Friday, February 21, 2014

Setting: The Planet Ceres

Ceres, Heaven’s Garden, Jewel of the Archipelago

Ceres, the miracle planet, is one of the most difficult places in the Aetheric Sea to find, lost as it is in the cosmic debris of the Archipelago. It is a pilgrimage destination for the Worlds’ richest and most desperate, because Ceres offers healing to those who have no other hope.

Things grow well on Ceres. The tiny planet is covered in gigantic versions of plants recognizable from Aereth: forests of tulips; great, towering clover; cabbages like castles. The majority of the fauna is insectoid. There are intelligent races of both insects and plants.

Wounds heal quickly. +1d6 of natural healing per day. If a person spends enough time on Ceres (3d6 seasonal cycles), even missing limbs will grow back. The new limb will usually have some plantlike properties (skin like bark, the occasional budding leaf or cluster of berries, etc.).

Seasons on Ceres affect the whole planet simultaneously. Each season is short, lasting about an Aereth month.

Spring is a time of sudden storms and rapid transformation. When the winter snows melt, there are a few days where Ceres is little more than a ball of mud. Almost immediately, plants burst forth, growing at an astonishing rate. Great swarms of insects hatch from defrosting clutches of eggs, ravenous and growing.

During Spring, the ground is so fertile that there is a 1 in 20 chance that any object, organic or inorganic, buried in the ground will bear forth a plant with attributes of the sown object. One might encounter a tree with paper leaves that become covered in words as they ripen, or a bush bearing left shoes, or a vine of braided leather. Precious metals and gems create flowers of intense, vibrant color.

Summer is a period of idyll, when the hectic pace of growth slows down, and plants and insects alike linger and mature. During this period, Ceres is hailed as the most beautiful place in Creation.

Autumn is a period of industriousness. Plants and insects devote themselves to producing seeds and eggs. The intelligent species stockpile food and shore up their defenses. The combination of bountiful life and impending death lend an air of ecstatic frenzy to even the most mundane activities. This is the time of the Circus Cereale.

Winter is spectacularly harsh. Snows pile hundreds of feet high, capped with hard crusts of wind-carved ice. Much of the planet’s life dies off, leaving seeds and eggs buried in the snow for Spring. Some of the larger insects hibernate or enter a pupa stage. Many intelligent species retreat to elaborate tunnel systems. A few apex predators remain active, and they are desperate with hunger.

During winter, the healing bonus ceases, and any direct exposure to the elements results in 1d6 damage per turn.

Some significant locations on Ceres
Circus Cereale. A natural amphitheater/valley consecrated to the Gods. In the last weeks of Autumn, hundreds of thousands flock to it for every manner of game, ritual, and celebration they can devise. It is considered a great blessing to continue celebrating until the encroaching winter takes your life, and many of Ceres’ old and infirm pilgrimage to the Circus for their final season.

 The Messor Hive. A sprawling beehive at the planet’s southern pole. The center of magical learning on Ceres.

Promitor. An idea of a city that takes on a new form at a new location every year. Carved out of giant fruits during the warm seasons, and out of snow in winter. A cosmopolitan city where many insect races mingle.

The Thimbletombs. Resting place and repository of the Ancient Spider Empresses.

Vervactor. A vast excavated city of ant-centaurs with tower-mounds that reach above even the winter snows. Provisioned and fortified over the course of thousands of years, filled with the material riches of Ceres.

Edit: The same day I posted this, Goblin Punch presented a write up for Bee-Ladies. They're pretty great, and works perfectly for Ceres. Although I think the Bees of Messor Hive are actually giant bees, with no anthropomorphism, I don't think anything mechanically needs to change from Arnold K.'s write-up.