Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Many Uses of Moon Rock

I mentioned that the campaign setting I'm developing, which I've decided to call the Javarta Campaign after its principal colony port, is drawn from two sources. The New World is drawn from notes I assembled in writing a Masterbook chapter. The Old World is drawn from a setting created for a different project.

We've already touched on the back history of the shadow mages and a great battle of antiquity. Now a bit more on the planet's moon and the changes they have wrought on the world.
Scholars may have their own word for the world you live on, but to you and everyone you know, it's called “the world” or “Earth.” Besides the usual run of continents, seas and ice caps, it has two interesting features: the moon that occasionally visits, and the moon that is no longer a moon.

The former, known in the West as Lumos or the War Moon, spends most of its career ranging through the sky as a pea-sized dot that glows amber like a dim ember. Every 200 years or so, in the space of two years it grows larger and larger until it fills the sky, and then presently passes back into the great void. Its next visit is due in seven years. It is called the War Moon because its arrival is attended by earthquakes, great tidal maelstroms and other calamities.

Such as the children of the second moon, Gola. Sages who have studied ancient tablets say that Gola was once Earth's greater moon. Long ago, when men yet hunted the gilaphants and were hunted in turn by dragons in the untamed savannah, long before written record, Gola was shattered into billions of pieces. According to legend, it was a titanic battle between God's Celestials and the evil jinn summoned by the Sûrian shadowmages that led to Gola's ruin. Others theorize that it was collision with a rogue celestial body that destroyed the moon. Every religion has an account of the moon's sundering, and most conflict.

Gola's remains encircle the globe in a great ring. Alternatively known as Golan's Tears or Golan's Stair, it arcs from horizon to horizon as a silvery thread, glowing brightly at night and dimly in the day. When Golan shattered, the sky went dark and for hundreds of years debris rained down on the Earth. The long years of Golan stone showers wrought great destruction, but also planted the seeds of new growth—within the craters created by fallen moon explorers found deposits of red ore.

When refined, this ore becomes a strong reddish metal, the only metal on Earth that can be enchanted. That made it valuable as the base material for fine armor and weaponry.
I know I'm going to go with at least that much in my campaign. That Golan metal is the only metal on Earth that can be enchanted places an interesting constraint on the creation of many magic weapons. That the ring does not pass over the Eastern Empire means that Golan metal is much rarer there, and its people have probably developed substitutes (he said obliquely, mindful of his players in his audience).

That said, Golan ore does have other uses. I'm just not entirely sure I'm going to add this particular element to the Javarta campaign:
When left in its natural state and exposed to a low-power electrical current—and for some time after—Golan ore floats, and is capable of lifting many times its weight. It is lift rock, as the red ore is now known, that gives airships their power of flight—as long as a ship’s steam generator continues to generate a current. When the current dies, the rock very slowly loses its lift.

Obviously, lift rock is a great strategic resource, and great cities and fortresses are erected around meteor craters to protect it. Roving air fleets may only be maintained by the most powerful nations capable of seizing or protecting its precious cache of lift rock. Most of the land-based deposits have been exhausted, though new sources sometimes come to light.

New discoveries lead to rock rushes; if the territory is in dispute or in a vulnerable region, a war between kingdoms over the mining rights is likely. Indeed, the 30 Years War began with the discovery of a Golan meteor in an area of the Nordjelds claimed by both Gaelia and Brussia.

Some closed societies are rumored to obtain lift rock from mines worked in secret to avoid the attentions of the greater powers. The Sergassio Freeholders almost certainly have an unrecorded source of lift rock to power their dragonships. The Kirkwall Highlanders and the Sûrian caliphates also been rumored to have their own caches, but because they do not boast large airship fleets, it is difficult to assess their supply.
At this point, I'm not speculating too hard on what all this mooning about does to the tides! Maybe later.

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