Sphere of the Shattered Autarch
Adrift upon the Seas of Fate, the Sphere of the Shattered Autarch is a ball roughly 85 miles in radius (giving its surface roughly the same square footage as the British Isles). While it is a disturbingly tiny sphere, its curvature obvious to any creature standing upon it, it exerts as much gravity as a far larger world. It bobs and tumbles slowly upon the Seas of Fate, with half its volume submerged when the seas are relatively calm. By slowly rolling in the Seas, the Sphere creates a facsimile of a day-and-night cycle. All land on one side of the water line is lit nearly as bright as day by a sky full of brilliant, rainbow-hued nebulae. The other side is shrouded in a deep mists and shadow. The line between them does look, to both sides, like the surface of the Seas, but passing through it doesn’t make you wet (though the fogs on the mist side are sometimes thick enough that standing in them long enough will make you soggy).
In ancient times, the Sphere was the battle-barge of a world-plundering Autarch who would descend on unsuspecting populations and unleash the hordes dwelling upon his sphere. It is said he met his fate when he fell madly in love with Tiamat. While wooing the Mother of Wyrms, she rubbed him down with honey-garlic glaze, slow-roasted him, and devoured all of him save his heart, which she still keeps as a trophy in a jar of translucent alabaster.
Population CentersThere are two inhabited port cities on the Sphere, at the poles of the sphere. Both have a large dock facility that sticks out at right-angles from the sphere. To those docking at such ports, ships “on the other side of the sea” appear to be upside down, their keels pointing towards the heavens. Stepping off the docks and onto the sphere reorients “down” as towards the center of the sphere.
The larger of the Sphere’s two port cities, Axis is metropolitan by ancient standards with a population of roughly 18,000 individuals. Due to the necessities of the port facility, the buildings at the center of Axis, mostly warehouses and sailors’ dives, are low and long buildings, while the taller towers and spires are out along the edge of the city. It serves as a port and refuge for those sailing the Seas of Fate. The gambling dens and vice halls of Axis are comprehensive in their offerings, but can be expensive, especially if a stranger appears to be wealthy or willing to spend coin freely. The Moon-Beasts have a compound near the port as well, and their agents occasionally roam the streets, scooping up drunks and others who have partied a bit too heartily for employ in their black galleys.
It’s also seen as neutral ground for gods and their minions. Axis doesn’t have temples so much as embassies from untold numbers of gods and godlings, and it’s said that some of its streets don’t actually exist on the Sphere itself, but penetrated the multiverse in various dimensions. Thus, it’s not entirely unheard of for people to stumble into Axis from other worlds without realizing what’s happened.
Finally, Axis houses a massive library. The Library of Axis is fashioned from marble and roofed with gleaming red orichalcum. The sphinx who guards and keeps the library is not very welcome of random visitors, however, and just earning access to the labyrinthine stacks can be a trial in itself.
The sewers of Axis are said to open to the ancient catacombs of Axis, where the heroes of the Autarch’s plunderers were laid to rest. Hundreds of would-be heroes descend into the sewers every year, and most are devoured by baby dragon turtles. More discerning treasure-hunters seek their fortune in the nearby Ziggurat of Ravens, assuming they can find a way in.
On the opposite side of the sphere from Axis is the port village Antipodes. The village is always shrouded in thick mists, no matter which side of the water line any particular street happens to be on. It has a third of Axis’ population and is generally considered much less urban and refined than Axis. Its tentpole industries are harvesting cabbages and raising spidergoats in the surrounding hillsides. More adventurous souls use Antipodes as a base of operations for exploring the nearby Snake Museum, an ancient ruin currently overrun by white apes.
Other Spots of Interest
At various spots along the Sphere’s equator are thick jungles of towering mushrooms, thick drifts of moss and mildew, and pools of bubbling smuts. While it’s believed that these places of devoid of traditional treasures, the sorcerers of Axis will sometimes pay adventurers to journey into them to retrieve certain spores or caps for their experiments.
THE PLEASURE DOMES
The Sphere sports three of these: the Alabaster Pleasure Dome a few days journey from Axis, the Jade Pleasure Dome opposite the Snake Museum from Antipodes, and the Onyx Pleasure Dome hidden in one of the fungoid jungles. None have any obvious entrances. It’s rumored that underground passages must allow access from beneath, and that each is crammed to brimming with the Autarch’s ancient spoils.
THE AUTARCH’S WINTER PALACE
Shrouded in crystal snow, the Winter Palace is carved from green ice. Just beneath the surface of the ice can be seen all manner of bizarre and terrifying creatures, frozen in various positions of lurking or pouncing menace. While the upper levels were plundered long ago, in a few spots the ice is clear enough that lower levels can be seen. None have yet found a way to descend to the palace’s dungeons yet.
Joceyln the cabbage-growing peasant has had a VISION. The slitherous ST. SERPENTOR has come to her IN A DREAM and told her to GO FORTH! and retake THE SNAKE MUSEUM from the fiendish WHITE APES that therein dwell, so that it may be consecrated as a monastery in HIS name. She seeks fearless companions to aid her in this worthy quest, and to share in the TREASURE!
The expedition will take place on