Strata Varia is set on a world where civilization exists in a narrow band of livable atmosphere sandwiched between the Firmament, the unbroken cloud layer above, and the Shroud, a dense sea of mists below.
Piercing the Shroud from the planet’s surface are a number of mighty mountain peaks, and these are where the people of the setting make their homes. Each peak is home to a single city-state, or stead, dedicated to and ruled by a powerful Dragon-God. Each stead is referenced by the name of its patron, therefore the peak ruled by the Dragon-God Felgrim is called Stead Felgrim.
The minutia of culture, mores, and technology vary somewhat from stead to stead, although life is generally comfortable on most. The mean level of technology is fairly advanced, following a pulp science fantasy mold- communication via radio or vidscreen is typical, for instance. Travel within a stead is usually done by walking, or zipline or trolley between neighboring spires of the same peak; while travel between steads is accomplished by powered gliders of various designs. Weaponry ranges from basic melee implements (swords, clubs, spears) to various energy and kinetic projectile throwers; although the specifics and who is allowed to carry them under what circumstances depends on the laws of a given stead.
Magic does not exist in this setting, although instances of technology beyond the understanding of its users are commonplace. Clarke’s Third Law applies, but nobody in the setting refers to anything as being “magical”.
All the people of Strata Varia have perfect pitch. The rare child born without is shunned, if they are allowed to live at all. Much of the technology of the setting is voice operated, requiring a level of control found only among opera singers on our world, but common as breathing to people of this one.
- Are there exile colonies for tone-deaf, mute, or otherwise hearing/voice impaired persons? Probably some steads and their Dragon-Gods are more accepting than others… and of course some are much less accepting. Probably any such colonies are on small islands away from the main stead they are exiled from.
On most steads, birdlike flying creatures called flincs are trained as messengers, able to mimic complex tunes, and to find their way between two locations like homing pigeons, with a comparable range (about 50-75 miles).
The Dragon-Gods enforce strict population control among humans. Even those who feel benevolently toward their human subjects agree to this. Space in a stead is limited, and the number of livable steads is as well. Also, too many humans might take it into their heads to decide they didn’t need gods to rule them.
Merchants travel in miles-long windfish caravans, strapping baskets to the tops or bottoms of the huge flying creatures like living dirigibles. A caravan is usually escorted by several guards in rocket-powered hang gliders, or in rare cases hoversleds. A hoversled can carry a weapons platform, or several guards, but is much slower and less maneuverable, and prohibitively expensive to fuel.