In Brief: - Epoa is a Dungeons and Dragons/D20 centric setting that differs from the standard swords and sorcery pseudo-medieval setting in that the entire world is composed of islands of varying size that float in the air. This levitation is caused by sunlight and the mineral pantarbe. Skyships, riding flying mounts, and exploration and ‘swashbucking’ are themes of the Epoa setting. It is a world defined by the ability to fly, or the lack there-of.
Epoa is a collection of islands of drifting stone, ranging from small hunks a few acres across to true behemoths that range in dozens or even hundreds of square miles. The islands are moved by the governance of the winds and the larger ones move slower than the smaller islands. The higher the island, the quicker it is likely to move. The tops are covered with temperate vegetation and are capable of supporting life in most instances. The bottoms are caves and inverted crevasses that play home to clinging creatures and the normal subterranean denizens.
Empire and Confederation
For the most part, Epoans recognize the standard titles of nobility, but rather than terms of fealty these titles are based on the size of the island the noble in question controls. Given the high mobility of the islands and the presence of sky ships means that few rulers can claim domains larger than the one island they are on at the time. As a consequence there are very few true kings and Kingdoms, but many variegated duchys, countships and the like. Almost any form of government, from democracy to mageocracy can be found on one island or another.
There are two forms of government that do eclipse this one island one rule policy, the Empire and the Confederation. These two factions rule by means of large and established sky navies. The Confederation is a loose organization of allied islands, usually arranged in some sort of electoral parliamentary or similar live and let live governing body. The Empire, on the other hand rules by means of it’s navy, usually a dictatorship, tyrant, or a true and potent king.
The Endless Sea
Beneathe the islands is the endless and hungry sea, on rare occasions new islands emerge from the depths, bringing new land and resources to the skies. Othertimes the ocean reclaims islands, those that have sunk due to to long in the dark (Long night in arctic regions) or those that have been so mined of ore that they simply fall from the sky. The seas are far from empty, great sea beasts lurk in the depths, hungry to snap up ships that drift too low.
A sidenote to the Endless Sea are the storms that frequent it. While the middle level islands are largely unmolested by oceanic squalls, major hurricanes can and do move the islands in an erratic fashion, drowing the lowest strata in pelting rains. The highest islands are largely safe from these storms.
As land is a variable, most lifeforms in Epoa can fly. Griffons, wyverns, giant eagles, bats and other megafauna avians abound, while pegasi feed on one island and wing away when danger looms. Those forms of life that cannot fly are either able to ‘hang on’ to a flier almost like a parasite on a host, or have artificial means of flight, such as spiders spinning parachutes or a winged phase of life.
The high atmosphere plays host to truely bizarre lifeforms, cloud shaped and tentacle bedecked creatures, squid that hang from bags of biologically extracted hydrogen and helium, and other equally strange and dangerous shapes and varieties.
Man and Epoa
Humans are the dominant race of Epoa, but not the only one. Dwarves and elves are present, but given the rarity of forest islands and mountain islands, both races are going to be rare. Goblins and orcs are also present, but tend to be burrowers and clingers who live precariously on the bottoms of larger islands or on islands not claimed by larger powers.
Airships and Artificial Flight
The airship is the primary mode of travel in Epoa, the ships being largely constructed of wooden timbers reinforced with minimal amounts of heavy iron. Purified Pentarbe is used to lift the craft into the air, mostly in the form of pentarbe clad hulls, deck supports, and either solid or jacketed masts. Yes, these airships move by means of wind and sail; pentarbe grants levitation, but no actual propulsion other than up or down.
Locations of Note
Notar’s Realm - A collection of some dozen islands ranging from medium to small, Notar’s Realm is a moderate sized Imperial faction that is controlled by an armada of several dozen skyships and marines. Taxes are high, and laws are strict, but sky pirates will sail out of their way to avoid the red and green-black sails of Notari warships.
Hy-Oritzi Combine - Twenty-two islands locked in endless debate, the Combine is a tight confederation that is governed by the frequently deadlocked Combine High Council. The combine has many ships, but poor discipline and weak morale.
Phantom Island - A legendary island that drifts higher in the clouds than any other. Compused of nearly pure pantarbe, it is worth a nation’s ransom to the crew that can find it and harvest it’s wealth. Of course it is so high that the air becomes thin and bitter cold and the sky burns black. Strange creatures flitter in the extreme altitude.
Newrock Island - A recently risen island, Newrock is considered massive, but it is still mostly seabed on the top, trees and normal wildlife have neither migrated or be transplanted to the surface. Many wonder at how high this behemoth will rise, and when the time comes, who will control it.
Dvorak Massive - Few islands have been mined quite like Dvorak Massive, and most that are have long since plummeted into the ocean. Dvorak remains airborn as the miners dump the slag and dross off of the edge of the island and when it starts to slump, they put their picks and axes to cutting away large hunks of ore-deficient stone from the bottom of the island. Once a normal floating island, Dvorak is pockmarked with gouges and craters where vast amounts of stone have been cut away, lighting the load.