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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    First off, I want to say how awesome it is to see this forum and all the detailed creativity sprung forth from dedicated imaginations. I've been a fan and a lurker at gitp for a while, but this makes me really want to engage. And in that spirit, I want to ask you what you want out of a setting. I've been world-building since 2003 and have troves of notes available. Rather than swamp you with superfluous info, please feel free to ask me to expand detail where you are interested.


    Table of Contents
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    First Principles - guiding influences
    Geographic Overview - world map
    Phases of History - brief timeline

    Demons and Nations - introducing the two primary sources of intelligent conflict

    The Influence of Demons
    From Influence to Corruption
    Outcast Nations

    Ezvek - savannah farming town
    Ukristali - mining and monastery city in the mountains
    Cloud Farmers - floating traders throughout the valley
    Janeha-kakelu - capital hive city trading port

    First Principles
    Shashnia is an eco-topia fraught with a great threat. It has a technology level that integrates magic and functions similar to modern day Earth tech, but has been designed since the start to be environmentally sustainable. As such, they do not use combustion, oils, make pollution, plastic wastes, etc. Instead they have built things like high-efficiency steam engines powered by crystals emanating heat, complicated production line automata out of replaceable wooden parts, a psychically sensitive plant which grows into designs, and buildings which breathe and function like earthships.

    This technological advance has taken much longer than the equivalent time on Earth, but the Shashnimyn peoples live longer and have long-term focused thinking. The culture is very cooperative and community focused, split 10/90 between permaculture settlements and arcology cities.

    Magic is an everyday thing, with Clarke's law making the small ubiquitous spells unnoticeable, but powerful magic being rare. Demi-gods have risen out of legendary magic-users, and an unpredictable fragmented God essence has come from beyond the stars to protect the planet from other alien invasions. The invasion comes in the form of Demons, which manifest themselves as the weaknesses of character we all face, giving power to evil and corrupting souls.


    A world map showing the ocean and air currents, which in tern determine the biogeography. Red dots are large volcanos, Green are large magical trees and Blue pyramid/temple complexes.

    Geographic Overview

    Shashnia is a planet bigger than our own, but is mostly covered by three primary biomes:

    -Massive Mountains which reach past the clouds, blocking rain and filled with caves. In addition to the dangerous cave fauna, it's inhabited by stoneskinned crystal miners and body-magic monks.
    -Jungles along the windward sides of mountains, full of biodiversity, dinosaurs and treehouse cities.
    -Deserts in the leeward rainshadows, empty but for nomads and the green canyon oases that snake through them, it is an area rich in magic and prophecy where the stars shine brightest.

    But, a world is large and not made just of these regions and their ecosystems...

    In the skies, Cloud Farmers float in zeppelins and gliders, tending to their flocks of algae, ever careful of Sky Whales and Pirates.

    At the North Pole, a wormhole distorts the fabric of space and the volcanic mountain and caverns swarms with evil, held back by a constant siege from the strongest warriors of the world.

    At the South Pole, the world capital city in and around a hive city built in and around an ancient magical tree is a constant scene of intrigue, politics and magic.


    Phases of History

    Being ecologically-minded, history on Shashnia begins with an evolutionary timeline, but I'll skip straight to the rise of cultures with language.

    The First Peoples were a race of intelligent dinosaurs, the first to use magic on Shashnia. They were similar to Deinonychus (a raptor) and built giant magic stone machines and temples, some of which can still be re-activated today. A number of factors including unchecked population growth, over-consumption and climate change drove them extinct.

    The fragmented God essence, known now as the Dual (Life and Death), arrived on Shashnia soon after the Shashnimyn learned how to use magic actively. The schizophrenic nature of the God fragments lead to a violent feudalism which culminated in an apocalyptical magic bomb which drained the world of magic.

    Once the Shashnimyn civilization recovered from many generations of anarcho-primitivist regression, the tribes came together to write the Founding Book, a global plan and council to prevent the extinction of their civilization and the biosphere upon which they depended.

    The long-term thinking established in the culture was not without dissent, and another world war happened over the principles of Eugenics and how the future genetics of the Shashnimyn species should be decided. The Evolution War ended peacefully, and compromise between the two factions (Red and White) stand as cultural determinants in the rainbow of Nations today.

    The recent and most perilous threat to the world is that of the Demon Siege. No one knows exactly when the Demons arrived, but it is plain that their influence is steadily growing, despite an active war against them. They seek out the minds of the weak, corrupt them with power, and establish dungeon footholds throughout the planet, creating minions and stealing souls. The North Pole is their stronghold, where they openly build fortresses of pain and hatred, but are contained by a series of Elemental towers and magical walls, with the best warriors of the world defending them.

    -------
    whew, so that's the short version ~; )
    thanks for reading!!

    I'm interested in making this a playable setting in addition to being a world with rich history, geography and science. So please please ask me questions and I'll answer them if I have information dreamed up, and I'm open to developing material together.

    Essentially, I want this setting to take shape to be a utopian fantasy we as humanity can see for our future, and tp have history and culture which reflects the transition of how we can reach those dreams from what we see on Earth today.
    Last edited by 1nfinite zer0; 2011-04-16 at 03:36 PM. Reason: table of contents & logo added

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    This looks pretty interesting, I'd enjoy playing a setting like that.
    Questions:
    So the Demon Invasion is in the North Pole. How well contained is it? Are there any worries of the demons escaping the elemental towers? Is the situation similar to the First Age of the Lord of the Rings?

    What do the nations look like? Is there one big one, many, is it a unipolar, bipolar, tripolar, or what have you? Do the nations regularly conflict with each other?

    If the demons are contained and the nations are at peace, what is the motivation of the sky pirates and how do they survive? Are they a major threat, or just an occasional nuisance?

    Finally, sky whales are awesome.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Well, this is different. You certainly have hit up a unique concept, and I would love to see this more fleshed out.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaelbert View Post
    This looks pretty interesting, I'd enjoy playing a setting like that.
    Questions:
    So the Demon Invasion is in the North Pole. How well contained is it? Are there any worries of the demons escaping the elemental towers? Is the situation similar to the First Age of the Lord of the Rings?
    Yay nice, thanks for your questions. The Demon Siege is sorta contained, sorta not. There are a few abandoned walls on the inside of the current set of towers that have been lost in the last 100 years. And Demons are constantly escaping; they are a source of evil and dungeon creation across the world. Anywhere there is someone who is willing to be corrupted, the Demon can make a psychic foothold and eventually manifest a physical refuge, and then grow their dungeon from there. The Shashnimyn are constantly on a hunt for them though, so they have to be very sneaky to survive. The purpose of the walls is to keep back the actual armies. A costly war was fought when the demons brought their first army, and the walls are to prevent the armies from breaking through. Currently it is a war of attrition between sides, with the Demons making strikes trying to bring down the defenses, and the Elemental Warriors sending squads and missions in to disrupt the demon infrastructure.

    What do the nations look like? Is there one big one, many, is it a unipolar, bipolar, tripolar, or what have you? Do the nations regularly conflict with each other?
    The Nations Red & White are more symbolic than physical. There are actually tonnes of different nations, just as we have many countries that are regional. The government styles tend towards cooperative hierarchical democracies. And yes, the Red & White maintain their rivalry but mostly through olympic competitions. The allegiance of a nation to a colour can change if they lose a challenge to a neighbour. The challenges are best of three and include things such as magic duels between champions, violent team capture the flag and games of Go.

    Nations generally focus on being self-sufficient, so actual wars are quite rare and international conflict is often brought before the world council in the South Pole. Some nations are ruled by intelligent animals, like the Termita. Others are ruled by Spirit Animals: individuals of an otherwise 'non-sentient' myn (animal) species that are more magical and able to communicate. Like demi-gods specific to animal races.

    If the demons are contained and the nations are at peace, what is the motivation of the sky pirates and how do they survive? Are they a major threat, or just an occasional nuisance?
    Heh, this brings me to another facet. There are also the Outcast nations, which defy the Founding Book and live as brigands and pirates. Citizenship in Shashnia gives lots of opportunity, like free lodging and basic equipment welcoming you in any town, in return for community service. The Outcast Nations use the alternative governing structures, from Anarchists to Capitalist and have a variety of relations with their neighbouring nations. If pirates and brigands ever get too powerful though, then others will rally against them.

    The most notable Outcast nation is the Isle of Mecenasnuro. These were the main opponents of the Evolution War; they didn't agree with either side and wanted to use technology and medicine to overcome genetic troubles. They are more cybernetic, advanced researchers, etc. But their population is hiding an insidious trend of enfeebling diseases they can only patch, not cure.

    Finally, sky whales are awesome.
    hehe, it's a bit on the cliche side, but also fun. And the Kraken need something to hunt other than ships yeah? Another creature of the troposphere ecology I'm proud of is a super-giant, moa-like bird who is so tall that you cannot tell it's a bird from the ground, only colums. It hides in the clouds and snakes out with it's long neck to catch various prey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lappy9000 View Post
    Well, this is different. You certainly have hit up a unique concept, and I would love to see this more fleshed out.
    Cool thanks! I came here because I was hoping to get feedback on what would be best fleshed out first. There's literally a world of ideas, but that alone a playable setting does not make.

    I'm trying to gauge which area is most interesting to people, and what sort of information people need to make it playable. Seems to be a lot of info on the latter in this forum, which I'm happily digging through and considering.

    I have a starter campaign running in the mountains currently, but I also started writing adventures and the details of an agricultural area (a part of the temperate transition between jungles and deserts where most of the large-scale cropping happens and is balanced with semi-intelligent massive livestock who trade their kin for the protection and aid of Shashnimyn).

    The Cloud Farmers and Demon Siege have received the most interest from my friends I've chatted with, so I am leaning strongly towards those. But the latter is certainly not for low-level adventurers. It's taking shape as a special-ops tactical strikes for high-powered magical warriors.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    How does on ego about being corrupted? Does the individual consciously sign a pact with a demon, or is it more subtle than that. How do the demons tempt individuals into corruption? Can the demons escape the North Pole to talk to individuals, so long as they don't actually attack anything? What is the process for moving from a psychic foothold to a physical dungeon, and what are these dungeons like? Are they forward operating bases for the demon army, or something different?

    Can you go into a little more depth about the Outcast Nations? What is their economy based off of? Outside of the Isle of Mecenasnuro, what do the other Outcast nations look like?

    Sorry if that's a lot of questions, but sky pirates and nations full of outcasts always catch my fancy.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    The Influence of Demons
    I think the best way to answer Gaelbert's question is to turn it back at everyone. We all have a dark side, and Demons live in what we must face. What would you desire enough to influence your behaviour? Is there a path of changes that would eventually lead to your ruin? Demons prey upon the weaknesses we all have. We've all gone through angsty, depressing or neglected feelings. They feed on those. Not literally, but those are their conduits for getting in.

    Demons can communicate beyond the walls, they are good at becoming the little voice in your head. The first steps of corruption could almost go unnoticed, Demons lend magical power to individuals when they see if fitting their end. Yes, it is a permissive thing. Demons cannot control a soul that is unwilling, not without a great deal of force that is obviously detected. So they seek out individuals who are already focusing negative emotions on something. It's only when the Demons think an individual is already ready and wanting for more power that they reveal themselves and begin the next phases.

    A lot of this hinges on what magic is and how it works. It's a distortion in reality compared to how we understand it to work. In physics terms it is described as a spontaneous non-linear increase of entropy. There is also a permissive aspect to it, with the more consciousness agreeing to something happening making the magical threshold for that easier to overcome. In Shashnia this is best illustrated by the common spells that exist in everyday life, like crystal energy transmission and illusions used in plays & lectures.

    From Influence to Corruption
    Once an individual has been gaining power and the Demon has contacted them, they have to make a choice to take more magic, or shut it off completely. Taking any more at all plants the seed of corruption, and the Demon gets a part of their soul. From this fragment of their soul, the Demon is able to use their power to work magic in the physical vicinity of that myn, at first unbeknownst to them. They try to gather minions by the use of possessing spells, bringing power to their corrupted host. The more myn they gather, the stronger their foothold becomes and eventually they will either take complete control of the host, or have them summon their physical form to build their Lair. Each Demon tends to have a theme, something it's wicked expertise is focused on; the emotion or weakness it most likely exploits. The Lairs are indeed forward bases from which they strike forth, but also are an excuse for the lovely dungeon crawls that we all enjoy so much ~; )

    Of course, there are always exceptions to rules. Some Demons are just so powerful that they forge out without trying to corrupt anything, and even sometimes masquerade as spirit animals, demi-gods or members of the Pantheon.

    Outcast Nations
    They are mostly small bands, overall being less than 1%. The term Nation refers more to a self-governing unit than a critical population of myn. Economically, they survive by the same means as we all do: ample food and trade. They are more likely to turn to piracy, fiefdoms or feudalism depending on the size. It's understood that there will always be different facets of political thought and outcasts are typically met with the force they meter out. So the pirating type, be it through desperation or ethics, are less likely to receive compassionate responses. In fact, other than small pirate bands, the only major conflicts with Outcasts is when their practices are unsustainable: over-harvesting of forests, creation of toxic chemicals, weather modification (highly illegal) or any other damaging of ecosystem services.

    The Mecenasnuro have their own island, so the unsustainability of their practices can be overlooked, even if some of the technology they try to trade is distasteful.

    Cloud Farmers farm floating Algae that is very nutrituous and a staple in demand practically everywhere. They're also traders and merchants because of the long distances they travel. For these two reasons, they are targeted by sky pirates. Which doesn't make their lives any easier on top of the difficult weather and cloud ecosystem trying to eat their flock. But fortunately, it means ample adventuring hooks for PCs wanting to travel.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Playable Setting
    With all the buzz and world-building going on, getting something immediately playable sticks forth in the mind. What is a world without adventures and a region to dive into. So, I've been amalgamating material and such to make the first region playable.

    I welcome comments and collaboration to expand this material into something you'd want to make use of in a campaign!

    Regional Map
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    The yellow-worded cities I have already partially created, and plan to detail further with maps, factions and a couple characters and monsters each.

    The white cities will be mentioned in the basic material, but not detailed with much more than a brief description, and some npc/monster/opponent stats. If you are interested in working on one of these towns, that'd be awesome.

    For a sense of scale, Ezvek is 8 days walk from the Capital city. Most of the transport of goods in the region is done by the Cloud Farmers, whom are almost a permanent fixture in this valley, because it is a rich pasture of swirly moist winds due to the ocean and mountains. Blue lines are roads, red lines are the border to the neighbouring Red nation.

    Major towns
    • Ezvek - savannah area, a farming town. Home to the scouts and herding nomads that wander the valley
    • Ukristali - mountain stronghold run by crystals and steam. Populated by martial artist/mystical monks (who train warriors) and the stoneskin tribe (who mine the crystals)
    • Janeha-kakelu (Capital) - a port city and arcology, source of a lot of goods going to the Demon Siege that arrive from other continents


    Less Detailed Towns
    • Pirates - a group of outcasts that hide in the forest and underground and ambush Cloud Farmers
    • Gateway - last stop before the Demon Siege, a trading post I guess
    • Floodplain - a populous city on stilts, floods every spring, and is mostly marshland farming but also city factions rival to
    • Rainforest/Mountain - same races as Ukristali, but a forested area which is mostly self-sufficient


    I'm still working on stuff, but welcome feedback. Is it coherent as a whole? What springs to mind as stuff you'd want to play in it? Any ideas or suggestions? Again, the minor towns are up for grabs if you're interested in developing alongside existing themes.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Ezvek
    Description of Town:
    A farming village, the permanent buildings are three stories or less and made of stone. The semi-permanent buildings are made of wood and psyplant. There's a food forest running through the town, a stream on diagonal of this. The stream rises seasonally, there is some aquaculture for waste treatment and this is next to the greenhouse complex. Around the buildings is a small wall, and on the outside of that is the monoculture and polculture open fields. The smaller grazing animals (goats, dino chickens, deer/antelopes, etc) are let out in the mornings and sheperded back at night. The market is central, near the square, the amphitheatre. The crystal tower and skyhook is to the North, close to one of the gates in the wall enough that it has been used as a defensive platform.

    Goods & Services
    Most standard equipment is available, and if not can be received quickly from the capital city or Cloud Farmer merchants. Almost everything is shared, the sense of cooperativity is strong and there's lots of trust and generostiy offered to citizens. (It is known as a friendlier place of abundance relative to the gateway community to the north).

    People:
    People are friendly, tan-skinned folk, farmers by history and disposition. They have grey brown elongated spots on the shoulders, back and tep/rear of head. Hair is blonde to golden brown, or black and curly. Small antelope nubs in 1-3 pairs grow on some of the older myn's skulls.

    Major players:
    Elder council. It was one of the oldest settlements in the area after the capital and is a refuge for the quieter life for many Elders not wanting to live in the city. Consequently, the Elder council is large and a source of wisdom that gets visitors.
    Scouts. They are the liasons between village culture and the nomads. They also deliver information and keep watch on the changes; weather, phenology, animal populations, ecosystem services, invasive species, etc.

    Example characters
    Great Umakhulu
    A matriarch, really good at crystal magic and divination. She was born in this regoin, travelled around as an adventurer. Was involved in the first wall of the Demon siege. Although she had some major combat skills, she has no need to fight. But, her reactions are still magically super, and she uses protection and subduing force. She has excellent diplomacy, and is still a friend to all factions in the valley, even the outcasts, who she sometimes goes to meet. People pressure her to make them stop, but she says that some people must be different, and there needs to be compromise. She supports citizenship, and her rare trips to the outcasts are under the pretense of getting them to join, when actually she is a former lover of the chief. She loves children, and knows enough illusion to tell them animated stories. Other than children and high level individuals, she will be mostly seen from afar rather than interacted with.
    Elder Sage
    A tall spindly fellow, often takes walks alone in the woods, especially when there is lots of wind. "It brings the smells of fortune from further lands". He is the best plant teacher in the village, and watches the farmers work. Natural lore skills are great, and he plays Go. A teacher for sustainability.
    Elder Council
    A group of elders is always convened in the village square, chatting about various things, hosting debates, playing board games, watching people, feeding pets. This gathering is the place where all official inquiries start. It is a playful place, with many years of history & friendships. Elders are as likely to tease and make merry to a proposition as anything. Each Elder is respectfully addressed Elder such and such, with most of their names being friendly nicknames of creatures, plants or weather they are comparable to. For dezinens who come from the village, or those who have built relationships with Elders, it is common and welcome to call them Grandpa or Grandma such and such. There is a special place of discussion for formal debates. It is not allowed to have disrespect or anger inside, acting on such thoughts will bring a curse upon you (belief has enchanted this to be true).
    Scout
    Good Body/Mind/Soul, Superb Animal skills. Some have biosuits, Boar-Bear or Dragonfly type.

    Culture and Religion
    Cycle based nature worship

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Ukristali
    Description of town:
    It is the mining, resources, and energy town of the area. It focuses on manufacturing and industry. Lots of steam, machines, cogs, wheels, caverns of moving parts, technicians, engineers, inventors, scientists. Contrasting this industrious fervour, there is a temple of monks that tend to the green houses and practice martial arts and meditation. Intricate obstacle course battles are a popular sport here.
    The main town is centered just inside the cliff opening where the skydock is. The gates and cave openings are made such that the amount of light is maximized. There are a series of mirrors and crystals on the roof of the cave to reflect and diffuse as mcuh of the light as possible, lasting with residual glow for a while after the sun has set. They are automated like little insects, and when it has been dark for a while, slowly turn back to sleep facing the morning sun. The greenhouses aare also near some specific openings/cracks in the cliffs for them.
    The secondary town is deeper within, and was the primary residence of the Stoneskin tribe before they left to chase the dragons. It is focused on the mining posrtion of enterprise and has a few satellite areas. Associated with the mining operations are smelting.

    Goods & Services:
    Good place for weapons and gadgets. Superior quality on these things. Technology that uses crystals. Ores (metals are not as dominant as on Earth). They have to ship in wood. Psyplant doesn't like living in caves, so they use wood and brass. Has a Skydock which is a major port of shipment to the West over the mountains. A lot of their goods goto the Demon Siege as well, so they are kept un stock as much as possible.

    People
    Stoneskin tribe as mountain folk through and through. Barrel chested, stout with scutes and leathery skin. They have bony protuberances, and low light vision. They also have an inherent ability for crystal magic. They evolved in mountain ranges around the world, and have diverged over time. Dfferent tribes can be distringuished by their skin colours. It is attractive within their tribe to be similar in colouration as the rocks of the mountains that provide for them.

    Major Players:
    A leader Monk
    An Engineer type
    A cavern-miner type

    Culture & Religion
    Duality-based meditation. Light vs Dark, Highland vs Lowland. Strong worship of the Dual Goddess of Life and God of Death.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Cloud Farmers

    Rest of the Content to be finished and posted.

    Culture & Religion

    Sky Whales
    Cloud Farmers are dependent upon the Sky Whales as much as they are the Algal clouds. The whales feed upon the algae, but they provide key materials to make Cloud Farmer ships. The ecosystem needs to stay in balance. Sky whales will often come and eat part of the crop, but cloud farmers permit this to ensure a healthy whale population. They will drive them off after they have eaten enough; balancing the needs of the community against the population of the whales. They will always try to allow them to eat an amount as offering (even in hard times). Some old bull whales are very hard to drive off, and can withstand violent force rather than the typical annoyance of gliders and chaff (insects).

    When a population of whales is big enough, a new ship will have permission to be built. They will form a hunting party after the groups of the area come together for a dance ceremony, playing out the wishes for the hunt in music and masks. The crew that is chosen for the new ship will set out to hunt together. The skin of the skywhale becomes the balloons, and he blubber is concentrated to burn as an oil which keeps a ship magically aloft for many years. A portion of the meat is given up as sacrifice and thanks, returning it to the ecosystem. The rest of the whales are used, bones for ship structure, tools or carvings, organs for various magical purposes, etc. When a skywhale dies naturally or is killed and left to decay, it remains bouyant. The rotting mass attracts a quickly growing swarm of insects that devour all the organic matter, and voraciously attack any other organic material. Brave cloud farmers capture these in glass to use to ward off the persistent whales or in other emergencies.

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    Default Re: Shashnia: an eco-topian, high-fantasy world

    Janeha-kakelu

    Post spot reserved for Capital City details.

    Brief Intro:
    It's an arcology, or a hive city which has been planned to work in a sustainable manner with the environment. It is visible from afar with great spires that reach into the sky like termite mounds. These house thermal exchange units which keep the air circulating into the depths of the factory layers. Along the southern faces of these spires are greenhouses and terraces, used as much for food as recreation.

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