The Mysteries of Diamond District

The Mysteries of Diamond District

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 our final district, Diamond, where the mystery of Harmony magic haunts all of Astranar.

(Note: Diamond can only be accessed after you complete one of the other seven districts, and you will need to return to it after each district before you can move on to the next because each district unlocks more story within Diamond.)

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Set on the coastline and towards the middle of Astranar, Diamond shares its borders with Morganite, Citrine, and Ruby. Ginny used different cities and boardwalks to pull together for Diamond from all over Europe. While there are outlying villages and stables, the biggest (and only really big) city in Diamond is the capital, which over time has absorbed a few other larger towns to form six parishes within the city. Don’t think all the green is gone, however. There are plenty of open fields to run through, though the grounds and woods are probably much more manicured than anywhere else, and make sure you don’t stumble on private property! There’s a lot of nobility in the capital for government purposes, so there’s a possibility…

With a beach and boardwalk, the capital is an even mix between casual tourism and the elegant prestige of the nobility and royals, all depending on which district you are in. The capital is also home to both elite riding schools of Astranar: the Royal Riding Academy and Astranar Equestrian Federation Preparatory School. One of the two schools actually uses the Old Palace, the original palace of Astranar for the royal family and other key figures. While both used to be housed together, as the school grew, the royal family moved their seat of government and themselves over to the New Palace, making everyone much more comfortable. The fashion of the capital is a blend of seaside apparel, school clothing (or at least what Morganite hasn’t claimed), and formal wear, but you can find a little bit of everything as many fashion designers have stores, either in the mall or in the base of a famous hotel!

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While there aren’t any specific races in Diamond District, there are horses. High bred and highly trained, these are horses of the nobility and they have the paperwork to prove it. Friesian, Lipizan (or as we know them in America, Lipizzaner), and English Thoroughbred are the three types of horses you can find here. Each of them has a different type (or types!) of race they do well in, so it’s a great place to pick up a spare horse if your stats are off before going into a new district. However, these are all considered extra horses, so you will have to pay out of pocket for them.

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Not a lot is known about Harmony magic. It requires a very special person to use it, and they are very rare. While a Light magic rider is skilled with one element very strongly, a Shadow magic rider is skilled in two side-by-side elements. With Harmony riders? They have skill in many elements. It’s the first sign to look for in a Harmony user, and since they can need training in all the schools, it takes a while for them to be able to access their own spells! Now if only they knew what that one spell was…

If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Diamond, 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! Unlike the other districts, Diamond is probably not as obvious with its clues. Also unlike the other districts, there are no specific mentors tied to Diamond! Instead, Diamond is a meeting place where you can run into several different mentors all in one place, and each time you finish a new district, there’s more people available in Diamond for you to meet.

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So, Boarding Schools Are a Thing Here…

So, Boarding Schools Are a Thing Here…

(In our defense, boarding schools is at least one of my favorite tropes, I am endlessly amused by them if they are done right.)

One of the goals of the core game from the player standpoint is getting a scholarship to attend the Royal Riding Academy of Astranar. It is considered one of the most elite riding schools in the world, and for good reason! Besides giving its students a quality education, it always turns out quality riders. (And you know, witches technically, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) So what’s up with this world-famous school?

Besides the collection of winners from the different districts and from the group competition at the end of the summer who win scholarships, other students are also able to attend, provided they can pass the entrance exam. Besides high-level academics, equestrian skills, and active recreational activities, the board also looks for what many think is an X factor for who will be allowed entry into the school. While you don’t have to have all three of the other requirements, you definitely have to have the mysterious factor that they look for. Some of the girls from camp make it in anyway, despite not winning the scholarship, and some locals also attend. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge of people, but that’s part of what makes the environment so much fun.

And for another thing, well, it takes place in a palace. Literally. The Old Palace, as it’s called, makes up a large portion of the campus, with sections being converted to classrooms, practice rooms, lounges, and dorms rather than the spaces they were previously, and the grounds being converted in some cases to courses and the stables deeply expanded. But some passages remain nearly inaccessible…except if the right person goes looking. Dating back to the same time period as medieval Europe, the palace was closed for a few decades after the new palace completed construction, which has not helped stop the rumors of ghosts at all.

(Don’t tell those stories to Lottie, though. She’ll go running to Ves, and that’s not someone you want on your tail.)

There is a uniform that you’ll see some of the characters modeling as we start to gather artwork, but the school does allow some personalization in the forms of accessories and hairstyles. Where the school gets a little quirky is for riding competitions–it’s easy to spot who the scholarship students and who are the normal students, because they get given specific colors to wear. Rather than the small clubs of friends you experience in the summer, the school has “official” clubs that are mandatory participation in at least one because they signify your equestrian training. They have dressage, show jumping, cross country, racing, endurance, agility, and all-around, with one member each being representation on the council that serves as the leadership for the competitions. At the end of last spring semester, Jim Westhorn and Lottie Mistwaltz were made President and Vice President, respectively, so you may see them away from their districts and around the school grounds trying to work out what they want to do this upcoming school year!

Your mentors from the light side and the shadow side of the divide both attend the Royal Academy, and are happy to show you around when the new school year starts. Some other noted teachers include Mademoiselle Whistlesteel, the Russian ballet teacher who has a private dance studio in the city as well, Adelaide Gemstring, the French violinist who teaches all the music classes, and several industry specialist from the fashion world tend to poke their noses into the classes.

If you make it to the Academy though, don’t think you won’t have rivals outside the school. There’s a second boarding school, and their requirements are much more simple. They seek to excel at competition–test scores, media industries, but especially horsemanship. Sponsored by the Astranar Equestrian Federation, AEFPS (Astranar Equestrian Federation Preparatory School) is a school meant for those who want to succeed. The follow the rules to a t, just to prove that when they win, it’s because they are the best. (Now if only they would stop driving their horses into the ground to do it…)

Much like the Royal Academy, they have a uniform that is much more universally applied. To them, it doesn’t matter if you are there on scholarship or not. You are there to compete, not to work together as a team. Because of their federation ties, there is no magic in the curriculum here, so they don’t know what you are talking about in that regard (even if some of the members do have magic, they just have their heads too deep in the sand to see it). For them, it is all about placing at competition, and in fact they’ll even sabotage each other if it helps them. As a result, how well the school actually does in competition versus what they brag… Well, we’ll let you be the judge.

Some notables who attend AEFPS? Well, Rose Neptuna can sometimes be seen walking around the Diamond district in their uniform, but actually confirming her attendance is nearly impossible, the same for her best friend, Loki Tenderlily. We can confirm that Hi-Fidelity is a recent graduate, and there are conversations about perhaps world violinist Renart Mistwaltz will come to teach a special class. And you may have interest in knowing that the secret leader of the shadow rider mentors also attends…

Funny story, we were trying to decide if AEFPS was an all-girl school, and then realized two characters needed separated or there would be a dead body, so there are boys in both schools! We have a small collection of boys, but they make there presence known. Sometimes, loudly… Hopefully you’ll enjoy getting to poke around the schools and meeting the different people. (We promise not to make you attend any classes, lol.)

You are the Hero

You are the Hero

In Mystic Riders, your player character is the hero of the story. It’s your journey and you are the star. The story pillar for the game is “growing up.” And we want you to feel like you’re in charge of the story and what you do matters. We want you to be the star. So, we’ve come up with some game mechanics and story elements in order to customize your journey.

Character creation in Mystic Riders is more than about customizing your avatar and your magical color changing horse. It’s about choosing the best starting magic for your character. The quiz will help decide what district, your first racing skill type, what type of magic your character has, and other cool things like if you live in a dorm room, a tiny cabin, or in a tree house while at camp. (You can choose if this carries over to your farm and stable or not.)

There are seven different magic types in Astranar (and the elusive eighth type, Harmony) and each district specializes in a different magic. Each district is a different chapter in the story that can be played in any order depending on what type of magic you want to learn next. Because story wise, your character is the next wielder of Harmony magic, the first in centuries.

Helping you on your journey are the mentors of each district. Your mentors are only a year or so older than your character, and can only wield one type of magic. They came to Argentum the year before and earned their spots in the Royal Riding Academy. If you get into a great deal of trouble, they can help you out. Maybe. If you get into too deep of trouble, you’d need someone with a great deal of magic experience, like Headmistress Thyme to get you out of a jam.

There are choices to be made all through the game.

After customizing your character and choosing a district with it’s racing skill tracks, there are other skills to be learned such as crafting and arts. Learning different skills in the game like hiking or gardening will help in your journey to discover Astranar’s secrets. And being able to make clothes and equipment not only will allow you to outfit yourself in better gear, but earn some extra coins along the way. The more skilled you are, the better things you can make and the harder obstacles you can take on.

When you level up your character and your horse, we want you to have the ability to customize your stats to what you feel is important. There is going to be a certain amount of strategy in choosing where to put your stats to be the most effective depending on where you are in the game. Not every horse is going to be the fastest horse or the most agile or most disciplined. Different horses are good at different things.

Answering questions is going to affect how your story proceeds and how characters in the game perceive you as a person. You want to put your best foot forward. How much effort you put into completing your goals in the game is going to reflect on the skills and abilities that you have and how good you are at them.

There are factions to choose. Do you want to control the power of nature, create illusion, and read minds? Or do you want to explore the natures of rot and decay and the nightmares of others? It’s up to you. Each of these factions will alter your story. And give you access to different areas, equipment, and gear. Depending on if you choose to be in the Light or Shadow Faction, there are specific pets and horses you can get that are exclusive to those factions.

As you progress in the game, you’ll be given an opportunity to take the first steps in a profession. Do you want to be a jockey? Entertain the masses like Rose Neptuna? Or even explore the far reaches of Astranar searching out secrets? Professions will give you special quests, extra items, and access to special areas.

Most importantly to us is that the story is about your character as the heroine who is there to train and learn the secrets of Astranar and Argentum in order to make the Light and Shadow Magic of the world harmonize again.

Everyone is Talking About Astranar!

Everyone is Talking About Astranar!

Late to the Global Stage. Hanging onto a Victorian Edge. This new Horse and Equestrian Capital of the World feels enough like Europe to make most tourists from that area feel right at home but at the same time defies expectations. And nowhere is this more exemplified than the Astranar royal family.

Ruling from the Diamond District, a massive city that feels like several sprawling interconnected towns, King Edward and Queen Katherine set the tone. He is a bit reserved and proud, a statesman from birth with a charming smile if quiet in words; she is passionate and stubborn, the backbone of the family that wants what’s best for her children, even if they don’t know it yet. The eldest prince, Sebastian, is in self-exile in Sapphire District, removed from the line of the throne and glad for it. He is content to raise horses at the family estate. His younger brother, William, is the Crown Prince by default. He still manages to sneak off into the city, despite an upcoming visit by his betrothed from Zablana (or perhaps because of). The trick for the younger Prince Elowen and Princess Rowan is telling them apart! (This family sounds like a whole lot of trouble…)

While the nobility answers to a Parliament, most of the remaining maintain enforcement of the government in their eight districts and serve the populace as needed for the areas around their estates. Knighthood in Astranar indicates battle prowess and honor in these modern times, and it is gender-blind. You are as likely to meet a female knight as you are a male.

While you’ll never mistake Amethyst’s sharp mountains for Ruby’s steep tree covered hills and lake country or Morganite’s marshes or Citrine’s mossy groves and heather covered moors, every district has its quirks and their people are proud of them. Each of the districts does have things in common. Mild weather during the spring and summer months, and a tendency for gentle frosts and snow dustings in the autumn and winter, Astranar is abundant with wildlife outside of horses. Several species of deer and owls call the woods home, and swans and ducks grace lakes and ponds. Wild turkeys make menaces of themselves, and river otters steal melons from gardens to munch on. Farmers keep more than cows and chickens, even if Citrine’s cows are rather shaggy looking, but also stately buffalo and bison, cute and fuzzy alpacas, and there seems to be an over fondness for goats in pajamas or hats.

From small hamlets to the massive capital city in the Diamond District, there are many sizes of towns and many types of people to meet. From farmers and horse breeders, to smiths and other craftsmen, the people of Astranar come from many walks of life and have several different types of lessons to teach, if you seek them out. They all love pets! Besides the usual dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets, riders will sometimes travel with chickens, piglets, badgers, and otters, with special education programs occasionally having wolf cubs and wild cat kittens for fostering. If carrying a real animal with you isn’t your (or your horse’s!) cup of tea, there are several types of stuffed toys and flower bouquets to brighten up saddle bags.

When not traveling by horse or cart, the best way to get around Astranar has to be by train. The cars are carefully set up to insure not only your comfort but that of your horse, with most of the horses in Astranar being used to such travel by now. How to identify whether a platform is next to a cargo track or a passenger one? Keep your eye out for the conductor cat! These little rascals are dressed to impress, matching the district they are in but each with a bit of a difference, so you can recognize the station. They will see to your comfort—after all, a conductor is both friendly and particular, which sounds like most cats we know.

Scattered across seven of Astranar’s eight districts are Royal Summer Equestrian Camps for Girls, which sends out invitations every year to lucky girls between the ages of twelve to thirteen. How they are selected, no one knows. Some are sent to complete novices, others are sent to well-known rising stars in equestrian riding. Once invited, they can then attend each year in hopes of improving their riding ability enough to win one of the district’s championships for a full scholarship to the Royal Riding Academy.

At the camps, there is more than just riding and basic crafts to attend to, there are fun basic camp things like swimming, hiking, fishing, boating, and even archery. Every week, each camp holds a dance in their dining hall and campers are asked to help with the open house where they can meet the different clubs of Astranar. There are twenty-four original mother clubs in Astranar, and every year new campers are invited to create new sister clubs to these original clubs. And not all of these clubs get along.

But would they band together if all of Astranar and the world was threatened?

One word of advice if you ever visit Astranar, keep your eyes open. You never know what secrets and wonders may be hiding behind the next tree or through the arch of branches and flowers. What will you discover?