven’t totally figured out why they’re doing all this. I guess Serval just wants to see a world filled with furries. :p)
Severance is a strongly independent person, unshakable to an almost unnerving extent. They’re weirdly aloof-looking and kind of gigantic and robust, with long dark hair. For some reason they like to wear platform heels that elevate them even taller, and can transform the heel into a spike weapon they won’t hesitate to spear things with if needed. Overall Sev is pretty no-nonsense and kind of intimidating, but tends to be pretty restrained, and also somewhat warmer toward Ssiv and Serval than other people.
They run a faction called The Variegated. It has Arbiters, and it definitely doesn’t take orders from anyone else, but will do what is necessary in a very no-nonsense way. I haven’t figured out anything else about it.
Originally, Sleipnir and Hughes were part of an exploration team led by a man named Kolonok who wanted to explore the dreaded land of Prossiveria to prove there weren’t any weird magical things hiding out up there that could account for cirque and stuff being a thing and attributes coming from seemingly nowhere. However, they didn’t quite prove that, as there was one weird thing there: a glassy hexart aethereal called Achroma. This creature used its powers of Nothing to disintegrate the matter of almost the entire team except for Kolonok himself and a few dogs, but because Kolonok had guts, it spared him (it wouldn’t have affected him as much anyway because he had a lot of Direction).
Sleipnir and Hughes, by some weird miracle, re-formed from abstract ideas in the Aether and became “reincarnated” in the Borderlands many years after the expedition. They don’t remember anything about Kolonok or their past in the least, other than Hughes sort of remembers he likes blues music and came from Aeterna (I didn’t think about it until now but you know, people are always remembering song lyrics even after they forget everything else so maybe that’s what’s going on there :p).
The Quack Faction, so named because it’s Obtruder-themed and also, well, a bunch of quacks who have no idea what they’re doing, is the current head of government over Grævonia. These guys are obsessed with purity and the idea of making the world as ‘pure of heart’ as possible; what happened was when they heard about Corazón (a place between Grævonia and Aeterna) and its reputation of being the heart of the world they thought “oh if we got it we could really make the world pure” and weaselled their way into taking it over and making it the seat of government of Grævonia (maybe Aeterna too? I hadn’t thought about that but it would make more sense). From Corazón, they’re trying their best to brainwash everyone into being “purer”, that is, kinda trying to get rid of heroic finesse as well as imperfections and evil and stuff in favour of simple unquestioning sheep-like innocence.
The gender bias in Wesbiegel I mentioned is basically because of these guys. It used to be that capable knights were thought of as being usually male and great thinkers and political figures as usually female, but knights were often associated with Esteem, which is associated with being vibrant and distinctive, a thing the Quacks really do not like because they want everyone to be blank. So the Quacks kinda steered everyone away from the old knight/explorer stories and pretty much everything involving male heroes to the point people are starting to fail to recognise men as useful because all the important people everybody remembers were women. Easboro, the other half of Grævonia, wasn’t infected by misandry in spite of all the propaganda for some reason, maybe because they’re more Faith-oriented and more willing to accept people regardless of anything.
Red may be on a mission to unseat these guys because it’s supposed to be that she looks like a griffin because griffins are the family blazon of the Griffin family (the ruling family of Grævonia you get symbolically adopted into when you become ruler), and she kinda wants to restore Grævonia’s greatness or soooomething like that.
There’s a handful of people who were all interconnected and did stuff in the past and are also connected to the main characters in that the main characters kind of echo them, but I haven’t really figured out the story around them yet. (I know there’s probably some kind of weird time break going on where the timeline broke and people ended up on either side of it because some are dead in the present but Rotator hasn’t aged since they did past stuff and I don’t see him as having gone backward to do it, or being an aethereal.)
They include Rotator Phoenix (leader of the Techs, Unity), Portent Rider (uncle to Nassak with a cool vehicle, Portent), Lady Griffin (old governing figure of Grævonia, Verity), Tiess Bernh (Fantasy, some major figure from Vvaghras that Ariana vaguely remembers stories about but misremembers his name as T. S. Bern and thinks he’s a white person from Grævonia), Fuchsia (The Superpower, Faith), Fauchard (leader of the Hexestrians, Esteem), Glass Guardian (somebody who kept track of Crystalvoces but had to leave the Aether to do other important stuff), and Flare Hashira (“The Ruinous”). I do know a few things about these people:
Rotator’s girlfriend, Kyrielle afPhoenix, had to sacrifice her mortal human life to go to the Aether and become Dà Jinhuáng in order to rewrite history and particularly make Hinotoria’s history more positive, though I don’t know what about Hinotoria was so screwed-up that that was necessary. Flare Hashira was also connected to Hinotorian history in that for some reason she was so steeped in Ruin she decided to burn a huge area of land in/around Hinotoria, creating The Scorched. But Kyrielle turning into a phoenix and guiding the Hinotorians wasn’t to fix that, that happened in the new timeline. Also Flare Hashira was a pretty okay person to start out with. She was a rival to Flash Karkira before he knew the other Techs but that didn’t really lead to her turning Ruinous.
Fuchsia, Fauchard, Portent Rider, and Rotator were definitely all friends and all working together to end some kind of big conflict I’ve been calling “The War” for lack of any details about it; Portent Rider had to come from the future to help them. Rotator went and founded Techanopia after they were done because he never wanted to even hear about another conflict like that again.
Ariana’s dad might as well be listed here too because he did something really big and Fantasy-related but I don’t know exactly what. I have vague ideas that he stumbled onto the Borderlands or something and was convinced he was an Originator and created the Aether even though neither was the case, and maybe by messing with Aether stuff or something he retconned into reality a place called Alucina and legends about it being a paradise. What I do know is somewhere in the middle of his meddlings with Fantasy he faded out of reality and doesn’t exist any more.
The bosses have their own story/stories in the past because they were once normal people in Aluma, but it’s a separate thread from the stuff I just talked about. And for that matter, I’m not thinking any of their stories connected more than a little until they died and re-formed into bosses in the Aether.
Dark Teapot’s story you already mostly know if you read the footnote; he, Serval, Sev, and somebody called Karen Chaovagi were all kinda experimenting with advanced cirque and using it to transform themselves, and they all went in different directions but he ended up becoming an Aether boss.
I honestly don’t yet know what the stories of SH, Ark, and Aiyalam in Aluma are. The one thing I know is SH killed himself; he was kinda fed up with the world and having emotions for some reason so he “died to live”. I also know that Stolen Heart once he became a boss introduced attributes to the Aether in order to study people’s emotions and motivations (yep, he doesn’t remember he wanted to get rid of them so he’s just left really wondering what it’s like to have them), and he got insipiration for the attributes from things in the Aether already showing traces of the attributes he was about to retcon in. Arkturuse has a similar mechanic-retconning story with something called attunements, and Aiyalam has one with attitudes.
There used to be lions but they went extinct. This maaaay have something to do with the fact Kskenghra, the group of monoceroses, swallowed up the “Spanish lion kingdom” of Leona. Also, Cœlailuruses (winged cats) do not exist, though people know about them as a mythical creature, and there maaaay have been a similar thing that happened with that.
I’d kinda been considering this weird little worldbuilding facet where with every fantasy animal added to the world a real one ceased to exist. That’s tentative though partly because I don’t know why that would be.
There’s a distinct meta element to the story, if you hadn’t figured it out. It’s mostly more of a little in-joke I have with myself than something that actually affects the story, but it’s there.
First, as I said in the bosses section, Dark Teapot is documenting the universe in order to write the manual, and my author insert lives with him. But also, Stolen Heart and the gamebook choices interface are intertwined—when you choose different choices in the story, usually represented by attributes, the interface you choose them in is actually part of the interface SH’s members are using to experiment on the universe. (Tentatively, I have the idea Arkturuse and Aiyalam are doing a similar thing but with attunements and attitudes respectively, meaning you get those for choices sometimes.) From the Aether’s point of view, Aluma is just a huge tree of possibilities rather than a linear thing, paralleling the gamebook format, and from Aluma’s point of view or our point of view, things in the Aether have a kind of episodic and disjointed existence; tentatively I was planning to have a few random little episodes of silly things happening at the bosses’ places shown in a random order in between each of the main character stories.
Another thing I know is that through the magic of the Aether and its inhabitants not being connected to Aluma’s timeline, a few of the dead ends in the gamebook—which are actual doomed timelines in Aluma—fill in missing pieces of the main story such as Era’s creation. The dead ends also show other…. interesting things, like Jinhuáng not being there when Jinfèng needs her, not knowing that Jinhuáng is only deserting her because she’d rather be helpful in timelines where Jinfèng actually has a chance. Generally, the dead ends have a tendency to be sad, weird, shocking, and/or creepy and some of them even after giving clear hints they’re doomed timelines go some sort of elaborate places before concluding, often revealing things about the story that don’t turn up in the main story at least until a later part of a “successful” timeline.
Whew. Final section. There’s not a heck of a lot to add here. But, the places have always been something I was constantly changing a lot so I’ll sum them up again just in case.
There are four main continents: the one I embarrassingly haven’t named, Ywaszj (Yuashi), Mitrokh, and Ascenscia. Hinotoria and Kskenghra are on Ywaszj. Vvaghras, Mazzul, the Fort, and the Borderlands are on Mitrokh. Grævonia and Aeterna are on the unnamed one with Corazón in the middle.
- Aeterna: place of Synthesis (plus Eternity). There are 16 different states and 16 major family lines (I haven’t decided how those two things relate to one another, though one line coming from each state would be a logical way to do things :p), and each state has its own distinct traditional stuff though things have of course spread among states. It has a really long history and is kinda connected to Eternity that way; also the blues came from Aeterna, as a celebration of its triumph over Eternity (whatever that means).
- Hinotoria (Hwnzj Trjvp): Unity. The land of firebirds and harmony, and longtime home to an Afro-Asian-looking people called the Hwnzj. On good terms with almost everyone but Kskenghra, and has ambassadors and emigrants almost everywhere.
- The Fort: Machination. I need to figure this place out better but it’s like a collective where people sorta… get help achieving their dreams in exchange for having to do hard work for the organisation that will also have the side effect of toughening them up for leadership. It’s doing a number of things but one thing is mining. It’s surrounded by a foresty region.
- Techanopia: Fantasy. Glassy new-agey city in the sky built by the Techs, to rise above earthly troubles. Kind of a resort city and a place for idealists.
- Grævonia: Verity. Divided into Wesbiegel and Easboro. The land of sagas and epics and dragon knights, a time ago; it has a history of rival-like conflict with Aeterna. Today, it claims to be the land of common sense but kinda isn’t.
- Easboro, Grævonia: Faith. The Faithful side of Grævonia, where Belief is a big thing and people tend to make political decisions based on emotion. However, it’s fairly loose and easygoing, and though people are Faithful they’re also candid and fairly realistic-minded such that they have a fairly good amount of sense in them.
- Vvaghras: Esteem. A very exotic place full of many exotic things. Has a lot of good exports but most of all, it’s a major location for cirque key factories.
- Kskenghra: Will (plus Unity). A nomadic group, as well as the extent of their territory. They’re somewhat greedy; notably, they destroyed a vaguely Spanish kingdom of lions called Leona in the past and sort of superficially pretend to be them. They use both the lion and the monoceros as their symbol.
- Prossiveria: Eternity. The north pole, where the north star known as Veria can be seen (hence the name, “close to Veria”). Has a reputation of being dark and dangerous.
- ?: Frustration
- Corazón: Clarity (was once Faith). Before, it used to be called the Heartland and home to the Soulful, and also home to the oldest recorded history. So, it was the heart of the world in two ways. Now it’s just a featureless white landscape with the Quack Faction’s building in the middle of it surrounded by a shallow sea of zen-garden-like white sand.
- ?: Portent.
- Wesbiegel, Grævonia: Compulsion. The side of Grævonia where basically, everything is fucked up. Laws are stupidly strict and nonsensical and everyone has subconsciously subscribed to the idea people should accept whatever bullshit is thrown on them and that it’s natural for such bullshit to be thrown on people and for their freedoms to be abridged. There’s a weird bias against men. Overall a pretty crappy place.
- Mazzul: Desolation (plus Verity?). Desert town where people live in giant cacti. A major home for Navigators.
- The Scorched: Ruin. A vast burnt area in/near Hinotoria where there’s literally just fog and blackened ground. It gives you a strange sense of longing to walk through it.
- The Borderlands: Incongruity. A major place the Aether crosses in; the Aether can be entered here if you’re brave enough and able to navigate through a place whose topography is literally incoherent.
- There is no place of Totality; that’s simply Aluma, the material universe.
- The Aether is the place of Nothing.