Gears Are Turning in Sapphire

Gears Are Turning in Sapphire

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 Sapphire, where Ether magic brings out the power of the celestial in us all.

A twisting hill land of grasses and sand that is close enough to the Highwind Desert to affect the local climate, Sapphire is on the northeast side of the country up against the foot of the Whistlebacks, and sharing a border with the Ruby, Emerald, and Amethyst districts. Southern Spain was the inspiration for this district of Astranar (which makes sense considering the location of the equator for both countries). With tall, gleaming white buildings set in mazes among hills and winding dirt roads, Sapphire seems a lot more sparse than it is, with a rich history and ancient runes that hint at the past for Astranar. Of course, if you can find them is the trick there, since some of those ruins are quite out of the way.

Granada

The nobility find Sapphire a welcome change of pace, and so there’s a heavy collection of them around. Some are lords, there’s a count and a local knight… Why so many flock can also be nailed down to the “exiled” prince, Sebastian, who makes his home at his family’s estate in Sapphire. Why he was removed from the line of succession is a mystery that the royal family has kept private… Some of the lords may also be by because Sapphire has a large bull fighting arena. (For those of you who have read Emerald‘s entry, you can imagine how big of a problem that can be!) Fashion in Sapphire is just a bit kooky–steampunk is the name of a game, perhaps as a nod towards formality for the gentry?

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With all the grassland hills and valleys, horses that do well on the straight and on dusty terrain are best suited to Sapphire. Good thing they have the breed books for Arabians and Barbs! In addition, they have the Hackney Horse for those who might be more inclined to their high speed trotting and delicate lines. The racing specialty around these parts is the straightforward flat race, though of course nothing is ever that simple, right?

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Ether magic resonates with So on the solfege scale. Ether is magic of the spirit, and in many ways is closer to “traditional” forms of magic. Those of the Ether don’t really take the beaten path, as they serve as bridges between Earth, the heavens, the spirit, and the body, though they value safety with their independence. They are deep thinkers who you can often find holed up in a lab of some sort. On the small scale, Ether magic can tolerate dualities, like hot and cold, have higher endurance of thirst, fatigue, or hunger, or converse/interact with spirits or ghosts. On the large scale, it is the power of alchemy, changing one element for another among other things, and space magic. Be careful not to form a baby star in your backyard!

If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Sapphire, 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 Sapphire mentors depend on which side you choose. If you go with the Light, you will look to Minna Opuswright (profile pending), and if you go with the Shadow, you have options: Veronica Highflute (profile pending) and Varteni Heatforte (profile pending).

Take a Hike in Sphalerite!

Take a Hike in Sphalerite!

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.

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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 you get, 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 you go, 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.

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Once again, I’ll get to what you 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 you are coming in from a different racing district and would rather buy a new horse than try and adjust any of your current horses to show jumping, American Cream Draft, the Black Forest Horse, and Vanner horse breeders sell some of their stock to players. While you will get credits for a draft horse through the course of the game, Sphalerite is not the district with that quest. Once you have one in your stable, however, special quests unlock.

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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 you don’t keep a handle on it, however, it can cause avalanches, floods, and overall bad weather news that will ruin that picnic plan with your 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 you choose. If you go with the Light, you will look to Kitty Sweetsong (profile pending), and if you go with the Shadow, you have options: Vanessa Ribbonmelody (profile pending) and Veronica Highflute (profile pending).

The Mysterious Continent of Argentum

The Mysterious Continent of Argentum

Hidden by storms. Shrouded in silver mists. Protected by rocky shores thick with wild fierce reefs. In the mid to southern Pacific Ocean, the continent of Argentum was nearly inaccessible until the invention of aircraft. Throughout history, stories thrived of lost ships and aircraft, and with them, people. It wasn’t until the people, survivors of these lost souls, reversed engineered technology were they able to bring the wider world’s attention to this secret land.

Home to mountains, deserts, swamps, hills, plains, forests of many varieties, and farmlands within a relatively small space, sailors and passengers of wrecked ships found homes on terrains that reminded them of their countries of origins. Four distinct countries have developed with the culture of the survivors, the most well-known being Astranar, the new Equestrian and Horse Capital of the World. People were drawn to where their ways were suited.

The Whistleback Mountains cut through the continent, creating a barrier and dictating the weather and geography. To the south and southeast lies Astranar, the proverbial bread basket of the continent. Pastoral and serene, the Whistleback Mountains turn into steep hills covered by dense forests parted by lakes and rivers that feed into marshes and grasslands along their coasts. Ruled by a King and Queen, Astranar is the more heavily European with the gothic style and the Victorian Era having left a harder stamp on the continent than elsewhere.

Rather than embracing a reliance on fuel-dependent cars, most of Astranar still travel by horse, with long distances being covered by train. Horses center around Astranar life, and not only is the island home to a wild breed banned from export, but several breed books for other horses around the world.

To the North of the Whistlebacks is the country of Zablana and its great Highwind Desert. Their greenery thrives on the coast lands. Divided into districts, each is ruled independently by a governor, and together they make the decisions for the country by claiming a seat at the ruling council of Zablana. Here sailors of Arabia, Africa, India, South East Asia, and the Pacific Islands gathered together, mixing their love of spicy foods and intricate carvings and mosaics with their own love of horses.

On the north side of Zablana’s coast, Cheoi Bastia has claim to an island chain, featuring seven main islands. Cheoi Bastia boasts to be the home of those descended from China, Korea, and Japan. One island is divided in two, with half belonging to the imperial palace and the emperor who resides there. They don’t rely on the horse as much as other countries and their lands remain something of a mystery even to the other countries as they are just beginning to open their borders.

In the southwest, Nospos controls a portion of the mainland and a large island, reminiscent of their Greek heritage. Ruled by a beautiful queen, with many daughters and one son, descendants of sailors of the Mediterranean and sailors from the Americas blended their cultures. Other countries considered them snobbish, but they consider themselves refined. Their love of racing is only rivaled by their love of showing off their horses in order to admire their fine lines and beauty.

There are many mysteries and secrets on the continent of Argentum. Mysteries that need to be solved and each year, tied to their love of horses, young girls are invited to come from all over the world to discover their connections to this beautiful but hidden land. Do you dare to find the solutions to these mysteries? Where will you hunt for answers? What will you be drawn to? Will you find your hearts home in Argentum?