A fascinating cluster of worlds unlike any other. There is one true world within steamspace, an incredible Gas Giant that bounced between several sun-like star shapes. Orbiting the giant are many moons which foster life, while acting as a means of sampling the greater world for the benefit of the denizens below. This charter details the various inhabitants upon each of the moons. The Known Moons of the Gaseous Body, a cosmic cradle that harbors a bubbling and steaming watery world below known as “Steam Titan”, are as follows: Bashar, Destiny Expanse, Victoriana, Noire, Metallum and maybe even more. Splinter from the Iron Coil Gnome crew became a vital part in the infrastructure and well being of the moons themselves. While the company presence in the Crystal Sphere fizzled as fleets of Minoi entered roughly ten years ago, they left behind means of survival on otherwise hostile worlds. Enter moons built on extremes and oddities. Behold a fantastic gas giant that tethers all of them together, the very source of wondrous power here. But for today, let us look at the first two moons.
Author’s Note: Remember my Weird Western? Al’Bashar? Bits on Space Victorian British? Blatant Stephen King rip-offs? Well, it’s all part of the same world cluster! Also, expect a handful of homages to bits of pulp, sci-fi and then some. In fairness, this is the kind of insane crack I’d come up with when I did more with 2E AD&D. In short, mixing Spelljammer with Masque of the Red Death Ravenloft and Gamma World 4th Edition mechanics together would make something like this.
A large series of colonies sprawl from deserts akin to Bashar to more marshy lands along the coast of a green sea. The slowly sprawling enterprise started as mining operations and homesteads purchased and cleared by some distant governmental order… much to the chagrin of the locals. In truth, this was a joint effort between Cimarron County and La Estate de Guadalante. They were later joined by bands of travelers from the Children of the Turtle from the Atruaghin Plateau and traders from Darokin. However, one set of travelers witnessed ships from Toril leaving to stars unknown. Those who followed and found themselves here came from Maztica, a mighty nation far detached from Toril’s more familiar Faerun.
The Grey Runner Grounds are the iconic home of creatures known as Lupines. The Nation of the Grey Runner Lupines proclaim that this land was once different. Vegetation was far less scarce and the hills beyond less barren. Their myths speak of a much more lively world, one not overwhelmed with the desert. While many blame the settlers for their woes, they speak of a vile creature called “Wyrm” who drained life from much of the land. After wars, push back and scarred relations; the Lupines of the land keep their distance from the other lands. However, they remain loyal to their own, refusing to join the Ursin in retaliation. Likewise, most will not board spelljammers for extended periods of time, save for exiles who no longer belong to a pack. True to being bipedal wolf creatures, they maintain pack and familiar structures of their ancestors. Elders, the strong and the wise look out for the well-being and organization of the rest. Society often adheres to somewhat rigid law and order, with deviants and contrarians cast out. Controversy surrounds their grounds, on account of them having a taste for the flesh of other humanoids. This comes from a mix of olden predator instinct and a slight racism for non-Lupines. Despite this, they aren’t automatically hostile and won’t actively hunt other races. However, those who transgress, as well as those who fall in their lands often find themselves as a meal.
The Ursin Heights are far more lush than the Grey Runner Grounds, something the Lupines deeply resent. The Bear Tribes reside here, often less involved with their surroundings and usually caught within their own agendas. The bipedal bear creatures are often aloof, unless triggered into a state of unremitting anger. Their lands prove well tended to, with healthy soil and much in the way of greenery. They are less xenophobic than the Lupines, but none the less prefer to keep to themselves. Their means of handling overly ambitious colonists or raiders proves that they shouldn’t be provoked. However, their willingness to trade and cooperate is far greater than their other beastly neighbors. However, their imposed isolation and subjection to ideology have left them more stunted than their counterparts. While they engage more in trade, they often have little use for the arcane technologies of the other colonies and prepare a different life path. The Lupines consider this idiotic and incapable of adaptation. Meanwhile, the Ursin are quick to exile someone who has adapted such a lifestyle, as harsh as that may be. Their fake smiles to outsiders turn towards scowls against different insiders.
Blessing’s Rose is a province that makes up much of the realm. The most prominent is a settlement by the name of Wispy Cliffs, which consists primarily of Space Elves, Humans, Halflings and a few outcast Lupines and Ursin. Originally, this was a getaway for human explorers seeking to spread the influence of some land called Albion. Over 2 centuries of time has greatly changed the culture, in addition to the joining and melding of other traveler cultures. The last of the travelers was a Mystaran, but an olden Terranspace vessel from “The Old West”, which solidified the culture of Wispy Cliffs alongside the later Mystarans. This frontier town has far more opportunities than many of its brethren. For starters, a growing library has become a fixture fore residents seeking literacy and education. Likewise, many have traveled, seeing the library as a source of progress and betterment. This isn’t to say that the establishment is widely open. One must register for approval and be heavily vetted. Prior vandalism and attacks have caused staff to invest in proper security. The powers of knowledge and learning are of utmost importance, as is preservation. The Seekers is an organization that aspires to catalogue all there is to know on this world, with the library as a headquarters. They uphold a virtue of defending all knowledge as well. Likewise, the town has sought protection from a religious charity that has become a fixture nearby. The Knights of the Shootist Order, a group of holy warriors who train and perfect combat arts with the firearm. Not all is well in the area, as the owner of the Barbershop has received visions of a malicious spirit entity known as “The Cheerful Stalker”. The malign figure has been recorded by the barber, who proclaims that it slinks around his property late at night. The Knights fear the barber as some disturbed heretic and have been plotting for his removal from the town. There is of course contending with backlash from the townspeople. One of the order is an expert in hair care, so they have begun to make plans.
Granite Well is a settlement deserving of attention nestled well beyond the plains of Blessing’s Rose, into a new one called Richardsport. It is the origin of several experimental jammer projects to grace the whole sphere. The Birthplace of Mad Invention, Granite Well has built its reputation up from simply being the first place to build a well to the first place to purify the strange water. The water is indeed the most drinkable here, devoid of the sickness exhibited by non-natives when drinking it. Here, it is crisp and devoid of any color. For the natives, the green water is just natural, or so the Well residents have been told. The current project, the trainjammer, has begun to revolutionize not only this small world, but others within the sphere. This is the next step from previous marvels. The Ironclad was an armored and reinforced spelljammer, while the wagonjammers were compact and great for smaller travel companies. The linked wagonjammer caravans proved to be the final stop for the trainjammer, known as “locomotive”, due to the use of linked up cars. However, corruption was never banished when the beasts below the eponymous Granite Wells themselves were cleared. Meritocracy is theoretically the means in this settlement. However, the correct hand shaking and innovating for the right people is the real way forward. Guilds and orders love nepotism too. This nepotism extends to the fact that this capital is just the powerhouse for the overall province of Richardsport. Said province extends to the sea itself from the desert for many miles. Much of the province is undeveloped, save for villages, farmsteads and rest stops. Overall, Granite Well and the rest of the province faces more worries with their relations with other settlers over problems with native life… for now.
Pueblo del Marco is a settlement that has retained far more tradition than those around it. Marco operates on somewhat pastoral principles, at least envisioned by clerics from a nearby mission who agreed to join the voyage. To them, so much mechanization and urban hustling detracts from the ability to breath and examine your surroundings. This doesn’t mean the town is some Luddite movement. Steam works have revolutionized farming ranches that make much of the town’s wealth. Likewise, many are fine with commuting into more urbanized colonies as a means of selling their products. When it comes to outsiders, the local watering hole seems to be the most friendly. While it is hard for priests to maintain their connection to the Immortals, the worship of Ahmmani Turtlerider from the Turtle Back Colony has caught on within Marco. She is seen as a wise motherly figure who looks out and protects those in need. Likewise, the attention of a grim deity known as Camazotz has slowly been fed into this land as well. He’s a dour sort, well venerated by vampires that have mysteriously emerged nearby. Likewise, the shapes of pyramid-like structures flying overhead has alerted villagers, who suspect spelljammers from other lands looking to visit. Likewise, the Xolo Lupines have slowly emerged into Marco territory with propositions for cooperation.
Speaking of Turtle Back, this uplifted island off the coast of the green-tinted sea is where a branch of the Children of the Turtle have called their home, as well as the beachfront connecting to the other settlements. The majority of these settlers hail from Kin Tliish, the primary capital of the clan. Their importing worship of Ahmmani is no mistake, as her teachings were always ones of expanding horizons, accepting change and being nothing if not welcoming. Despite this, they are adept in defending themselves in water or on land. Many horrible beasts prowl around the strange sea, causing the nautically adept tribes to be on constant watch. Likewise, strange things creep in from the deserts. Likewise, relations with Richardsport have become gradually strained. Attempts at peace have grown shaky, as have attempts to maintain Ahmanni’s ideals in the face of adversity. The tranquil lifestyle of the Turtle Clan has been called into jeopardy because of the clash in culture caused by their neighbors. They aren’t alone though, as Fort Darokin has provided extra support. The traders have helped to maintain relations between Richardsport and Turtle Back. But, as these relations degrade, they’ve ultimately stood more with Turtle Back in the end. They have bee proposing countless peaceful solutions as something of a mediator, but neither side is currently interested. The Turtle Clan claims that they’re facing intentional raiders and invaders, while Richardsport claims that their rivals are looting resources.
Another colony hails from Toril’s Maztica, completely unrelated to Mystara. This is the territory of Xopetlatl. The Maztican Sky Ships allowed them to traverse with little issue, but the divine boons placed on their crafts slowly weakened after leaving Realmspace. Much unlike the Turtle Clan, they are unwilling to sample too much technology of the outsiders. However, the tropical oasis areas feel familiar and right at home, so there isn’t much room to complain. In terms of allies, they find themselves closest aligned with Guadalante and Xolo Lupines. The Turtle Clan is held in decent regard, with everyone else disregarded or held in contempt. The general village is build around the sky ship and yields easy access to it, should there be a need to leave. A great ziggurat is planned around the sky ship, perhaps transforming it into a powerful vessel as well as a font for energy for the realm. Pluma and Hishna weavers have also found a mysterious inspiration upon this world, something they are interested in learning further about. Those devoted to the Jaguar in particular seem more critical of their new neighbors though. So far, Xopetlatl faces few worries from this. However, the alien wildlife has posed quite the challenge. More curiously is the appeal that Camazotz has attempted to make to numerous priests.
There are many peoples unique to these settlements and lands. The Beast Tribes of Destiny Expanse are no exception. Lupines have three diverse breeds largely contained within this sphere. This isn’t to call them united, for their three tribes are anything but. The Wolfir, Coyotl and Xolo do not get along with each other and will actively rebuke advances and diplomacy with each other. Exceptions arise, but these moments of civility are often short lived. The last “breed” isn’t even considered a true Lupine, as they are “too accustomed to the furless and likewise lack fur” according to the other breeds. The Ursin of the Bear Tribes only have two breeds, Black Hills and Grizzly. Numerous summits between clans and tribes have discussed dispelling them, as has been the fate of other lost Lupine breeds that were “banished” (killed off). It’s perhaps this reason why the Xolo have gained positive relations with Marco. The former are more agile and better at maneuvering, while the latter are bulkier and more powerful. The Black Hills Ursin are quicker to consider diplomacy as well as sneaking to accomplish their goals. The Grizzly tend to value intimidation and force of might to accomplish goals. This isn’t to say that the latter are stupid, just ones to admire brawn for solutions as much as brain. In the case of outcasts, they need not be removed from a clan. Some are victims of the skinwalkers, vengeful fell witches that don pelts to shape shift. They also have the power to curse other races into looking like their own. Many of these reborn mutants join outcasts in places like Fangs Gulch or Clawed Embrace.
They aren’t alone either. Smaller tribes of humans, demihumans and humanoids exist upon the Expanse. Many of them don’t interact with the emerging powers, often keeping to their own. Turtle Back and Xopetlatl prove more relatable than the others, but arguments and turmoil have begun to bubble with the smaller tribes. Many terrors of the wastes also exist; scorpionmen, cactoids, prairie phantoms and all sorts of creatures of folklore. Some are spirits empowered by the beliefs of the original tribes. Some came into being as more people arrived. Some found themselves on this moon world by coincidence.
A cousin to the moon of Destiny Expanse in many ways. This land was settled long before their neighbors arriving across the greenish sea into space beyond. For centuries, their accounts of artifice and creation remained basic beyond alchemical experiments. However, their mixed roots brought in various discoveries across different laboratories and planar studies. These cultures blend the Torilian continent of Zakhara with the island nation of Lantan, hints of Calimshan as well. As lost secrets of spelljamming were brought to these cultures over the years, the they converged upon a neutral colony around Spiralspace. The asteroid world was endurable for a time, as the settlers mixed and aided each other. Ultimately, the colony of Afridhi proved to be too much and a new home was required, lest consequences turn dire. Voyages and expeditions took more time, as the population began to suffer. Calls for action lead to works of artifice to help the masses cope, until salvation was at hand. Spelljammers improved, knowledge of fire magic lead to early innovations with steam work, automata leapt beyond simple clockwork creations. This pushed the journey onward, leading to a strange desert moon that offered much. While supplies were not bountiful, it was still a reminder of their original homes.
By a green sea, a city made its foundations. It was simple and coastal, subsisting on the strange fish that lived nearby. Likewise, simple farms were brought in around the sand and clay houses that began to spring up. This would become Al’Bashar City in due time. Others continued to venture onward, hoping to find wondrous ruins or riches to plunder. These people would help build Alza’um. Ahmed, leader of one of the voyaging spelljammers, sought to terraform something of a retreat with the help of djinn who wished to join his voyage. This lead to the foundation of Ahmed’s Rest. Those who saw justice where the coastal city brought little? They would found the Enlightened order that resides in their floating citadel. As for the Wastelands? The settlers were not alone, others lived upon the moon before them. Their souls lie resting until unearthed. This moon is their graveyard, waiting to be disturbed.
Alza’um, the Village Above, the Old Farm and many other names; that is what people refer to this community as. Despite the condescension and various forms of disdain, it maintains happy and healthy. The people within the village are semi-nomadic, sending troops to explore and camp throughout the desert. However, the village is always their homebase. They are equal parts farmer, explorer and settler as the Desert Winds remains a mystery to them. Within the past decade, what was once a village is actually spreading into a proper town. Despite some impressive technologies, it can’t stave off strange hardships. Living sandstorms take a wicked glee in bombarding the town. Likewise, famine happens all too often, as droughts rage from seemingly nowhere. Water supplies are artificially maintained, to the best of the locals’ abilities. The population of this village is made of bipedal ratmen, with some humans, dwarves and gnomes as well. Despite these creatures not being plentiful in Zakhara, they revere the Zakharan pantheon. A recent upstart Power known as “The Slinking One” has gained much momentum, as it is a rat-headed god who appreciates long and winding cities. Another faith that has emerged is the Machine Rat, a strange technocratic cult. Human, gnome and dwarf cult members mysteriously disappear however. Another role, far more hidden, is that of guards. In truth, the village is a cover for an underground city shrouded in mystery. While the village has some of the wonders seen in Al’Bashar City, both are a sliver compared to what lies below. But, that mystery is covered by the village. A mystery that confounds The Village Above is known as the Haunted Wastelands.
Between the Village and Al’Bashar is the Enlightenment Citadel, a beacon of hope in a hostile world. The floating palace is no place of kings, but philosophers. Sampling Zakharan ideologies, alongside Lantanese methods, it is a place of deep understanding and reasonable morality. However, this isn’t just a place of discourse and meditation. The Corps of Divine Heroes reside here. They are alchemists, arcanists, priests, scientists, artificers, warriors and more. Their purpose is simple, saving this world from threats as well as aiding other worlds within Steamspace. Despite this heroic title, they are not afraid to do all in their power to destroy wicked influence, as it is a moral imperative. It is said that they can “sense the wickedness that lurks in the souls of men”, some even take to the shadows to stop their foes. Despite being at home in Bashar, the other worlds of Steamspace know them well. In fact, many have taken alliance with them through any means. Over the years, other influences in the name of good have melded with this holy order of heroism. Thanks to Lantanese engineering, their enchanted firearms carry more than one chamber, four in fact. The multi-firebrand is a staple of these proud warriors. In fact, the Shootists owe their existence to them, where they further established the six-chamber multi-firebrand for their order.
True Alza’um is the city down below. Originally, the village above was the city, a place to start up new projects not viable for Al’Bashar yet, something of a private retreat. Raiders, monsters and natural conditions made it a challenge to maintain. And thus, the teams of creators began to dig underground, sealing themselves beneath the village. In time, levels were established to differentiate rank and social standing. The grittiest and most industrial is also the poorest, while the ornate and decadent belongs to the wealthy on the top. However, trouble emerged when the expansion of the lowest level touched a warren of rat people. Occultists and primitivists from the warrens struck back, after attempts to banish them. They used dark magic of the Expanse to sicken the city. After outbreaks of chaos and several skirmishes between sides, an uneasy truce followed and those remotely responsible were purged. The warrens dug deeper, as parts were converted into The Smolderforge. Ultimately, disputes changed towards ideological. Disgruntled workers aligned with the wild rats, as fancy rats joined the ranks of the elite. Various churches have struck conflict, resulting in the hybrid faith of the Machine Rat. Three primary breeds live in Alza’um; the multi-colored and domesticated looking “fancy rats”, the “wild tribes” of the warren and a drow created “drow bred” that shares the same dark skin tone and a light hair color in their fur. Being creations of the Darklands, the last one is not well trusted.
The Haunted Wastelands. These are the sprawling beige and grey sands that cover the moon. Countless ruins lie dormant below the grainy ground. Lost cities and ancient tombs detail a civilization of magnificent kings who ruled empires of golden wheat, incredible structures, alien arts and pleasing offerings to the gods. Exceptionally cursed regions aren’t truly buried, merely preserved under a dark magic. Those who stumble too closely might sink into the ground, only to bear witness to a submerged necropolis. Civilization operates as a faded shadow, with undead kings seeking to emerge from the sand and take stock of new slaves to utilize in a great rebuilding. There are some active and living beings on the sands though, the “Marauder Clans”. These are composed of Gnolls and Hutaakan. The former are crazed by an ancient derangement, while the latter have magically lost all ties to their equally ancient culture. Both are cursed and unable to resolve why. The latter know that they are a distant relative of the Lupine clans. Nelexit’r, a torment that destroyed early attempts at the now sunken city, has returned from the dead. The undead desert dragon, whose campaigns of terror were a blight to the people of Bashar, seeks to take “what is hers”. While the early Alza’um residents killed her and her city fell into ruin, she deserves revenge and a return of empire. Fortunately, her domain is far away from both access to current populations and prying eyes. Another terror to roam the wastes is the wicked Manticore. It stalks cave systems and consumes whatever crosses it. The Darklands, the undergrounds of the wastelands, are just as troubling. A culture of drow lived uninhibited, exploiting the ratfolk and gradually using Bashar for their own game. For centuries, they bred all means of dreadful monsters to help protect their underground realm while attacking the many lands above. Colonies and civilizations arose and fell time and again through their machinations. They are allied with the “drow bred” breed of ratmen, lead by the exiled evil shamans. All of them adhere to the shadow cults. Much like Al’Bashar city as well, there are strange dimensional gateways within the crunchy sand depths. The Gateways to Shadow are holy sites of the drow, which they aspire to use against the overworld. Their goal is simple, to devour light in Bashar, much like a previous project on a moon world now called “Noire”. Their presence in Bashar city is mostly within underground tunnels below the city. They’re well aware of the Alza’um tunnel.
Al’Bashar City is an opulent shining jewel off an emerald coast and a golden wasteland. It is a merchant’s city overseen by the Trade Division, but truly a shadow government commanded by Alza’um. Religion favors those who respect trades and coin, likewise religions that align with such interests are better tolerated. The Grand Bazaar is a bustling marketplace of ideas and items. Near the primary city spelljammer port, many merchants jump here for opportunity. The Arcane have found much to discover and utilize as well. Two docks support travel to the colony, one for travel on the green seas and another for the aerial. From the Prestigious to The Slums, all walks of life dwell in the city. Even in residential areas, all means of local shops and stalls line the streets with all things to interest… especially in the ways of advanced technical magic. But, it’s a city where your secrets will be known. Hidden autocrats, ruling families and well-armed militias ensure that the illusion of liberty is maintained, with much in subtle intrigue and trickery behind the scenes. The true security for the city showcases both the politics and the best of technological magic. Mages with enhancing gear, warriors with top of the line arms and armor. Those who aren’t on top are glorified guests at best, it’s a feeling that is well known to the people here. And no, you don’t keep your secrets. Those who hunt for secrets can still find them here, if careful enough. The Shadow Alley is a plane-damaged alleyway leading to an alternate dimension. The Emporium of Incredible Splendor is an illusion based scam operation by an alien menace. Most interestingly, there is a secret tunnel to Alza’um itself.
Not all were content with the mad artificers’ agendas of bigger and better constructions. Many were engaged with the olden ways, a deep spiritual awareness tied to associations with djinn. A captain, known only to time as Ahmed, embarked on an expedition to form an oasis island for those who followed such ways. With the help of elementalist and genie alike, this dream came true. However, realization that the moon held many hostilities sunk in. And so, with the help of airy djinn, the city was made to hover and travel across the barren wastes. At the very least, it might offer salvation to a lost traveler or grant a lift for explorers in search of glory. After three decades, the eponymous founder passed, resulting in the nameless wonder colony honoring him. This settlement became known as The Roaming City of Ahmed’s Rest. However, they aren’t against some level of commerce. An old world charm has made it something of a touring attraction for the wealthy, who seek it out for a short time. As long as they respect the rules, they are treated well and find themselves relaxed.
Image Credit: madilincmc – Domination v2; Tarmo Juhola – Weird West; dima-sharak – Aztec Location Background; Talon Dunning – James Commission; Craig J Spearing – Dukhara Peafowl; Edgar Allan Yee – Kaladesh Trailer; jaehyeon Cha – Underground factory city