Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Expeditions to the Surface in Volant

Expeditions to the surface are very dangerous because of the horrible monsters there, so why do people from the skylands go there? Why co to all the trouble, expense, and danger?

Alchemical Ingredients

All monsters and many plants contain reservoirs of magical energy, which can be harvested and, through alchemical processes, rendered into usable form. Alchemical Ingredients derived from the surface are far more rare and expensive than those derived from ingredients found commonly on the skylands.

Ruins of the Ancestrals

Ruins of Ancestral buildings are sometimes found on the surface. Usually they have been looted at least once, but such run and grab oprations are seldom are thorough, and even looted places can be worth investigating.


With the paths of the floating skylands being determined by the winds, it is not uncommon to be driven out of familiar territory, and into unknown lands. A land pushed south from the Great Northern Gyre through the Grand Processional and into the Southern Gyre would find itself in utterly unfamiliar lands. Finding out where you are and where you are going can be of paramount importance.

Trade with the Natives

The natives are uncivilized, but not stupid. They understand trade, and the value of things. You can sometimes trade with the gives for goods such as artifacts, or alchemical ingredients, or for services. They make expert guides. Natives, however,will not put up with mistreatment, or force..They share the surfacewith horrific monsters, and are not scared of humans.

Food Gathering and Hunting

There are many, many food animals on the surface which are not found on any skylands. This is even more so of food crops. Foods found on the surface and taken back could be very valuable and may be sold to inhabitants of the skylands if proven healthy.

Claiming Land

Occasionally, nations may attempt to claim mountains they perceive to be in the process of breaking away or even about to begin that process. Typically, they will change or anchor a floating castle to the land in question and staff the floating castle with aerial troops and giant birds, in order to protect this land from claim by others. This new undeveloped land, when it does break free of the surface, must be cleared and tamed. This entails hunting down any monster on the surface of the land claimed or hidden in caves in the surface or along the sides of the flying mountain.


  1. I also imagine missionaries, cults who worship the beasts as the Ancients legacy or the next step in the gods masterplan, exiles - political or criminal, fugitives, playboy big game hunters, slavers etc

    Will there be tables for generating the native cultures ? I know they'll have a focus on survival but there may be a range of beliefs from those may worship the skylanders or seek vengeance upon those who escaped skyward.

  2. Hi, Geordie racer!

    Those are all excellent ideas, mind if I include them in the book?

    I hadn't planned on extensive generation of native cultures, but it's early enough that I can include that. Let me think on it.



  3. Sure, by all means use them ! I can imagine some skyland noble attempting to finace a trip below to stock his monster zoo or gain a beast for his gladitorial arena.

    I suppose you could just have a simple two-step native culture generation system:
    - how do they feel towards the Birdpeople (hostile, willing/anxious to trade, join them, worship, hide from them etc)
    - major belief (one day they too will ascend when the Stone gods/Bird people will it, the beasts are a punishment for forbidden knowledge, the gods mock/test them and the people must seize their birthright in the sky etc)
    - maybe a third step would be tribal idiosyncracies (distinctive ceremony, rites of passage, stewardship of ancient artifact, forbidden practice etc)

  4. I have used your ideas, including the table for generating native tribes. Thank you very much, Geordie Racer! I've been working on it all day.