|Avast! Thar blows the world-whale!|
This post is a continuation of this other post.
A wavering ring of fields and forests between the Humorous Low-Lands and the Rim. It is fine land for farming, and thus produces most of the food for the Low-Lands and the City Beneath. Any trade going between the Rim and the Center must pass through the Lands-In-Balance, meaning that the various dukes and petty kings of the region can become astoundingly wealthy. These are perhaps the most mundane regions of the Great Discape, and are both decried for their perceived dullness by inhabitants of the City Beneath, and envied by the very same for their clean air and open spaces.
The Rim Lands
Beyond the Lands-in-Balance are the Rim Lands: eighteen wedges. As with the Low-Lands, the Rim territories are each an aspect, balanced against its opposite and standing beside the others to make a complete whole.
Shadowed lands bare but for the forests of fungus clinging to the rain-slicked rock. The sun rarely breaks through the black clouds, and the moon shines just enough to show the way deeper into the desolate country. Hidden cities long fallen from grace, their eaves sagging and foundations leaning, cling to the inner sides of jagged crevasses. The doors are barred against the things of the night. The lanterns flicker and dim, and the rain washes down the cliff face, to be swept away by the sickly rivers to some sunless place beneath the stone.
Pink hills of candy floss grass roll upwards toward the blue crystalline peaks of the Big Rock Candy Mountains. Marshmallow trees on the banks of honey rivers reach up to marmalade skies. Marzipan cities dot plains of cake. The inhabitants alternate between rush and crash. Visitors, between awestruck and sick. The primary trade goods are leafy greens (by the bushel) and human teeth (individually or per set).
The days are peaceful, the inhabitants live in bliss. The garden of earthly delights takes care of their needs, and the inhabitants find their pleasure in each other (and in whatever is in the water). There’s nothing keeping people there, among the flowers and orchards, except the fact that they most likely don’t want to leave all that much. The serpentmen also have something to do with it, but shhh, you aren’t supposed to know about them. Or the very tall women-men covered in eyes, with swords made of fire.
There are few resources here in the graying waste: food, fuel, water, comfort, all in short supply. Permafrost and biting wind, this is what the land is made of. There’s terse talk and bundled coats, star-shine trinkets handed over for bottles of warm yak milk. The ground looks like shattered glass from above, ice wedge polygons stretched out in fields around the palsas and pingoes. In some desolate spaces one can see the black outlines of foundations underneath the turf, or the occasional excavation site of the foolhardy.
A warm, shallow sea, swirling about a great garbage patch of lost and forgotten things. No one and nothing remains in this land for long before it is changed. A bit of wrongness comes into play: The corals might look too much like bones, the colors of a tobacco tin have changed just so, the palm trees grow at the wrong angles, the trash-pickers tend to look a bit lopsided. Octopi in plastic shells slither beneath the beds of seaweed, blinking out number station gibberish in chromatocode. On distant atolls one can glimpse dancing lights taking off to the stars. There are creatures here found nowhere else: singular, cryptological, unseen.
Grids of perfectly placed farmland interrupted by perfectly straight roads that lead to perfect grid cities inhabited by perfect, smiling people. They know exactly what the people want, when they want it, and any evidence contrary to the data projections swiftly vanishes from view. Everything here is for sale, though you will never find a seller. Advertisement cantrips flit across buildings and through the air, to vanish in the eyes and ears of the stoop-shouldered populace.
These mighty mesas and buttes of the technicolor desert are home to the greatest heroes of man! There is no challenge they will not face head-on! Let the monsters come, the hordes of undead, they shall be met with fiery fists and PASSION OVERFLOWING, LIKE THAT OF THE GREAT VOLCANOES. May the great camaraderie of the people invoke in you a MIGHTY POWER, so that you might go out into the fields of battle and SUPLEX SOMETHING.
A quiet gray place, home only to the dead, their keepers, and those visiting. Choirs of crow-angels perch on the eaves of the mausoleum-castles, ossuaries like libraries sit under the hills in darkness. Sacred ground, this is. Not to any god, for gods themselves will end here eventually. This land is for the restful dead.
The magical sciences are strong here, where spandex-suited demigods mold the nature of reality from their shining metropolises of days gone by. They would have conquered the Great Discape long ago, were it not for their constant internecine squabbles and personal problems. A single device stolen from these new gods would be a miracle in any other land.
This is a land in the middle – too recent to be the past, too foreign to be the present. There’s little magic in this land, save in the laboratories of a few wise men or court alchemists. The rest of life is as it has always been – the lords charge too much rent, the knights go out looking for fights, the church can’t make up its mind on anything, and the peasants are too often on fire.
The empire is crumbling, the blood flows like wine, the slaves march to the depthless war-pits, the legions grow restless. The consulate drowns in whores and drugs, good men are dragged in chains to the chopping block, truth itself is eaten as if by acid. The colors swim, the songs take shape, the sword, the sword, the sword swings sharply.
A stately young republic aiming for greatness, situated in freshly-settled country. Tweren’t empty though, and there’s issues with the people who by all rights had the place afore us. There are tests to be had for this dreaming beacon of democracy, and whether they fail or not comes down that ballot box at the county courthouse.
The glaciers retreat, the mountains are young, the clans once more go hunting the megabeasts. Man and beast dance around the fire and fight beneath the stars. The treasures of the world remain unspoiled by the actions of man, and the schemes from beyond the mountains dare not intrude on the domain still of the old beast-gods. There is something new a-coming, and none but the fates know what it might be.
The waters rose, the cities sank. Winter has fled forever more, the corrosive clouds of unbreathable air linger here unbroken. The sun burns too bright and too hot, the smog too thick, there is too much rain or too little, the seasons too chaotic to read. The algae blooms near thick enough to walk atop, over the oil-poisoned and empty waters. Invasive plants push out anything of worth, growing too fast and offering neither nourishment nor use. Disease festers in hidden pockets.
The land is not one of stone, but of flesh. Beasts the size of cities, all muscle and gristle, vein and organ, fight and eat and breed, and the people live in the cities carved on their shell-sides. Everything is part of the great cycle of life: rise and fall, birth and death.
Long ago, in the center of the land, there was a cube of metal, tall and dark. It stood alone for a long time, and then it began to grow. Now there are no more trees, no more ground, no more sky, only the clanking, grinding, pounding, thrumming silence of the machine.
The artists never stopped to sleep here. They worked to their bloody bone-tipped fingers, their minds flowed out through their paints and those nightmare baroque muses nesting in the flying buttresses took up residence in their skulls. Always growing, always bigger, always grander. Let nothing go without embellishment. Let nothing go without gilding. In the labyrinth-cathedrals of Carabrandt, genius lives severed from its host.
Clean, white, sterile, smooth. A world without harsh edges, or unpleasant stains. A land of simplicity and ease, without complication or competition.
You can probably sort out what I based several of the Rim Lands on (Adura is the Roman Empire by way of the Domina soundtrack, Kybern is the City from BLAME!, Cosmotrov is Jack Kirby land, Daigrand is “someone has been watching too much anime” land, Pthnaghtoth is Bloodborne town, etc).
For a few of them, this actually bleeds over into gameplay - Konsumterra’s Xor, Dying Stylishly’s Wolfpacks and Winter Snow, and Skerples' medieval simulation posts deserve special mention, as particular lands (Carnesarx, Pleistos, and Grancia) were added with that material in mind.