We keep mentioning our wonderful districts, so now we’re going to start introducing them. Astranar has eight districts, each with their own individual flare, and they can be quite competitive with each other. In Astranar, the districts are named after gemstones. This week, we’ll be discussing Sphalerite (yes, that’s an actual gemstone), where Water magic is the all-the-rage.
With gentle hills, some low-level mountains, and deep forests, Sphalerite is on the northwest side of the country, sharing a border with the country of Nospos, and the Morganite, Amethyst, and Ruby districts. The inspiration for this district was the Black Forest of Germany and the surrounding countryside, with a little of the Bavarian Forest. The further north-northwest the player gets, closer to the Whistleback Mountains, the more the terrain is mountainous like the bits of the Alps that Germany lays claim to. Whereas the further south the player goes, the countryside is more like hills covered with thick trees, from evergreen pines to oaks and elms. It is also home to the highest number of castles, though many are no longer home to the nobility.
In addition to the plethora of castles, Sphalerite has a deer sanctuary, home to several species of deer from both Astranar and other countries. It serves as an education platform on environmental stability and invasive species. (Because red deer and sika deer have taken over every area they are in, and let’s not mention Yellowstone Park in America before the wolves were reintroduced…) Because of the plentiful forests, many craftspeople come to take part in the forestry industry that the local lords are very careful not to take too much of the trees at any one time. Speaking of nobility, the local higher ranked baron and duke are a bit…stuck in the past. Unfortunately, they are being dragged into the future kicking and screaming. The fashion of the district reflects its ties to the past, with a retro flare from the 1950’s.
Once again, I’ll get to what most players actually want to know about. With the flourishing forestry industry, the extra horses available in Sphalerite are heavier, with strength for pulling, though these breeds are also featured in show jumping, the district specialty. If the main character (MC) are coming in from a different racing district and the player would rather buy a new horse than try and adjust any of their current horses to show jumping, American Cream Draft, the Black Forest Horse, and Vanner horse breeders sell some of their stock to players. While the player will get credits for a draft horse through the course of the game, Sphalerite is not the district with that quest. Once the MC has one in their stable, however, special quests unlock.
Water magic resonates with Re on the solfege scale. If Earth is the base, than Water is the flow that pushes and pulls you where you need to go in its own time. Those who are in touch with Water are also in touch with their dreams and their feelings, sometimes coming off as a little moody, but a devoted friend regardless. They don’t see problems, due to them having no concept of boundaries, and can go anywhere in anyway to meet their goals. On the small scale, Water magic can summon water, or raise or lower the water level of a pond or stream. On the large scale, it is cleansing and healing magic, with regeneration possible, as well as a bit of scrying through the reflective surfaces of still pools. If the MC doesn’t keep a handle on it, however, it can cause avalanches, floods, and overall bad weather news that will ruin that picnic plan with their riding club!
If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Sphalerite, have their own little specialties and symbols. I won’t bore you with all of them, and I want you to get to enjoy finding them out on your own! (The name is one giant clue to one of them, fyi.) I will mention that the Sphalerite mentors depend on which side the player chooses. If they go with the Light, the MC will look to Kitty Sweetsong (profile pending), and if they go with the Shadow, the MC has options: Vanessa Ribbonmelody (profile pending) and Veronica Highflute (profile pending).