10 things everyone in Barring knows
- Cloudtop: Cloudtop is a land permanently covered in a thick layer of clouds. All of civilization lives on high mountaintops and plateaus. As far as anyone knows, the sea of clouds is endless – expeditions have set out to try and find an edge, but all have failed. The clouds themselves are not dangerous, but their shade prevent crops from growing. The fauna below is strange, and the eternal twilight is home to untold dangers and dark beasts. Cloud levels are highly variable, and can vary by tens of meters day to day and hundreds of meters season to season. During the warm summer months, they recede into the lower valleys, but during a strong winter storm the entire town will be swallowed by the swirling white mass.
- Barring: Barring (pronounced bear-ing) is a remote village. Between the town and the surrounding area, just less than a thousand people call Barring home. The town is small enough that it doesn't need a lot of government, but when disputes arise they're settled by a council of elders.
- Dair: Barring is nominally part of the small kingdom of Dair to the north, but neither soldier nor royal tax collector hasn't been seen in generations.
- The South: To the south is a broad stretch of nothing but cloud, then the peaks and plateaus of civilization pick back up, but the people there are strange. It is said that land is ruled by a terrible witch-king, and that his people are all thralls to his dark power.
- Aetherium: Because of the danger of traveling on foot in the darkness beneath the clouds, most travel is conducted via balloon. These balloons are filled with Aetherium, a strange gas far lighter than air. Aetherium springs are relatively rare, and controlling a steady supply of the stuff is a sure route to being an economic power. Barring has a tiny community owned spring, just big enough to repair balloons and keep the economy afloat.
- Traders: A caravan of merchants with their large cargo balloons passes through Barring twice a year, once in the spring on their way North, and once in the fall on their way South. They bring news and stories from far-off places, strange goods and spices for trade, and even magic.
- Festivals: There are two big festivals in Barring every year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The spring festival celebrates the end of winter and the rebirth of the land, while the fall festival is an opportunity to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. The festivals are timed with the arrival of the caravans. They are the biggest thing that happens in the region, and everyone for a hundred kilometers in every direction makes sure to turn up.
- Magic: Talent in raw arcane magic (think wizards and fireballs) is exceptionally rare amongst the humans of Cloudtop, and those who exhibit such abilities are typically met with distrust, fear or even hatred. Arcane power is also chaotic and dangerous, and many have been maimed or killed in pursuit of its secrets. The powers of the natural world and the gods are much more accepted, and herbalists, priests, shamans and alchemists are all known among the people of Cloudtop.
- Religion: Gods both major and minor play an important role in Cloudtop. A minor diety might be in charge of a particular river or hill, while major gods are responsible for the fundamental forces of existence. Divine power is channeled by the servants of these gods, and also appears directly in the form of miracles. Most people in Barring worship Haius, god of agriculture, trade and justice. Haius bids his followers plant intricate gardens rather than building cathedrals, and the garden of Barring is one of the fixtures of public life there.
- Races: Humans are the only "civilized" race of Cloudtop – the only race to build permanent structures and practice agriculture on a wide scale. There are other intelligent races however. The most well-known are the graceful and clever Tengu, a nomadic race of winged humans who herd their flocks of floating gaseous creatures across the open sky. The Tengu mostly keep themselves to themselves, though groups of them occasionally turn up at Barring's festivals. Any other races would be exotic enough to be only rumors in Barring.