Floating continents and giant monsters!

Here’s a set of suggestions for how to implement some of the touchstones we listed like “floating islands” and “steampunk trains”.

The world is criss-crossed with lines of energy (ley lines, ether, quintessence, call it what you will). At higher elevations, away from the heart of the world, the flow is weaker, while in the lowest possible valleys, it grows dangerously intense.

Geography is such that multiple “tiers” or “layers” of land exist, sometimes supported by solid stone, other times levitating in the air. The supporting stone by itself isn’t strong enough - ley lines connect the lower and higher tiers and form an unbreakable pillar.

Some scholars believe that some great upheaval in the past caused this unusual disturbance. Others think that parts of the world were deliberately raised up by ancient cultures and potent magic, perhaps to create an impenetrable boundary from less-gifted rivals.

Invisible lines of energy still connect the lower lands with the higher ones, or bridge the gap between the “surface” and the occasional floating landmass. Magitek has allowed inventors to create “mist barges” that ride these ley lines, like a gondola lift or a train on invisible aerial rails. Mist barges cannot deviate from their paths, making them unsuitable for general transportation, but excellent for moving people and cargo from one landmass to another.

At the lowest elevations, in deep valleys or rifts in the earth, the accumulated magical power does strange things to nature. Animals, plants, and even the occasional humanoid have been spotted, growing to giant size, or gaining strange powers.

Stories of millennium-old animal gods, giants, chimerical horrors, and familiar phantasms stem from encounters with these beings.

1 Like

Some of these images are from FFXIV, but the idea of Mist-powered airships is part of FFIX, and I’d probably lift some of that aesthetic for such things.


1 Like

The idea here is that you can generally travel from place to place on foot, via wagons, riding mounts, and the like, and the occasional actual flying island is still reachable via mass transportation. That said, there are still significant natural boundaries.

The empire of Nelres had its magic and strange powers, while the orcs of Tosk rely on far-ranging independent warrior clans to enforce their order. So empire is the exception rather than the rule. Fairy-tale style long-lived kingdoms and sleepy hamlets don’t repeatedly get steamrolled by the latest random conqueror.

Scene and conflict opportunities here:

  • A mist barge breaks down
    • we have to (twiddle our thumbs in the village/accept their sidequests/whatever) before we can reach our goal.
    • a barge breaks down after we get there, stranding us in potentially hostile terrain for awhile.
    • a mist barge is seized by some hostile force, making us fight in a limited space without the ability to retreat.
  • The Fellowship has to descend to mist-shrouded lowlands to contend with strange monsters, all the while in search of some forgotten ruins or ancient mystic secret.
    • The MacGuffin only functions while in such concentrated energy conditions, so we have to lead a team or conduct a ritual there
    • We meet tribes of people living under the mist who’ve learned to survive there, and must befriend them to reach our destination safely
  • Some evil force messes with pillar ley lines, threatening a highlands town with destruction!
1 Like

Ties to the Overlord’s stuff:

  • “Spread corruption and blight” can involve lifting the mist from the lowlands to higher lands, turning animals into monsters or destroying whole civilizations.
  • It can also include controlling the giant animals or beings found in the lowlands.
  • “The sorceress who commanded the kaiju” might be as unbelievable as anything else from the lowlands, contributing to her mythical status.
  • Perhaps the champions of eld that she summoned are secretly chimerae or some strange being conjured in the lowlands, not the real people (or perhaps the secret to resurrection lies deep in the mist after all).

My art skill is terrible but basically this is the idea.


  • Lowlands - mist-shrouded domain of the kaiju
  • Midlands - the bulk of the world, plateaus that rise above the lowlands and support crops, farming, animal husbandry, forests, and more
  • Uplands - elevated areas where ancient civilizations and important kingdoms are often found, reachable from the midlands by ley line-supported land bridges, often carved into roads or stairs
  • Sky islands - inhabited or wild, often connected to lower tiers by mist barges

Sample areas that would emerge from this geography:

  • Cornelia, an isolated Midlands kingdom connected to other lands by a single land-bridge, guarded by the kingdom’s knights. A quiet place to live, full of farmers and townsfolk.
  • The Fungal Forest, a Midlands region found beneath a large Uplands extension. The eternal shadow cast by the land overhead makes the area strange, with giant toadstools and glowing lichen and unblinking curious creatures.
  • The Lonely Tower, a single building seen rising from the mists. You can’t reach it from the Midlands, there’s no land bridge. You’d have to find a way there from the lowlands.
1 Like

A way to think about this (if I’m following) is the 3D elevation differences / land bridges / mist barges are analogous to the more 2D “Kingdom X is on an isthmus from the mainland or sits in an isolated valley with only a pass or two through the nigh-impassable mountains [land bridge]” or “Kingdom Y is on an island offshore, accessible by ferry / aerial tram [floating island accessible by mist barge]”.

Only more cool, of course.

1 Like

Right. The geography makes that the default configuration, not the exception.

I like it as a concept. Leads to some narrative drama (“well, the safest way is to head north east for five miles and cross the bridge or… we can delve into the mists.”) and some interesting geographical locations and ideas.

Could part of the reason Wynn’s empire fell is because it literally fell into the mists?

Does part of Rowan’s power and connection to the earth involve him purposely going into the mist? Or do his leyline powers mean that the Harbingers’ have some level of control over the mists (as someone who has been playing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night for a few days, this has some interesting possibilities)?

Is part of the reason Catlings are “remote” because there is only one pass in and out of their lands?

All interesting questions with so many more I haven’t even begun to think of.

So I’m imagining a world similar in population / communication / settlement akin to 0th-12th Century Europe: some sizeable urban centers (trade, education, crafts), a large number of towns (usually around some sort of fortification and with their own temples), numerous small hamlets centering agricultural settlements, but still vast wildlands inhabited by wild animals, villains / runaways / hermits, criss-crossed by occasional roads that may or may not be maintained (or patrolled) by the nearest rulers.

Much of all that is in the Midlands.

Past falls of civilizations and societies (looking at you, Nelres, but you’re probably not the only one) is not necessarily followed by the survivors rebuilding amongst / using the ruins. Lands may be depopulated, roads lost to the wilderness, depending on how governance and trade have changed, or how terrible the fall was. Populations may return to a place over time as memories fade, or as resources (land, military outposts, trade) seem of value.

(The Toskans are an accelerator here, like Rome: building roads to move armies, towns and cities around encampments, etc. While they let the locals largely alone, aside from tithing, anything that disturbs the peace will be met with action, I suspect, both short- and long-term, as needed to resolve it.)

The Uplands are mentioned as locations for magical kingdoms and lost civilizations. I suspect the factors above (fear of how things fell apart; limited trade opportunities once everything goes to hell; etc.) make recovery there slower, until someone rediscovers the advantages (being in a higher-magic location) of rebuilding there, or exploiting what was previously in place.

Cats like boxes and other hidey-holes from which they can peer out. If they are up high, all the better.

The Shire being an isolated Upland pocket area (perhaps the rarified and magical atmosphere enhances the production of pipeleaf) makes fine sense.

1 Like

See, descriptions like this are just inspiring me to design a possible catling Upland pocket inspired by the cat tower at your house.

And have I mentioned how smug and superior they feel for having found such a perfect spot to peer out from?

For what it’s worth, the original suggestion had magical power concentrated low, not high - that’s why there’s monsters in the depths, and it’s what I’m talking about when I talk about the mist.

What Uplands had isn’t raw power, but societies with lots of magical knowledge or other accomplishment. That’s not to say that there won’t be pockets of high or specialized power up there, and one such place could be the Shire, for any number of reasons.

Ah, yes, my misunderstanding. Though, with Ley Lines and Sky Islands, there’s something going on up higher. Maybe it’s more concentrated within those lines themselves, thus leaving the rest weaker.

(Experiments at seeing whether spells can be cast more efficaciously while riding a Mist Barge tend to end poorly due to the Mist Barge losing its power when its rerouted to a spell. Researchers – those who survive – continue their efforts.)

1 Like

If we go with an arrangement like this, what could people Command Lore about? Here’s some suggestions.


  • Where is the empire of Tosk located? A big Midlands plateau?
  • What kind of transportation options does Tosk support? Are they building (or encouraging) Roman-style roads for fast travel?
  • If there’s geographic barriers to invasion, how do Tosk’s peripheral states need to defend themselves from? How does Tosk provide that defense?


  • Where are the Catlings located? How isolated or accessible is it?
  • Were they always there, or did they migrate there? If they migrated, did they do so to leave some place, or to arrive at this place?
  • How do people visit your lands for pipeweed and other goods? What do the catlings take in exchange for this?


  • Were the lands always thus? Do the people of Nelres remember a time when the land was arranged before?
  • How did Nelres operate its empire, given this geography?
  • Were the mists or ley lines instrumental in the magical or religious power of Nelres?


  • What kind of pack or riding animals do people use? Is it just horses, or are there other animals that are better suited for other types of terrain?
  • How does trade and travel work in this geography? What are some conventions for traveling on the road or crossing land bridges? What are the dangers?
  • What are some of the unique stories you’ve heard from travelers about different areas (e.g. people wandering through the Fungal Forest)?


  • What are some of the properties of the mist and ley lines? How is it used by people?
  • What are some of the exceptions or mysteries? For example, how do those sky islands stay floating and stable in the sky?
  • What sorts of animals exist in the lowlands? What changes have been wrought by the mist on normal animals?

The Overlord:

  • What mysteries of the ley lines or mist has the Overlord uncovered?
  • What properties of these things is the Overlord taking advantage of?
1 Like

Tossing this out there to see what people think and if I’m understanding the mist idea properly. What if the way Nelres was unnoticeable from the outside was they had found a way for non harbingers to manipulate the mist and used it to protect their city. And the method to do so is what the Overlord was after.


I’m pretty okay with this, and it makes me wonder - are the city ruins in the lowlands (and hence actively dangerous for some folk to visit), or higher up (and their people brought the mist upwards?)

Here’s a condensed idea of my idea.

What is the geography of the world?

The world is divided into four general types of landmass:

  • Lowlands are lands closest to sea level. They are typically dangerous due to the presence of the Mist, but were clearly once occupied.
  • Midlands are plateaus that rise above the Lowlands. Individual plateaus are miles to hundreds of miles across, though not as big as an Earth continent. They are where most people live. Midlands plateaus are connected to each other by land bridges.
  • Uplands are chunks of land that extend above the Midlands. They are reachable from the Midlands by land bridges, but typically do not connect to each other.
  • Sky islands, which are large chunks of rock that float unsupported in the air. Sky islands are reachable via Mist barges or (rarely) by bridges or rope. Sky islands range in size from an acre to a mile or more.

What is the Mist?

Magical energy flows like a spiderweb around the world. It concentrates at low elevations, and is rare at higher elevations. The filaments of magic are called ley lines.

Physical matter tends to accumulate and grow in strength around these ley lines. Magical energy is sometimes used in manufacturing to make metal alloys with supernatural durability, for example.

In the Lowlands, the concentration of magic draws out water in the atmosphere, creating an effect called the Mist. “The Mist” is thus just ordinary magical energy, but at dangerous levels.

What are land bridges?

Land bridges are naturally occurring stone that connect different land-masses together, like two nearby plateaus of Midland, or a Midland and a nearby Upland segment. Their location is not accidental - they are strengthened and kept in place because they sit on ley lines.

Most land bridges have been sculpted into roads, staircases, etc. to make them useful for travel. Land bridges can be just wide enough for a few pack animals, or wide as a multi-lane highway.

What are Mist barges?

Sky islands are kept afloat by ley lines connecting them to the surface world, like invisible struts. Engineers have found ways to mine rock from these sky islands that interacts oddly with ley lines. They fit this into a gyroscope, which can then “pull” a vehicle along the ley line, even in midair. These craft, called Mist barges, are used to travel between Sky islands and lower landmasses.

It’s hypothetically possible to have a Mist barge that can fly anywhere, not just along ley lines. This would require a significant source of magical energy, however.

1 Like