Located in the Iruotl System, Maekardan, or the “Place of Two Homes” in Saalsari, is an arid planet dominated by a massive desert expanse that covers over 50% of the total landmass. It has a single ocean, which is more of a massive landlocked sea, and many islands dotting the interior. Most of the population lives in coastal cities and villages, though the some of the higher peaks in the interior are home to Ivuori enclaves.
Pictured Above: Airships and caravans are a common sight at the artificial oasis of Port Zabris. The permanent city is largely underground or built into the rocky cliffs in the low cliffsides, leaving the wider green spaces open for temporary encampments and recreation for the residents. Art by David Holland.
Eyr Ranr city-airships are denoted with MAS (Maekardan AirShip).
The capital of the Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth, Kaeshun conveys the image of the classic port city, sitting between the foot of a massive plateau and the ocean. However, both airships and watercraft are accommodated by facilities in the city, making it the central point of trade for most ongoing traffic. The architecture is something of a combination of the elegant structuring of the Ivuori, harmonious rusticism of the Curdatl and open air building of the Eyr Ranr. The Sund Wakir have established several camps outside the city and a permanent marketplace in the city center. The city is a technological and architectural marvel, with multiple levels and buildings interconnected by a wide latticework of terraces. Greenery is common, ranging from large trees, to topiary, flowers and even flowering vine plants.
Sea of Dreams Region is the small ocean that extends between the two polar regions, and the accompanying archipelagos. At night, a catalytic reaction between expanse particles and the water of the ocean creates small phosphorescent bubbles which which rise up during clear weather and glow at night.
A major port city out in the archipelagos of the Sea of Dreams, Port Aersin is a primarily Eyr Ranr settlement built over a controlled, but fairly active volcanic island. Large air service spires, extending deep into the ground stabilize the area and a magma drainage system prevents unexpected eruptions. It is notable for relying exclusively on geothermal power, and has a large number of rather famous mineral-rich hotsprings.
A large coastal Ivuori enclave, recognized as a center of the arts and high culture. Among the enclaves, Mizar is especially large, hosting several million inhabitants in an array of golden towers that sit along the coast. The architecture of the city is reminiscent of windmills, as all of the enclave towers have large (shielded) windtrap turbines built into them. The city hosts a large number of theater, musical and art festivals year-round, and relies heavily on tourism income and a large commuter population.
The Nuocr Expanse is a famous and dangerous region of Maekardan that is famous as being the home of the dormant Makuori, and the traditional roving grounds of the Sund Wakir on the capital world. While being as a whole one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Commonwealth, it is a place filled with dangerous and unusual beasts, bandits and the psychoactive particles named after the region.
Maraeck is a place of study and worship for the traditionally nomadic Sund Wakir, as well as an important pilgrimage site, often said to be the place where the Saali colonists went forth to speak with the Makuori, and under guidance of a nameless Saal warrior poet and Ruh the Old, banded together to save Maekardan from the ruinous Datalri. The monastery itself is a city all on its own, composed of a wind-scoured edifice carved into the side of the mountain, which leads to a large underground city. The population tends to be very young or very old, due to the large number of monastic orders and schools for those Sund Wakir not old enough to venture out with the caravans. The minority of young adults and middle-aged people are craftsmen and maintenance staff for the environmental control systems for the city.
A trader camp that sits at the bottom of a deep ravine in the small range in the center of the Expanse, Shuokirae is an important resting stop for nearly every caravan making any kind of journey across the region. It is also close to the nearby orbital elevator city of Kuyun, resulting in a large number of injured pilgrims wandering into the camp, only to be taken to the city. Grazing fields are especially good, maintained by the Ministry of Faith as an act of goodwill to the Wakir caravans.
Atangr sits on the eastern coastal edge of the Expanse, at the foot of a dormant volcano. While the environment itself is quite lush, and the game especially healthy, the dunes can be seen just over the foothills, held back only by a thick greenbelt and water-dispersing pylons. Many youth use the camp as a staging area for adventures into the dunes, testing out liftcycles, dune buggies and newly-trained Gualmyan.
Khuyun is a city that should not exist, sitting in the middle of the desert and playing host to the sky-piercing pillar of the orbital elevator. Because many spacefaring traders come down the elevator, it became the site of an especially large marketplace, gambling houses and state-licensed brothels and Dream Convents. The city boasts large dampening pylons which limit the effect of sandstorms within the confines of Khuyun, and one of the most extensive maintenace drone facilities in an Iromakuanhe settlement, thanks to the elevator.
The Fingers of the Sky are a mountain range that cut across the western edge of the Nuocr Expanse, creating an effective barrier for the spread of the desert to the fertile plains on the western coast of the continent.
Zharin is a mountaintop enclave set atop one of smaller mountains of the Fingers, renowned as an exceptional center of science. Solan Starworks, Ahmida Civiltech and Altjira Biomedical all have offices in the enclave, and typically announce especially auspicious new products or technologies at Zharin. Because it is in the sub-temperate band, the winters aren't particularly harsh, but it does snow from time to time, rare for most settlements outside of the polar regions.
Although one would think that the mountain ranges would be a poor place for Eyr Ranr airship because of the hazards of flying through the rocky highlands, places such as Port Zhabris and its sister city of Port Avynna remain important regional port cities, providing an important halfway-point between between the two halves of the planet's single massive continent.
Port Zhabris is a city that lies at the bottom verdant Domoro valley near the southern tip of the fingers, sheltered from the howling desert winds and able to maintain a stable ecology with only minimal effort because of the weather barrier provided by the mountains. Because the valley's three navigable entrances are too narrow for most city-airships to pass, it tends to see more traffic from recreational flyers and light trading vessels. because of its close proximity to the Domoro settlement, it often acts as a relay for traders and caravaneers bringing supplies to and from Port Avynna.
After languishing for seven centuries as little more than a small monastery of wind-riding ascetics and a government outpost from which Astral Vanguard patrols launched rescue operations into the deeper parts of the mountains, Port Avynna has grown to become one of the most important port cities on the planet. Its high altitude and year-round clear skies have allowed a number of solar-powered MASC catapults to be constructed at one of the summits, which led to the establishment of a large and technologically-advanced city around the launch site and into the mountains underneath, comparable to Khuyun.
When the nomadic peoples who frequented the outpost were displaced by settlers, a series of landing terraces and yurt camps rose up in the foothills around the city and those of its surrounding settlements. Despite this, access to the main of Avynna is considerably easier with the development of high-speed rail infrastructure that connects the outlying villages in the equatorial environs of the Fingers.
Enclosed within a flourishing valley at the northern tip of the Fingers, Domoro Valley is a sort of sprawling oasis city, protected by a belt of giant fungi to the south and condenser arrays that keep the valley lush and verdant. The city is considered a major center of agriculture, providing no less than ten percent of Maekardanii agricultural production and approximately eight percent of all food consumed on the capital world. Although once a pristine glacial valley, terraforming projects in the valley has seen the construction massive agricultural complexes built into terraces cut into the valley walls, and the creation of a dense boreal forest surrounding a lake maintained by the artificial water table sustained by the condenser arrays and agricultural facilities.
Floating above the enclosed green of Domoro Valley is the advanced airborne city of Domoro, which houses the automated maintenance and weather control systems that maintain the ecosystem and the terraforming devices in the local area. The city, perhaps twice the size of the largest true airship and housing several millions of Iromakuanhe, is considered to be the largest airborne settlement in the Commonwealth. Similar cities have cropped up in other regions, mimicking the balanced ideal of ecology and technology that was established in the city.
The Northern Prairies are a region of smooth flatlands stretching out over northern central regions of the continent. This region originally a crisscross of verdant hills snaked by swamps and rivers, but planetary bombardment during the initial stages of the Datalri attacks destroyed the original ecology and left it flat and blasted. In an interesting twist, the damages also exposed (and frequently destroyed) a large number of ruins of an unknown origin, that had been completely buried by debris over what was likely centuries.
Restoration attempts managed to reseed the earth, but the original fauna and flora were lost forever. Today, what remains is an endless sea of golden grasses prowled by desert animals that were reengineered to tolerate a wetter and more abundant environment.
Irsepelas is the regional capital of the Northern Prairies, a city built into the sinkholes created when the large aquifers that used to lay throughout the region where depleted and collapsed. It is research hub famous for its advances in ecological engineering and genetics, and many of the technologies that allowed the Domoro Valley and Kuyun to exist and thrive were pioneered by Irsepelas. The city is one of the most populated in its immediate region, and a few days travel to Kuyun by hovercraft or high-speed rail.
One of the sites of archeological interest in the Prairies, Copan is an outpost at the mouth of a great delta that was dessicated when the valley containing the river that fed it was collapsed. The resulting change in the hydrosphere caused the local flora to die. Eventually, the topsoil was eroded by winds and rain, exposing a complex network of ruins that might have once stood atop the soft silt and porous sedimentary stone.
Copan was founded when the flooded valley was designated to be used for commercial pisciculture, and survey teams eventually caught sight of the stone heads and zigurats poking out of the dried mud.
The Sunstripped Spring is the temperate northernmost region of Maekardan, and the most colonized continental region of the planet. Although the Capital is deeper to the south near the ocean, nearly 30% of the planet's population live here. It is a land of cascading valleys and soggy lowlands, fed by glaciers that cut through the cold and rocky highlands near the extreme polar region. The glaciers are prone to the Static Storm phenomenon, limiting expansion into the highlands.
Kuur Shilaku is one of Maekardan's definitive megacities, a sprawl of glass towers and golden pavilions built along the full length of the Kuur Valley. One of the original settlements on the planet, its existence is largely because of an abundance of iron ore coupled with a gentle climate and a workable supply of fresh water from outlying reservoirs. Because the land was not as carefully planned as other, more modern cities, the districts are a jumble of self-contained habitation complexes, surburban residences and temporary homes criss-crossed by waterways, roads and skyscraper zones kilometers wide.
Kuur Shilaku is notable for a presence of industrial corporations specializing in energy, mining and energy, and a strong festival culture.
Gallach is a tower city located along a ridge of glacier-carved highlands known as the Gallach Reaches, known for its abundant supplies of fresh water, fist fighters and fine distilleries. Gallach whiskey is famous for its taste and body, and possesses a strong folklore of healing properties (and more rational beliefs in its powers as an antiseptic). Gallachian Maekardanii are reputed to be excessively polite and loquacious, and have a penchant for using cane fencing to resolve arguments.
Sidarth is a smaller highland settlement that presents a stark contrast to Gallach. It is a hermitage of sorts, where Iromakuanhe of diverse origins live in seclusion away from all the unnecessary technologies of the current era. Although they make use of conservation and transportation technologies, they produce little more than what they need and have a strong culture of handmade goods and artisan foods that has made them more popular in recent times.
Corum is a lowland mining town that was once the site of a reasonably large Veyrinite deposit, that was discovered several centuries ago. Deposits are few and far between, but usually of a size ensure a rush of migrant workers for a decade before the supply runs out, and another prospector spends decades in the deep looking for another cache, restarting the cycle. Strangely, the deposits discovered were of an exceptional purity, hinting at the possibility of the recovered material being wreckage.
The Sunbathed is the southern temperate pole of Maekardan and the second most settled region on the planet after the northern sup-polar band. Heavier glacial melting in this area has produced a very lush forest environment hydrographically locked from the rest of the biosphere by a mountain range that cuts across the southern tropics. Most of the land is covered by mossy coniferous rainforest, with a large region of plans stretching out near the exposed coastline. Unfortunately, heavy tectonic activity in the region (which caused the glacial melt in the first place) prevents major settlement without prior geological stabilization.
Alweid was settled in the late the AR 600's during the second wave of emergent biotechnologies and biotech engineering hit Maekardan. Actually a cluster of macroscale organisms using organoid architecture, the city is a gleaming pearl-white marvel of biological engineering. With its curvy skyscrapers adorned with thick self-repairing biopolymer windows stretching miles into the sky and abundant skyways and canals, Alweid is typical of the cities built during the short-lived biotechnological renaissance.
Tureis is one of the oldest settlements on Maekardan and dates back from the original colonization, a vast sprawl of ruins and historical cruft that has held the city's expansion into a proper in check for centuries. As much an archeological digsite as it is a settlement, Tureis has over a millenia and a half of history buried in its extant geological strata. Partially as a consequence of needing to expand eventually, the city has recently authorized the construction of tethered floating superstructures in outlying suburbs of the city to lay the foundation for new districts, although the project remains under consideration until power systems would make such projects rentable.
The massive, inhospitable continental region between the two poles and the shores of Maekardan's singular ocean, called the Nuocr Expanse, is the most sacred place in known space to the Iromakuanhe. It is the home of the sleeping Makuori, and of the wandering Sund Wakir people. The air over this region are filled with the particles of a noxious hallucinogen, that effects non-Iromakuanhe and foreign species. For these reasons, access is expressly forbidden to outsiders.
The air is prevented from spreading thanks to a combination of a natural mountain range that prevents the particles from spreading, and the oddly hydrophobic qualities they have.
Static Storms are electrostatic phenomenon that occur around Maekardan's poles. Metallic impurities on the surface ice and in the air cause charge buildups, which eventually culminate in massive electrostatic ripples across the icy fields of the northern and southern polar regions.
Two moons orbit around Maekardan, the larger, volcanic one being Searla, and the arid, semi hospitable one is Fal Muzraim. Searla is a mass of molten rock with a cracked, burnt surface and a dense, metallic core. It is roughly 3/10 the size of Maekardan, and is the larger of the two moons. During the night, it emits a sort of dim, cracked, deep red glow. Fal Muzraim is small, semi-habitable moon with an environment similar to that of Maekardan. This moon is very dense, giving it nearly the same gravity as the mass it orbits, despite only being 1/5 Maekardan's size. At night, it resembles a massive blue sphere, with bands and tuffs of white clouds circling around the atmosphere.