Today I’ll be continuing my ongoing delve through the Aethera Campaign Setting – something that y’all may have realized by now is much richer than previous settings I’ve done a review of, given that I’m still in what’s technically Chapter Three out of five. In a contrast to my grumbling about other settings, Aethera is one I’d still be fine with running something in of my own volition – the space is large enough and I have no other material piled on it to complicate trying to evoke the themes in it. So with that, let’s go explore Seraos, the World of Air, shall we?
Seraos is a newcomer to the Aethera system, born from the Collapse in the same catastrophe that destroyed Amrita – in a very real sense, given that much of Seraos was born from the wreckage of Amrita, one could say the gas giant world is Amrita, the elemental connection and presence of the Gate Hub almost enough to mark it as the ghostly soul of the Precursor world.
Comprised of layers of gaseous material, Seraos might first seem like a nice cosmetic touch to the system and not much more; given the existence of aetherships, however, Seraos is actually able to be visited to some degree. The first layer, Yehdre, has only gravitational fluctuations as a threat – although that’s certainly threat enough, given that a strong downward drag can haul an unlucky aethership into the second layer. Where Yehdre is fairly calm, if poisonous, Landrist is a turbulent region of corrosive energy, complex gas that confounds sight and smell, elemental lightning, and torrential surges of water. The spike in pressure is often enough to crack aetherships that aren’t built for exploring the region, and even those that have been prepared can be caught by unexpected confluences of destructive force.
Landrist is populated by an alarming mixture of stranded elemental entities drawn through the planet’s connection to the plane of Air and the restless spirits of those who’ve died to the world’s violence. While some of these spirits are free-roaming creatures that ignore the flux of pressure and turbulent winds, haunted aethercraft prowl the stormy layer, aiming to take out their fury at being snuffed out on those lucky enough to still be among the living. The elementals, likewise, are furious at being stranded in this strange place away from their home plane, and lash out at anything in their path as they seek a way home.
The third layer is Vorsaag, a place where the pressure is strong enough to compress the atmosphere into a water-like state, and even the most well-protected aethercraft are at risk of catastrophic failure reducing them to a crumpled wreck. There are claims that living creatures swim in the crushing darkness of Vorsaag, but no proof, and the few who’ve tried to plumb the depths have either come back in a tragic fashion or never returned at all.
Scholars wise in the ways of the planes theorize that a fourth layer rests beneath Vorsaag, a core region supported by the planar overlap with Air of placid winds, clear skies, and slowly drifting clouds that could support mortal life. Given the destructive pressures of the third layer, however, proving this is unlikely at best.
The planet has three rings, comprised of a mix of ice and ruined aetherships from the Century War; the dangers of the place include lurking would-be pirates hiding amid the slowly shifting ice and debris and creatures of paraelemental ice. Of the latter, some have incorporated portions of derelict aetherships into their own bodies, powering them with their native elemental energy – so you might potentially face ice paraelementals with aethership cannons or drives incorporated into their bodies, in case razor-sharp iron-hard ice monsters in the void of space wasn’t frightening enough for you.
The so-called Seraos Gate Hub is embedded in a mass of ice and rock in the outermost ring of the gas giant; enough gates linking to the other worlds of the system remain free and functional that no one has felt like risking the wrath of the undead and mad outsiders inside the structure to try freeing it. Interestingly, it has a nickname among those who use it – the Fractured Gate, which is also the name of the one major settlement that inhabits Seraos space rather than the Amrita Belt. Even more interestingly, it’s a settlement built and maintained by the phalanx, still on the frozen debris covering the Gate Hub, but at a safe enough distance from any hostile entities inhabiting the Hub itself.
Naturally, efforts are underway to colonize Seraos – and explorations of the uppermost layer are common. Descents into the second and third layers, however, remain rare – it takes a great deal of preparation and funding to properly shield a ship against the hazards of those layers, after all.
That’s all for today – next time, we’ll continue our dip into the winds of Seraos, with a note on the planet’s gravity and then going on the sites of interest around the gaseous world.