Friday, March 18, 2011

History and Geography of Nova Avalon for Pirates of the Bronze Sky Part 6

The Empty Sky

The nations of Nova Avalon have become excellent navigators and use a three dimensional system of coordinates to fix locations in the sky. Latitude and longitude are described as 360 sections of a gigantic sphere, and are further subdivided into minutes and seconds of distance. Altitude is known as sky-depth and is measured linearly, in miles above the Tumult, as the endless atmospheric storms of Nova Avalon are commonly known.

The world of Nova Avalon is impossibly huge, and though navigators realize there are 360 degrees of latitude and longitude, they have only mapped a relatively small fraction. The Monarchy’s expansive territory, the new continent of Avalon and the Shan-Wei’s empire sprawl across only a little more than thirty degrees of sky! The entire known world, all its mysteries and wonders, is less than a twelfth of Nova Avalon’s living sky.

The known world is bordered by huge expanses of empty sky, stretching for thousands of miles. With few islands to resupply or find water, few skyships could survive a journey into the unknown. Skystories and tavern tales speculate wildly what a brave crew could find “out past the Empty”, promising everything from demon palaces or djinn princes that grant wishes to lands of giants where time runs backward, water floats up hill and ice burns. One thing all the tales agree on is there is always more to be discovered in the great, seemingly endless sky.


Skybuster Humans

Skybusters are men and women born on the deck of a sky-ship, way out somewhere in the trackless Empty Sky. These nomads live, work, brawl and love, and eventually die aboard a sky ship, only touching dirt for brief R&R stops and to take on supplies. Skybusters have no tie to any faction, but will fly the colors of any nation they need to, when times get hard. Skybusters are half-hearted pirates, hermits, mad explorers, prospectors and treasure hunters, who constantly push back the boundaries of the in hopes of striking it rich. These rugged folk prize cocky courage, a knowledge of the wind, and handiness with lines and knives. Skybuster humans who assign their ‘floating’ attribute modifier to DEX, WIS or CHA receive the following national trait.

Prospector’s Luck (SU): Skybusters grow up with a sixth sense about where to find valuable resources across the empty sky. By succeeding at a DC 20 Survival check, the skybuster can guess the distance and general direction to any valuable untapped natural resource (water, a habitable sky-island, food supplies, gold, sulfur or other valuable mineral deposits) within a 200 mile radius. This check may be attempted once per day, and the Skybuster cannot take 10 or take 20 on this check.

Living aboard skyships their whole life has given Skybuster crews a knowledge of weather and rigging that’s second to none. Skybusters receive a +2 racial bonus on Survival checks and Profession (sailor) checks.

The Winds of Nova Avalon

Wind is as much a part of a Nova Avalon campaign as any of the heroes or the villains. The wind never really stops. There is always at least a faint breeze stirred by the Tumult far below, and the sky is almost never calm. Those rare instances where the wind ceases to whine and howl are disturbing in their quiet and sullen stillness. The men and women of Nova Avalon have a word for such rare moments of quiet- ‘dulled’ as in doldrums. Dulled moments are unlucky and quietly fearful, an expectant pause in the life of the world.

Nova Avalon has seasons, but they are short and tend to be unpredictable. Weather patterns are warped by the Tumult below, and rain is rare and precious. Erosion and runoff from the sky-islands mean standing water is rare, and rain and morning dew are collected by sky-ship crew and land-bound peasants alike. The sky-continent Avalon is so valuable in part, because it has true lakes and long, deep rivers.

Most of Nova Avalon has a relatively temperate climate, though some regions, especially islands floating high in the Living Sky, like Shan-Wei and the Monarchist city-state of Magistera experience bitingly cold winters. Climate is determined more by sky-depth than latitude or longitude, with the higher sky islands having a colder year-round climate and lethal winters.

Winds on Nova Avalon are almost always at least of Moderate Strength. Gamemasters should check for wind speed every 1d4 hours of travel, or as often as every hour when within a few miles of the upper Tumult. Winds increase off shore, and so cautious skippers follow the coast lines of sky-islands hoping to avoid the worst of the chop. Treat a result on the chart as being +20% higher more than 10 miles from the coast.