Skies of Arcana
Skies of Arcana is a hard magic setting, in a stellar cluster originally ruled by the Celestial Empire. The elven fleets and soldiers of Celestial Empire brought civilization to the known worlds and for ten millenia, off and on, were the defining power of the galaxy. Internal strife has befallen them though, and for the past five centuries centrifugal forces have worked to tear it apart into myriad kingdoms and principalities and grand duchies and free states.
Against this, younger races have made their mark. Freed from the stiffling and overbearing stasis that came with with being subject to the Empire diversity and innovation has blossomed. Of course, the flipside to this is that the galaxy is a chaotic place.
The Flow is the crucial connection between stars, carving a route through the Beyond and allowing for travel. So named due to the
At the edges of habitable space is the Verge, the nebulous border that surrounds the bright heat of stars like coastal waters surround an island. The cold mists of the Beyond swirl restlessly here, ebbing and flowing to alternately reveal and conceal what lies beyond. Unusual creatures (both benign and dangerous, many also of value) inhabit the Verge and for millenia it has been associated with the frontier and danger. Despite this connotation though, the Verge is hardly solely the realm of horrors from the deep and uncouth prospectors. Parts of the Verge in the old Alfar Empire has been continuously inhabited for over four millenia and the ancient cities are shining beacons of light in the shrouded darkness.
It is from these cities that the Dokkar arose, slowly changed over the centuries by the proximity to the mists of the Beyond. Originally thought to have been corrupted, many battles were fought over what was eventually determined to be a naturalistic process of adaptation. In these more enlightened times holding these archaic views is seen as rather ignorant and biased. Unfortunately there is a tiny nugget of truth in this; in some parts of the Verge the mists can be aggressively mutagenic or simply poisonous and any sensible Verge-diver will stay aware of his surroundings.
The inky blackness between the stars, the Beyond is the unknowable ocean that surrounds the islands of solar systems. From a distance it is scarcely distinguishable from a simple void but as one gets closer and traverses into the Verge, the Beyond shows itself for what it is: an endless and all-encompassing reservoir of strange mist. It is from the Beyond that comets and rogue planets come, their ices bearing strange ores, alchemical reagents found no-where else and terrible things of unholy vitality and inexplicable biology.
Worse yet, there are thinking minds in the Beyond. Many comets come out of the Beyond with cities or other structures on them. Some are recognizably the product of ancient starfarers or crashed ships from ages ago, their crews dead or driven into mad undeadhood. Others are nothing known to the archives of civilization. Twisted black towers, biomechanical constructs, tombs and vaults older than the Alfar . . . wise men do not chance the guardians that such places often have. Attempts to pierce the Beyond have all failed to do more than scratch the surface and the mists (and perhaps the very nature of the Beyond) is unhesitatingly hostile to those not native to it.
Not even the enigmatic Hylids know much about the Beyond, or at least are unwilling to admit to any substantive knowledge. Their immense gas-ships stay sensibly far away from the Verge and the Beyond lying cloaked beyond.
Sky Towers are where those on the ground connect with the greater universe. Sometimes taking the form of immense trees, other times vast pillars rising into the sky they all exit the atmosphere to provide a convenient moorage for starcraft. Their origin is unknown but all are ancient. As a side-effect of their mere existance the planet's atmosphere wraps up and around them, often leading to strange weather patterns. Many are surrounded by shells both natural and artificial that provide valuable real estate. Travel between the spaceside and groundside is commonly by endlessly cycling plates.
Sky towers are centers of magical flux. The distortions they create in geothaumic fields thickens the ambient mana around them; while this does make respiring or gathering mana easier around them this is only the tiniest sliver of the sum total of the energy that flows through them. To tap this inexhaustible source of power, one must be properly attuned to it. This is synchronization.
Synchronization is both a mental and a magical connection to the vast energies of a sky tower. The magical connection exists to draw upon said energies and the mental to control them. Synchronization is not an unlimited and instant font of energy either; while with sufficient preparation, mental fortitude and skill can unlock substantial power it is not something done easily or lightly beyond a surficial connection. Each tower is different and consequently a certain finesse and skill is needed to synchronize oneself. By contrast, leaving the environs of a sky towers will cause the link to harmlessly attenuate and swiftly desynchronize.
Many towers, typically those under some form of government control also have 'administrators'. These individuals are highly-skilled magi who manage and control access to synchronization with a tower. Most administrators in established towers treat the position as hereditary; after five or ten generations the connection to the tower becomes almost subconscious and the ability of controlling the access to a tower's power vastly easier. Despite this control, few administators have pervasive power over a tower; an individual with the barest minimum of synchronization is difficult to distinguish and difficult to isolate and purge. The greater the synchronization, the easier it is to identify the user. That said, some sky towers have a policy of near-total lockdown without proper authorization. The ability to grant and deny synchronization can be a powerful asset for any defender. Skies of Arcana Misc Background