Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wheelhouse Setting 2: The Remains

The Out-World, or the Remains as the broken world is called by those living in it, consists of everything outside of the Wheelhouse and its Twelve Towns. Sundered land masses, called “drifts,” are all that is left behind by the cataclysm. Some of the drifts are enormous, like continents in size, while others are more like fractured pieces of a whole, linked together by elaborate bridges spanning the endless chasm known as the Upfall. Each drift consists of different terrain and environments, providing a wide variety of lifestyles for those who dwell upon them. Out here there is no law of the land, no High King, and no order, save for what the Out-Towns create for themselves. The inhabitants of the Remains are forced to fend for themselves against scavengers, outlanders and the monsters—both in creature and human form—that wander the  dangerous roads. Time has brought people together, but scarcity of supplies and distrust continually tears them apart.  Loyalty is rare, given begrudgingly at times to good providers, or demanded by local tyrants. But out here, the notion that “nothing lasts” is etched into the collective conscience. Even the most brutal tyrant will see their rule broken, and even the most fortified town will know a raid. It is a world built on the ashes of greatness, after all.

Typically the Out-Towns consist of inns, brothels, herbalists, merchants and tradesmen. Some have churches that worship a vague and faceless entity known as the “On-High,” and most have a deeply seeded distrust of all things related to the Wheelhouse. Despite their basic similarities, however, each of these towns are distinct in every aspect from their layout, style, history, and demeanor. Much of this comes from the influences they have known from colliding realities and fey worlds that resulted in the apocalypse known as the Breaking. 

The ensuing aftermath left a fragmented world inhabited by disjointed people and occupied by tangible relics that had somehow shattered through the thin veil of one reality and into the next. The remains of impossible structures jutted from the ruin of broken earth, standing as a testament to mortal man’s overreach. As the years passed, these things were scavenged or destroyed, but their appearance left an undeniable impression, and many of the towns in the world abroad stand as tributes or reminders to these incredible sites.

Many of the mapped locales of the Remains are known for housing “frays.” These are shimmering portals that glow with fey magic linking the broken world together. Each of these frays have been contained in stone archways or frames and act as doorways to distant locations that are otherwise inaccessible by normal means of travel. The Out-Towns housing these magical gateways keep them guarded and will often even charge a toll to anyone choosing to access them.  One could travel from town to town, or even drift to drift, if provided with the correct knowledge or key. Each fray leads to an entirely new location, and the greater the distance from the Wheelhouse, the more outlandish the Out-Towns accessed by the frays become. There are bandiar who have returned with knowledge of these frays that suggest that some portals lead not only to a place, but also to a distant time. A when, rather than a where.

Travel through the Remains, be it the roads of the Out-Towns or the shattered debris-filled sea of the Upfall is an invitation to danger. But despite the promised peril, it is here among the wreckage of all that once was that the truths of the ancient world still linger.


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