Seven times we tried to stave off its endless hunger.
Seven times we've failed.
Aragala is the eighth.
At one point in time, Aragala was home to eight disparate cultures—refugees of the desecrated planets of the sphere. One by one their worlds had been swallowed up by an unknown force, a seemingly endless hunger that consumed each of the seven planets in turn. Each world had its own name for it—All-Eater, The Hunger—but now, it is remembered as Ouroboros.
Each world tried to stop its crawl and each, in turn, failed—until it reached the eighth. For the good of the myriad worlds of the Astral Sea, the remaining people of Wellspring quarantined themselves. Should their efforts fail, then the hope was that the Ouroboros would be left to starve. Then they began their final charge.
Perhaps it was the knowledge gleaned from seven failed efforts previous, or the combined strength of all eight worlds finally united over a common enemy. Spearheaded by a ship, The Starstrider, crewed by eight heroes, they launched their desperate attack. And finally, over the skies of Aragala, it fell.
Or so they thought, at any rate. Such things rarely ever truly die. Its remnants—well, we'll get to that.
As best scholars of the world can tell, the Gloom is the remnants of Ouroboros: the very essence of it, interfused with the arcane energy that Aragala holds in abundance (and from which the Wellspring sphere derives its name). The result: an ever-lurking fog that covers nearly half of the planet.
The Gloom operates much like a parasite, infecting a host and sapping away its very life force. The lifeless husk of that being is then a puppet for the Gloom to manipulate and spread the infection further. Perhaps most horrifically, any soul unfortunate enough to die within the Gloom is immediately claimed by it. These entities, known as phantasms, are often warped into monstrous shapes by the Gloom's influence, but still often retain some semblance of their former identity.
“This report details a former companion, a practitioner of the druidic arts, being claimed by the Gloom. The company in question found that not only did the phantasm that awaited them bear their former companion's face, but that ‘she’ retained her ability to shift into bestial forms—albeit with the caveat that those forms were nearly unrecognizable chimeras, rather than known animals. … Ongoing reconnaissance in the Sunset Peak region by former residents (registered under company name [BLUE MOON]) goes into further detail; while phantasms have not been observed to retain any ability of speech, claims have been made of one, believed to be a relative of the starstrider who issued the report, referring to her by name. Her claim is corroborated by the standing Shield, who claimed to have observed the same. Both parties, however, hold the theory that this may be the result of the region's very recent loss at the time of the report."
— Excerpt from “The Ongoing Study of Phantasms,” from the Order of the 8th Star's archives.
Eventually, the Gloom seeps into the very earth itself, distorting it beyond all recognition and creating a Lost Land.
Lost Lands do not seem to obey the rules of space: they shift, intermingle. A Lost Land may appear - hypothetically - anywhere in the world that sits within the Gloom. Prevailing theory on this phenomenon states that the Lost Lands are not the literal places themselves, but rather, manifestations of them through the Gloom. However, this theory does fail to explain how, then, these lands can be reclaimed from the Gloom; when a localized source is eradicated, the region will begin to stabilize and can then be cleansed. Needless to say, experts still disagree on most of the inner workings of the Gloom.
The world of Aragala has only one (known, inhabited) continent, which is typically referred to by the same name. Upon it are the Eight Citadels, strongholds in the fight against the Gloom. In a time long past, these eight were considered to be entirely sovereign entities, each named for the world its inhabitants once called home (save for the eighth). In order to maintain their peace, each citadel would appoint a sovereign to represent their own interests in negotiations with the others. Over time, the Sovereign Council would become the ultimate governing body of Aragala, which each sovereign overseeing affairs for their citadel and surrounding territories. (Smaller cities which have developed over the years generally have a local official to oversee matters of immediate concern, but ultimately will fall under whichever Citadel they are closest to, be it physically or culturally.)
Of course, with a common threat to unite them, the people of the citadels would inevitably begin to intermix. Lines blurred, as did cultures. Nowadays the differences between the eight citadels are far more surface-level due to cultural exchange, and have become extremely far divorced from their interplanetary origins.
Tradition dictates that people in Aragala use the name of their citadel as a surname, rather than a family name. This practice has evolved over time to include the smaller cities as well, though it remains more common to identify with a citadel. Those who migrate between citadels typically choose whether they wish to use their birthplace or new home, though some opt to take both. Members of The Order of the 8th Star use the title “Starstrider” in lieu of a citadel name.
Sovereign: Calypso, “The Kraken” of the Diamond Coast
The floating citadel of Leviath consists of dozens of vessels strung together in the shallow cove off the eastern edge of the continent. The citadel's bastion is hosted on its central flagship, a long-retired cruiser-class Spelljammer by the name of “The Kingdom Come." Though the city's exact size varies, its “core” consists of roughly twelve ships (including the flagship) that have been heavily modified to serve as permanent homes and businesses for the people of Leviath. Separating these core ships at this stage would be nigh on impossible. Docking a ship in Leviath requires a great deal of oversight in order to ensure it is safely within the boundaries of the bastion.
Leviath is frequented by Starstrider ships, so much so that its easternmost side is often referred to as the Stardocks; these Starstriders are tasked with monitoring the Gloom at sea and keeping it away from the coast.
Most charted islands off of Aragala's coast are considered to be within Leviath's territory, though the vast majority are uninhabited.
In the eastern quadrant of Leviath is the Stardocks, a docking location set aside for most Starstrider Skyships (the colloquial term for Aragala's family of seaworthy spelljammers).
Notably, the Stardocks are home to Sovereign Calypso's personal Skyship, the Siren's Song. (As the Sovereign was never a Starstrider, there are a fair share of rumors circulating as to how she obtained it.) Though she doesn't allow visitors, she has been known to permit Starstrider companies to use it on critical Gloom-hunting expeditions from time to time.
The Diamond Coast is a relatively small island to the southeast of Leviath. Best known for its master shipwrights, and second-best known as a safe haven for pirates; because of its distance from Leviath, it garnered a reputation as a place just outside the law's immediate reach while still having many of the necessary resources. Recently, however, the city itself has been overtaken by a coalition of pirate crews and dubbed “The Black Bastion,” declaring itself independent from the Sovereigns. Most locals have either fled to Leviath or resigned themselves to their fate.
Though all Leviath's sovereigns have been known to feud with the pirates of Aragala's seas, Sovereign Calypso seems to be especially invested in the eradication of the Black Bastion pirates, and is offering high bounties for any pirates brought to justice (and even higher for their ships).
Sovereign: Lucretia Whiteblade, of Quirit
Located in the mountains to the west of central Hydros, Quirit—and its surrounding regions—are built vertically, terraced into the face of the mountainsides they call home. Precarious as it appears with its many winding stairs, however, the citadel of Quirit is a proud and sturdy one. Quirit and its surrounding region is known as the last stronghold before the Lost Lands overtake what remains of the continent. Quirit also oversees two major cities within its region: Moonrise and Stonestoss.
To the south of Quirit, Stonestoss is a city consisting of numerous tunnels and caverns, retrofitted with all the comforts of proper buildings. Stonestoss is recognized for two things: its mines, and the Whiteblade Forge.
The Whiteblade family remains one of the very few in Aragala who, due to their notoriety, retain a family name. Their lineage can be traced back to one of the original seven planets in the Wellspring sphere, and were supposedly hailed as the greatest weaponsmiths of all eight worlds. Stonestoss was initially established by the Whiteblade family as a mining community ("Just a stone's toss away from Quirit," the family's head at the time was said to have proposed), and their forge came soon after. Over the years, Stonestoss grew significantly and gained its own bastion. Though the Whiteblade family is no longer strictly in charge of Stonestoss (like other cities, it appoints a city head to work with the Sovereign to oversee local matters), they retain massive influence there.
Due west of Quirit, further down the mountain range and on the much gentler Sunset Peak is the city of Moonrise. Widely known as the Home of the Starstriders (despite the organization being headquartered in Hydros), as it is the site of the Order of the 8th Star's foundation. Likewise, it stands apart as the only city within Aragala to be officially recognized as independent from the Sovereigns (though, in practice, the city's head often works with the Quirit Sovereign on matters that don't pertain to the Order), and is the training grounds for new Starstrider companies.
The Voice of the 8th Star, one of the Order's four commanding officers, is always the city's head, as well as overseer of training for new Starstriders. Because of this, the city does consist primarily of Order members—however, a few civilians do still make their homes and operate businesses within Moonrise.
Recently, Moonrise was destroyed by a sudden incursion of Gloom carried by a phantasm. This dealt a massive blow to the Order of the 8th Star, who lost not only one many of their recruits, but their Voice as well. The surviving Starstriders from Moonrise—mostly those who undertook escorting the civilian population to safety—claim that the bastion, which should have prevented the Gloom from spreading to the city, was shattered. Some suspect sabotage, but the questions of by who and to what end remain unanswered. Refugees from the city have since taken up residence in Quirit.
Efforts by the Order are being made to reclaim the Sunset Peak region.
Sovereign: Emil of Garun
The airborne citadel.
Sovereign: Akantha of Pheonin
The desert citadel.
Sovereign: Oz of Eikthyr
The plains citadel.
Sovereign: currently, none. Position is currently filled by Interim Sovereign Tija of Jolakott.
The northernmost citadel, located in a long peninsula that stretches far north of the Aragalan mainland. Jolakott is also far and away the smallest of the citadels. Jolakott is no stranger to the harsh winters and short summers of their region, and most residents of the region make their living herding livestock, with a few small villages between it and its neighbors in Quirit and Eikthyr serving as stopping points for those with nomadic herds.
Despite its reputation as the most quiet of the citadels, Jolakott has recently been rocked to the core by a sudden upheval. Sovereign Kazimir of Brightsnow, their former Sovereign, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his home village. What's more, his appointed successor has since disappeared without any apparent trace. In light of the event closely following on the heels of the loss of Moonrise and conflicts between the Starstriders and Qirit Sovereign, the investigation into what happened has been locked in a stalemate. Both parties agree that the investigation should be carried out with the utmost caution, and neither believes the case to be as open-and-shut as it appears, especially given the apparent sabotage of the bastion in Moonrise occurring only a few months prior. However, though the Order of the 8th Star typically oversees such investigations (as an impartial party), recent conflict has led to the Sovereign Council's suspicions that the Order may have had a hand in Kazimir's death. The investigation is locked in a standoff until a more ambicable solution can be found.
Sovereign: Ceridwen of Ceffyl Dŵr
The wetlands citadel.
Sovereign: Cassius of Hydros
The centralmost citadel and the largest of the eight. Hydros is the hub of Aragala's civilization. Unlike the other citadels, Hydros has no surrounding territory—its domain consists only of the citadel itself.
An independent organization based primarily in the centralmost citadel of Hydros, dedicated to the study, reconnaissance, and ultimate eradication of the Gloom. Members are registered within traveling companies, units of two to five adventurers who make expeditions into the Gloom. Traditionally, members are expected to forsake their loyalty to their citadel and take up the name “Starstrider” (a title taken from legendary heroes of eld), but this is an antiquated ideal from a time when the citadels were not nearly as unified as they are now. Typically, only the Order's topmost officials still practice this; however, the Order is still colloquially referred to as “The Starstriders” because of it.
The Order is led by four commanding officers, known collectively as the High Command, each overseeing a particular branch of the Order's efforts: the Shield, the Eye, the Heart, and the Voice.
The Shield (current occupant: Starstrider Altair) is tasked with defense of the citadels against the Gloom, along with maintaining the 8th Star Index with the most up-to-date information on the Lost Lands, ongoing hunts, and registered companies.
The Eye (current occupant: Starstrider Magni) is responsible for reconnaissance, as well as organizing and verifying reports from companies. Their branch is the source of much of the information that the Index relies upon, as well as supplying the Archive with almost all of its contents.
The Heart (current occupant: Starstrider Camilla) assists the Shield's branch in maintaining the citadel's bastions, enormous crystals used to channel warding spells that stave off the Gloom. They also conduct research into methods of purifying the Gloom and treatment of corruptions.
The Voice (current occupant: Sei of Moonrise) ensures the ongoing survival of the Order by maintaining the Archives and overseeing the training of new companies. The current Voice, Sei, has accepted the position in the interest of easing tensions between Quirit and the Order (as well as, according to rumor, pressure put on her by the current High Command under threat of charging her partner with several alleged crimes.)
Though the tension between the Order and Quirit specifically have eased somewhat, there remains lasting conflict between them regarding the as-of-yet unsolved death of Sovereign Kazimir - in fact, this has become the primary point of contention with Sei's appointment as Voice, as she holds strong suspicions regarding his involvement in the incident at Sunset Peak.
The Archives are the collective knowledge of generations of Starstriders—not just on the Gloom, but on history, magic, technology, martial techniques, and more. The Archive's primary building is located in Hydros (and nigh on impossible to miss, given its sprawling size), due to its centralized location and relative protection from the Gloom.
(Because games in Aragala feature collaborative storytelling and will have players contributing fairly frequently to the overall lore of the world, The Archives page serves as a place to collect this extended lore, as well as a place for players to reference it when need be. Player contributed lore will be recorded in-session by Abby and added to The Archives in the days following.)
The 8th Star Index is a catalog of information available to all Starstrider companies. Its contents are threefold: the Hunt Board, which identifies known legendary hunt targets; the Index of Lost Lands, up-to-date information on the status and known locations of the Lost Lands; and the Company Catalog, a public record of registered Starstrider companies' most recent feats and requests for assistance.
(Functionally speaking, The 8th Star Index page functions as a directory of story hooks for future Aragala games. Anything on the page is considered fair game for a future session. More details on the nature of each session can be found on the page itself.)
Due to being completely isolated from greater planar space over several centuries, Aragala's arcane arts are largely unique from those found on other material planes. This is doubly true thanks to Aragala's abudance of magical energy (referred to as “mana"), which is not frequently found in such high quantities on material planes.
Likewise, having had access to interplanar travel since prior to their sphere being cut off, Aragala's technology has developed dramatically… albeit somewhat strangely, thanks to a relative lack of both (safe, widespread) access to natural resources and manpower. Broadly speaking, Aragalans have prioritized developing technology that facilitates communication across long distances, as well as those that enable easier and safer traversal within the Gloom. As a result, Aragala tends to appear somewhat anachronistic.
Though it serves the colloquial term for all spelljammers in Aragala, “skyship” also generally refers to the more specific type of spelljammers common in Aragala: small but versatile ships with minimal crew capacity, ideal for short flights within the planet's atmosphere and traversal by sea.
The most common model of skyship in Aragala is the Starstrider, named for the Order of the 8th Star companies who use them. These are best equipped to serve an extremely small crew of travelers—usually only up to four. Modifications depend heavily on the company using them, but it's not uncommon to see Starstriders outfitted with highly compact living spaces for their crews, as these companies frequently spend most of their time abroad and in travel.
Larger skyships are generally only used by the likes of merchants, who have more of a need for large capacity vehicles.
Statblocks for Aragalan skyships can be found here.
Small automatons attuned to the arcane currents of Aragala, allowing them to serve as navigational and logistical assistants, even within the Gloom. Because they are tuned specifically for use on Aragala, they do not function off-planet.
Communication devices that function by sending mana through specific frequencies that can be picked up by similar devices. (Ostensibly, they are radios.) Though they can be used to communicate anywhere across Aragala, including to multiple sources at once, they're non-functional outside of the planet. While transmitting from within (or into) the Gloom is possible, there tends to be high levels of interference.
Firearms that utilize mana as a power source. Instead of ammunition, they shoot small bursts of concentrated arcane energy (comparable to a magic missile spell.) More powerful and versatile armaments have been developed, but they are fairly rare.
Small personal devices made for recording and storing information. Ostensibly, they are simple tablet-like devices. Though some models with communication capabilities exist, they do not function off-planet.
Lightscreens are not necessarily a replacement for written media, as physical books are still common and generally considered more “durable” than a lightscreen version. They are, however, very popular among bards and wizards—the former for their audio recording capabilities, and the later as an alternative to lugging around a massive spellbook.
Widespread belief in Aragala holds that there is a central source, a “core," of the planet's abundant arcane energy.
tl;dr NPCs in Aragala will not always fall into specific classes.
Aragala has no gods. Or, rather, Aragala does not have gods in the same way that other material planes have gods.
Most arcane scholars within Aragala agree that this was born from the Wellspring sphere's magically-induced isolation. Unable to see Aragala after they sealed themselves off with the Ouroboros, it is widely presumed that the gods thought the sphere obliterated. Whether they never attempted to re-open it out of fear, apathy, or simply lack of ability to remains up for (heated) debate, but the fact remains: Aragalans do not have a relationship with the gods as we know them.
This does not mean, however, that Aragala has no Clerics or Paladins, nor does it mean that they do not draw their power from a “divine” (in a manner of speaking) origin.
When the Wellspring sphere was sealed off, and following the subsequent defeat of the Ouroboros, it did not take long for the survivors on Aragala to realize that they had been cut off from their gods. While some remained staunch in their practices, many others—particularly those of the generations to follow—found faith elsewhere.
Like most worlds, Necromancy is broadly considered taboo in Aragala. However, this has little to do with the nature of the magic itself—though the associated elements of death, disease, and rot are not regarded highly, they're not overtly “bad” in and of themselves—but rather, that most necromantic magic in Aragala has close ties to the Gloom, or draws directly from it.
Genasi, Aasimar, and Tieflings are weird.