Skies of Arcadia
Arcadia is a large flat plane of open sky, filled with floating islands and continents. Islands can be as small as a large house, to as big as a major city. Continents are much larger, but nothing approaching the continents of earth. The largest known continent is Valua, which is roughly the size of Texas. Most continents, such as the ones that make up Nasr, are about the size of Rhode Island.
The Skies of Arcadia have four distinct layers: Upper Sky, Central Sky, Lower Sky, and Deep Sky.
Upper Sky is the area above the Cloud-Ceiling, above the altitude at which clouds form, and beyond the current limits of Airship Technology. Based on information from the rare expeditions that have climbed some of the mountain peaks that reach into Upper Sky, the air is extremely thin which makes it hard, though not impossible, to breathe. The thin air decreases engine efficiency past the point where thrusters can provide sufficient power to lift or propel airships to or at that height. Despite the fact that there are some small islands that can be seen in Upper Sky, moonstone buoyancy is also currently unable to lift ships past the border of the Cloud-Ceiling. No flying fish, bird, or other creature has ever been spotted at these altitudes in recorded history.
Central Sky is the lifeblood of Arcadia. It is in this layer that all of the worlds continents and most of its islands lie. The airships of Arcadia can reach all altitudes of this layer of sky, and it is here that the people of Arcadia dwell. Central Sky is approximately four miles high.
Lower Sky is a transitional layer between Central Sky and Deep Sky. The air here is noticeably thicker, and there is a sense of pressure all about those that descend into this area. The air here is dense enough that moonstone buoyancy is too powerful to allow ships to sink into it. Since ALL ship engines rely on moonstone buoyancy to some significant extend, none can penetrate down into Lower Sky’s altitudes. Once again, despite this there are a few islands visible in Lower Sky. The theory is that these islands are made of denser types of rock than those of Central Sky. What little is known about the properties of Lower Sky comes from people literally hanging from ropes off of ships sailing at their lower limits. Since the border between Central & Lower Sky is often subject to frequent & unpredictable up or down drafts, this makes dangling from a rope through it extremely hazardous, and little has been learned from this technique as a result. A thin haze collects at the top of Lower Sky, making a visible demarcation. Lower Sky is estimated to be approximately half a mile deep.
Deep Sky is the lowest, cloud shrouded layer of the Arcadian Sky. Since Lower Sky is impenetrable, there is no solid information regarding Deep Sky. Many old scholarly texts have spotty bits of data and suppositions about Deep Sky that are presented as fact, and it is thought (or perhaps hopped) that this may be information handed down from the Old World whose technology is said to have been far greater than the current. The solid cloudbank that marks the start of this layer is believed to be composed of denser, non-breathable gasses. It is unknown how deep Deep Sky really is, but according to ancient texts the air pressure is so great that the gas approach liquid form, and would easily crush the toughest hulled Valuan ship, to say nothing of a person. Despite the fact that this is all currently un-provable, most scholars except it as fairly reasonable supposition, and are satisfied of the likelihood of this information being based on the remnants of Old World knowledge.
The bottom of the world, beneath Deep Sky, is believed by many scholars and learned people to be a solid mass of unbroken ground. However, at this point this is pure supposition.
Important Navigation Features of the Skies
Sky Rifts – Massive unceasing curtains of hurricane force downdrafts that plunge from Upper Sky down into the depths of Deep Sky. Sky Rifts are several hundred feet thick and can stretch for hundreds of miles. Most ships that come into contact with them are torn apart in a matter of seconds. Those that aren’t are blasted down into Deep Sky to their deaths. Even Valuan hulls and engines are insufficient to power through these barriers. Thankfully, Sky Rifts are as immobile as they are constant, and the colder air of the upper atmosphere quickly condenses moisture on the way down making Sky rifts known and visible navigational hazards. It is the placement of Sky Rifts that mark most of the various borders of the sky oceans of Arcadia. What causes Sky Rifts is one of the greatest mysteries of Arcadia. There does not seem to be any reason for their existence.
Rock Reefs – Walls of floating rocks that range from pebble size to three times the size of the largest Valuan airships. While not much thicker than the width of their largest rocks, they are nevertheless rather dense, and any ship that attempts to pass through them will be battered to pieces unless its hull is significantly reinforced, such as the heavier classes of Valuan ships, the Nasr ships with hexagonal bracing, or reinforced Double-Hulled wooden craft. While strong-hulled vessels can temporarily push these rocks aside for their passage, they snap back into place very quickly after being moved aside. In fact, the farther they are moved out of position, the more forcefully they try to return, thwarting attempts to pull the Rock Reefs apart. The rocks of these reefs are made of tough form of sandstone, and contain no metals or moonstones, making them useless for mining. Since they don’t contain moonstones, their buoyancy is another one of Arcadia’s big mysteries. Why these rocks float, and why they congregate in barriers as long as some Sky Rifts is unknown. Some scholars do theorize that they are held in place by some form of energy field emanating from the solid layer at the bottom of the world. However, these individuals are at a loss to explain the nature of this energy, or why it affects these rocks and no others, even those of seemingly identical composition brought into the area of the reefs.
Stone Reefs – Identical to Rock Reefs, except that the “rocks” that make them up are made up of denser, harder rock such as granite and/or obsidian. The forces holding these stones in place are correspondingly stronger, and even the toughest hulled Valuan warship might as well ram itself against the side of a mountain as try and butt its way through a Stone Reef. There are no Stone Reefs in Middle Ocean, although there is said to be one in North Ocean, to the west of Valua.
Middle Ocean lies underneath the Silver Moon, and is divided into two sections by a massive circular Sky Rift known as the toroid. The toroid encircles the southern half of Middle Ocean. Inside this area are a few small islands and mountain ranges which are home to a few very small farming or fishing villages. The largest of these settlements is Windmill Island, so known for its large windmill. Windmill Island is only about 200 yards in diameter and has only 6 buildings, including the windmill. It is noteworthy solely because it is centrally located, and is therefore the place where the few merchants that service this area arrive to buy or sell goods. The only way in or out of the toroid is in the north through a cavern like passage at the bottom of a mountain sized bolder, for lack of a better term, which hangs as if embedded in the Sky Rift. This… island bolder stretches from Lower Sky to Upper Sky, and the passage through it is on its bottom and open to Lower Sky, making it more like an inverted valley than a cavern.
Not far from the exit to the toroid, to its north-northeast, is Sailor’s Island, the great waypoint of Middle Ocean. Sailor’s Island is the only landmass in north Middle Ocean which lies under the Silver Moon. (Some of the lands of Nasr are technically considered to be in Middle Ocean, but they still lie under the Red Moon.) Further north, at the top of Middle Ocean lies the great continent of Valua. The rise of the Yellow Moon marks the border of Valuan airspace. To the west of the Northern half of Middle Ocean is a large Sky Rift that stretches from the toroid rift in the south to the mountain borders of Valua. On the other side of this rift is the lower portion of North Ocean, which is only accessible through Valua. Currently, Valua does not permit foreigners to travel through its lands, which gives Valua’s merchants a virtual monopoly in commerce in that ocean
To the east of Middle Ocean lies Nasr and the lands of the Red Moon. A Rock Reef extends from the toroid rift of Middle Ocean to the Danalii Mountains, dividing Nasr into a northern and southern half in virtually the same proportions as Middle Ocean. The southern half, below the Rock Reef, is bordered to the east by the southern half of the Danalii Mountains & a Sky Rift that runs down to curve around the bottom of the toroid rift of Middle Ocean and form the southern border of South Ocean. The trade city of Maramba is located in this part of Nasr, and it is Nasr’s chief trading port with Valua.
South Nasr is connected to South Ocean which lies just below the bottom of the Toroid rift. However, hurricane force winds constantly blow through South Ocean from the west, causing semi fixed tornado like storms and a headwind that make it impossible for a sailing vessel to pass through. Even the propeller driven Valuan ships with their powerful engines cannot make headway against the winds of South Ocean. It is believed that the Green Moon holds sway beyond the corridor of South Ocean to the west of Middle Ocean, but since no one has ever crossed South Ocean it is unknown what, if any, lands lie there.
The capitol of Nasr, Nasrad, lies in north Nasr, and is protected by the North Danalii Mountains and the East Valla Mountains. Only the Valla Strait and the two Danalii Straits permit access. The Valla Strait & the South Danalii Strait are heavily guarded by the Nasr Navy. The North Danalii Strait is blocked by a Sky Rift. The Dark Rift forms North Nasr’s eastern border. The Dark Rift extends far to the north of Nasr, where it curves to the west above Valua to meet the Northern Mountains. This area west of Valua and north of Nasr and its extension north of Valua is known as the frontier lands, and there is nothing much here but a few small, uncharted, desert islands. Technically, the Valla Strait is located in this frontier area, but since it is closed to traffic by both Valua and Nasr, it has little impact on the area, aside from drawing off forces from Nasr & Valua to guard it.