Worlds

Skull Island
                         
    
Too far from the center of the Spiral for the great powers to exert much control, most of Skull Island is ruled by the Pirates themselves - crews and gangs have taken over failed colonies or built new ramshackle cities of their own: Jonah Town, Flotsam, Scrimshaw, and Skull Island itself, Captain Avery's Pirate capital. 

    The southern Skyways of Skull Island are dominated by Pirates, while the north features two great colonies: the thriving Monquistan city Puerto Mico, and the Marleybonian colony of Port Regal. Monquista owes its entire rise to the gold the Monkeys found in the ancient ruins, while the Dogs of Marleybone work tirelessly to corner the spice market. Their power broken long ago, the Cutthroats still prowl the shipping lanes, making as much trouble as they can, while Wharf Rats smuggle all manner of cargoes in and out of Skull Island, building a huge black market.


Monquista

   Long an inconsequential, isolated backwater in the outer rim of the Spiral, Monquista recently became one of the preeminent powers in the Spiral, almost overnight, thanks to the massive infusion of gold and wealth its inhabitants pried from the ancient ruins in their colony of Skull Island. Monquista is home to a race of diminutive Monkeys, the Monquistans, who make up for their slight statures with massive egos and harsh tempers.

    Monquistans have a highly structured (some would even say oppressive) society, where manners, personal dignity, and reputation are valued above all else. Disagreements over the most trivial matters turn into the stuff of generational feuds, and to many outsiders Monquistan politics and priorities can seem downright silly. The Monquistans believe they have brought themselves up out of barbarism through sheer force of will, and that they are the only truly civilized beings in the Spiral – all others are barbarians and pretenders. As a result, the Monkeys are well-mannered to a fault – to imply that a Monquistan is acting wild, brutish, or like a wild monkey is the greatest insult one can levy. 

    Well-mannered need not mean friendly: political intrigue between the Monarchy, the Holy Monquisition, and the various Noble Houses is vicious and deadly. Monquistan politics are notoriously fluid: a noble house can find that blood enemies from a month ago are now relatives by marriage, and therefore dear friends. Monquistan nobles and officials often seem, to outsiders, to have no memory: they arbitrarily turn on people they recently supported and praised, or greet blood enemies with effusive praise, never acknowledging any dispute.

    Monquista is ruled over by a King and Queen (the power behind the throne changes day to day!), advised by the Holy Monquisition and presided over by the Noble Houses. Each faction seeks to advance its fortunes however it can. Every Monquistan is the member of a Noble House, and thanks to the endless web of marriage alliances and the shifting political landscape, all of them have some claim (however remote) to royal line. Even lowly servants are some kind of distant third cousin to a famous past king, causing everyone in the cluster to have a constant air of superiority.

Valencia 
    Arguably the greatest imperial power of the Spiral, Valencia is home to the Unicorns, a vibrant people with an ancient, rich culture. Many of the great discoveries that led to sky-ships and the age of sail were made here - Valencia stands to this day as a center of arts and learning, where scholars and masters from all over the Spiral gather to push the boundaries of knowledge and talent. Marco Pollo, Cowpernicus, Da Finchi - the greatest minds and artists the Spiral has ever known did their greatest work in Valencia, and the entire Spiral is richer for their labors.

    The Skyways of Valencia have more Stormgates than any other realm in the Spiral - Valencians say their realm is the heart of the Spiral, and most sky charts are drawn with Valencia at the center. Valencia has used its location to flower into a thriving hub of trade and shipping between the realms.

    Valencia's emerald skies and lush orchards are hauntingly beautiful, and the Unicorns are an emotional, zestful people whose passions are as stormy as their realm's skies. Unicorns are renowned throughout the Spiral for their talents with poetry, scholarship and fencing. Beneficiaries of Valencia's unparalleled wealth and status, the Unicorns dwell in ornate, baroque cities full of grand plazas, columned palaces, and grand statuary. There is always some grand ball, festival, or masque to offer entertainment and diversion. Duty, honor, and family pride are the pillars of their social order. 

    Valencia is also home to the hardy Crabs and pragmatic Guinea Pigs, who serve as the hard-working middle class to the Unicorn elite. Skilled craftsmen and tireless laborers, their efforts sustain the magnificent (some would say decadent) lifestyle of the Unicorns. Guilds and Merchant Houses of Crabs and Guinea Pigs drive Valencian commerce, and have grown very powerful in recent times.

    Things are changing in Valencia. The recent invention of Clockworks was a wonder, whose full impact has yet to be seen. Kane and his legions revolutionized warfare in Valencia - at the height of the Polarian Wars, King Casimir turned all control of Valencians by land or sea over to Kane. The Armada won the war, saved the Spiral, and has worked tirelessly ever since. With Clockwork ships protecting merchant ships and stamping out smuggling and piracy, Valencia is growing even richer. 

    As the Unicorns turn inward, distracted by their endless revels, Kane grows ever more powerful, and rumors are emerging that the Armada may have an agenda of its own. Some wonder what price Valencia will pay for their success...


Cool Ranch

          A steady stream of bold and enterprising Birds has come to Cool Ranch, hoping to make a new beginning or escape a troubled past. Their skill at industry rivals Marleybone's: the Birds brought locomotives, steam engines, and other modern devices with them. 
       
        Life has been hard for the new settlers, however: many of the new boom towns soon went bust, and the great railroads now stand empty. But the honest ranchers and townsfolk keep working: there's gold in them there mesas, and there's good money to be made herding the sleepy Buffaloons. The steady demand for refined food and other niceties has nurtured a bustling mercantile trade for ship captains willing to sail that far.  
        
        Cool Ranch is a land of legendary figures: heroes like the Chicken Rangers, Wild Bill Peacock, and the masked hero El Toro, fighting lawlessness and standing up for the humble settlers; but the wild frontier has also fostered terrible outlaws like Libirdy Valence, El Guapo, and the dreaded Duck With No Name. 
        
        Smugglers and pirates have always been drawn to Cool Ranch - far from everyplace, the dusty realm is an ideal place to hide. Indeed, Captain Barnabus Blood, one of the most infamous pirates in the history of the Spiral, is said to have built a hidden stronghold somewhere in Skull Island before his well-deserved end. Blood's treasure has never been found...

Mooshu

       MooShu is ruled by the Emperor, who is considered the Child of the Spirit of the Sun, and is served by legions of loyal Samoorai. The Cows of MooShu form the ruling class made up warriors, princes and master artisans. They are attended by Goat bureaucrats and ministers, while the Sheep and Pig peasants humbly work the land. The people of MooShu are notoriously secretive and suspicious of outsiders; foreign ships are only allowed to dock in one port, the resplendent city of Hamamitsu, without special permission, and only the mysterious Wizards have ever walked in the Imperial Skyway or visited the Imperial Palace.

     For generations, MooShu has enjoyed a special relationship with the realm of Marleybone: in exchange for generous tribute payments, the Emperor grants the Dogs of Marleybone exclusive control of the tea trade and unfettered access to all of MooShu's Stormgates. This treaty keeps the trade lanes to the prosperous colony of Port Regal open – and has made MooShu a critical hub in Marleybone’s mercantile empire.

     The realm of MooShu is spiritual to its very core: the ancient philosophy of Caoism has long guided mystics and sages toward hidden truths that cannot be named, and the common folk draw comfort from the teachings of the Moodha. The Monks of MooShu devote themselves to physical and spiritual perfection on their quest for enlightenment. Order, harmony, and serenity are the pillars of MooShu's society.

     But recently this has changed. The Emperor lies stricken, cursed by dark magic, and the realm reflects the suffering of its sovereign. Throughout the outer skyways bandits and renegade warlords run rampant, oppressing the weak and defying Imperial law. Sensing weakness, the grim Horse nomads of the Amber Horde have swept in from the distant hinterlands, and are ravaging entire provinces. The most powerful of the Samoorai scheme and plot their future, preparing for the succession war that will come if the Emperor should die. These times of strife have drawn the more unsavory elements of MooShu out of the shadows: the nefarious Yakooza and dreaded Ninja Pigs are more active than ever before. Pirates and smugglers are flocking to MooShu, seeking adventure and profit in this ancient land.