Aethera Setting for Pathfinder — Field Guide Excerpts

ORBIS AUREA FLORA INTRO

INTRODUCTION TO A FRIGID ECOLOGY

ABOVE GROUND

Conditions are incredibly hostile above ground for plant life. To wit: bitter, constant winds; a near total absence of topsoil apart from a narrow equatorial belt; rapid seasonal rotation and the obvious problem of no sunlight.

Pah

The mountainous terrain of Pah isn’t effectively arable, but, due to the dense concentration of sea-bird and mammalian life, it does contain a number of geographically unique green matter, that exists in a delicate, sustainable cycle with the local fauna. Mosses, lichens and hardy weeds grow from the few cracks in sheer rock faces at the nexus of a complex suite of appropriate conditions. Given that these plants cannot photosynthesise, they derive most of their nutrients from bacteria carried by the animals around them, along with surface nutrients they scrape and dredge up with minuscule roots from the stone itself. As a result, they’re not the expected green, but are often iridescent and strange gradients of cobalt and magenta.

Shattered Forest

Among the now-lifeless trees towering over this scintillating expanse lives a peculiar kind of plant life. While visitors are discouraged on account of it being infested as it is with boreal fey and similarly twisted denizens, it is possible to observe the slow growth of a filament-thin kind of ivy both over, around and increasingly through the flash-frozen cascades. Quite whether the ivy somehow survived within a frozen tree and has since evolved a way to feed off the ice itself is yet to be explored, but further study is certainly warranted: It could reveal fascinating new alchemical techniques for surviving in some of Orbis Aurea’s most challenging conditions.

The Tundra

The Tundra refers to a number of interminable white-wastelands on Orbis Aurea, and while frequently deadly to ignorant explorers, are once again surprisingly homes to plant life. Where hairline cracks in the ice have formed — usually from a vicious battle between Frost Giants, or a stampede of the Elk-like Raasku — rogue airborne spores from less inhospitable regions, or seeds tangled in the Raasku’s shaggy fur, are able to take precarious root. They feed on the sub-surface water and condensed minerals, and grow into hardy shrubs. These have become a staple diet for the Raasku, able to range (along with the plant spores themselves) even deeper into the hearts of the tundra.

IN EVENT OF A CRASH OR BREAK DOWN

Travellers of Orbis Aurea are advised not to crash or break down. In the event that you do, from dishonestly maintained equipment or your own ineptitude, the following advice may see you safely (or at least, alive) on your way.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]• Begin by orienting yourself. Unless you happen to land close to a colonised area, your immediate goal should be not to move away from your vehicle or mount.

  • Should you run low on supplies, your safest source of non-toxic food is in shallow waters. Follow any streams or green matter to its likely source of nearby open water, but remember to implement a strict buddy system and pack plenty of bandages.
  • A good general rule is, if desperate and no sophisticated analysis is available, be sure to give it a firm dousing with flame before ingesting. This will burn off the surface poisons and the lazier parasites at least.

LOCATIONS OF NOTE

Orush

The sparse forests of Orush offer scant cover, but nevertheless remain one of the only examples of topsoil flora on the continent. The trees act as havens for Ivy that leeches off the residual Aetherite the trees draw up from deep underground their roots, and for the colossal fungi that colonise fallen branches. The relatively populous creatures of these pockets of forest also help stabilise the environment to such a point that a few hardy flowers can survive, and once a year, in a brief bloom brought about by wind-based pollinators and Aetherite exposure levels, Orush seems to glow with hundreds of amber lights.

Tips to Adventurers and Trivia

It’s a safe bet that the scientific community would pay handsomely for some samples of the ivy-esque plant from the Shattered Forest or equally difficult to procure flower samples from the region.

Aquatic

This biome is home to the majority of (mostly) non-sentient life on Orbis Aurea. While most of the surface of the planet’s seas are encased in viciously shifting ice floes, tenacious life of many shapes and size continue thrives beneath.

  • Coastal inlets, fjords and the like offer the best chance of finding useful materials for building, emergency sustenance and medical properties.
  • Beautiful but potentially fatal, Siren Orchids grow in small clusters in shallow waters where their aquatic roots can anchor them to a bank or mossy rock. They whistle a beguiling melody — a product of wind passing through their unique, semi-porous petals, which ripple with colour underneath the surface. Do not admire them closely without protective breathing equipment and with no skin uncovered — Siren Orchids will release soporific oil-vapour when they sense nearby warmth. Any contact with Siren Orchid pollen will forces a biological organism to take a DC 18 Fortitude save to avoid becoming heavily lethargic until either moved away from the Orchids or otherwise revived.

SUBTERRANEAN

Life on Orbis hardly stops at the surface and the sea. Each of the hitherto explored continents have revealed extensive networks of labyrinthine, glacial caves and geo-thermal caves. In these underground passages and vaulted cavern complexes, hugely potent strains of fungus, ceiling-trees, carnivorous moss-clusters and Netherite infused predator-blossoms await.

LOCATIONS OF NOTE

Morlock Wilds

This sprawling, interconnected series of tunnels and high ‘ceilinged’ caverns are one of Orbis Aurea’s largest floral phenomenons. Their biggest attraction are the fungal-jungles, which cluster around small thermal vents but, when established, can redistribute nutrients between one another, allowing for a much wider colonisation. Thick stalks glow with pearlescent energy and bio-luminescent spores swirl around on the thermal currents creating a perpetual snow.

Inverse Coral Reefs

With the planet’s surface so veined with porous Aetherite deposits and volcanic fissures, coral reefs in the deep seas have been known to expand downwards through bedrock and begin a new reef on a cavern ceiling, thriving in the hot, humid/moist air.

[[Sidebar]] Tips to adventurers and trivia

  • While Nether-lure Leaf can be found above ground, its preferred habitat is subterranean. Travellers should remain especially vigilant when investigating anything that smells rotten or appears to be in distress.
  • Dangerous, toxic mold proliferates in the subterranean complexes. The least harmful of which, when disturbed, will release a 5-foot square cloud of Aetherite-infused spores. Adventurers must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 1d3 points of Constitution damage, followed by another DC 17 Fortitude (poison) save, once per round for the next 5 rounds, to avoid taking 1d3 points of Constitution damage each round.

ALCHEMICAL SOLUTIONS OF NOTE

Siren Orchid Vapours

Gather: DC 20; Yield 1 dose

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