Friday, March 11, 2011

History and Geography of Nova Avalon for Pirates of the Bronze Sky Part 1

History and Geography of Nova Avalon


The world of Nova Avalon is like no other in all the myriad universes. Uncounted thousands of sky-islands float in the warm upper atmosphere of a goliath world without true ground. Some of these floating islands are massive enough to contain whole nations, while others are just clumps of dirt no bigger than a baby’s hand. On Nova Avalon, the wind endlessly howls, low and mournfully, and the breezes felt by the world’s many races and nations are merely the weakest echo of the endless hurricanes raging far below.

The Men, Elves, Gnomes, Kayletheons and other races that call the sky islands home are caught in the relatively thin habitable zone of Nova Avalon’s tumultuous atmosphere. Often referred to as the living sky, this region is bordered by the airless freezing blackness of space the crushing heat and pressure and lethal hurricanes of the lower sky. The living sky stretches for hundreds of vertical miles, from black space above to crimson winds below.

Skyships roam the winds between the islands, connecting the many peoples of Nova Avalon in a complex web of trade, warfare, diplomacy and conquest…. a web that sways and shifts as the winds change.

The Winds of History

Once upon a time, Avalon was a world like any other. Men built great cities that reached the heavens, and in their pride, defied heaven. Tempted by the ‘snakes of the earth’, humanity learned much and reached far, but its greed and hubris eventually became too great. The god Justar, Avalon’s sky-father and creator, unleashed his wrath and shattered the world he created. Explosions shredded Avalon, boiling away oceans and throwing continental shards high into the sky.

It was only the intercession of Jada Rainbringer, Justar’s consort, who begged for humanity’s life that stopped the upheaval. Justar Worldbreaker relented, and hung the shattered continents upon the living sky. The ruins of Avalon vanished into mist and memory, becoming the endless crimson storm of the gas world Nova Avalon. A new race of mankind, cowed by the great upheaval and properly appreciative of Justar’s mercy emerged on the islands.

In time, mankind and the other sentient races rebuilt what had been lost during the upheaval.

The Monarchy

The Monarchy are possibly the most powerful nation in the living sky and certainly the proudest and most ambitious. The Monarchy’s reach extends far, and the empire encompasses many of the races of man, as well as members of the savage races. Ancient and powerful, the Monarchy’s history stretches back to the famed Conquest of Draaz, in 3,405 S.R. A band of brave humans overthrew the Draaz Horde, winning true freedom for the men and women of a half dozen sky-islands. The warrior-king Thomas Sextus I was crowned ruler of the Monarchy, lawful and only master of both humanity and the monstrous races of the Draaz Horde. The victory over the orcs and bugbears of the Horde was the dawn of the most powerful nation in history.

Utherlon

The Monarchy is a proud but fundamentally divided country. Even the lowest born Monarchy human can trace his or her lineage back to Thomas Sextus I’s legendary Utherlon. Even the Monarchy’s chimney sweeps and doxies know they are descended from heroes. Genealogy is a national obsession, and marriages are arranged as often to gain a claim to noble lineage as for more tangible financial or political reasons.

Modern historians realize that Sextus’ Utherlon was a bare confederation of rocky, inhospitable sky-islands, where early men eked out a bare, subsistence level existence. To the average citizen of the Monarchy, historical truth does not matter. The men and women of Utherlon stood up against the Draaz Horde, winning freedom for all mankind. To hear the bards tell it, ancient Utherlon was as lush as Nova Avalon itself, blanketed in apple orchards and veined with deep shafts of gold and ore. It was a land worth fighting for, worth dying for, and certainly worth conquering the beasts of the Horde for.

Truth and myth have become hopelessly tangled where Utherlon and the deeds of Thomas Sextus I are concerned. Was he a warrior-king touched by Justar Worldbreaker himself? Or was Sextus just a bandit with a better than average grasp of tactics? Modern Monarchists know the answer: he was the half divine king who founded the greatest nation the sky has ever kissed, and will pull their flintlocks at any suggestion otherwise.

Today, Utherlon is the heart of the Monarchy and the seat of its government. The Monarchy’s impressive capitol city, Magistera is built upon the ruins of Thomas Sextus I’s boyhood home. The House of Freefolk, parliament of the Monarchy, looms heavily over the ground where the Draaz Horde formally surrendered to its conqueror and new master. A gold and adamantine statue of a fearsome orc warlord kneeling and presenting his blade to a triumphant Sextus I watches over the House’s entry arch.

Any “Redeemed Monster” passing beneath the entry arch must bow slightly and touch the toes of Sextus’ image. The statue’s feet are all but worn away by generations of heavy fingers making this tribute. Any “Monster” that fails to abase him or herself before the statue is punished by public scourging.