General Information on the Setting
Our objective is to create a persistent world in a fantasy setting, in which every player will create characters and will be able to live, explore, and interact with maximum realism. Due to the heavy stage of development the game is currently going through, some aspects of our setting may conflict with or will not yet be supported by actual in game content. Please report any conflicts you find to the bug tracker.
You will start your journey as a citizen of the realm of Yliakum, an enormous underground world filled with a myriad of races, guilds, creatures and other foes to battle, and many places to explore and find or create your own adventures. For those who enjoy playing a more quiet life, there will be many jobs and careers to choose from and always a tavern nearby to rest your feet and make new friends. The path you choose will be your own.
The realm exists under the guidance of several gods and firm handed rulers. Here magic is an important part of the lives of the people; this is considered a gift of the gods. Beyond Yliakum, concealed by the Bronze Doors, the deadly Stone Labyrinths await eager explorers. What mysteries will be discovered? Perhaps you will be the first to rediscover ruins lost in the dark depths, or to uncover the fate of the great Lemur cities of Kadaikos. The adventure continues even in death. Will you become a tool of the dark?
Enter the world of PlaneShift and discover the truth for yourself.
Yliakum is located under thousands of meters of solid rock inside an enormous excavated stalactite. This stalactite itself hangs from the roof of a cavern so massive it would engulf any kingdom of the races' lost worlds. The inhabitants, nine distinctly different races, also call it the "Land of the Azure Sun", referring to the huge crystal that lights the realm and bathes it in life-giving energy. The inside of the stalactite is tiered in eight levels, with each underlying level smaller than the previous as they descend.
There are eight levels. The two highest levels are above the point where the stalactite connects to the roof of the cave, and as such the uppermost level is the only place that has passages to the Stone Labyrinths.
This level is closest to the Crystal, which grants a blessing and a curse. Because of the greatness of light, most farming is done here. In contrast some areas are like a desert due to the closeness of the Crystal and the heat it causes. All mining is done in the Dome. The Bronze Doors that block access to the Stone Labyrinths are found on this level as well.
The Barn or Upper Field*
There is still enough light to grow good crops on this level. Some beasts are raised here that do not thrive in the hotter Dome. The mint that creates all money used in Yliakum is in the Barn.
The Far Ground*
Pterosaurs and Megaras are raised here amongst the forests. Wood is carefully harvested with strict allocations managed by the Octarch and his specially trained foresters.
This is where most of the heavy industry is. Keeping the upper levels free of smog is important, so most of the industry is located by the wall making use of huge natural vents; all smoke is funnelled into them. All large scale forging is done here, such as parts for the bronze doors, sewers, and winches.
Dominated by two huge waterfalls from the Irifon and Radiant Rivers that, after a long journey underground and along crevices, plunge down from the Forge and into Shore.
A semi tropical marshy mangrove forest, the humid air constantly filled with mist from the waterfalls.
Seaweed cultivation is the most common aspect of this partially underwater level. The constant rising and falling of the lake floods the Lower Field on a regular basis. During periodic times of low water levels, the revealed land is covered in rich, silty bogs that form the base of many underwater crops when the water rises again. Most Nolthrir make their home on this level.
No one has travelled to the crushing depths at the bottom of the lake. Creatures have been known to rise from the dark waters to attack boats and swimmers.
*Levels to be added in a future version.
Bronze Doors and the Stone Labyrinths
The Bronze Doors are large gates surrounded by massive defences. Located along the borders of the first level, they limit access to and from the Stone Labyrinths; a complex network of both natural and artificial caves more ancient than Yliakum itself. The Stone Labyrinths are one of the main sources of food and resources for the beings of the stalactite. What is beyond the dangerous Stone Labyrinths is still a mystery and a wonder, as no one has ever returned from exploring its deepest and darkest places. Some believe that they may lead to caves similar to Yliakum or perhaps even a surface world, though these theories are completely unproven. The location of the cities of Kadaikos have been lost to time as the tunnels were filled with a strange dark fog, leaving no way out when entered.
Inhabitants of Yliakum use the animals inside these caves not only for their edible meat, but also useful skins and furs. One can also find ready supplies of fungi and moulds in the caves. The medicinal and other properties of the fungi make them much sought-after. These plants cannot be found elsewhere since there are no other suitable environments for them. Their helpful and healing properties are valuable to the people. In the dark places, there are also deadly and aggressive creatures lurking, waiting for unsuspecting prey. These beasts create serious obstacles for those who venture into the less-controlled and more dangerous tunnels of the Stone Labyrinths. Despite the incredible danger and the threat of forever losing one's way in the endless twists, explorers still risk the journey to find the great sources of wealth that are just waiting for someone clever, brave, or crazy enough.
Death, True Death and the Death Realm
If a healthy being is mortally wounded, the body will most often, but not always, vanish from the Living World upon death to reappear in the Death Realm. During the process of transportation, the body is completely healed. This is called a "common" death, and the "deceased" can return to life after passing the trials of the Death Realm. However, if the body is too severely wounded, such as by being instantly burned, infected with plague, poisoned with illegal drugs or consumed in its entirety by certain beasts from the Stone Labyrinths, what is left of it stays in the Living World and the spirit dissipates permanently. This is known as True Death, from which there is no returning.
Death by old age is also a common cause of True Death. In some cases that can not be explained, healthy individuals will suffer True Death from wounds that would normally send them to the Death Realm. If a body does not vanish within a short time period, the being is considered to be a victim of True Death.
The Death Realm itself is a vast world of its own accord. It does not follow the rules of the Living World, often having odd shifts of gravity and floating structures with no apparent support. Ageing is slowed, granting those in the "Death" Realm longer life. In return those who spend their lives living in the Death Realm will never be able to return to the living world, or they would instantly perish from old age. Dark Way magic has its source in the Death Realm in the form of the Dark Crystal. The Goddess of the Death Realm is Dakkru; no god can pass through the barrier between the two realms.
Disaster and invasions from the Stone Labyrinths, as well as plagues in Yliakum's history have prevented unchecked population growth in the past. Despite the Death Realm's ability to "raise the dead", there are still enough True Deaths and the low birth rate keeps the cavern from severe overcrowding.
Four clearly different religions are accepted publicly within the bounds of Yliakum, each centred on one of four gods. The worship of any other religion is outlawed and punished severely.
Talad is often called the god of the people, having the largest following of all the gods. Though he holds great power and might, he is kind and just in his actions and asks the same of his followers. Even the most simple farmers or champions and protectors of the people choose to follow Talad.
Also known as the Masked or Masquerade God, Laanx demands perfection from his followers in all aspects of life. His chaotic nature encourages social manoeuvring to attain wealth and a higher station in society. For this reason, Laanx is often the chosen god of the rich or powerful.
Xiosia is a goddess of nature. Her realm consists of Yliakum's ecosystem and the natural order of things, from birth to death and all between. Most often she is seen as the gentle goddess of nature, even though her volatile nature and short temper have become legendary. Because of this her followers range from peaceful gardeners to bloodthirsty rangers.
As goddess of war and death, Dakkru is the only deity not residing in Yliakum. Her powers extend to all those who perish and end up in the Death Realm. She demands strong followers and worthy deaths. One great healer was once heard to say, "Only those I cannot save are worthy of death in Dakkru's name." Though warriors and killers make up the majority of her following, there are also a surprising number of hunters, farmers, and even healers among her ranks.
Rumours speak of yet another religion in the realm of Yliakum, though most commoners believe it to be a bedside tale used to frighten children into behaving. Dakkru's worshippers claim to hunt the followers of this unknown power, inflicting True Death upon them.
Since the gods are present in everyday life and it is even possible to speak with them on occasion, it is impossible for any sane person to honestly claim they do not believe the gods exist. Any who claim this can be punished by law if they should attempt to encourage others in this misguided belief. Some citizens follow more than one God and a small minority choose to not follow any of the gods.
Many underground streams spring from the walls of the first and second levels, most joining together at the bottom of the stalactite where they form a lake that submerges the two lower levels. The water flows out the stalactite at roughly the same pace as the new water flows in.
Not all streams make it to the lake. Some streams have been found that flow naturally out of the stalactite. Some of these have been diverted to water crops, but mostly they are used to flush sewage and waste away from the cities and dispose of it. Complex sewer systems have been built under many of the larger cites to accommodate the amount of waste produced. Larger rubbish is simply thrown into almost vertical and apparently endless wells similar to the ones the streams flow out. But by law it is forbidden to discard waste into the lakes, not only out of courtesy to the Nolthrir, but also to protect the seaweed population.
Bodies from the "True Dead" are eliminated the same way as larger rubbish, which explains why some of these holes are called "Burial Wells". The people of Yliakum believe a body is simply an empty shell with no soul and see no reason to venerate a husk.
The seventh and eighth levels, both usually submerged by the lake, host the Nolthrir. After centuries of skilled cultivating, the seaweeds grown by the Nolthrir have come to possess many varied and useful properties. Some are used as food, while others are tanned and woven to make clothing or even armour. Some even have medicinal properties. A large proportion of the seaweed grown is dried and serves as fodder for the transportation animals.
Sometimes called the Azure or Crystal Sun by those races that supposedly remember similar things from before they arrived in Yliakum, the Crystal is an enormous raw stone of pure faceted Crystal. It exudes both the visible life-giving light and the tremendous magical energies that travel deep through the soil and rock to touch even the farthest reaches of the Stone Labyrinths. A Lemur scientist has speculated that some of the luminous mosses found deep in the otherwise lightless caves feed off this magical energy while the roots bury deep into soil created by the corpses of dead creatures. At the seventh level, the light is quite dim but still lights the lake surface, while on the first level it is so strong that it enables the growth of flourishing crops and the breeding of healthy livestock.
The Crystal also emits a strong and dangerous radiation. Luckily, this radiation dissipates quickly with distance, leaving the land safe and habitable. To the great regret of the scientists, the radiation keeps them from exploring too near to the Crystal. Using logic and experimentation, scientists concluded that the radiation dissociates and obliterates anything nearer than twelve paces from the Crystal. However, since the Crystal is such a powerful source of every kind of magic in the world, some fools will dare to get too close and risk the dangers hoping to be able to unlock its mysteries.
Yliakum is subjected to times of "day" and "night". But even at night, it is not completely dark unless affected by clouds, bad weather, or one of the inexplicable 'Crystal Eclipses'. The level of the lake, which rises and falls in an extremely consistent manner, is the basis for measuring hours. A wide band of the metal Orichalc was put on a section of the sixth wall because it is the only metal that doesn't oxidise and underwater flora cannot take root on it. The names of the six periods that divide each of the four seasons are carved on this band, and information about the periods is engraved over the level reports. Years are measured from the creation of the Lemur in the abbreviation AY, meaning After Yliakum. 500 years would be 500AY. The year is subdivided into four seasons only because of the different states of nature during these; birth, height, downfall and decay and the observation of the cyclic phenomena of vegetative growth.
The Slow Way
Long stairs, ramps, and caves dug deep into the rock wind along the tremendously tall cliffs to connect the levels. Most citizens walk from level to level, even though such a trip is very tiring, especially when going uphill with a load of goods. Because of this, wide landings were built where they can lay down their loads and rest. Sightings of creatures on these paths are rare, but not unheard of.
The Merchandising Way
Because walking is so slow and cumbersome, an ingenious system of pulleys, wheels, and magic-reinforced spidersilk ropes was devised. These silk ropes attach to either people or goods and are then lifted up or lowered down. The winches are privately or government owned, however, generally they only belong to the mercantile society and their use is allowed only after a fee is paid to the society, which varies according to the quality of the winch. The Hydlaa Winch is owned by the Octarchy.
The Elite Way
The fastest way of getting over remarkable distances in a short time is by using flying animals: Pterosaurs, Megaras and Drifters.
The Pterosaurs are reptiles with limbs adapted to flight, with large membranous wings and a long tail, which they use as a rudder. The Pterosaurs' dimensions vary from three to six meters in length, not including their tails, and their wingspan is directly proportionate to their bodies. From the moment they are born, Pterosaurs begin training to carry a rider in a saddle buckled between the animal's shoulder blades. Pterosaurs must be at least three years old and fully trained before they can actually carry a person, which makes them precious, coveted, and very expensive to keep. Only extremely wealthy people can afford these lizards, but no matter how wealthy a family is they may only legally own a single Pterosaur. The law forbids owning more than one of these animals in order to avoid dangerously crowding the limited air space or monopolising possession of the hard to breed beasts.
The second flying animal is the Megaras, which is similar to a giant winged rat. Scientists believe the Crystal has genetically mutated the Megaras, since they reproduce only in Yliakum and not in any of the surrounding caves. These rat-like creatures are not as docile as the Pterosaurs, but they are stronger and more efficient, making them perfect to carry heavy but not too delicate loads, such as food and building materials.
Ray-like rideable creatures that hover about half a meter above the ground, these creatures do not swim. They are much wider than they are long and their bodies are green with black slashes down their back and "wings". When they beat their wings (to fly) a dust effect swirls underneath them. The eyes are located on either side of the mouth. Drifters travel in herds around Yliakum. They are peaceful creatures and are well loved by children and many of Yliakum's citizens. Farmers like them since they scare away predators with their defensive mist and Runic Drifter guards that often defend them. On the other hand, their hide is highly sought by "evil" tradesmen and alchemists. But the taking and use of such hide is illegal and very risky.
When Drifters are attacked they emit a green gas behind them while they flee. This gas is highly acidic and damages a persons equipped items if they stand in the mist. If the player stands in the mist long enough it can permanently destroy a person's non-magical items. This mist also damages your health.
Eight dignitaries called "Octarchs" rule Yliakum; each of them supervises and is responsible for one of the eight levels within the stalactite. It's important to note that the eight have not always been present, and still today the two lower levels are assigned to one Octarch only. Together they form the 'Circle of the Octarchs' or 'Internal Circle' that makes decisions regarding the livelihood and laws of all the people living in Yliakum.
Under the Octarchs there are twenty "Vigesimi", high civil servants that deal with law and order. There can be a maximum of 160 Vigesimi in total, but usually there are fewer and they form the "External Circle". At the beginning of every year there is a meeting of all Octarchs and Vigesimi that lasts for several months. During this time they evaluate all expenses and revenue of the previous year and attempt to deal with the various problems that have arisen since the previous meeting. Vigesimi normally come from the crafting guilds of each level and their position is hereditary. Nevertheless, it is not overly rare to see highly distinguished citizens elected due to popular acclaim, taking the place of Vigesimi who have died, are judged inept or are found guilty of thievery or other crimes.
At the beginning of every season, the Vigesimi of a level gather for a meeting, usually directed by the Octarch personally. During these short meetings the members of the External Circle can elect a new Octarch if the current one has died or is near death. An Octarch cannot be removed, nevertheless in some cases the Octarch has been assassinated because they were too cruel, inept or dishonest. One of the most famous cases is the one of Fertedian Dalko, Octarch of the fourth level, who was tied to a hypnotised Megaras and sent straight towards the Crystal.
Trading is mainly done with coins, though barter and credit letters are also available. A currency mint on the second level produces coins for all of Yliakum. Since it's a closed society, the minters only have two jobs; to repair or replace broken coins and to make more coins as the economy demands.
"Tria" are the base currency of Yliakum. They are made of a crystal-mineral alloy that is resistant to corrosion. This allows the Nolthrirs to take them under water, increasing their worth as a currency across all levels. The crystal can easily be found in the mines and is transparent or light green in colour. Magically forging the crystals produces a perfect triangle with rounded edges.
Other more valuable coins are made of crystal-mineral alloys as well, though their composition gives them distinct colourings. The light blue 'Hexa' has a value of ten Tria and has a hexagonal shape. The red 'Octa' is worth fifty Tria, or five Hexa, and is made in the shape of an octagon. The golden 'Circle' is worth two hundred and fifty Tria, or twenty five Hexa, and is circular in shape.
Coins of higher value are not official because they are not made in the official mint. Instead rich merchants who need an easier way to make large trades create them. The merchants use a silver coin, worth five hundred Tria, and a platinum coin, worth one thousand Tria. To make large trades like this using official currency, banks and crafting guilds will issue credit letters to whoever needs them.
Trade between the levels of Yliakum is very important to the health of the economy. A great deal of the raw materials extracted from the Dome and the Stone Labyrinths are sent to the lower levels for processing. This keeps the main landmass of the Dome free for farming and raising livestock.
The following samples of the purchasing power of Trias will give you a better understanding of the currency:
|Object to Buy
|a pint of good beer
|a lunch in a tavern
|leather pants and shirt
||2 hexa, 5 tria
|a good steel sword
||1 circle, 2 octas
|farmer's one month salary
|healthy, trained pterosaur