Concerning Eliéra

Hello. Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Been loving the setting and how thoroughly everything has been thought out. That said, I do have a few questions about the geography and structure of Eliéra and how that affected pre-spaceflight eldrae development:

  1. I understand that there are around five continents on Upperside and three on Underside, but I don’t believe any of their names have been mentioned, aside from Alténiä and Cestia. What are their sizes, from largest to smallest? What sort of terrain and climate predominate on each, and which is the most historically relevant?

  2. Since the Empire was founded by nations on the Upperside, did it colonize the Underside once space travel was developed or was a way found between the sides after Nimínes Dalastel reached the Talíär? Were there already eldrae extant on Underside when this crossing between-the-sides was made, and if so, how did things pan out for them?

  3. At what point did the eldrae realize that the shape of their world wasn’t the norm in the universe? Did this revelation come after telescopes were invented, or was there a kind of eldraeic Eratosthenes in the Era of Hand and Fire that did the math and realized things Weren’t Quite Right? What were the social repercussions of this discovery, if any?

  4. How did the deliberately-engineered nature of Eliéra and its ecosystem affect sciences like geology and biology? Because of the three disparate sources from which Eliéran life is derived, was the theory of evolution codified in a later period relative to human history?

I can’t speak much for 1, 2 and 4, but point 3 is covered here, if not with actual dates.

2 was addressed in the discussion on digging the World-Shafts, which provided the first reliable transport between Upperside and Underside. Context has made clear that there were eldrae settlements long before that, and sporadic contact had been made by braving the Edgestorms.

First, apologies. I had put this aside to give a detailed reply to, it somehow slipped my mind, and I’ve only just stumbled across it again. Didn’t mean to leave it so long. I’ll try to hit up one of these a day or so.

I understand that there are around five continents on Upperside and three on Underside, but I don’t believe any of their names have been mentioned, aside from Alténiä and Cestia. What are their sizes, from largest to smallest? What sort of terrain and climate predominate on each, and which is the most historically relevant?

On Upperside, from largest to smallest, you’ve got:

  1. Alténiä (the really huge one, that can be divided roughly into three from north to south, the breakpoints being at the Ventiriast - a very large crack from ocean to ocean - and the Brightwall), home to such countries as Ancyr, Azikhan, Chresytané, the Icemarch (which includes the mountains of the Talíär), the Iniosotac-Variasotec Commonwealth, Mossstone, the Nine Dominions (just above the land-bridge at the rim, which in combination with the Icemarch should tell you just how big the continent is), Selenaria (the Moon-Worshipping Empire, and one of the Old Empires which gave rise to the modern one), Travinthia, and Veranthyr.

  2. Ochale, home to such countries as Ochale (eponymously), Moraneth, and the Bright Desert.

  3. Talessia, home to such countries as the industrial power of Breysvard, Elwynvard, Merianvard (perhaps best known as containing the surviving territory and bay of Somáras, home to big historical religious oops) and Tortelsvard.

  4. Cestia, Greater and Lesser (two islands constituting one continent). The former constituting the Empire of Greater Cestia, one of the other big Old Empires, incorporating polities like Alatia, Cestia (proper), Cúrallémar, Éävallë, Fallingwaters, Palar, Stonesmight and Stonewall - and now host to the Empire’s capital; the latter including Vintiver, the religious center of the Deeping, and the city-states of Baryvekar and Eume.

  5. and the Silver Crescent, although it’s really more of a curved teardrop-shape, including such fine countries as Kaládav, Leirin (land of mists and drowned democrats), Sigménar, Stormhold, Sudmir, and Telírvess.

On the Underside, the big continents are:

  1. Dyr, home to places like Ellestre, Jussovy, Lossarth, Octania, Saralainn, and the Sweetshallow; and

  2. Traele, home to among others Andíné, Isahan, and Ordíné.

(These two are approximately the same size.)

  1. Llorallin, an island-continent home to the three nations of Elmenésdéïn, High Daëntry, and the Sixshires.

But really, on the Underside, much more relevant and indeed important in historical terms are island nations (especially in the Great Tranquilline Ocean, with the above three approximately surround), such as Cimoníë - notable for the emergence of the first World Shaft - Ildathach, Ossiréï, the Thousand Shimmering Islands, and in particular, the Imperial Kanatai Shogunate.

(Sorry, no absolute sizes, until I finish a map I’m happy with.)

To generalize on climate, the majority of all these continents have climates varying from largely temperate to mildly tropical, and tend to be heavily forested with extensive lake and river systems, since Eliéra as a world is both cooler and wetter than Earth. There tend to be mountain ranges running down from the hub with lesser ranges branching off them. You can find arctic zones near the hub; there are also some deserts, jungles, and other extreme biomes to be found but their presence is mostly due to local variation, rather than there being consistent climate bands.

For example: you’ve got the Desert of Ophthyris in southern Alténiä, caught between a couple of mountain ranges, which is a vast expanse of red-rock canyons and mesas that wouldn’t be that out of place in the US southwest; although the glassland in the middle would be. This contrasts with the Bright Desert over in Ochale, with its near-white sands. Moraneth in Ochale is locally tropical and jungled; meanwhile the Cyrsan Islands (also on Upperside) enjoy a similar climate. So does Kanatai on Underside (in its case because the planetary mechanisms vent heat beneath the Alaercíma), along with Ildathach and most of the Thousand Shimmering Islands.

And on the other end of the scale, the arctic Icemarch exists because of the cold air pouring down from the Talíär, and the equivalent flow from the Dalthíär on Underside creates a icy spot and sea of bergs in the middle of the Tranquilline.

In terms of historical relevance –

Ergh. Well, this is hard to answer without being rather unfair, since there is SO MUCH HISTORY and I’ve barely written enough to scratch the surface. (The Underside, in the past, has been somewhat hard done by, something I’m working on repairing at the moment.)

If one were to look at the rise of the Empire specifically, you’d pick Greater Cestia and Northern Alteníä, where the polities that formed the Union of Empires were located, Greater Cestia itself and Selenaria. By the time the Imperial Charter was signed, you could add the Silver Crescent and Lesser Cestia to that. And this “Old Empires” region kept a leading role for a long time.

But history moves around a lot. The Drowning happened in Leirin, in the Crescent, but as time moves forward, the Iniositac-Variasotec Commonwealth in Central Alténíä set the pattern for a very different kind of cooperative colonization, and Breysvard in Talessia was the heart of the Era-of-Steel-and-Steam industrial revolution, and Cimoníë on the Underside was the breakthrough point of the first World Shaft and everything that turned on that…

…not to mention that while all this was going on, other places had their entire own history, like the consolidation of Kanatai under a single emperor and shogun, or the tempestuous union of Llorallin, or the lumeneldrae islanders settling the Thousand Shimmering Islands using means not all that dissimilar to those of Earth’s ancient Polynesian peoples…

…and, of course, in later history we get the role of southern Dyr and Traele as centers for the resistance to the Consolidation in the form of the Cerenaith Alliance, culminating with the narrowly-avoided-or-not Eclipse War.

So. Um. Lots of places. Sort of like Earth, really.

I was wondering if the Cerenaith Alliance was on Underside. Given how sporadic contact would have been prior to the World Shafts, wouldn’t Upperside and Underside have developed rather distinct overarching cultural traits that spanned the continents of the respective sides?

There were (albeit fewer, given the progress of the Consolidation) members on Upperside, it should be said. And by and large, the Alliance was less united culturally than it was by a desire to oppose Imperial, heh, imperialism.

They were never wholly separated. Be it bold explorers and outward traders crossing the Dominions-Kaidoná land bridge (or very lost spelunkers and bold downward traders going the short way around) and bringing back lore and exotic goods, or sailors with very good ships and no fear of death sailing through the Edgestorm, there was always some contact. (Later, while airships would never have been a good idea, a well-built aeronef and a pilot with big, shiny brass ones could also make it through the storm; in the modern era, semi-ballistics find it easier to go over the top.)

So no-one was truly surprised by the existence of eldraeic civilization on the Underside. (Or Upperside, depending on your perspective.) It had always been hovering off at the edge of things, like a New World or a Terra Australis that was a very interesting place, but alas, one limited in use for now by how much of a pain in the ass it was to get to.

And then a certain physicist did a really comprehensive survey of Eliéra’s gravitational field, noticed those dimples, and suddenly - with, admittedly, the aid of an entirely new generation of colossal boring machines and roughly 146 years of continuous labor on the first one - it was right next door.

(Which was, I hasten to say, more than enough time for news to travel to the other end the old-fashioned way. The foreign policy folks were busy .)

Very, very early in pre-Imperial times. You don’t have to spend much time looking at the sky to note that those things in it are round and never change shape; you don’t need much in the way of tools - a crude lens and a nice clear night might do, and even then only if you ignore the moons - to observe that if the shape stays the same and the features change regularly, you’re looking at a sphere.

And primitive folks, of course, assumed the world to be flat for much the same reason that we did, except with the slightly greater justification that there literally wasn’t a horizon, just a distance-haze. Plus, in some place, the rather noticeable edge. (It was proved by an ancient Eratosthenes back in the day, but it was more in the nature of a “behold, what we all know actually is true”.

(Spoiler alert: it isn’t, because it’s actually slightly convex, which is necessary to make it look flat thanks to atmospheric refraction.)

Heliocentrism, incidentally, was also doomed to an early death because binary systems do help give you something of an early tutorial in celestial mechanics (“How many epicycles?”), and seasons and deep seasons on a flat world (without, therefore, axial tilt) drop some heavy hints about ellipses.

Not a whole lot in the way of social consequences to all these, mostly because they happened sufficiently early no-one remembers them if there were.